While most of Europe is synonymous with romantic, cobblestoned streets and gothic architecture, it’s also synonymous with overcrowded, expensive, tourist-driven cities. Finding the correct balance between romance and seclusion – while still supplying top-tier attractions and restaurants – is a delicate game.
With over 800 cities to choose from, here are a few of the most romantic places to visit.
Verona, Italy – the Romeo and Juliet experience
Is there a better love story than Romeo and Juliet? Probably not. A visit to Verona could be one of the most classically romantic places to visit, even if Romeo and Juliet – who aren’t real – never strolled through the market squares and baroque buildings.
What makes this place special isn’t the Shakesperean tales. Verona is a beautiful city with a good balance of restaurants, architecture, and things to do. It also isn’t as crowded as some of the bigger Italian destinations like Rome and Venice.
Some of the best things to do include watching an opera at Verona Arena, navigating the maze at Giardino Giusti, and visiting Juliet’s House – if you can avoid the crowds. There are also picturesque market squares, elegant restaurants with candle-lit dinners, and bars with endless Italian wine.
Bruges, Belgium – canals and classic architecture
Bruges might not have the literary history of love stories like Verona, but it has plenty of romantic charm within its walls and canals. The city is just a short ride from Brussels and has its own fairytale story to tell.
If you’ve ever seen the movie, In Bruges, you know that Bruges fits the mould of the perfect city break for the right type of person. Those that enjoy canals, churches, and strolling through alleyways marvelling at old buildings will fit right in.
Some of the best things to do are delight in Belgian chocolate, stop at Lover’s Bridge and Lake of Love, cruise the canals, and tour the streets in a horse-drawn carriage.
Porto, Portugal – port and river cruises
Porto is a place of discovery. Every place you go, you can discover something truly amazing. The city has many unique romantic qualities that you can’t quite find in other parts of Europe – the McDonald’s could be one of the most beautiful in the world.
Most days in Porto begin by the Douro River. Here, you can stroll or take a boat ride to see the city from a different viewpoint. You can also cruise into the Douro Valley and tour the world-famous wineries. If you haven’t had enough, you can also tour the port wine cellars that are dotted along the river.
If port isn’t your speed, or if you want to change things up after a day of wining and dining, there’s plenty more to explore. You can enjoy a morning at a café eating pastel de nata, experience the pure emotion of a Fado show, and finish the evening basking in the sunset with an amazing view of Porto at Jardim do Morro.
Donostia-San Sebastián, Spain – food lover’s paradise
Many say that food is the way to the heart. If this is you, or your partner, Donostia-San Sebastián could be your ultimate destination.
Spain itself is a place with renowned food and weather, and Donostia-San Sebastián is quickly becoming a world-leading food destination. It has the most Michelin-starred restaurants per capita in Europe – but don’t underestimate the barras de pintxos (tapas bars) either.
The city, however, offers so much more than dining. You can also take a sunset cruise in the Atlantic, relax on the beach or stroll through the charming streets of the old town.
Budva, Montenegro – charming old town and seaside adventure
If your idea of romance consists of thrilling adventures with your partner – but still with the charm of old towns and fine wine – Budva could be the place for you. The charming island of Sveti Stefan is just around the corner as well.
While Montenegro is close to the often-visited Croatia, enveloping destinations like Split, Zadar and Dubrovnik, it has its own personality as well. Besides Budva, Montenegro has beautiful destinations including Kotor, Herceg Novi and Perast. With all of these beautiful seaside towns, if you decide to head to the country known as ‘black mountain’, you will be spoilt for choice.
Local attractions for thrill seekers include solo kayaking through caves, paragliding off the mountains to glide over Sveti Stefan, and sea cruising to explore the famous Blue Cave. When the night is winding down, the best place to head is old town. With secluded alleys, restaurants, and live music, it’s a great place to relax with that special someone.
Ljubljana, Slovenia – diverse wine culture and local delicacies
If you want to experience a city that keeps everything as romantic and authentic as possible, Ljubljana is your spot. This city might not have the same iconic attractions or food as other European counterparts, but the meaning of its name is ‘the beloved’ – and it’s known in some circles as the city of love.
Ljubljana’s specialty is its insistence on using sustainable, local ingredients – ingredients that are found in the local area, and sometimes, just in the yard – so you can taste the love in every bite. But it doesn’t end at local ingredients. Slovenia sports 52 varieties of grapes within its borders. If you want to taste some of the most unique, local wine, Ljubljana is a good place to do it.
If you have some time between meals and wine tasting, you can cruise the Ljubljanica River, explore Ljubljana Castle, or venture out to the lush countryside.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany – medieval charm in an old, walled town
It would be hard to compile a list of romantic cities without including one from Germany’s Romantic Road. Rothenburg ob der Tauber is on the famous road, and it’s one of the best-preserved walled towns in Germany.
What used to be filled with barns and farm animals now consists of hotels and year-round Christmas markets. Even though the town can get quite touristy, it’s still the one of the most charming medieval towns. Walking the walls is one of the best ways to experience the beautiful buildings, with a preferred view from above.
You won’t find many adrenaline-pumping activities in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. It’s a place where you can feel like you’ve gone back in time. You can stroll the streets, visit the amazing shops, and if you want to try something a bit different, you can try the Night Watchman Tour.
Bath, England – historic roman culture close to home
If you fancy a romantic city break but don’t want to catch a flight, you could venture out to Bath for a romantic getaway that’s just a train ride away. The city has plenty to see, including the iconic Roman Baths and beautiful architecture. But there’s more to Bath than that.
The Roman Baths are beautiful, but they aren’t accessible to the public. However, if you still want to experience thermal springs, you can do so at Thermae Bath Spa. With a rooftop view and water sourced from the natural thermal springs, there isn’t a better way to relax with your loved one.
Once you’ve relaxed in the thermal pools, there are still plenty of things to do around town. You could catch a movie at Little Theatre, float in a hot air balloon, or punt down the River Avon.
Europe has seemingly endless opportunity for romantic getaways. Choosing a destination can seem daunting at first, but there is fun to be had around every corner.
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