My guide to the most romantic destinations in Europe!
From spa breaks in beautiful surroundings to amazing city breaks for couples, my hand-picked recommendations will promise an absolutely unforgettable time away together. Get inspired by my top choices for a beautiful getaway this Valentine’s Day!
The new year may only have just started, but we all know that time really does fly on by. So now’s the best time to start planning ahead for one of the most romantic times of the year! Treating yourselves to a Valentine’s getaway is a fantastic choice for anyone looking to really spend some quality time together with your loved one and discover some very beautiful corners of our planet at the same time. But where should you go? There’s just so many breath-taking places to choose from…
To make things a little easier for you guys, I’ve put together the ultimate guide to the most romantic destinations in Europe. Some of them are classics, while others are some of my personal faves that I definitely recommend checking out, even if you might not have considered them before. From the rugged wildernesses of Iceland to the sun-kissed shores of Croatia, these destinations will captivate the senses and whisk you away to a whole different world!
Want to escape to somewhere beautiful for just a few days? Then a romantic city break is a fantastic idea for anyone strapped for time! Enjoy a short break getting stuck into local culture, experience the captivating atmosphere, and get those sparks flying! Along the way you’ll be able to admire some stunning architecture and experience some of Europe’s most iconic scenes. Below you’ll find some of my favourite destinations when it comes to the best city breaks for couples.
This quaint little Belgian town is famous across the continent thanks to its pretty looks and cosy atmosphere. The tree-lined canals, Medieval streets and lovely parks are a delight to explore – even more so when your special someone is with you. To best enjoy Bruges, you should take things slowly. Enjoy the beautiful walks in Minnewater Park, where legend has it that you’ll find true love if you cross the lake with your partner. Take your time to browse the city’s finest selections of Belgian chocolates from traditional local shops such as Dubon, Neuhaus or Confiserie de Clerck. Or how about a cosy evening at Wijnbar Est? You’ll find a huge selection of excellent wines on offer along with brilliant live music.
A picture-perfect town nestled in the forests and hills of Alsace, Colmar is one of the most quintessentially European places you’ll ever see. The town has a very distinct character thanks its location straddling the cultural boundaries between France and Germany and there is still plenty of local traditions going strong. Little Venice is one of the prettiest places in town thanks to the idyllic canal – you’ll even find restaurants with floating terraces. I recommend booking a table at the Aux Armes de Colmar, where you can enjoy local cuisine and try out some Alsatian wines such as Gewürztraminer or Muscat. For even more charm, why not visit the nearby city of Strasbourg? The Alsatian capital is also perfectly suited for couples city breaks.
With a city as beautiful and popular as this, there was just no way I could leave it off the list! Prague has cemented itself as one of the top city break destinations for couples thanks to its wealth of preserved architecture and historic sights. The city’s many hills offer sweeping views of the rooftops below, plus iconic sights such as the Charles Bridge and Old Town Square means that you could never be bored here. Definitely take the time to explore the Mala Strana district, a historic area in a snug location between the River Vltava and the hills. It tends to be overlooked by tourists in favour of the Old Town, but it still boasts some excellent dining, nightlife and activities of its own. A fantastic recommendation if you want to experience the city without having to put up with too many crowds!
The cradle of the Renaissance and a historic centre of culture and the arts – Florence has played a pivotal role in European history and it’s blessed with some of the finest examples of Italian architecture. If you want a classical twist on a couples city break, Florence will tick all the right boxes. I recommend heading up to Michelangelo Hill for panoramic views of the city skyline (including the mighty Duomo) and the River Arno. For a typically Florentine experience, see if you can get tickets for an intimate opera performance at the St. Mark’s Anglican Church – opera was invented in the city after all, so it’s only fitting that you should experience it the best way possible! And don’t even get me started on the cuisine… Whether it’s traditional steaks, delicate antipasti or old-school gelato, the locals really do know how to eat well. A feast for the senses in every sense of the world!
This elegant city in the Austrian Alps is a perfect choice those who want to combine culture with some of Europe’s mightiest landscapes. Salzburg’s historic centre features everything from traditional markets and shops to churches and stately palaces, with Castle Hohensalzburg overlooking it all. The misty mountain summits add that extra touch of magic, as do the lovely river walks. One thing I love about Salzburg is that there really is music everywhere you look. Even if you’re not the world’s biggest fan of classical music, there’s just something special about watching a string quartet or choir play an intimate and exclusive concert in a gilded Baroque hall. Sometimes you might not even have to pay a penny to watch a performance!
