Certain tourist destinations are famous because of the image that is associated with them. Paris is a city of lights and romance, Venice has its canals and bridges, and Hong Kong its majestic skyscrapers. These cities have been described, at least some of the time, as "magical" places. Whether they are or not is a matter of opinion. Hong Kong can easily be seen as cramped and aggressive, Venice as a tourist trap, and Paris as a traffic-clogged city. The key is to seek out the fairy-tale-like elements of your chosen destination so that you can connect with its imagination-inspiring atmosphere.
If you visit one of the five following magical tourist destinations, it is very easy to find the kind of atmosphere and experience that you are seeking.
This Flemish town has a number of attractive traits. It boasts numerous historic buildings, many of which line the city's quiet canals. A huge belfry, which can be climbed, sits in the middle of the town. Tourist can attempt the 360-plus steps or they can appreciate the fairy-tale-like structure from the square below. Another magical element, at least for sweet-toothed tourists, is the large number of chocolate shops that are open in Bruges.
Hoi An, Vietnam
Hoi An is an ancient town that sits in Central Vietnam. Many of its temples and buildings are intact, and many new buildings have been made in the same historic style that characterizes the original ones. Street markets open in the evenings selling artwork and classical cloth lamps. These lamps are hung in many store-fronts, creating a unique fairy-tale atmosphere. One problem with Hoi An is that it can be very touristy. However, visitors only have to step a few feet off the tourist trail to see authentic scenes of Vietnamese life, which many visitors find just as charming as the ancient buildings of Hoi An.
This section of Italy has some of the most amazing seaside towns in the entire world. Often perched on cliffs overlooking the sea, these picturesque villages appear like they have come straight out of a storybook. Rather than streets, many have stairways that lead past homes and shops. The best part about this region of Italy is that there is not one single town; there are many. This means that it is possible to take a drive all the way down the coast and enjoy several days of sightseeing. Even if you aren't in search of a fairy-tale atmosphere, the views, the seafood, and the ever-flowing wine make the Amalfi Coast a great place for a European vacation.
Germany's Fairy Tale Road
The road between the metropolises of Hamburg and Frankfurt has a number of towns that date back to the Medieval era. This region also holds the forests and mountains that play such an important part in many German fairy tales and legends. It is easy to travel down the winding roads and through the old towns of this region and imagine the classics that were set there (especially the famous tales told by the Grimm Brothers).
This ancient city in China is known for its classical gardens, its canals, and its ancient structures. Once an important economic center, Suzhou has now been overtaken by nearby Shanghai. Perhaps this is a good thing because Suzhou has not been modernized as much as Shanghai. Though the city does have plenty of modern sections, its gardens, temples, and Old Town streets still hold a lot of historic charm and bring to mind a palce that was once the cradle of culture and civilization for the Far East.
Do you have any cities or towns to add to our list of magical tourist destinations? Tell us about your favorite fairy-tale places in the comments section.