The Most Unexpectedly Romantic Cities in Europe
Certain places have a reputation for romance. And many of them just so happen to be in Europe. At first thought, Paris and Venice undoubtedly come to mind. But beyond these beloved cities lies a wonderland of enticing locales that are equally (though, perhaps, less obviously) hard to resist.
Because we’re passionate about spreading the love, here are our top picks for the most unexpectedly romantic destinations in Europe.
With its mix of cozy cafés and cultural pursuits, Oslo is easy to adore. Need more convincing? Set your sights on the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet or visit Vigeland Park. Cool breezes are a welcome excuse to snuggle with your sweetie. And thanks to the recently debuted Amerikalinjen, pairs can shack up in the heart of it all.
Santorini gets all the cred in the romance department, while folks think of Mykonos as its hard-partying neighbor. But this good-time island also has a lot of amour-inducing attributes, from clothing-optional beaches and seductive stays (hello, Cavo Tagoo and Myconian Kyma) to sea-view tavernas. Candlelit dinner, anyone?
When it comes to Copenhagen, love is always in the air. Scenic canals and cobblestone streets create an utterly idyllic setting. You’ll find acclaimed fine dining establishments and well-designed digs like SKT.PETRI. While the sophisticated Champagne bar at Hotel D'Angleterre is the perfect venue to toast your incredible trip.
Ljubljana doesn’t necessarily conjure images of afternoon picnics, holding hands along the riverfront and horse-drawn carriage rides. But it should! All of this classic rom-com action goes down in the Slovenian capital. To further solidify your bond, how about a couples massage at the InterContinental Ljubljana or a sunset boat cruise?
Leave Warsaw behind for the relaxed vibe of Gdansk. Perched on the Baltic coast, this lesser-known locale is a totally enchanting escape. Spend your days sipping cider and admiring the monuments. In the mood for some sky-high canoodling? Consider a spin on Amber Sky Koło Widokowe. In the evenings, the mellifluous sounds of violinists are audible throughout the city.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
Rothenburg ob der Tauber corners the market on storybook splendor. Part of the Romantic Road through southern Germany, this quaint town oozes Bavarian charm in the form of medieval architecture—including a fairy-tale castle—lively restaurants and beer gardens. Sure, it's a tad bit touristy, but the droves of day-trippers are just further evidence of its desirability.
Cascais offers just about everything you’d expect from a coastal retreat—sandy shores, outdoor eateries (for plant-based noshers, there's a colorful vegetarian joint with an Insta-worthy rooftop) and souvenir shops. What you might not anticipate? A bunch of great wine bars. Either way, a few glasses of vinho verde later and Boca do Inferno seems even more mesmerizing.
Baroque landmarks and turquoise tides are just part of what makes Valletta so tempting. This pint-size capital serves up a double dose of Mediterranean flair. Travelers can count on authentic cuisine and hip drinking dens. Plus, Republic Street is lined with jewelry stores. (C’mon, every woman wants something sparkly.) For a memorable overnight, we highly suggest booking a room at The Phoenicia Malta.
While there’s certainly no shortage of romantic respites in Italy, Ostuni holds a special place in our heart. The hilltop gem of Puglia casts a spell on honeymooners with its whitewashed old town and quaint ambiance. We can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t be sufficiently wooed by views of rolling olive groves and the Adriatic Sea in the distance.
Once a holiday hot spot for Swedish royals, Öland’s well-intact sense of nostalgia and regal attractions, such as Solliden Palace, continue to lure vacationers today. In the summer, twosomes can ride bikes and frolic on the beautiful beaches. The frigid winter season definitely calls for cuddling up in front of the fire and sharing glögg (hot mulled wine).
For a pampering couples’ getaway, the Queen of the Danube earns our vote. Get lovey-dovey at the myriad thermal spas. Need date night ideas? Budapest won’t disappoint. Fisherman’s Bastion is a sublime perch to watch the sunset. Head to Onyx, the first restaurant in Budapest with two Michelin stars, for a mouthwatering meal and wine pairing.
It’s no secret that Belgium is famous for waffles, chocolate and beer. However, the capital of West Flanders has more to satisfy than indulgent delights. Often referred to as the “Venice of the North,” Bruges tantalizes travelers with a mix of picturesque canals, cobbled streets and medieval buildings. Don’t miss the panoramic vistas from the Belfry of Bruges!
Palma isn’t a tough sell, what with its sunny skies and intriguing architecture. There are plenty of inviting spots to grab a cocktail and soak in the vacation-worthy atmosphere. Adding to the allure? A handful of intimate, boutique hotels. (We dare anyone to deny the immense charms of Can Bordoy Grand House & Garden.) Plus, the food is freakin’ fantastic.