Lake District

The most magical places you can actually visit

Photo: flickr/Les Halnes

From Tolkien’s Shire to a classic fairy tale castle – these are magical settings you can visit in real life

Forget a romantic getaway to Paris. Why not a trip directly to Wonderland? Look no further than these real life fairy tale places you can get to without having to fall down a rabbit-hole. These are six places that could come straight from a storybook.


With green meadows, sparkling lakes and jagged rocks, the Lake District in northwest England is such a perfect postcard view that supposedly it even inspired the great JRR Tolkien. The idyllic valley is said to have served as a template for the Lord of the Rings creator’s home of the hobbits, the Shire.

Traveller info: The Lord of the Rings movies may have been filmed in New Zealand but the Lake District has provided the backdrop to productions such as 28 Days Later and Snow White and the Huntsman.


The beautiful old houses, secluded squares, taverns and towers in the town of Rothenburg will transport you back to the Middle Ages. Walk the ‘Romantic Road’ along the backdrop of the Franconian wine region and Alpine peaks to witness spellbinding castles. 

Traveller info: Arrive during winter when the snow-covered roof tops and spires turn the village into a Christmas card. Proving its magical quality, the region was the setting for scenes in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows.




Lining the Shogawa River Valley in the remote mountains spanning from Gifu to Toyama Prefectures is the UNESCO world heritage site of Gokayama. The traditional farmhouses called gassho-zukuri, which means “constructed like hands in prayer”, are made without nails and at a 60 degree angle to withstand heavy snow. 

Traveller info: Many of the houses are easily older than 300 years. Its seclusion meant the region had been cut off from the rest of the world but it’s just waiting for you to create your own history.

© SatAdonis1 // YouTube


The abandoned fishing village of Shengsi has slowly been overcome by vines to create a spectacular fairy tale setting. The vines are everywhere; climbing old stone walls, weaving through windows and creeping along crumbling paths. The green jungle is situated on hilly terrain and just off the east coast of China, hours from Hangzhou Bay. 

Traveller info: The village was abandoned by fishermen who went to work on the mainland for economic reasons, though the Shengsi Islands remain an important fishery area.

© Good2Know // YouTube

Neuschwanstein, Germany

Every year 1.4 million people visit the ‘castle of the fairy tale king’ Ludwig II, King of Bavaria.

The 19th Century palace above the village of Hohenschwangau was intended to be a personal refuge for the monarch but was opened to the public after his death in 1886. 

Traveller info: If you think it looks familiar, that’s because the building is the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle. 



© Pixabay


The ancient salt mine village of Hallstatt in the Salzkammergut Lake District of Austria can be found between Salzburg and Graz. ‘The Pearl of Austria’ as it is also known is a UNESCO heritage site and believed to be one of the oldest still inhabited settlements in Europe, with features dating back to the early Iron Age. 

Traveller info: Surrounded by beautiful mountains, the village does not allow cars from May to October, making it the perfect location for a romantic walk.

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05 2016 The Red Bulletin

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