The most romantic cities in Europe have a variety of things to see and do to make couples feel more in love…
Romance in Europe isn’t just delegated to meandering, cobblestoned villages and sun-dappled islands. The big cities of Europe have romance to offer, too. Here are my top picks for the most romantic cities in Europe and what to do while there to make sure it’s a memorable, romance-filled time with your sweetie.
Ljubljana manages to have both a big city and small town feel at the same time. Part of this is thanks to the castle situated high above the city that feels like a little village when you visit it. Down below, the canal with its unique and innovative bridges provides a romantic place to stroll along, and the canal-side bars and cafes are cute and scenic to get a drink in. Side streets spreading out from the canal have colorful buildings and shops to explore to get lost in for awhile. A bit farther outside the central part of the city is Tivoli Park, a massive green area with hiking trails perfect for a lovely evening stroll with your love.
Best Bets for Romance: If there in the summer, check out the nightly outdoor movies shown across from Gostilna na Gradu restaurant. It takes dinner and a movie to a whole new level. The two of you will also feel like a king and queen while staying in the marvelously historic Antiq Palace. Another romantic idea? Enjoy a drink in the bar underneath Triple Bridge.
Barcelona will always stand out as one of the most romantic cities in Europe in my mind because that’s where I met up with my husband after the longest period we were apart (nearly a month) and we had so much fun being together again and getting dinner by the coast and drinks in Plaça Reial square. Even if you and your beloved haven’t been apart for a long period of time, you’ll find romance in Barcelona…with a twist. I say that because the city has plenty to do for couples, from romantic restaurants to sites to explore together, but is also has an undercurrent of excitement you can feel when visiting. Salsa dancing, street festivals, tapas bars, and the sensation that the city never sleeps will heighten your senses and get you right into an amorous mood. Perfect for a romantic trip with a ton of fun thrown in.
Best Bets for Romance: The above mentioned Plaça Reial for dinner and drinks since it’s such a lovely square. Before enjoying some dinner, get inspired by Casa Batlló and discuss plans for your future home together while you walk around the Gaudi architectural masterpiece. If thrills bring you together, time your visit to coincide with one of the festivals where you can do something like this.
Oh, Vienna. This is a romantic European city that I didn’t go to with my husband that I am itching to go back to with him because it felt like opportunities for romance were trickling out of every charming Neoclassical and Baroque building and corner. When you visit Vienna, you’ll find there is music everywhere, which is helpful for being put in a romantic mood. Plus, Vienna has lovely little wine gardens on the outskirsts of town by its vast Vienna Woods, which is even home to some vineyards – not many big cities can boast they have vineyards within its city limits.
Best Bets for Romance: Get tickets and dress up in your fanciest attire for a night out at Vienna’s famous opera house, the Vienna State Opera. (If booked or closed, Musikverein is also an excellent concert venue choice.) When not at a concert, get in a romantic frame of mind by sipping hot chocolate together and splitting a decadent dessert at ritzy Café Sacher, or enjoy some local wine at one of the wine garden restaurants – both Pffarwirt in Grinzing and Wiengut Mayer am Pfarrplatz Beethoven-Haus restaurants in the neighborhood of Pfarrplatz are good choices for a romantic setting.
With river views, gorgeous architecture, a bustling night scene, and excellent cuisine, Budapest is a Europe city where cosmopolitan couples can lose themselves in the vast history, excitement, and culture of the place. Budapest is also known for its spas and you can get into a romantic mood by lounging together in the warm, thermal natural baths before enjoying a soothing massage. Once you’re all relaxed and limbered up from the effects of the spa, check into one of Budapest’s sumptuous – and often surprisingly affordable – luxury hotels.
Best Bets for Romance: Get a massage and then lounge in the effervescent pool at the opulent Gellert Baths and Spa. At night, the dimly lit, red accented rooms of Buddha-Bar Hotel in Budapest will put you into a sexy frame of mind.
Bratislava isn’t as frequently visited as some of the other cities on this list, though I wouldn’t be surprised if that changes soon. Bratislava seems to be on the cusp of rapid growth as the country of Slovakia continues to forge its own path in the wake of the downfall of Czechoslovakia. Get there now while it still feel like a little secret spot in Europe where you can explore back streets together and have them nearly all to yourself until you find a little wine bar to tuck into. Or take a break at one of the little city-sponsored reading spots scattered around town. Often situated between buildings or in the corner of a small square, these little reading nooks provide a romantic haven from the big city. You can also take a romantic boat ride down the Danube River.
Best Bets for Romance: Mood Restaurant will indeed get you in the mood with its trendy, but intimate décor and tables. Grand Cru Wine Gallery lets you enjoy a glass of wine snuggled up in the basement cellar or at one of the comfortable tables upstairs. While in Bratislava, you can also enjoy a boat ride together to ancient Devín Castle and then learn a bit about history while you explore the ruins hand-in-hand together.
Paris also has the reputation for romance. This rep has definitely been glammed up by Hollywood, but for good reason. With a café on practically every corner and ample park space and benches, the city is practically begging you to slow down and simply enjoy talking to each other again. Remember talking? That thing you do when you’re not scrolling through your smart phone? Paris will get you reconnected, and then when you’re ready for something faster paced you can catch a sexy show at the Moulin Rouge or take a trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower to find some additional big city romance. (Speaking of the Eiffel Tower, when I was there one year on Valentine’s Day, I saw numerous proposals. They were happening left and right at sunset! It was crazy…and very romantic.)
Best Bets for Romance: The Eiffel Tower at sunset…cliché, yes, but I mean c’mon…it’s the Eiffel Tower. Another romantic activity in Paris can be to share a Nutella crepe at Jardin des Tuileries park, or find any one of the quintessential Parisian cafes dotting the boulevards and enjoy a cup of coffee and conversation. I also recommend bringing a picnic lunch to enjoy on the steps of the Sacre Couer if you’re there on a sunny day – you’ll have views of the whole city and there’s often musicians serenading the area.
Lisbon is a city to get lost in together and find the surprise pockets of romance along its streets, particularly in the colorful and cobblestoned Alfama District. The views of Lisbon are astounding thanks to the city being adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean and they can be seen best from St. George’s Castle. Plus, that ocean view also means you’re just a short drive away from some incredible beaches to lounge together on for some romance in the surf.
Best Bets for Romance: Enjoy a traditional Portuguese meal in the quaint Alfama District of Lisbon while getting serenaded by a Fado performance, which is a soulful type of folk music popular in Portugal.
Venice is an obvious choice for most romantic city in Europe – to the point the city almost seems like a lovey dovey caricature of itself if you’re not experiencing it firsthand. But there’s a reason Venice has the romance reputation it does, and it’s worth it to check out. Sure it’s touristy, but between gondola rides, frolicking with pigeons in St. Mark’s Square, exploring together along quaint side streets and over tiny bridges, and sharing some of the best gelato in Italy together, you and your honey will likely feel more in love than ever after leaving Venice.
Best Bets for Romance: This one’s easy: a gondola ride.