A fairy tale story complete with a princess, prince charming and a happily ever after is just about every little girl’s dream. We’ve all grown up with fantasies taken from our favorite Disney films and storybook tales. We have been told that castles, thrones, evil witches, dark spells and perfect knights in shining armor are merely fantasies. And while this may be partially true, there are actual real-life places around the world that can make your fairy tale dreams spring to life. If you are a true princess at heart longing for your happily ever after, visit these magical lands around the world to turn your dreams into reality.
This whimsical architectural masterpiece is certainly a sight to be seen. Located in the heart of Russia’s capital city of Moscow, this old Orthodox cathedral now turned museum is colorful and quirky and entirely fantastical. The eccentric architecture and colorful façade draw endless visitors to this iconic site that has come to be known as a symbol of Russia itself. Bright and unique, this structure looks as though Sleeping Beauty’s fairies had a color battle right at its front door.
A captivating monastery perched over a 3,120 meter cliff in the wild lands of rustic Bhutan, this temple roughly translates as “the tiger’s lair,” or is more commonly referred to as the Tiger’s Nest. High in the upper Paro Valley, this incredible site precariously hangs over a colossal abyss. You will undoubtedly feel like a fairy tale warrior as you trek the ancient mountain trails leading up to this epic spot.
The inspiration for Disneyland Paris’s Sleeping Beauty castle, this utterly romantic and magical palace was built in 1868 by King Ludwig II of Bavaria as a far away refuge from the public. Also rumored to be the inspiration for Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, it is undeniable that this fairy tale castle is pure magic. Breathtakingly set high up in the hills, this beautiful castle is one of the most visited in all of Europe.
This stunning ancient town of Portugal is a fairy tale wonderland. Rich with history, this town boasts striking parks, antique forests, towering castles, magical palaces and enchanting monasteries to place you straight into a Disney film. With fairy tale palaces and wells with secret passageways spiraling down into the earth, this town is a sight not to be forgotten.
A walk under a canopy of blossoming flowers is sure to send you straight to fairy tale heaven. In Kitakyushu, Japan this fanciful stroll is actually possible. Stand under a blooming cascade of lilac, navy, white, blue and violet colors for the most picturesque fairy tale dream. The Kawachi Fuji Garden is best visited between late April and mid-May for the most breathtaking arrangement of your very own real flower tunnel.
A true masterpiece of the ancient world, Petra, Jordan was the capital city to the Nabataeans who built this magnificent site more than 2,000 years ago. Enchantingly known as the Rose Red City, Half As Old As Time, this incredible place in the desert lands of Jordan was a massive city completed carved into the mountainous stone. The enormous facades that are virtually largely intact are the most visited tourist attraction of Jordan and are not to be missed by any true fairy tale enthusiasts. This city has nothing but magic and enchantment written across its streets.
Deep underground the Mexican town of Naica and the Chihuahua Desert, the largest crystals known to man grow and thrive in an excruciating climate. An enormous cave of crystals housing some up to 11 meters in height and 55 tons in weight thrives toward the center of the earth. Like a true fairy tale location of thistles and thorns, this cave is not friendly to visitors. With temperatures reaching 48 degrees Celsius, high quantities of hydrogen sulfide and brittle, sharp crystals, this site is only to be seen with the power of good magic on your side.
The perfect fairy tale castle complex exists as the pride and joy of Cambodia. This enormous complex of temples and palaces resides in the heartland of Southeast Asia, just outside of the small town of Siem Reap. A magical site of great wonder, and home to the largest religious structure ever built, this fairy tale land is rich with overgrown vines and trees spreading roots throughout the magnificent crumbling structures. Sunrises and sunsets at this epic site are not to be missed as the enchanted energy of the complex brings a mystic feel to the air.
The symbol and pride of India and a great emperor’s symbol of love of devotion to his late wife, the Taj Mahal is a masterpiece of fairy tale art. A majestic white marble mausoleum in Agra, India, this mesmerizing structure is considered to be the jewel of Muslim art and architecture. Serving as the inspiration of the Sultan’s palace from Disney’s Aladdin, this gem is internationally recognized as a masterpiece of fairy tale proportions.
Deep in the heart of the Waitomo Caves of New Zealand, a magical cove known as Glowworm Grotto is illuminated with magic. A tiny little species of glowworms native only to New Zealand light up the depths of this dark cave with their fantastic radiance. Creating a starry scene on the walls and ceiling of the cave, walking through this fantasy land is like taking a step through a Brothers Grimm story.
In the southwest of Turkey, in its Inner Aegean region, lives a magical site translating from Turkish as “cotton castle.” This natural “castle” is just about as fairy tale as they come. Looking like snow-covered mountains, this natural location is actually a mixture of natural hot springs and terraces made of carbonate minerals created by the flowing water. Blissful and beautiful and straight out of Frozen (without the frost!) this spot is a fairy tale dream.
UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature, this enchanted land of turquoise waters and endless limestone islands is a fairy tale playground. Halong Bay of Quảng Ninh, Vietnam also known as “Descending Dragon Bay” roughly translates as “the place where the dragon dived into the sea.” Legend has it that a great dragon who lived in the mountains created the beautiful isles. Now if this dragon story doesn’t just scream fairy tale to you, then nothing will.
On this magical island in the Maldives, what is written in the stars is illuminated in the waters. Tiny marine organisms, phytoplankton, light up the ocean at night as a result of bioluminescence which is a chemical reaction that occurs in living creatures converting energy into light. This magic of nature creates some very fairy tale scenes. Appearing as a reflection of the stars in the night sky, the beach glows with radiance as if Cinderella were just kissed by her handsome prince charming.