The postcard industry thrives on locations such as these: greeny-blue water, boats of all shapes and sizes, age-old trees and anachronistic architecture.
Zaanse Schans, North Holland, The Netherlands
The Zaan River runs through the municipality of Zaanstad, a short bike ride north of Amsterdam. Zaanse Schans is, in essence, a functional model of an 18th century Dutch village, and that’s why it’s a common first stop for tourists right out of Schiphol. You’ve got the bakery museum, the still-working clog warehouse, and the cheese factory, but the area’s true traditional fixture is its windmills. They sit proudly along the banks of the Zaan. Visit them; cruise past them.
Český Krumlov, Czech Republic
This 13th century southern Bohemian town sits on the Vltava River. The river bisects the town along a bending, sloping aqueduct. You can enjoy the river from almost anywhere in the city but the views are best from the belltower of the city’s famous gothic castle.
Strasbourg bears that iconic Alsatian style you’ll recognise at a glance, even if you’ve never been; it’s that quintessentially European. The city is a calm and bucolic regional centre built in the Middle Ages around the Ill River, which flows through northeast France into Germany. The town’s strong medieval roots are best seen in the old working-class district of Petite France.
Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Mostar is built on and divided by the baby-blue Neretva River. The city is probably best known for its medieval-era Stari Most, or ‘old bridge’, reconstructed over the Neretva to connect the two flanks of the city. Thrill-seekers can jump from the Stari Most – it’s considered a rite of passage for some Bosnian youths – but if your desires are more pedestrian, you can wander the alleyways and markets nearby for an overdose of beautiful architecture and Balkan hospitality.
Dresden’s Altstadt, or ‘Old Town’, frames the broad Elbe River more beautifully than any other district in the city. Rebuilt after World War II, Altstadt is home to the Frauenkirche, a domed baroque church, and the Versailles-inspired Zwinger Palace. The bold architecture gives Dresden a unique charm Europe’s other, better-known cities cannot match.