The fairy-tale villages that make for a truly magical getaway

  • These stunning places look like they've been plucked from a storybook, providing the perfect backdrop for a selfie
  • Set between mountains and a pristine lake, Hallstatt, Austria, is so pretty that a Chinese company built a replica
  • Mont Saint-Michel, a beauty spot off France's Normandy coast, attracts more than two million visitors a year

In an age when holidaymakers plan their trips around Instagram-worthy destinations, these stunning places that look like they've been plucked from the pages of a fairy tale provide the perfect backdrop for selfie-obsessed visitors.

They include pretty little villages in breathtaking mountain ranges, superb castles perched on cliffs and abandoned settlements that have been reclaimed by nature.

Named one of the most beautiful destinations in the world, Hallstatt, Austria, is sandwiched between the Alps and a pristine lake with mirrored waters. The village is so pretty that a mining company built a replica in China.

While Hallstatt may not be overrun with tourists, the same cannot be said for Mont Saint-Michel, a beauty spot off France's Normandy coast and an island commune that attracts more than two million visitors a year.

The 11th century abbey is cut off from the mainland when it is surrounded by water in the English Channel and is exposed to some of the most powerful tides in the world. 

From the Bavarian castle that inspired Walt Disney to a charming village in England's Cotswolds, these are the real-life storybook destinations that tourists can add to their bucket lists.

Bordered by mountains and a mirrored lake, the stunning village of Hallstatt, Austria, is so pretty a Chinese company built a replica

Bordered by mountains and a mirrored lake, the stunning village of Hallstatt, Austria, is so pretty a Chinese company built a replica

Set on the Black Sea, the Swallow's Nest Castle is perched on a cliff in Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014

Set on the Black Sea, the Swallow's Nest Castle is perched on a cliff in Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014

The isolated village of Gasadalur, on the west side of Vagar in the Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic, has a population of less than 20

The isolated village of Gasadalur, on the west side of Vagar in the Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic, has a population of less than 20

Thousands of tourists flock to the Cotswolds village of Bibury, England, to photograph the picturesque cottages on Arlington Row

Thousands of tourists flock to the Cotswolds village of Bibury, England, to photograph the picturesque cottages on Arlington Row

Neuschwanstein Castle, built in the 19th century in Germany, is said to be the main inspiration for Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle, built in the 19th century in Germany, is said to be the main inspiration for Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle

With triangular homes, Shirakawa-go, Japan, is a remote mountain village and Unesco World Heritage Site, along with Gokayama

With triangular homes, Shirakawa-go, Japan, is a remote mountain village and Unesco World Heritage Site, along with Gokayama

Perched on a rocky island, the Unesco World Heritage Site of Mont Saint-Michel is exposed to some of the world's most powerful tides

Perched on a rocky island, the Unesco World Heritage Site of Mont Saint-Michel is exposed to some of the world's most powerful tides

This deserted fishing village on Shengshan Island, off the eastern coast of China, has been overtaken by beautiful green vines

This deserted fishing village on Shengshan Island, off the eastern coast of China, has been overtaken by beautiful green vines

The mesmerising Initiation Wells at the Quinta da Regaleira estate in Sintra, Portugal were used for secretive initiation ceremonies

The mesmerising Initiation Wells at the Quinta da Regaleira estate in Sintra, Portugal were used for secretive initiation ceremonies

The dramatic village of Bagnone, set in the hills of Italy's picturesque region of Tuscany, features stone houses on the edge of a river

The dramatic village of Bagnone, set in the hills of Italy's picturesque region of Tuscany, features stone houses on the edge of a river

Some structures are built on stilts in the breathtaking fishing village of Hamnoy, which is exposed to the sea in northern Norway

Some structures are built on stilts in the breathtaking fishing village of Hamnoy, which is exposed to the sea in northern Norway

Founded in 1274, Rothenburg is a quintessential German town with half-timbered buildings and narrow cobblestone streets

Founded in 1274, Rothenburg is a quintessential German town with half-timbered buildings and narrow cobblestone streets

Colourful homes are perched on a cliff in Manarola, Italy, one of the Cinque Terre towns, which attract two million visitors a year

Colourful homes are perched on a cliff in Manarola, Italy, one of the Cinque Terre towns, which attract two million visitors a year

The traditional mountain farm of Renndolsetra, in Norway's Innerdalen valley, is set in a stunning valley and has accommodation for 20 people 

The traditional mountain farm of Renndolsetra, in Norway, is set in the stunning Innerdalen valley and has accommodation for 20 people

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