5 OF THE MOST ROMANTIC CITIES IN EUROPE

I’m not a romantic. But Europe has made me feel romantic.

The right environment can send you to the lofty heights of enrapture. There are places that move you from exhilaration to exhilaration, sweeping up everything in your wake, blasting through the town without barely stopping for a breath. I don’t think there’s a greater feeling. But I also love moving through a place slowly; lazing under the summer heat,  exploring back-streets, and relaxing in a spot with a good book.

We all know there are many facets to the word ‘romantic’ that I could be here all day trying to colour them all in, so instead here’s my list of Europe’s 5 most romantic cities and why:

Prague

colourful houses in prague, romantic prague, city, beautiful
Castles, cathedrals, cobbled streets and colourful houses make Prague one of the prettiest cities in the world. But whilst it’s pretty, it’s also dark and Gothic – where there’s colourful pastel houses, there’s also decorative gargoyles nearby that create an interesting schism between the beautiful and the monstrous. And speaking of monstrous, Hitler was said to love Prague so much that it was spared destruction and ordered that it must be preserved. Surely that nugget of information describes the power of Prague’s emotive beauty?

Prague, romantic city
Prague, main square, horses, UNESCO, romantic city europe
To experience the romance of Prague I suggest exploring the city at night also – take a walk across Charles Bridge and let the tall, imposing lamps dimly accentuate the cobbled pathway and view of the river Vltava; it’s like you’re walking onto the setting of a period drama. And when the darkness absorbs the details of the architecture, the only thing you’re able to make out is a horizon filled with arches, domes and spires that are softly highlighted by the moon.


Krakow

st joseph's church krakow, Podgórze, romantic europe, photo
I remember sitting in Krakow’s main square, people-watching with my boyfriend, surrounded by a feast of elaborate architecture once intended for the aristocracy. Horse drawn carriages trotted past, lovers entwined passed us by, young girls climbed on the monument of Adam Mickiewicz – Poland’s greatest Romantic Poet – and took photographs whilst a man playing his guitar could be faintly heard. Then the gentle chime of the church clock turned 9 O’ Clock, and we realised we had been sitting on the bench for an hour and it reminded us that we should already be in a restaurant filling ourselves to the brim with good food, drink and conversation. But, instead the simple pleasure of sitting and watching the world pass us by had filled us with so much contentment that we didn’t want to move. The minutes that passed could have been seconds or even hours, and I would not have been able to distinguish between the two. I guess when you’re so absorbed in the moment, everything else becomes indefinable.

St. Mary's Church, Krakow, main square, night, UNESCO, romantic europe

Nightfall with bats swarming above in Krakow’s main square – Europe largest medieval town square


London

Tower Bridge, The Thames, Sunset, night. romantic
London’s romance lies in its bursting sense of life. No two days are the same, and the possibilities that lie in these days give rise to doing things on a whim – the romantic movements of impulse. It’s difficult not to let your imagination run away as you explore the south, east, north and west of London. Some people reading this may not agree that London should be in a list of romantic cities, but just head to Hampstead Heath and imagine John Keats writing one of his lyrical masterpieces, and whilst romancing with one Londoner we should not forget to invite the others – William Blake, Samuel Pepys, Alfred Hitchcock, Charlie Chaplin and E M Forster.

Explore London at night and head to Hyde Park with a bottle of wine (but avoiding any park drunks). So many romances must have started in this place – a stroll around the lake and settling down under a weeping willow tree for a sneaky kiss couldn’t be any more idyllic. It’s surprising that in a capital city of eight million people you can still very much feel like no-one else is around. If your night isn’t over, then head along the Thames and see the sky dressed by city lights. The water, the bridges and the lights really do look pretty, and if you’re feeling decadent then maybe splurge on a river cruise – sometimes clichés really do work the best.
Hampstead Heath, picnic, romantic date, literature, london

Ok, ditch the wine and swig on beer! Couples enjoy a picnic in Hampstead Heath.


Venice

Venice, Venetian Lagoon, gondola, pink sky
The Venetian Lagoon is coated with flakes of pearls as it catches the reflection of the moon. As we begin to walk into the circuit of narrow alleys our pathway is dimly lit by old fashioned oil lamps that lead to a courtyard of cosy looking cicchetti bars. The huge crowds that appear through the day have completely dispersed, and Venice has turned into a ghost town. We huddle closer together and walk over bridges that overlook canals shimmering from the night sky….
Venice at night, gothic, light, dark,
Perfect setting for a Gothic/Horror movie – anyone watched ‘Don’t Look Now’ set in Venice?

The Italian’s lust for food is only rivalled for their appetite for beauty – and Venice is no exception. This is a city that has more artistic masterpieces per square metre than any other place in the world. There’s a museum dedicated to Leonard Di Vinci – the master of creating ‘ideal beauty’. On this occasion, the museum is more science based than art based, but nevertheless it’s one of the many places in Venice that gives people a taste of beauty in all its forms: people, food, architecture, art, gondola rides, history and landscape. So even if you don’t fall in love in Venice, you’ll fall in love with Venice.


