8 Beautiful Unspoiled Mountain Towns in Europe

Crisp alpine air, awe-inspiring rock formations, and quaint architecture -- the magic of Europe's mountain towns is something every traveler with a love of the great outdoors should experience. Luckily, we've rounded up eight of the continent's most beautiful unspoiled mountain retreats, which boast views of glacial lakes, lush valleys, and towering mountains.


1. Gruyéres, Switzerland

Photo courtesy of Gervasio Varela via Flickr

Photo courtesy of Gervasio Varela via Flickr

The great thing about visiting the Swiss town of Gruyere is that if by some aberration you don’t like the glorious view of medieval architecture, there’s always the town’s delicious cheese, which goes by the same name, to enjoy. In truth, it’s unlikely you won’t fall in love the town, which doubles as the gateway to the Swiss Alps. From the cows grazing on alpine pastures in summer to the dazzling blankets of snow that cover the place in winter, the town is a mountain gem. 

2. Lecco, Italy


Just about 31 miles north of Milan, Lecco could — and should — be pegged onto any trip to the nearby cosmopolitan city. Located at the southern end of Lake Como, the mountains known as the Dolomites Lecchesi (not to be confused with the famous Trentino Dolomites) reflect on the water that laps at the edges of the medieval town. You can also climb the bell tower for great views, or take the cable car up to Piani d’Erna for even better ones. 

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3. Ronda, Spain


If you’re not content with looking upwards from the foothills, the town of Ronda will suit you, thanks to its dramatic, vertigo-inducing mountaintop position overlooking a deep gorge. Located in Andalucia and once home to Ernest Hemingway, the breathtaking town features the 100-meter-high Puente Nuevo (or New Bridge) that was actually built in 1793, a centuries-old bullring, grand Moorish architecture, and ancient ruins. 

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4. Mittenwald, Germany

Photo courtesy of masT3rOD via Flickr

Photo courtesy of masT3rOD via Flickr

Set amidst the alpine peaks of Bavaria, the colorful town of Mittenwald was described by German writer and statesman Johann Wolfgang von Goethe as “a picture book come alive.” If he were alive today, he would probably still stand by his assertion. Having kept development to the minimum, it’s regarded as one of the most beautiful villages in the Bavarian Alps and makes a picturesque base for skiing, hiking, and climbing. 

5. Hallstatt, Austria


The Austrian town of Hallstatt is as old as it is beautiful and embodies the perfect image of a European mountain town, with its emerald lake, soaring peaks, historic church, and quaint 16th-century chalets. Located in the Salzkammergut region of Austria, the ancient town is home to a funicular railway. Don’t leave without riding up into the clouds and then down into the village’s subterranean salt mines. 

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6. Annecy, France


Look up at the snow-capped peaks of the French Alps and what you’ll see is the source of some of the waterways that make Annecy one of the most beautiful towns in the country. Linked by meandering canals and set on the banks of Lake Annecy — the third largest lake in France — the unspoiled, idyllic town is filled with churches, love bridges, and markets. 

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7. Bled, Slovenia


Set on the shores of the glacial Lake Bled, the town of Bled lies in the shadows of the surrounding Julian Alps. Recognizable by the famous islet that features a church in the middle of it, Lake Bled is the indisputable highlight of the town. As one of Slovenia’s biggest attractions, large numbers of tourists visit in the summer to see the mountain-and-lake combo at its finest. Plus, while development continues, most of the town remains largely unspoiled, which makes for a good reason to visit sooner rather than later. 

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Cavalese, Italy


Anyone who has ever watched the mountain stage of Giro d’Italia, Italy’s famous bike race, knows there’s nothing quite like the Dolomites. Lush valleys, dark and rugged rock faces, and glacial water flow throughout the Trentino region, where Cavalese lies. With about 4,000 inhabitants, Cavalese also makes for one of the most stunning bases from which to enjoy some of Europe’s most untouched wilderness. During the winter, tourists can ski on the nearby Cermis mountain, while in the summer, folks can hike and explore the beautiful scenery by foot.

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