Fairytale architecture, stunning landscapes and picturesque streets, there is something magical about Europe that draws romance seekers.
If you’re looking for romantic cities in Europe other than tried-and-true Venice or Paris, it’s good to know that there are many other beautiful towns, cities and villages that will have you swooning – with lots of Insta-worthy backdrops for couple snapshots. These destinations are just as romantic, but thay have less tourists and cheaper prices.
You may not be able to travel widely in Europe just yet, due to Covid, but these are the most romantic cities in Europe you haven’t heard of yet. Put them on the list for those future trips for two…
1. Budapest, Hungary
With fairytale architecture like this, Budapest deserves to be on a list of romantic cities in Europe. Go for an idyllic stroll through the Castle District, where you will find Fisherman’s Bastion (pictured) amongst other beautiful buildings, like St. Matthias Church. On the other side of the city you’ll find more beautiful architecture like the Hungarian Parliament Building and St. Stephen’s Basilica.
If nature is your thing, Budapest has beautiful parks such as Margrit Island and City Park, perfect for leisurely strolls or picnics.
Another benefit to visiting Budapest: prices here are cheaper than in many other cities in Europe. You will be able to splurge on fancy hotels and even go to the opera (which often costs a pretty penny in other European cities). Get all dressed up and enjoy a show at the Hungarian State Opera before heading for dinner at a rustic restaurant. Don’t forget to try the famous Hungarian Tokaji wine.
Not into opera? Take an evening river cruise down the Danube river. Some cruises even do dinner on board so you can enjoy a romantic meal as you take in the views of the city at night. Budapest also has some great bars and what are called “ruin pubs”.
Ruin pubs or bars are unique to Budapest. These bars are built in Budapest’s oldest district, in the ruins of abandoned buildings. Each of these bars is unique, filled with quirky second-hand furniture, murals and street musicians. The most famous ruin bar is called Szimpla Kert. It’s an old factory filled with cocktail bars, music, and even old communist-era cars. Hungary brews great beer, but why not be adventurous and sip a cocktail made with Palinka, a Hungarian fruit brandy?
You should also spend a romantic day lounging in the hot pools or book a spa day together. For centuries Hungary has been famous for spa treatments and beauty treatments – many of the world-famous beauty brands like Helena Rubenstein, Estée Lauder and Erno Laszlo started here. While cult beauty brands like Peter Thomas Roth and Belif have both released products that use Hungarian Thermal Water.
Széchenyi Medicinal Bath in Budapest is the largest medicinal bath in Europe, with naturally warm water that comes from two thermal spring. Built in 1913, the spa is housed in a huge Baroque Revival palace. You will feel like romantic royalty having a spa day here.
2. Prague, Czech Republic
With a beauty to rival Paris, The Czech capital is definitely one of the most romantic cities in Europe. Take a romantic stroll across the stunning, 14th-century Charles bridge to the Old Town Square and search for the famous Astronomical Clock or explore the grounds of Prague Castle. The dramatic architecture of this city has remained untouched for centuries, so you feel you’ve been transported back in time.
One of the most romantic ways to see the city is to take a cruise along the Vltava River. The river banks are lined with stunning gothic architecture and you glide beneath beautiful bridges. Make sure your cameras and phones are charged, so you can make the most of the awesome photo opportunities.
If you’re on a short visit to Prague you’ll probably spend most of your time in Malá Strana. Also known as Lesser Town, this is a hillside area in Prague with views across the river to the old town. The narrow streets are lined with hotels, casual eateries and traditional pubs. As you get closer to the riverside Kampa area, the restaurants get more fancy and you can see exhibits of photos and letters at the Franz Kafka Museum.
A short distance from Malá Strana, you will find the beautiful Petřín Gardens Park where you can get some of the best views of the city. Take a romantic stroll around the rose garden (complete with free-roaming peacocks) and explore the mirror maze. While exploring, look for the statue of Czech romantic poet Karel Hynek Mácha – Czech people believe that if you kiss in front of the statue your love will last forever. The park is also home to the Štefánik Observatory. So how about a stargazing date for some out-of-this-world romance? It is a steep climb up the hill to the park, but you can opt to take the funicular.
Add some culture to your romantic getaway and watch an opera at the Prague National Theatre. You can even take it up a notch and upgrade to a private box. Like Budapest, tickets to the opera in Prague are not nearly as expensive as some other European cities so you can indulge in all the fancy things!
