europe's most romantic cities

Feel the love in the City of Lights. (Photo: Getty Images)

Couples + Family

Fall in Love with Europe’s Most Romantic Cities

Brimming with art, culture and history, and blessed with some of the most picturesque backdrops in the world, Europe’s cities are easy to fall for — especially when traveling with your significant other.

Whether your idea of a romantic getaway is strolling along the Seine in Paris, cuddling up in a cozy London pub, enjoying late-night tapas in Barcelona or exploring opulent architecture in Budapest, here’s how to heat up your next getaway.

As always, check for travel guidelines and closures before planning your trip.


An old classic, yes, but Paris is known as the “city of love” for good reason. Romance and the French capital go together like oysters and Champagne, croissants and café au lait, or cocktails and café terraces.

An elegantly beautiful city, Paris invites relaxed strolls, hand in hand, along the grand avenues of its center, through the charming cobbled streets of Montmartre and the Marais, and across the bridge-laced Seine, dipping in and out of museums and boutiques as you wander.

After a day spent exploring the city, enjoy a gourmet tête-à-tête in a cozy candlelit bistro or gastronomic temple with plenty of ambience, such as the three-Michelin-starred L’Ambroisie.

Culture lovers should book tickets for a ballet or opera at the Palais Garnier and plan a stay at the Prince de Galles, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Paris, a polished art deco gem in the center of Paris.

Couples seeking a quiet respite in the city should also check out Square Saint-Gilles du Grand Veneur, a charming, little-known garden where they can take a breather from the hustle and bustle of the city.


With its historic palaces, leafy parks, cozy pubs and recognizable locations from the many romantic comedies filmed here, London offers plenty of swoon-worthy settings. There’s nothing like a spectacular view to inspire romance, and in London you have abundant options for surveying the landmark-studded skyline.

Soak up vistas of the River Thames, Tower Bridge and Houses of Parliament from a private capsule on the London Eye; from the top of Greenwich Hill; over a romantic dinner at Le Pont de la Tour or OXO Tower; or while walking over Waterloo Bridge as the sun goes down, just as the Kinks did in “Waterloo Sunset,” one of the most romantic songs of all time.

A stay at the JW Marriott Grosvenor House in Mayfair not only offers a glimpse London’s storied aristocratic heritage — it was built on the site of the former residence of the Dukes of Westminster in 1929 — it also puts you just steps from Hyde Park, the ideal setting for a romantic picnic or boating on the Serpentine.

Ricky Barlow, the property’s head concierge, also recommends booking a sunset trip on the Thames Limo, a luxury private Venetian-style boat — the first of its kind to grace London’s historic river. “It’s in a class of its own and is fully equipped to offer discerning guests a different class of luxury,” says Barlow.


europe's most romantic cities
Cozy up with your partner for fireworks on the water. (Photo: Getty Images)

From the soaring spires of the Sagrada Familia to the shadowy lamplit streets of the Gothic Quarter, there’s something seductive about the Catalan capital. Architecture lovers will be wooed by the whimsical works of Antoni Gaudí, which are scattered around the city, from Parc Güell in the Gràcia district to Casa Lleó i Morera and Casa Batlló on Passeig de Gràcia avenue in Eixample.

After tracking each site down, refuel by picking up some jamón ibérico from a market such as La Boqueria and spreading out a blanket on the grassy lawn of the Parc de la Ciutadella with a picnic for two.

Foodies will eat well here, whether you’re just dipping in and out of tapas bars or making reservations for three-Michelin-starred Lasarte.

Barcelona tends to dine late, however, so make the most of the chance to take in a sunset stroll along La Barceloneta beach before freshening up and having pre-dinner beachside cocktails at the shimmering, sail-shaped W Barcelona.

The hotel’s concierge, Jordi San Jose, also suggests upping your romance with a stroll to Plaça d’Isidre Nonell, a tiny square that lies only two blocks from the Cathedral of Barcelona but feels a world away from the city’s crowds.

“Those who know it will agree it’s one of the most beautiful and romantic spots in the city thanks to the photo-mosaic ‘The World Begins with Every Kiss’ by Catalan artist Joan Fontcuberta,” says San Jose.


europe's most romantic cities
Budapest is a hub for romantic getaways. (Photo: Getty Images)

With its charming cobblestone streets and a skyline bejeweled with flamboyant architecture, Budapest is a fairy tale come to life. Take a stroll around the city and let the romance unfold, from the top of Castle Hill to explore Buda Castle, to the Citadella for sweeping views, and across the Chain Bridge that links Buda and Pest, the west and east sides of the city.

Make time to do as the locals do by taking to the waters at one of the city’s many thermal spas — you can choose from centuries-old baths or more modern establishments. Beneath Gellért Hill on the banks of the Danube river, Rudas Baths is a favorite. Dating from 1550, it features pools of various sizes, as well as a sauna, steam room, massage rooms and rooftop hot tub.

After a long soak, it’s an easy walk back to The Ritz-Carlton, Budapest. Enjoy a romantic dinner of Hungarian-inspired cuisine and a few glasses of local wine while listening to live jazz at the hotel’s DSK Wine & Grill before you retire for the evening.

If you’re seeking an outdoor excursion with your partner, the property’s concierge, Krizstian Kovacs, suggests a stroll around the 106-year-old water tower in the courtyard of the Open-Air Theatre on Margaret Island. “After a romantic walk around the island, visit the upper floor of the water tower, which is called ‘The Kissing-Room’ by locals,” says Kovacs.