Last Updated on 3rd May 2020 by Sophie Nadeau
From windswept vistas to wine tasting overlooking the ocean: Europe has no shortage of charming city breaks you’ll love taking together with your partner. As culturally diverse as it is wide, Europe has everything to offer from foodie destinations to quite literally some of the most beautiful places in the world. And so, if you’re looking for an extra special place to travel to, then here’s our complete guide to the most romantic cities in Europe!
Of course, if there’s one romantic city in Europe which deserves its place on this list more than any other, it’s none other than Paris, i.e. the City of Love. And while I may be biased after countless days wandering around the French capital’s cobbled lanes and plane-tree-lined boulevards, there’s no place in the world quite like Paris.
Once in the city, there’s quite literally no shortage of things to do. So whether you’re looking to sample France’s culinary scene or simply wish to wander around with a camera and snap all of the unique corners the city has to offer, there’s something for everyone. Some of the most romantic things to do in the city include sipping on a glass of wine and watching the world go by and discovering the secret side of the city which many visitors miss in lieu of more famous attractions.
Where to stay: The Hoxton
Read more: Romantic dates in Paris you’ll simply love
Busy and bustling, there’s no shortage of things to do when it comes to the UK capital city, particularly if you’re in search of a delightful romantic escape. Once in the Big Smoke, some of the most charming things to do include strolling around one of the city’s main green spaces (we particularly love Greenwich and Regent’s Park), meandering through the many mews streets in South Kensington and Chelsea, and scouting out the best spots in the city to enjoy an afternoon tea.
Where to stay: Hazlitt’s
Nestled in the heart of the Tuscan countryside, Florence (or Firenze as it is so-called in Italian) is a stunning city home to one of the most beautiful Renaissance cathedrals in the world, as well as more than a handful of stunning museums.
Perfect to visit as a weekend break, or alternatively a longer sojourn if you have more time to spare, Florence is easily one of the most romantic cities in Europe thanks to its mouthwatering foodie scene, wealth of pretty vistas spread across the city, and number of charming boutique hotels.
Where to stay: Villa Cora
The capital city of Catalonia is situated by the sea and has more than just a little to offer even the most discerning of travellers. Home to a wealth of stunning architecture (including some of Gaudi’s most famous buildings), Barcelona is also a great base from which to explore the wider region, lending itself to day trips to destinations such as Dalí’s Figueres and the city of Girona, which has been world-famous
In Barcelona itself, there’s no shortage of romantic things to do. Particular highlights include strolling through Parc Güell (which can actually be visited for free outside of regulated opening hours), exploring the many chic bookstores, and meandering through the many hidden lanes and cobbled streets of the Gothic Quarter.
Where to stay: Hotel Condes de Barcelona
Leiden, the Netherlands
A university city with some of the prettiest architecture in Holland, if not the entirety of the Netherlands, Leiden is home to many a canal and plenty of quintessential Dutch brick houses. So iconic are the waterside façades, that the city was even chosen to be the backdrop for the ‘Miniaturist’ (a story set in 17th-century Amsterdam) film a few years ago.
Today, Leiden has plenty of secrets spots worth discovering, including several marvellous museums, the wooden bar from which the Heineken star originated, and many Rembrandt locations. Otherwise, it’s worth noting that, like much of Holland, the city is ever so easy to cycle around. One particularly romantic escape from the city is a cycle to nearby Kasteel Duivenvoorde.
Where to stay: ExLibris Boutique Hotel
Read more: Why you’ll love visiting Leiden
Cool, chic, and ever-so-underrated, Ghent is the Bruges alternative you didn’t know you need to visit (but totally should). Situated in the Flemish part of Belgium, the stunning city boasts gorgeous canals lined with traditional houses dating back many centuries.
Head to the centre of the city and you can expect to find a maze of historic pubs perfect to enjoy a pint at. One particular favourite is that of Dulle Griet, where you have to exchange a shoe for the duration of drink in order to ‘loan out’ one of the special beer drinking vessels. Otherwise, enjoy a romantic boat ride along Ghent’s canals and enjoy some traditional Flemish cuisine by candlelight.
Where to stay: Pillows Grand Hotel Reylof
Read more: The best-kept secrets of Ghent
Prague, Czech Republic
The capital city of the Czech Republic, or Czechia as it is also officially known as, is that of Prague, a historic and beguiling city with centuries worth of history. Easy to visit thanks to its air and rail links to the rest of Europe and beyond, Prague is best-explored over the course of several days, allowing you to soak up the sights and explore each of the city’s distinctive districts in full.
Some of the most romantic places to check out in the city include the breathtaking view from the top of the
Where to stay: Hotel BoHo
Read more: Where to find the best view in Prague
A port city situated in the north of Poland, Gdansk is dreamy, romantic, and perfect for exploring over the course of several days. Highlights of the city include strolling around the old town to admire the architecture, visiting St Mary’s Church (which is one of the largest brick churches in the world), and spying the gigantic wooden medieval crane which dominates the surrounding historic port in which it can be found.
If you have a little more time while in the city, be sure to escape at least once in order to visit Malbork, a brick castle which is often alleged to be the biggest castle in the world (though this is contested). If you wish to see the brick fortification for yourself, then you’ll need to set aside a half day to make the day trip from Gdansk.
Where to stay: IBB Hotel Długi Targ
Magical to visit during any time of the year, Lucerne is best-seen in the winter months when the Christmas markets are in full swing, or alternatively during the summer when lake-side activities take priority over all else. Home to an abundance of charming Swiss houses and lying in the shadow of a snow-capped mountain, a visit to Lucerne feels quite literally like stepping into a fairytale.
Some of the best things to do in the small Swiss city include strolling across the wooden Chapel Bridge, whose covered interior is covered in beautiful artworks, going up nearby Mount Pilatus (an activity which is more suited to the summer months), and relax in the 17th-century town hall, which in turn boasts its very own brewery!
Where to stay: Hotel Schweizerhof Luzern
Read more: How to spend a long weekend in Switzerland
The island of Mykonos is characterised by its crystal turquoise waters, many beaches, and historic windmills, a historic feature that’s prevalent throughout the Cyclades (a group of islands so-called thanks to their cyclical arrangement), but particularly so in Mykonos.
The capital city of the island is also called Mykonos and is a largely pedestrianised maze of cobbled lanes and white houses punctuated by blue doorways to match the colour of the surrounding sea. Easily one of the most romantic places to visit in Europe, there’s something for everyone to enjoy from relaxing on the beach to partying all night in the town, or alternatively exploring the ruins of nearby islands.
Where to stay: Semeli Hotel Mykonos
Read more: Your perfect one day in Mykonos itinerary
Though the capital city of Portugal, Lisbon, is well worth a visit in its own right, Porto is arguably one of the most romantic cities to visit in Europe. And not just because of the stunning tiling that is to be found adorning buildings around the city.
Instead, the city is set over many levels and is perhaps best-known for its namesake fortified wine, porto.