3. Kitzbühel – Tirol, Austria
Whether you’re a sporty couple or you just enjoy enjoy stunning alpine landscapes, you’ll love the romance of this Alpine town. Kitzbühel in Austria has a beautiful city centre to explore, plus lots of cozy ski chalets to visit. Because nothing is as romantic as snuggling up in a chalet together, with a glass of wine or a cup of hot cocoa.
If you are not keen on skiing, there are plenty of other activities for you to enjoy. Kitzbühel’s resorts offer spas, saunas, yoga lessons, romantic breakfasts with amazing views of the Austrian alps, hiking and biking trails and great restaurants.
In the warmer months, you can swim in the nearby lakes, bicycle along endless trails or enjoy a romantic picnic by. For example, Schwarzsee is an is an idyllic, 15-acre, tree-lined lake located about three kilometers away from Kitzbühel. Its mineral rich waters are popular for swimming and other activities such as sunbathing, fishing (carp and pike and plentiful), kayaking and canoeing (rentals are available).
If you’re a foodie, make sure you try Tiroler Speck – this bacon is first dry-salted and seasoned with a special blend of spices, cold smoked over beech wood, and finally dried and matured in the crisp Alpine air. This region is also famous for pasta, rich cheese sauces, apricot sauces and sparkling sekt wine, a local sparkling wine that gives champagne a run for it’s money (and at half the price).
Austrians are very eco-aware – you can find organic versions of everything here, from yoghurt to shampoo and medicines. The Stanglwirt Bio-Hotel in Kitzbühel is a popular green-lifestyle hotel that has been visited by instafamous fashion + lifestyle blogger Leonie Hanne. As a wellness hotel, it is the perfect accommodation to book for rest, relaxation and some time with your significant other. Enjoy the crisp, mountain air in this secret romantic city in Europe.
4. Seville, Spain
You can’t have a list of romantic cities in Europe without mentioning Seville in Spain. Wander through the spectacular Royal Alcázar of Seville and take in the gorgeous mix of Mudéjar (Moorish) and renaissance style architecture and lose yourselves in the majestic palace gardens. Seville is a city that makes you feel like you’ve been transported to another world.
The stunning Plaza de Espana inside María Luisa park is the perfect place for a romantic stroll. It features a ground level porch and balconies on the first floor for you to soak in the views. Turn up the romance by hiring a boat to glide along the canal that surrounds the beautiful fountain in the centre of the square. For some alone time, check out the Aire Ancient Baths which house the Arab baths, or Baños Árabes. Enjoy a massage together or take a dip in the dimly lit pools.
The romance doesn’t stop here. Some of the most picturesque spots in Seville can be found in the the Santa Cruz neighbourhood. You can stroll through this neighbourhood’s narrow streets and colourful, ornately decorated squares. The tranquil Jardines de Murillo is especially worth visiting. Or you can visit Casa de Pilatos, an ornate building from the 16th century. If you’re still in the mood for more architecture, take in the Cathedral of Seville and La Giralda.
Don’t forget to catch a flamenco dance show – Seville is the birthplace of the flamenco and it’s still very much alive and kicking here. Or just head out on a bar hopping night, to enjoy each other’s company over glasses of wine and sharing plates or tapas. If the evening calls for something fancier, book a table at Michelin-starred Abantal.
Fun fact: The Royal Alcazar of Seville is a registered UNESCO World heritage site. It’s recognized as the oldest royal Palace in Europe that is still in use. The palace was also a filming site for Game of Thrones.
5. Kraków, Poland
There is something special about cities that have stood the test of time. Kraków managed to avoid destruction during World War 2, and many of its buildings in the Old Town centre are centuries old. In fact, the entire Old Town is so well preserved, it’s a UNESCO world heritage site.
The former royal capital of Poland is the perfect romantic city in Europe for couples who love history. You can stroll through the 13th century Main Market Square or wander through the courtyards of the historic Wawel Castle. Visit to St. Mary’s Basilica to see the largest gothic altarpiece in the world, then climb up the church tower to get stunning views of the Old Town.
If you are in need of nature, you can enjoy leisurely strolls at Planty Park or the 18th century Botanic Garden of the Jagiellonian University. To get away from the city, spend an afternoon getting lost in Las Wolski, a protected forest with eight marked hiking trails, a cycling path, horse-riding trail and cross country skiing route. You will find several other attractions there, such as Kraków Zoo, Przegorzaly Castle, Pilsudski Moud and the Camaldolse Monastery.