Paris

Archway of trees in Paris, park, France, autumn, romantic paris,

You didn’t think a list of Europe’s most romantic cities would be complete without Paris did you?

Remember when I said some places move you from exhilaration to exhilaration? Well I was talking about Paris. It’s a city filled with hedonistic pleasures; wine, food, fashion, art, architecture and music fills you with a vivacious lust to experience it all.  A night in Paris begs for a romantic rendezvous, but maybe I’ve been watching too many old French films, and my penchant for Marlon Brando in The Last Tango in Paris is at a life-time peak.

Paris, street, black and white, romantic paris
Kiss the grave of Oscar Wilde, glide and send your arms swinging to-and-fro down the Champs-Élysées, hold hands under the Eiffel Tower, fall in love with the sculptures of Rodin and weep in the misery of his melancholic relationship with Camille Claudel (I told you I’ve been watching too many French films!).


Now, what cities would you put in your Top 5 most romantic cities in Europe? Was I wrong to miss out Florence, Vienna, Amsterdam and Verona?



A travel & culture blog specialising in Scandinavia and the Arctic, peppered with the rest of the world in between.


'5 OF THE MOST ROMANTIC CITIES IN EUROPE' have 12 comments

  1. December 4, 2012 @ 11:49 pm aBitofCulture

    Think I’d go for Venice, Rome, Bruges, Prague and Edinburgh…

    Reply

    • December 6, 2012 @ 9:34 am admin

      Venice, Rome, Florence, Verona, Pisa, Lake Garda, the Dolomites – I think everywhere in Italy is romantic! I’ve not been to Bruges but its definitely on my ‘list’, along with a million other places! I thought about Edinburgh…. maybe I should have compiled a Top 10 list instead 🙂

      Reply

  2. December 6, 2012 @ 12:28 am Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista

    I think you can find romance anywhere! There is nothing more romantic than being in the beautiful countryside of Bavaria. Those small villages just reek of romance!

    Reply

    • December 6, 2012 @ 9:41 am admin

      You’re spot on Debbie – romance can be found anywhere! I would love to explore Bavaria, and more of Germany in general – and when I do, I’ll know who’s brain to pick!!

      Reply

  3. December 14, 2012 @ 8:24 am Julika

    I loved this post! Especially all your references to famous writers… I cherish that feeling of walking through areas that were once depicted by a romantic poet 🙂
    I just had an amazing trip to Prague with my boyfriend this year, so I would definitely agree that Prague at night is one of the most romantic things I have seen so far! I think I will convince him to go to Krakow next 🙂

    Reply

    • December 14, 2012 @ 9:06 pm admin

      Happy you like the link to famous writers – roaming around looking for the haunts of old writers (and contemporary) give me a real buzz!

      Yeh I would love to go back to Prague… still so much more to see! Yes,yes convince your boyfriend to go Krakow, it’s beautiful and quirky – he might like to know that it’s much more affordable than most European cities too!

      Reply

  4. January 10, 2013 @ 1:00 am Pola (@jettingaround)

    I absolutely LOVE your choice of cities, especially since you included two of my favorite places on the planet: Krakow and Paris. That main square in Krk is something special, isn’t it?

    Reply

    • January 10, 2013 @ 6:05 pm admin

      Ooou I’m happy to hear you approve Pola! I LOVE Krakow, and hope to spend more time there soon – yes the main square is certainly something special, and nearly every street that branches onto it is too!

      Reply

  5. November 30, 2013 @ 6:40 pm t

    lol! erm in london you have a picture of tower bridge with the caption of London bridge…..or maybe its a play on the romance of the myth of the american buying the wrong bridge! 😉

    Reply

    • December 1, 2013 @ 12:42 pm admin

      Haha what a faux pas! If I said I accidentally wrote London Bridge instead of tower bridge would you believe me? 😀 (I live near it so I do actually know this, I promise!).

      Thanks for pointing this out, I appreciate it! (and I guess it could be worse… in another time, in another place it could have been me who bought the wrong bridge :))

      Reply

  6. February 4, 2014 @ 8:06 pm Romantic Destinations Roundup for Valentine’s Day | Nozin Blog

    […] Europe’s romantic reputation precedes it. So without further ado, enjoy the utterly breathtaking photos of “Europe’s most romantic getaways” that will make it hard to settle on just one country. Book one trip now, and one for later! Fodor’s has its own take on the best spots for a european romance, and The Culture Map did a blog post on the 5 Most Romantic Cities in Europe. […]

    Reply

  7. January 9, 2017 @ 2:48 pm paris tour guide

    Hi Shing,

    Very interesting article !
    I am sure you will write more about Paris, where I live once you explore its hidden gems and enjoy some off beaten track experiences.

    Reply


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