Spa Break Destinations
Need some time to pamper both body and soul? A Valentine’s spa break is always a great way to enjoy some intimate moments together and it’s bound to leave you feeling revitalised and refreshed. Whether it’s just for a weekend spa break or just a stop over on a longer trip in Europe, these cities feature fantastic spas and wellness centres that have loads of excellent spa packages and wellness deals on offer. Here are some of my top choices for a holiday that promises plenty of TLC.
The way I would best describe Karlovy Vary is “A Wes Anderson film come to life!” There’s just something about the ornate, brightly coloured townhouses and its picturesque location that reminds of me of The Grand Budapest Hotel. This Czech town, situated just a 2-hour drive from Prague, is famed for its mineral waters and springs which you can even drink from. Many hotels here feature their own on-site wellness areas and spas, and the town is especially well-catered for when it comes to high-end establishments. The waters here are said to have fantastic healing effects – it’s for this reason that it’s one of Europe’s top destinations for spa breaks (and a top choice amongst the Czechs!).
Hungary is home to almost 1,000 thermal springs, and the country’s capital boasts a long tradition of spas and wellness, with local peoples having enjoyed their healing properties for thousands of years of years. As well as the iconic Széchenyi Baths and beautiful Gellért Spa, Budapest also features authentic Turkish baths and hammams, left over from the Ottoman occupation of the city hundreds of years ago. Take the Rudas Bath for example – the jewel in its crown is its wonderfully preserved 16th century octagonal pool, which features vaulted arches and a cupula with stained glass windows that makes for a fantastic atmosphere. A wicked choice if you want the best of a city break holiday with plenty of pampering on the side! For more amazing tips, be sure to check out my comprehensive Budapest city break guide.
Situated very close to the Dutch border, Aachen is a lovely German city that’s bursting with history – and fantastic wellness resorts! The Celts first discovered the healing waters in the area, but what really put Aachen on the map was the Charlemagne, who was meant to be a massive fan of the mineral waters here. The legions of the ancient Roman Empire also made use of the springs here – when they weren’t too busy conquering Europe, that is. Aachen has a long tradition of utilising the thermal springs’ healing properties, so there are actually several resorts here whose clients come to alleviate their chronic aches and pains. One of the largest spa resorts here is the Carolus Thermen – it’s a fantastic day out and it’s certain worth looking up to see if there are any spa deals with this resort.
From the cold north we now head to the balmy Mediterranean. One of the most beautiful cities in all of Spain, Granada really showcases Andalusian culture at its best. By looking at the architecture you can really sense the influences the Moorish occupation has had on the city – the Alhambra is a fantastic testament to this. But the Moors didn’t just give Granada pretty buildings. In fact you can enjoy some fantastic pampering at the Hammam Al Ándalus, an absolutely stunning hammam where the magical atmosphere will whisk you away to a different world. Take your time to really enjoy the beautiful architecture and the free tea on offer here. If you want a spa break with all sorts of cultural offerings on the side, Grenada should be high up on the list!
The Blue Lagoon
You can’t talk about thermal springs and spas without mentioning the Blue Lagoon. Possibly one of the most famous thermal baths in the world, the Blue Lagoon’s mineral waters are heated by geothermic process and contain a rich amount of minerals that are said to help with skin conditions such as psoriasis. Even when the cold winter temperatures have taken hold you’ll still see people braving the cold to enjoy the waters! There’s just something magical about seeing the mists rise up from the pools. The barren lava landscapes all around also add to the otherworldly atmosphere here.
Want to spend Valentine’s Day all to yourselves away from the hustle and bustle of city life? Then why not opt for a rural retreat? All over Europe you’ll found areas of outstanding natural beauty that invite you to switch off from your usual hectic routine and enjoy the finer things in life. These are some of my favourite regions.
Things don’t get much quainter than the Cotswolds, a beautiful region in the west of England where every village looks like it was plucked from the cover of a biscuit tin. The distinct architecture and lush valleys really are a feast for the eyes. There are more tea shops than you can shake a stick at, and country pubs offer hearty meals that are perfect are a long day of walking through the countryside. One of my favourite places is Stow-on-the-Wold, a picture perfect village with a small river flowing through its green. You could even do a day trip to the regal city of Bath should you fancy mixing things up a little.
Just imagining the endless rolling hills, sprawling vineyards and medieval villages is enough to want me pack my bags and go! Tuscany is a place where you really can enjoy the dolce vita. Relax in a villa as you enjoy local wines on the terrace to the sound of church bells ringing in the distance. Villages and towns such as San Gimignano, Montepulciano and Pitigliano will captivate you with their stunning architecture and narrow cobblestone streets. There are loads of vineyards here where you can book tours and tastings, so if you’re a bit of a self-confessed connoisseur, Tuscany is the place for you.
