World's 16 Most Picturesque Villages
When it comes to picture-perfect views and suspended-in-time charm, it really does take a village. We went out searching for the most camera-ready communities on the planet and found 16 towns that fit the bill, from a Swiss village straight out of Heidi to an antebellum masterpiece in Georgia.
Getting There: Bermuda is less than a two-hour flight from most Northeast U.S. cities. St. George is just over the bay from the international airport.
Caleta Tortel, Chile
Caleta Tortel is the Venice of Chile—if Venice had stilt houses and wooden walkways instead of ornate palazzi and stone bridges. The colorfully painted houses in this south Chilean village are built on skinny, raised stilts in the Chilota style typical to the region, and are connected by a network of staircases and footbridges built over rocks and marshes. The growing cypress-logging industry led to Caleta Tortel's founding in 1955. Timber is still the main game in town, as evidenced by the wooden architecture-and the sweet cypress smell lingering in the air.
Getting There: Like Venice, no cars are allowed in Caleta Tortel. A small airstrip to the east receives limited flights from the Patagonian town of Coyhaique. If you do want to drive, there is now overland access via the Carretera Austral. Plan on an 80-mile drive from the town of Cochrane. Drivers must park at a lot outside of town, then wheel luggage down the village's steep slopes.
Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia
It's blue and white for as far as the eye can see in Sidi Bou Said. All of the buildings in this cliff-top village in northern Tunisia are stark white and adorned with vivid blue doors, shutters, and decorative ironwork—and backed by the deeper blues of the Bay of Tunis. Sometimes called the Montmartre of Tunisia, the village was a favorite of Swiss-German painter Paul Klee and writers Colette and Simone de Beauvoir. The bohemian vibe exists today, with day trippers coming to stroll the stone streets and visit the galleries and cafes.
Getting There: Sidi Bou Said is 13 miles from Tunis, and accessible via road or the TGM train (about $3 round-trip). Day tours are available.
Pariangan, West Sumatra, Indonesia
The active Mount Marapi volcano looms over this spot in Indonesia's Western Sumatra province, a protected national monument. Pariangan is said to be the oldest—and most culturally significant—village of the Minangkabau people and has numerous well-preserved examples of traditional Minangkabau pointed-roof architecture, including a 300-year-old house with woven rattan walls and wood carvings and a 19th-century mosque with still-operating communal hot springs.
Getting There: Pariangan is about nine miles by car from Batusangkar, the capital of the Tanah Datar regency in western Sumatra. The closest airport is in Padang, linked by air to major cities like Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur.
Cua Van, Vietnam
Quaint villages usually up the charm factor with cobblestone streets and restored historic architecture. But it's the complete lack of roads and buildings that makes Cua Van a must-see. Set among the dramatic limestone cliffs of Vietnam's Ha Long Bay, the floating village is made up of a collection of docked boats and colorful raft houses. (Not surprisingly, locals make their living through fishing and marine aquaculture.) Everything here bobs in the bay, even the school, to which students row in tiny boats.
Getting there: Ha Long Bay is about 100 miles from Hanoi. The six-hour bus ride from the city to the bay costs about $8 each way and tickets are available from travel agencies near Hanoi's Hoan Kiem Lake. Once you arrive at the bay, go to the tourist ferry dock, where boats are for hire to sail the 12 miles to Cua Van (prices vary, as does the quality of the boats, but typically cost around $20). Overnight cruises from Hanoi to Ha Long Bay also typically include Cua Van in the itinerary (from $188 per person, halongparadisecruises.org).
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