Beautiful Villages. Photo: KnowInsiders
Beautiful Villages. Photo: KnowInsiders

Most of us love big cities, but that doesn’t mean small destinations can’t be alluring or amazing. There are lots of villages in the world giving a remarkably beautiful experience. It is true that the cities attract people with tall skyscrapers, expensive malls, and luxurious atmospheres, but the best way to experience the fundamental culture of a region is to travel around the smaller villages far from the big cities.

The List of The 10 Most Beautiful Villages in the World

Rank Village Country Total number of Instagram posts Total number of Pinterest pins Combined total social media appearances
1 Oia Greece 1,609,706 2,965 1,612,671
2 Ha Long Bay Vietnam 1,167,858 160 1,168,018
3 Göreme Turkey 1,129,021 279 1,129,300
4 Hallstatt Austria 794,326 4,887 799,213
5 Mission Beach Australia 608,703 93 608,796
6 Wanaka New Zealand 565,973 741 566,714
7 Vernazza Italy 491,902 1,232 493,134
8 Shirakawa-Go Japan 254,975 1,706 256,681
9 Tobermory Isle of Mull (Scotland) 241,926 284 242,210
10 Furnas The Azores (Portugal) 227,533 175 227,708

Which are the 10 Most Beautiful Villages in the World?

1. Oia

Photo: Mind Games
Photo: Mind Games

Topping the list is the stunning village of Oia in Greece with just over 1.6 million social media appearances; the vast majority of which are from Instagram posts.

Located on the top of the cliffs of Santorini, Oia is a beautiful village with an amazing setting. The picturesque village is located on the steep slope allowing the residents and travelers to enjoy jaw-dropping gorgeous views of the world-known Santorini caldera. The cityscape is dominated by elegant white buildings gleaming in the sun, with stand-outs being a ruined fortress facing the entire area, the Captain’s houses, and a windmill, which is probably the most iconic building of this charming village.

Despite being packed with tourists in the Summer months, the picturesque village of Oia has an undeniable charm. Located on the beautiful Greek island of Santorini, Oia is blessed with scenic whitewashed houses and blue domed churches.

The village is built on a steep slope leading from the caldera to the sea. In the old town, there’s a maze of alleyways with boutiques and restaurants.

Oia Castle is one of the best places for spectacular sunset views. When visiting Oia, book a luxurious cave hotel for a truly unique experience.

2. Ha Long Bay

Photo: PlanetWare
Photo: PlanetWare

Second position names Halong Bay in Vietnam with just over 1.1 million social media appearances. Its name translates as the “Bay of Descending Dragons” and it’s not hard to understand why Ha Long Bay has such mythic appeal. The most visited tourist attraction in Vietnam blends spellbindingly beautiful coastline with an emerald sea that ripples with limestone monoliths by the thousand. Throw in spooky stalactite-spiked caves, picturesque islands and miraculously built floating fishing villages and you have a veritable bucket list destination.

It was recognised as a world heritage site in 1994 by UNESCO. It was also voted among the world’s seven new natural wonders by Swiss organization New Open World in 2011. "Ha Long Bay is home to 1,969 islets of hulking limestone and deep, green waters that are home to myriad floating villages."

Visiting Halong Bay and you can experience very diverse natural landscape, varying from long sandy beach to thousand-year-old-lime karst. Halong Bay covers nearly 1900 islets of different size, some very large such as Thien Cung Cave or Surprise Cave, others as small as a few meters wide. Discover what you will see as you make your way to this natural wonder.

Charming and enchanting, Ha Long Bay is famous for its natural beauty. Cua Van is just one of the fishing villages along Ha Long Bay but is believed to be its most popular spot. Situated on an emerald green bay surrounded by mountains is the serene Cua Van, home to beautiful and exotic marine life, caves and grottoes perfect for exploring, and a vibrant village culture.

3. Göreme

Photo: Tiqets
Photo: Tiqets

The third position belongs to Göreme with over 1.1 million Instagram posts. Located on the top of the cliffs of Santorini, Oia is a beautiful village with an amazing setting. The picturesque village is located on the steep slope allowing the residents and travelers to enjoy jaw-dropping gorgeous views of the world-known Santorini caldera. The cityscape is dominated by elegant white buildings gleaming in the sun, with stand-outs being a ruined fortress facing the entire area, the Captain’s houses, and a windmill, which is probably the most iconic building of this charming village.

Göreme is small town in Central Anatolia, in the heart of Turkey. Established amongst the world famous fairy chimneys, it is one of the best places to go if you want to see these astounding rock formations up close.