France’s answer to the Cotswolds, the Dordogne Valley epitomises traditional rural life in France. The eastern half of the département in particular features breathtakingly pretty villages that cling to dramatic limestone cliffs. Périgord and Rocamadour are some of the most popular areas, the latter having been a site of religious pilgrimage for centuries. Lovers of good food will feel right at home in the region as well. Truffles are one of the region’s major specialities as well as walnuts and foie gras, and restaurants will always have a fantastic selection of wines to go with your meals.
The Amalfi Coast is a region so picturesque, it’s inspired countless artists and authors with its dreamy views. The peaks and valleys of the Monti Lattari Regional Park meet the sea in such a dramatic way, and yet somehow whole towns and communities have established themselves on the impossibly steep cliffs. Beaches are often nestled in protected coves, whereas some are even hidden away almost completely such as the one in Furore. The town of Positano is a great place to stay as it offers views very typical of the region. I recommend heading up the mountains to the town of Rafello to check out Villa Rufolo – to see the sea below stretch out far beyond its impeccably landscaped gardens and terraces is quite something!
I think this is a region that needs no introduction. The misty mountains and legendary glens earned Scotland first place in a Rough Guides readers’ poll of the most beautiful destinations in the world – those of you who have been there before will be no stranger to the magic of this place! Nothing beats the feeling of driving through Glen Coe for the first time, stumbling upon a castle that time forgot, or even trekking in the wild windswept landscapes of Skye. After a long day of exploration, you can simply snuggle up together by the open fire, enjoy a cheeky dram of whisky and enjoy the peace and quiet. The warmth and razor-sharp humour of the locals are the cherry on top!
There’s so much more to Catalonia than just Barcelona. This vibrant region encompasses everything from the rugged peaks of the Pyrenees to beautiful villages and coastal resorts – and it’s that diversity that makes it such a fantastic choice for a longer holiday. Those of you wanting a romantic holiday by the coast will love the Costa Brava. Cadaqués is one of my favourite resorts here – its beauty and atmosphere have even inspired artists such as Pablo Picasso! And don’t even get me started on the villages… If you’re ever considering a holiday here, be sure to read my Catalonia travel guidefor loads of handy tips!
The Greek Islands
Anyone who’s been to the Greek islands will know just how romantic they are. Even busy islands such as Crete and Rhodes still have areas that are far from the beaten track, so you can enjoy tranquillity in some of the Mediterranean’s most inspiring landscapes. Santorini is the classic choice for star-crossed lovers, but I’d also definitely recommend other islands such as Mykonos, Milos, Naxos or Skopelos. They are all big names on the romance front thanks to their idyllic coastal towns and out-of-this-world beaches. Find out for yourselves which is the island for you.
If you want a romantic holiday with a touch of glitz and glamour, then the snazzy French Riviera has you covered. Nestled between lush mountains and the bright blue sea is a countless array of pretty towns and cities that are bursting with a Mediterranean flair. For some serious romance factor, be sure to check out Menton, a place where French and Italian cultures intertwine. Other picturesque towns include Cassis, Eze, and Antibes which all come with the typical provençale character. And who could resist a day trip to Monaco? The world’s glitziest micro-state features everything from massive yachts and casinos to the highest of high-end cuisine.
Croatia’s Adriatic Coast
Croatia has shot up to become of the rising stars of European holidays. The country’s very long coastline is truly breathtaking – not just because of the landscapes, but because of the sheer wealth of history and culture. From Venetian influences in the north to Dubrovnik’s fascinating Old Town, Croatia has certainly a lot to offer. The beaches are stunning as well – just imagine the clear waters of the Adriatic quietly lapping at the pebbles as you relax beneath the pine trees… Even thinking about it is enough to set off my wanderlust really! Plus the food is excellent too. Some of the best seafood in Europe can be found in this region.
Renowned for its beaches, Sardinia is one of the best Mediterranean destinations. From its luxury resorts and 5* hotels along the Costa Smerelda to the dramatic valleys and mountains, Sardinia is a place where you can explore to your heart’s content – or just spend your days lounging on the beach. One of my favourite beaches is Cala Goliritzè. It’s certainly a little difficult to get to, but the effort is so worth it – the dramatic setting, crystal clear water and snow-white sands really are a sight to behold. You could even take a boat trip to the Grotta del Bue Marino sea caves! Read more about the most beautiful beaches in Sardinia here.
Hopefully with this guide you’ll discover some new destinations that you might not otherwise have considered. And it doesn’t just have to be for Valentine’s Day either mind you! There’s nothing stopping you heading off on a romantic sojourn or a city break for couples no matter what time of year. If you have any suggestions of your own then be sure to let me know!
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