Europe’s best cities for a romantic getaway
Paris is great...but these places are even better for romance
Does your relationship need a bit of help from Cupid? Have you been looking for love in all the wrong places? Or do you just fancy a warm and fuzzy dose of passion? Either way, we’ve got your back, with ten trips (almost) guaranteed to bring out the romantic in anyone. Yes, even you.
And in case you needed a little nudge…yes, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.
Barcelona is a city with something for everyone – hundreds of bars and restaurants, a banging club scene, and, perfect for the post party recovery, miles and miles of golden beach! To fit in with local Catalonian culture, you really have to be a night owl – no one heads out until midnight, and nothing much opens before midday. Chances are if you head to Barcelona in the summer, you will bump into one kind of festival or other. The daddies are Sonar and Primavera in June, but for something a bit different, look out for the Correfoc community festival in August – where locals rampage through the streets with lit fireworks strapped to every part of their body!
There are few better places on Earth to say “Je t’aime” than the narrow old streets, flower-filled markets and sun-drenched outdoor cafés of Aix-en-Provence in the south of France. A magnet for artists, art-lovers and just plain old lovers for centuries, Aix is a place to let the atmosphere and charm wash over you while you do nothing other than laze around in the sun. Sounds pretty romantic to us.
What could be sexier than a trip to the administrative capital of the EU? OK, so Brussels may have a less-than-exciting reputation – but trust us, anywhere that specialises in chocolate and beer knows how to push the right buttons. It’s pretty, too, with plenty of parks, squares and historic buildings to wander around. Brussels also has more rainy days than any other major European city, so you might not want to leave your hotel room at all…
No, we’re not talking about the kind of love you’ll find in the gaudily lit windows of the red-light district. If it’s proper romance you’re after, you’re better off looking for it among the quaint canals and picture-postcard townhouses that line them. For the quintessential Amsterdam experience, hire a couple of bikes and pootle around the city’s quieter neighbourhoods and you’ll feel like you’ve got this magical city all to yourselves.
As capital of the most romantic region (Tuscany) in the world’s most romantic country (Italy), Florence has a serious head-start in the romance stakes. Everywhere you walk there’s history – from Renaissance architecture and bustling piazzas to art galleries including the Uffizi – home to Botticelli’s Birth of Venus – and the Galleria dell’Accademia, which houses Michelangelo’s David. If you’re feeling flush and want to avoid the tourist hordes, head to the Four Seasons Firenze hotel – a renovated Medici palace with one of the largest gardens in the city.
Earn cashback on your next hotel stay
Vienna may get more attention, but this stunning baroque city on the Salzach river, with the Alps looming in the background, is ready and waiting for you to create your own fairytales. It’s hard to avoid the city’s favourite son – Mozart, who was born here – so just go with it and soak up the sights, sounds and setting that inspired his early work. Here’s a tip: they do a mean hot chocolate and vast slices of cake at historic Café Tomaselli, in case the way to your heart is via your stomach.
You’ll struggle to find a more romantic spot in the UK than the top of Arthur’s Seat – the rocky hill in Holyrood Park from which you can look down on Edinburgh and far beyond. Once you’ve slogged up and down it, reward yourself with a lazy stroll around the beautiful old and new parts of this hilly city, then finish up in a cosy bar (Usquabae on Hope Street would be our choice) with a dram or two of whisky. Chin-chin and ding-dong.
Last year, achingly pretty Ljubljana was named European Green Capital, and with good reason – it’s packed with open spaces and parks, including the huge Tivoli Park, which extends right into the city centre. For maximum romantic vibes, though, wander the bridges dotted along the Ljubljanica river and dive into an outdoor café to soak up the sun (assuming it’s out, of course) and lose yourselves in the city’s laid-back atmosphere.
This city in the south of Spain is the birthplace of flamenco, so you won’t be surprised to hear that Seville is dripping with fiery Latin passion. It’s also packed with beauty and history – there are three Unesco World Heritage sites, including the spectacular Alcázar castle – and is bathed in sun for most of the year. If you can’t fall in love in Seville, you won’t fall in love anywhere.
Whether you’re looking to start a cruise around Norway’s fjords, or you just fancy hanging out in this historic Scandinavian city, it’s hard not to fall in love with Bergen [lead picture]. With its dramatic setting, on the side of a mountain overlooking the sea, Bergen is a city where natural and urban environments sit shoulder to shoulder. You can climb nearby mountains, if you’re into that kind of thing, or just hit the historic Bryggen area and cosy up by the waterside.
The name might not scream ‘red hot romance’, but this ancient Bulgarian city – strewn with Roman ruins and cute cobbled roads – deserves to be on your radar. If you’re looking to snare the love of your life, head to the Trap (better known as Kapana), where the colourful old buildings and winding streets have been given a new lease of life as a trendy and quirky arts district. No wonder it’ll be European Capital of Culture in 2019.