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The 7 Most Beautiful European Villages Accessible Only by Car

Architectural Digest logo Architectural Digest 3/19/2017 Laura Itzkowitz
© Photo: Andrew Redington / Getty Images

Planes and trains are well and good, but if you love the open road, few pleasures compare to the thrill of a road trip. Guests of Four Seasons Hotels can now borrow a classic car for a journey between Cap-Ferrat in the South of France, Milan, and Florence. With coastal roads snaking along the Mediterranean, pristine beaches, and picturesque villages, the region is ideal for a vacation. If that doesn’t inspire you to explore Europe by car, these other remote villages inaccessible by train will surely ignite your wanderlust.

Schwangau, Germany

If this picturesque Bavarian village seems straight out of a fairy tale, that’s because it is. The town’s most famous attraction, Neuschwanstein Castle, inspired Cinderella’s palace in the Disney classic. Visitors traveling by train arrive in the nearby town of Füssen, which is lined with candy-colored buildings, but a car gives you access to the remote villages of the Bavarian Alps, including Schwangau.

Blairgowrie, Scotland

Driving through Perthshire County—the gateway to the Scottish Highlands—you’re likely to see more cows than humans. In this sublimely green part of the U.K., the light takes on a romantic, misty quality. Stay off-the-grid at the Relais & Châteaux Kinloch House in Blairgowrie or at the historic Gleneagles in Auchterarder—frequented by Prince William and Kate Middleton—and you can easily explore the region’s castles and whisky distilleries.

© Photo: Courtesy of Six Senses

Conques, France

Deep in Aveyron—France’s most under-the-radar region—this perfectly preserved medieval walled village has long been a stop on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route. Visitors will discover a region that seems frozen in time and with some of France’s best food, from Roquefort aged in caves to artfully plated masterpieces at Michelin-starred restaurant Le Suquet, home to a 13-room Relais & Châteaux hotel in nearby Laguiole.

© Photo: AGF / Getty Images

Montaione, Italy

Perched high in the Tuscan hills between Florence and Siena, this tiny hamlet boasts breathtaking views of the countryside, vineyards, and olive groves. With the new five-star, eco-conscious resort Il Castelfalfi opening at the end of March, travelers will have unfettered access to this charming corner of Italy that’s close enough to visit Florence but feels a world away.

© Photo: Godong / Getty Images

Gruyères, Switzerland

Sure, it may be known as the home of the famous cheese, but Gruyères has lots more to recommend it. Nestled on a hill in Switzerland’s Fribourg canton, the village boasts a medieval castle, stunning mountains and gorges perfect for hiking, and the H.R. Giger Museum dedicated to the macabre work of the Swiss artist.

© Photo: AGF / Getty Images

Samodães, Portugal

This beautifully rustic town—just one of many worth visiting in the Douro Valley wine region—boasts panoramic views of the river and stepped vineyards. Stay at the luxurious Six Senses Douro Valley, which opened last year in a renovated 19th-century manor house with a wine library, spa, and focus on sustainability.

Albarracín, Spain

Deep in the heart of Aragon, this ancient enclave—once the capital of a Moorish kingdom—melds medieval and Islamic architecture. Step back in time as you walk the cobblestoned streets lined with terra-cotta roofed buildings, stopping to visit the tenth-century Alcázar Fortress and Andador Tower before driving to Madrid.

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