There are seemingly limitless romantic destinations in Europe, particularly among the ancient towns and cities. Pop quiz: Which European city am I describing? It has charming cobbled streets, eye-catching architecture and quaint bridges across a picturesque river. Trick question – that could be almost all of them! 

    Something sets the following towns and cities apart, though. Each stands out for its unique atmosphere, making them great destinations for couples seeking to celebrate their love. Whether you’re planning your first city break together or preparing for your honeymoon, you can’t go wrong with the following places in Europe.


    Cinque Terre, Italy

    For the harbour view

    The Cinque Terre is a handful of idyllic towns on the Italian Riviera, clinging to steep cliffs overlooking the beautiful Mediterranean Sea. Part of a national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a lot of their charm comes from the fact that they are protected from major development, so expect cobbled streets and clifftop castles instead of modern 5-star resorts. 

    The sheltered harbour of Vernazza and the colourful houses of Manarola are delightful sights to enjoy with your loved one and the whole area has an infectious atmosphere of friendliness.


    Prague, Czechia

    For the Christmas markets

    The well-preserved Old Town of Prague is massive, and is dotted with those delightful little spots that can turn a regular holiday into a romantic break. Fasten a lock to Lovers’ Bridge, take a stroll along the Vltava River, count the many spires of the cityscape from the top of the Town Hall Tower, or watch the sun set over the city from the grassy hill at the heart of the Riegrovy sady park. 

    Prague has a delightful atmosphere at any time of the year, but it goes into overdrive during the festive season, when the old squares become giant Christmas markets.


    Santorini, Greece

    For the sunset

    When it comes to sunset, there’s nowhere in Europe that’s quite like Santorini. The tiny Greek island is famous for its historical towns and villages, with jumbles of whitewashed houses clinging to the clifftops. 

    During the day, you can explore the rugged landscape, sample the unique local wines, laze on the black-sand beaches and enjoy tasty Greek cuisine. Just make sure you’re in or near the village of Oia in time for dusk to enjoy that amazing view with your loved one.


    Bath, England

    For the spas

    The hot springs that made Bath attractive for the Romans continues to be a big draw for the Somerset city. That easy-going, relaxing air that a city built on spas inevitably creates is a delight, and the historical streets add a bucketload of charm. Be sure to check out the old Roman Baths for the history, but hit one of the more modern venues for the experience. 

    While you’re in the city, enjoy the view from Bath Abbey’s tower and go down by the River Avon to see the unique Pulteney Bridge.


    Venice, Italy

    For the canals

    You can’t have a list of romantic destinations without including Venice – there might even be a law preventing it somewhere. Even with the crowds, the uniqueness of the scenery and the experience makes it a magnet for couples. 

    Taking a ride on a gondola is one of those experiences you just have to do and, to be fair, it’s a lot of fun. However, you should also consider getting lost in the quieter, more local parts of the city, away from the main tourist attractions. The narrow streets and secluded squares offer a much more intimate experience of this fantastic destination.


    Mostar, Boznia and Herzegovina

    For the bridge

    The tiny city of Mostar is nestled in a picturesque valley. It spans the Neretva River in dramatic style with a beautiful old-fashioned footbridge. While the original Stari Most was built in the 16th century, it was destroyed in the early ‘90s, but then faithfully reconstructed about a decade later. It creates a beautiful scene, conveniently connects the two halves of the city and stands as a monument to unity and peace. It’s a beautiful metaphor for long-lasting relationships, only slightly spoiled by the annual competition which involves people leaping off it into the river. 

    Mostar has a charming Old Town of bustling markets and cobbled streets, combing classic European and Islamic architectural styles.


    Budapest, Hungary

    For the ruin bars

    Known as “the Pearl of the Danube”, Budapest’s historical streets, striking neo-Gothic architecture and impressive bridges over the deep blue river make it a precious gem indeed. The 2 halves of the city each have their own unique character, with Buda being the regal, peaceful side and Pest having that distinctive atmosphere best described as “bustling”. 

    The iconic attraction of the city – and particularly the Pest side of it – is the ruin bars. As the name suggests, they’re opened in abandoned buildings and are often short-lived, but create an amazing buzz while they last.


    Bruges, Belgium

    For a bit of everything

    The tiny medieval city of Bruges has cobbled streets lined with artisan chocolatiers, atmospheric cafés and excellent restaurants – how can it not be on the list of Europe’s most romantic cities? It even has a picturesque canal system crossed by quaint stone bridges, with standout stops including Bonifacius Bridge and Groenerei. 

    Bruges is one of the greener European cities, with creeping plants clinging to the old stonework and trees lining many of the waterways. Despite the cold weather, visiting in autumn offers a more romantic experience, as the trees flush with vibrant colours.


    Ljubljana, Slovenia

    For a change

    The capital city of Slovenia is often overlooked in favour of the more famous Lake Bled area, but Ljubljana has all of the characteristics of a great romantic destination. The word ljubljena, from which the city takes its name, actually translates as ‘beloved’, which is a good start. 

    The old city centre, with its pretty bridges over the calm Ljubljanica river, is beautifully illuminated in the evenings, when the bistros, restaurants and bars come to life. There’s a busy schedule of live music events in the central squares and, during the day, there’s a good choice of markets to explore. Be sure to check out Ljubljana Cathedral, which is even more beautiful on the inside than on the outside.


    Paris, France

    For being Paris

    Nothing says romance quite like Paris’ flowery gardens and cobbled lanes filled with intimate brasseries. Virtually every landmark could be described as romantic, from the Eiffel Tower to the Notre-Dame Cathedral. Steal a kiss on Pont Royal, climb Montmartre's steps at sundown or take a twilight Bateau-Mouche cruise along the Seine. 

    A tip for the gents: Don’t kneel down to re-tie your shoelaces unless you’re prepared to arise as an engaged man. Paris’ romantic atmosphere is so famous that proposing to your loved one is virtually expected.

    Ben Reeves | Compulsive Traveller

    Start planning your trip

    Back to top