My first date with my husband was in a medieval castle. I met Tim on a business trip to Germany, and he took me on a tour of his local neighborhood landmark, Frankenstein Castle (yes, that Frankenstein). Alone in a hilltop castle that seemed to belong in a fairytale, it was one of those heady travel moments that transport you to another place and time.
If you travel for such transportive moments, you’ll like TripAdvisor’s list of ten places around the globe that seem to have stepped out of a fairytale—from France’s Old Town of Colmar, where it’s like “being in a Disney fantasy village,” as one TripAdvisor reviewer put it, to Portugal’s National Palace of Pena, where “you almost expect a princess to meet you at the door.”
Next time you’re headed to such a fairytale place, here are a few suggestions for maximizing the moment:
Don’t let lousy weather stop you.
“Magical, even on a day of crummy weather!” writes TripAdvisor member Mark C. about Germany’s Neuschwanstein Castle. For many fairytale places, snow, rain, and mist only add to the otherworldly atmosphere.
Make your photos magical too.
It’s hard to feel transported to another world, or to capture that feeling in your photographs, when there are a ton of tourists around. So go early or late to avoid crowds, especially on a country road such as The Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland—where, writes TripAdvisor contributor Christina M., “hopefully you’ll be blessed to be the only one on the road.” In many fairytale places you might experiment with photos in sepia; it gives these settings that old-time feel.
Leave time for the gardens.
Often movie-set castles and palaces have transportive gardens too, but we rarely leave enough time in our sightseeing schedules to enjoy them. As TripAdvisor reviewer KayakDC wrote about the National Palace of Pena, “Best, though, is the surrounding park. If you are smart (we weren’t), you will pack a lunch and walk down the back way after visiting the Palace. Grounds are drop-dead gorgeous and you can wander for hours hardly seeing a soul.”
Try to see it lit up at dusk.
Places that look like wedding cakes by day are even more magical when lit up in the evening. For even more atmosphere, go during a full moon.
Plan a romantic surprise.
These places are made for marriage proposals, so take advantage of the romance factor: Consider bringing a special bottle of wine and finding a quiet balcony or corner of the garden to enjoy it.