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If you’ve traveled to Europe on vacation, say once or twice, the odds are pretty good the greater majority (if not all) of your visit was spent in touring one or more of the major cities tourists are attracted to. Indeed, popular destinations such as London and Paris are fun-filled, entertaining, and often quite educational. But the next time you venture “across the pond”, really consider visits to smaller, more quaint countryside towns and villages to really get a unique feel for what the culture in their respective country is all about.

For a unique view of the beauty and warmth some of these small towns offer visitors, try visiting:

Giethoorn, The Netherlands. With many of the restaurants having waterfront views of canals built here for irrigation, this quaint village, dating back to the 13th century, is beautified by traditional architecture, lush lawns, and greenery.

Haarlem, Holland. This quiet community in Holland is referred to as ‘flower city’ or Bloemerstad and is home to the Annual Bloemencorso Parade. Lying along the shoreline of the Spaarne River, visitors enjoy viewing the medieval structures spread out throughout this capital of the province of North Holland. Teylers Museum, the largest museum in the country, is located here, as is the Franz Hals Museum, home of many of the Dutch masters’ works.

Tintagel, England. This is the location of Tintagel Castle, world-famous for being the stronghold of King Arthur. This small village is set among typical Cornish cliffs and is the location of a fine 14th-century building housing the Old Post Office. Tintagel is home to a number of Cornish pasty shops, pubs, and fish & chips establishments.

Castle Combe. This charming small British community, claiming to be “the prettiest English town”, has been the location of movies and TV shows, which include Downton Abbey and Steven Spielberg’s War Horse. The 14th century Manor House Hotel here is a five-star accommodation; and Castle Combe is home to the 15th century St. Andrew’s Church, which reflects the former success and livelihood here of the Cotswolds’ textile industry.

Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland. Dating back to the 11th century, this quaint little village of about 2,300 residents is nestled in the Swiss Alps, with an elevation of 2,631 feet. Popular activities here include fabulous day trips into the Alps; Trummelback Falls; Lauterbrunnen Valley Waterfalls; and Talmuseum Lauterbrunnen.