First settled around two thousand years ago, there’s a certain otherworldly feeling about the place, especially since many of the dwellings are carved directly into the rock, same as some churches, which are also beautifully decorated.

4. Hallstatt

Photo: Chuyên trang Du lịch - PetroTimes
Photo: Chuyên trang Du lịch - PetroTimes

A slight drop to just under 800,000 for Hallstatt in Austria takes us to fourth place on the list.

The lakeside village of Hallstatt, located southeast of Salzburg right in the heart of Austria, is not only stunningly picturesque, but also has quite a past behind it. Historically wealthy thanks to its rich salt mines, the village is famous for giving its name to the Hallstatt culture, which mostly associated with the ancient Celts. Nowadays its appeal is such that a full scale replica of the village, with houses and even the church, was built in China.

This stunning European town features beautiful old churches, a subterranean salt lake, a museum with 7,000 year old artifacts and a glass-like lake set against the breath-taking backdrop of soaring mountains.

Take the funicular cable car up the 1,030-meter tall Salzberg, or Salt Mountain. At the top, you’ll find a free-floating observation deck – the Hallstatt Skywalk. From here, enjoy panoramic views of the UNESCO World Heritage region of Hallstatt Dachstein Salzkammergut.

Hallstatt Salt Mine is another popular attraction, being the oldest salt mine in the world. Another must-see is Dachstein Giant Ice Cave, which has some impressive stalactite formations.

5. Mission Beach

Photo: The Guardian
Photo: The Guardian

The fifth-placed Mission Beach in Australia owns over 600 thousand Instagram posts.

Mission Beach has some of the most picturesque beaches along the east coast of Australia, stretching fourteen kilometres in all. It is the closest mainland access to the Great Barrier Reef with world famous Dunk and Bedarra Islands just several minutes offshore.

Whether its snorkelling, diving, fishing or taking a rainforest walk through the World Heritage Rainforest, you will marvel at the many wonders of beautiful Mission Beach.

There are a large number of differing styles of accommodation available from magnificent resorts, beachfront homes, units, motels, hostels and budget accommodation. There are options to suit every taste and pocket.

The area boasts many restaurants offering a wide range of cuisine .... some fully licensed, others BYO. As well, there are a host of takeaways, coffee shops and ample retail outlets and a new major supermarket and specialty shops at Mission Beach Central.

There are many activities available to cater for all levels of energy. Go scuba diving, snorkelling, fishing, sailing, tandem ski-diving, beach combing, birdwatching, golf, rainforest walks, white water rafting. Or just lay back and take in the natural beauty that abounds.

6. Wanaka

Photo Flipboard
Photo Flipboard

Wanaka is a popular ski and summer resort town in the Otago region of the South Island of New Zealand. At the southern end of Lake Wānaka, it is at the start of the Clutha River / Mata-Au and is the gateway to Mount Aspiring National Park.

Wānaka is primarily a resort town with both summer and winter seasons. Its economy is based on the many outdoor opportunities this offers.

Historically, Māori visited the Wānaka area to hunt and fish in summer, or on their way to seek pounamu (greenstone) on the West Coast. Ngāi Tahu abandoned their seasonal camps after a raid by a North Island war party in 1836.

The current town was founded as Pembroke during the gold rush of the 19th century, and renamed to Wanaka in 1940. Along with the rest of the Queenstown-Lakes District, Wānaka is growing rapidly, with the population increasing by 50% between 2005 and 2015.

7. Vernazza

Photo: Kayak
Photo: Kayak

One of the villages of Cinque-Terre in North Italy, Vernazza offers tourists a scenic beauty of magnificent turquoise waters and a proper harbour. Spread over a small area of 12 square kilometres, this tiny city provides home to more than a thousand people and reflects a laid-back country life. Its cobbled streets dotted with cafes and road side food eateries give a traveller ample opportunity to taste the local cuisines of Italy.

Earliest historical records noted Vernazza as a maritime base to the Italian Nobility of Obhertenghi around the year 1080 and became a part of Genoa in 1286. A medieval castle named Castello Doria was later built to protect the city from pirates. It is said to be the oldest surviving fort till date. However, on October 25th, Vernazza faced a huge loss due to the torrential pours and mudslides and the city was evacuated for a long time. With a lot of pain and hardwork, it was restored back to its beauty. For instance, the existing Santuario di Nostra Signora di Reggio was renovated into a Latin Cross in the 14th century.