Another interesting place to visit is the Wieliczka Salt Mine, another UNESCO world heritage site about 20 minutes outside of town. It might sound weird to visit a salt mine, but this one is 700 years ago, with underground lakes and statues carved out of salt by the miners. You can even walk around a ballroom and a church, carved out of salt, with salt chandeliers, salt statues and salt furniture.
As night falls there are plenty of candlelit restaurants in the city to choose from, for a romantic evening.
TIP: make a reservation. Kraków’s top restaurants are packed in the evenings, even on weekdays. Pod Nosem is “under the nose” of Wawel castle, on the oldest street in Kraków. Feast on local ingredients, including Polish caviar, and admire the Polish embroidery and antiques all over the dining room.
6. Symi, Greece
Paradise does exist and you’ll find it in in Symi, in Greece. If you and your significant other are fond of beaches, island getaways and spectacular costal architecture, Symi is the place for you. Located near the coast of Turkey in the eastern Aegean Sea , Symi has a quiet elegance with grand neoclassical buildings, great beaches and great Mediterranean food with a distinctively Arabic touch.
Symi is not so much a city as an island dotted with interconnected villages, but we’ve included it on our list of romantic cities in Europe because it has everything that’s good about Greece, plus it’s much less crowded than Greek islands like Rhodes and Kos.
For example, you can stroll around Symi island harbour and take in the beautiful bay dotted with boats. Or walk through narrow streets lined with pastel-coloured buildings. You will find shops selling local produce like honey, oils, spices and sea sponges.The island was traditionally home to expert sponge divers. Back in the 19th century they made fortunes selling sponges all over Europe – the grand buildings you see all over Symi were built with sponge money!
You can spend your romantic holiday lazing on beaches – Symi has exceptional sandy beaches, some of which can only be accessed from the sea. You can hire guides with boats to drop you off and pick you up.
Or try hiking up to Panormitis Monastery which was built in the late 18th century. Or walk up to Symi castle, which overlooks the port of Yialos. Go just before sunset to get spectacular views of the Island. You will find some great taverns at the backstreets above the town. the perfect way to spend a romantic evening. Some popular ones include The Secret Garden and Taverna Zoe. Make sure you try Symi grilled prawns, the island’s signature dish.
TIP: The Pahou kafeneio or traditional coffee shops are located in the centre of each village area. These shops open every day, before dawn and only shut when the last customer leaves. There are only shut on the feast day of Panormitis (November 8), and on the day after Christmas. You can find a good one in the center of Yialos.
7. Rovaniemi, Finland
Rovaniemi is located in the artic circle. Come wintertime, it transforms into a snowy wonderland dotted with cosy cabins, saunas and fireplaces. If you’re looking for romantic cities in Europe for a winter wonderland break, this is one slightly unusual suggestion for you. At Rovaniemi you can visit Santa’s Village, take sleigh rides and meet some beautiful reindeer. Wild reindeer roam free in Rovaniemi as well. adding to the whimsy of the place. You will feel like you are living in a Christmas card.
For some holiday fun with your significant other, you can attend Elf School at Santa Park. Though this is targeted mostly at children, adults can join as well. Activities include gingerbread house decorating, meeting Santa and watching live performances. The best part? Santa’s elves will give you a crash course on how to become a certified elf.
If you are interested in Finnish culture, you can visit the Arktikum Science Centre and the Rovaniemi Art Museum to learn more about the region. To get even deeper into the culture, go on a wilderness tour where you can learn more about nature and how the local people survive by living off the land.
If you’d like some unique accommodation, Rovaniemi is also home to the award-winning Artic Treehouse Hotels. You may have seen pictures on Instagram of couples cosied up in glass cabins surrounded by snow-covered trees. Well, you’ll find those here (pictured). This place may look far away from far away but there are plenty of bars, restaurants and amenities around for you to enjoy a luxe, romantic stay (check out bar 21 for some great cocktails). Don’t forget to try the famous Finnish sauna. Sit back, relax and enjoy each other’s company.
8. Rovinj, Croatia
The gem of the Istrian peninsula, Rovinj feels almost like being in Cinque Terra on the Italian Riviera but nope, you’re in Croatia. It’s just as pretty as the Italian Riviera, but not nearly as crowded, or expensive.
Dubbed the most romantic of the island towns in the region, Rovinj is the perfect setting for a getaway. Get lost in its narrow, charming streets or sip Malvasia (a wine local to Istria) while you look out at spectacular views. The Mediterraneo bar is a great spot for this. And if the sun is getting to you, there are plenty of beaches around to cool off. Don’t forget to catch the spectacular sunsets in the evening.
