Where to go to escape the stresses of life, the bustle of the workweek and the noise of traffic? To find out, we turned to question-and-answer site Quora, where users have been sharing their opinions on real places that look plucked from a fairy tale.
From an enchanting Alpine palace in Germany that rivals Cinderella’s castle to a postcard-perfect English landscape that inspired Beatrix Potter and JRR Tolkien – these seven dreamy destinations are so magical, it’s hard to believe they’re real.
A giant patchwork quilt of kaleidoscopic colour
Holland’s stunning tulip fields, with their broad stripes of vibrant blues, reds, pinks and yellows, “look like the artwork in a children’s book”, wrote Quora user Rahul Shankar. He added that this coastal region of the Netherlands “strangely reminded [him] of the Wizard of Oz”.
It’s a modern pastime to circle the flower farms on foot, bike or via caravan, and the tulips have a rich, storied history. The flowers were imported into Holland in the 16th Century and peaked in popularity in the 17th Century – during the Dutch Golden Age – when they grew so coveted they created the world’s first economic bubble: “Tulip Mania”.
The most popular fields are located in western Holland between the cities of Leiden and Den Helder. Others are situated near the city of Enkhuizen and in the nearby province of Flevoland.
More than three billion tulips are grown in Holland each year, attracting tens of thousands of visitors each year. Tulip season spans from March until August, giving travellers plenty of time to view the vibrant display.
A fantastical figment of Gaudi’s otherworldly imagination
With its intricate symbolic sculptures, monumental medallion-capped spires and wildly imaginative carved facades, theSagrada Familia rises from Barcelona’s urban setting like an elaborate Gothic castle ripe with stories, spirits and secrets.
Designed by one of Spain’s most famed architects, Antoni Gaudi, the history of this Roman Catholic church and Unesco World Heritage Site is a legend in itself. Construction began in 1882, but less than a quarter of the project was complete when Gaudi died in 1926. Since then, work has progressed slowly, disrupted by the Spanish Civil War, a fire and a series of contentious controversies. The happy ending? Architects plan to complete the project in 2026, the centenary of Gaudi’s death.
Barcelona’s most popular tourist site attracts three million visitors annually, and for good reason: it’s a dizzyingly elaborate masterpiece unlike anything else in the world. Which is why, according to Aditya Pandya, it has put Barcelona on the map.
“Anyone who is familiar with Gaudí’s work would appreciate his brazen and imaginative designs that left a lasting impression on Barcelona as a city,” Pandya wrote. “Gaudí’s phenomenal work between the late 1880s and 1920s is largely responsible for the city’s vibrant personality and in being recognised as the cultural capital of Spain.”