Vernazza’s grandeur could be seen in its elegant housing, exquisite galleries and refined arcades. The beaches of this city let you enjoy the warm summer mornings of Italy. As far as activities are concerned, you can enjoy hiking along the adventurous trail of Cinque Terre. Else you can go for boating along the shoreline of Cinque Terre. Apart from these, you can enjoy wine and food discovery tour with organisation ‘Save Vernazza’ where you get to taste the traditional wine and authentic food of Vernazza.

The charming little harbours, an ancient castle, and exquisite seashore with a lovely church celebrate the beauty of this old town, making Vernazza a must-add on your vacation itinerary planners.

8. Shirakawa-Go

Photo: Japan Travel
Photo: Japan Travel

The village Shirakawa-go is located in a valley on the bank of Sho river (Shogawa). This village stretches across the border of Gifu and Toyama prefectures and is surrounded by mountains. Therefore, the weather here is divided into 4 distinct seasons with excessive snow during the winter.

Due to the far distance and geographical difficulties, this village is almost completely isolated from the outside world, thus being able to develop its unique tradition and culture which include the roof architecture called "Gassho zukuri".

Shrouded in mist and traditions, it seems to be more myth than reality. However, such a place does indeed exist, and this would be the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Shirakawa-gō in Gifu Prefecture. Its mythical, otherworldly beauty has led to a steady increase in popularity amongst travellers, however, consequently leading to a few reminders (like many tour buses) that we have not yet left Earth for paradise.

9. Tobermory

Photo: Flickr
Photo: Flickr

Tobermory is the capital of, and until 1973 the only burgh on, the Isle of Mull in the Scottish Inner Hebrides. It is located on the east coast of Mishnish, the most northerly part of the island, near the northern entrance of the Sound of Mull. The village was founded as a fishing port in 1788; its layout was based on the designs of Dumfriesshire engineer Thomas Telford. It has a current population of about 1,000.

Many of the buildings on Main Street, predominantly shops and restaurants, are painted in various bright colours, making it a popular location for television programmes, such as the children's show Balamory. The burgh hosts the Mull Museum, the Tobermory whisky distillery (and from 2005 to 2009 there was also a brewery, the Isle of Mull brewing company) as well as Mull Aquarium, the first catch and release aquarium in Europe.

The clock tower on the harbour wall is a noted landmark. The town also contains an arts centre, An Tobar, the management of which was merged with Mull Theatre in 2012 to form the umbrella arts organisation Comar. The theatre remains, based just outside Tobermory in Drumfin, and is used by youth and adult dance and drama groups, hosting a wide variety of performances. Staffa Tours popular boat tours leave from Tobermory to visit the Treshnish Isles and Fingals Cave on Staffa. 71% of Tobermory residents were born in Scotland, 23% in England and 6% elsewhere.

10. Furnas

Photo: Portugal Travel Guide
Photo: Portugal Travel Guide

The village of Furnas, as well as the nearby volcanic complex of geothermal springs, is situated beside the easternmost of the three spectacular caldera lakes on the island of Sao Miguel - Lagoa das Furnas. Apart from other places in Azores, Furnas, as one of the main tourist attractions on Sao Miguel, is extremely extraordinary yet still very authentic and, comparing to mainland Portugal, visited by few. Probably due to the deficit of beaches and guaranteed sunny weather.

But it has so much more to offer! It is idyllic, easily accessible and sometimes confusing, but in a very positive way: when you leave one of the cozy towns, you begin to doubt you are in Portugal and start to think you've been teleported to Iceland, Ireland and New Zealand, all blended into one.

Uswitch's Report Methodology:

* sought to uncover the most popular beautiful villages in the world, according to Instagram and Pinterest.

* The villages contained in the dataset cover a breadth of worldwide locations and were obtained from multiple sources using in-house metrics. The full list of sources can be found on the accompanying Excel document.

* To focus our research, only locations that met National Geographic’s definition of village were selected for further analysis: ‘Some geographers specifically define a village as having between 500 and 2,500 inhabitants’.

* The most recent official government census population data and other relevant sources were used to discover the number of residents of each location.

* Total Instagram hashtags counts were obtained for each of the remaining 40 villages in our sample. Where appropriate, variations of each hashtag were also considered.

* then scraped Pinterest for the number of pins connected to each village. Specific search parameters were used to ensure the relevancy of pins.

* Pinterest and Instagram figures were then combined to create an overall popularity ranking.

* The rankings were further divided by continent. Please note that Georgia and Turkey, whilst classified by the United Nations as Asian countries, have been included in both Asian and European rankings due to their geographical, political, and historical connections to Europe.

* All data was collected on 05/10/2021 and is subject to change.

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