For sweeping views of the surrounding coast, climb up to the bell tower of Church of St. Euphemia. Nature lovers can check out the golden cape located within the park forest Zlatni Rt. This spot is perfect for swimming because the waters are clear and it feels very private.
Fun fact: The reason why Rovinj feels like Italy, is because it used to be part of the Venetian Republic. Until 1283 until the fall of Venice in 1797, this town was like a suburb of Venice.
9. Gretna Green, Scotland
When you visit Gretna Green you walk in the footsteps of centuries of lovers who defied laws, just to be together. This picturesque village may not have the castles of Prague or Kraków, but its history is very romantic.
Back in 1754, The Marriage Act introduced in England and Wales prevented couples under the age of 21 from getting married without consent from their parents. This led to many young people fleeing to Scotland, where they could marry without permission. They often got married in Gretna Green – the first town over the border. Since then Gretna Green’s been called the romance capital of the U.K.
Couples can still get married in Gretna Green, in the same Blacksmith Shop that conducted these elopement weddings all those years ago. Now weddings are conducted by a legal celebrant, so the weddings are legit and you get a proper marriage certificate.
If you are not looking to have your upcoming nuptials here, Gretna Green offers a range of packages for lovers. For example, you can experience a traditional “anvil blessing” or “tying of the knot” ceremony over the famous blacksmith’s anvil. In the past, these folk traditions were a way to mark engagements or Scottish common-law marriages. Now they’re a great way to celebrate anniversaries, birthdays, engagements or just to commemorate your trip to Gretna Green.
The Blacksmith Shop also houses a marriage museum featuring exhibitions, re-enactments and romantic stories and love letters from centuries gone by.
It’s not everyday you get to stay in a quaint little village, so if you fancy staying the night (or more) there are hotels. The town also offers food and drink experiences such as Scottish Whiskey and Scottish Gin tasting.
10. Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen may not be the first city that pops into your mind when you’re thinking of romantic cities in Europe, but the Danish capital can make for a fun escape. You can try trendy bars, stunning parks, picturesque architecture and Michelin-starred restaurants, including the world renowned NOMA.
Take a romantic stroll through Copenhagen’s Botanical Gardens or enjoy a picnic at the Rosenberg Castel Garden or Frederiksberg Garden. Take romance to level fairytale at Dyrehaven Park (Deer Park), where you can hire a horse-drawn carriage and trot through some of the most stunning natural beauty Denmark has to offer. Don’t forget your blanket to snuggle up in true hygge or cosy fashion.
Not sold yet? Copenhagen is also home to Tivoli, the most visited amusement park in Scandinavia. This vintage funfair is just the place to have a fun day together on the rollercoasters or ferries. Or you can take a scenic dragon boat ride on Tivoli Lake. If you are a couple that loves the beach, head to Amager Strand Park. Take a dip, do some water sports or just chill as you stroll along to the calming sounds of the waves.
Take a break from sightseeing and stop by one of the many lovely coffee shops in Copenhagen. Think rustic décor and cosy wooden furnishings. Perfect for a cuppa with your special person. As evening falls, head to one of Copenhagen’s many wine bars for a romantic evening together. You’ll find some fab ones in the trendy Nørrebro district.
TIP: If you are planning your dream home together, make a stop by the Designmuseum Denmark, in Copenhagen. Denmark is home to many of the most famous furniture and lighting designers in the world, and you can see their work here. The museum also has a lovely coffee shop and gift shop.
11. Alberobello, Italy
For a unique, romantic escape in Europe, head to the commune of Alberobello in the Puglia region of Italy. This charming village is not just beautiful, it is full of history. The Trulli houses (some dating back to the 14th century) are stunning examples of a prehistoric building technique called drywall or motarless construction – it’s where rocks are wedged together without using any cement. It’s an ancient method still used in this region.
Once used by farmers as temporary shelter or as permanent homes, some of the Trulli’s are now equipped with modern amenities and converted into shops, eateries or hotels. Spend the night, or a couple of days in the city, wandering through the picturesque streets, trying local food and browsing through stores.
If you don’t want to stay in a hotel, you can even rent a refurbished Trulli house via Airbnb. Explore the local markets, discover fresh Italian produce and spend some quality time cooking with your significant other in your fairytale house. It’s a great way to reconnect with each other.
Here’s an excellent video to check out if you are planning on renting a Trulli of your own.
Fun fact: The Trulli’s of Alberobello are made of roughly worked limestone boulders collected from neighbouring fields. They are a UNESCO world heritage site.
By K Praveena
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