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Whether it’s a dreamy gondola ride for two through Venice or making a wish at the Trevi Fountain in Rome, the most romantic cities in Europe offer plenty of opportunities for amore.

Naturally, an amorous excursion looks different for every couple. Some might thrill at the thought of a wine-tasting in Porto, while others might wish to bask on a beach in Sorrento.

Luckily, there’s something for lovers of all sorts on this continent. Befriend the street cats in Istanbul, dive deep into ancient culture in Athens, or feast on tapas in Seville as you explore the most romantic European cities.

Venice, Italy

Venice, one of the most romantic cities in Europe

Venice, Italy

Although it is one of the most popular destinations on Earth, this watery Italian city built on 118 islands really does live up to the hype. Strolling along the Grand Canal while gondoliers glide by feels like stepping into a scene from the silver screen.

Once a wealthy and powerful republic ruled by the Doges, today Venice is one of the most swoon-worthy cities in Italy. Profess your love on the covered Rialto Bridge or spend several hours getting lost in the twisty back alleys with your beau.

Exterior of St. Mark’s Basilica

St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, Italy

You could easily spend several days drinking canalside spritzes and taking in the scenery here, but if you only have a day in Venice, make a beeline for St. Mark’s Basilica. The basilica is a masterpiece of Byzantine art, complete with spectacular mosaics. Glittering, golden depictions of the saints and Madonna adorn much of the ceiling.

St. Mark’s Square, the piazza outside, serves as the central gathering place in Venice. After pausing for people-watching, head to the Doge’s Palace, featuring an incredible collection of Venetian paintings and art.

Ravenna, Italy

Street view of Ravenna, Italy

Ravenna, Italy

If your partner happens to be an art history-aficionado, Ravenna is a hidden Italian gem they’ll love. This city is home to some of the most spectacular Byzantine mosaics in the world.

Under the Emperor Justinian, Ravenna became renowned as the “Constantinople of the West.” Its fifth- and sixth-century Christian mosaics are all UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Stepping into the octagonal Basilica of San Vitale feels like entering another realm. Scintillating, sacred images made from thousands of pieces of cut glass still inspire awe centuries after they were built. After viewing transcendent art, stop for an aperitivo on the perpetually bustling Piazza del Popolo.

Bruges, Belgium

Bruges, one of the most romantic cities in Europe

Bruges, Belgium

Brussels may beckon the diplomats, but Bruges calls to the romantics. Hold hands on the cobblestone streets or take a cruise alone the dreamy canals.

The Markt, or Market Square, has been an essential part of city life here since the 10th century. Stop to admire the Belfry, then head to Burg Square, home to Bruges’ ornate, Gothic-style town hall.

For a Belgian-style lunch date, tucking into a heaping bowl of mussels from the North Sea with a side of frites is an unmissable thing to do in Bruges. There are dozens of places around town that serve this iconic staple, but for unfussy charm, Poules Moules is hard to beat. Pair it with a tart, complex Belgian lambic beer.

Athens, Greece

Athens, one of the most romantic cities in Europe

Acropolis in Athens, Greece

Athens is enjoying a moment in the sun as a cool, cultural capital, with buzzing gallery and restaurant scenes. On a balmy night, you can’t beat a rooftop bar with views of the floodlit Parthenon for romance, especially under a full moon.

By day, wander around the posh Athenian neighborhood of Monastiraki or visit graffiti-splattered Exarcheia, the former anarchist quarter. Devote time to the superb Acropolis Museum, once you’ve visited Acropolis Hill itself.

View of Acropolis from Filopappou Hill

View from Filopappou Hill in Athens, Greece

For a more relaxed romantic walk, stop by Filopappou Hill, where the Prison of Socrates lies. The whole hill is shaded in ancient olive trees. The view at the top is lovely, although for an even better one, climb to the top of Mount Lycabettus.

The short, steep hike can be strenuous on a hot afternoon, but is more than worth the effort. At the top lies Saint George chapel, as well as a café for a drink with a view.

Florence, Italy

Florence, one of the most romantic cities in Europe

Florence, Italy

Once ruled by the powerful Medici family, Florence has been a center of culture and learning for centuries. Home of literati from Dante to Machiavelli and the birthplace of the Renaissance, Firenze, as it is known here, has had an outsized impact on the world. It’s also one of the most romantic cities in Europe, thanks to its picturesque streets and historic architecture.

Spend an afternoon perusing the masterpieces in the Uffizi Gallery, then walk up to the Piazzale Michelangelo for a stunning view of the city. To take in more architecture and art in Florence, visit the Duomo Santa Maria del Fiore, the city’s most famous cathedral. It’s worth the climb to the top of the dome for a closer look at the ceiling frescos.

View of the iconic Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy

Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy

If you’re looking for the perfect place to profess your undying love, it’s hard to top the Ponte Vecchio, the most iconic bridge spanning the Arno River. Part of what makes this covered bridge so special is that it is the only one of Florence’s bridges to survive the Second World War.

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, one of the most romantic cities in Europe

Barcelona, Spain

Madrid may be the capital, but locals are quick to argue that Barcelona is where they know how to have fun. This is a place that takes pleasure seriously, particularly when it comes to food and drink. At most hours of the afternoon and into the evening, locals can be seen sipping glasses of cava or elaborately garnished gin and tonics in the sun.

Tapas and vermouth at a restaurant in Barcelona

Tapas and vermouth

When the light turns golden but it’s still too early for dinner, Barcelonans gather for La Hora del Vermut, of “Vermouth hour.” Many of the tapas bars infuse their own house vermouths, often using dozens of herbs and spices.

Sip a glass slowly by the seaside with a plate of pintxos. Similar to tapas but typically less substantial, these bite-sized nibbles are perfect for snacking.

Fresh produce inside Mercat de la Boqueria

Mercat de la Boqueria in Barcelona, Spain

Gastronauts will want to visit the renowned Mercat de la Boqueria, a sprawling covered market brimming with cheeses, seafood, produce, and, of course, jamón. Aside from being one of the best places to shop in Barcelona, the market is home to more than a dozen small eateries, each with their own specialty. Feast on gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp) or grab a bocadillo (sandwich) filled with hand-sliced Iberian ham.

Exterior of Casa Batlló in Barcelona, Spain

Casa Batlló in Barcelona, Spain

Even Barcelona’s architecture is a delight to look at, thanks to Antoni Gaudí. The visionary Catalan architect is responsible for Casa Batlló, which resembles a scaly dragon on the exterior.

Tour the Palau Güell, a lavish mansion, or the Park Güell, a park with a beautiful view of the city. While the Sagrada Familia may still be under construction, his final masterpiece is already a spectacular Spanish landmark.

Seville, Spain

Beautiful city of Seville, Spain

Seville, Spain

Seville, one of the most romantic cities in Europe, is spellbindingly beautiful. With its leafy parks and exquisite old buildings, the capital of Andalucia is one of the most romantic European cities. Fragrant bitter orange trees line many of the streets and perfume the air. Wander through the historic Barrio de Santa Cruz and stop at one of the many sidewalk cafés. It’s also an excellent spot to pause for tapas and a glass of rioja.

This is a beautiful Spanish city that celebrates the arts, from flamenco to jazz. In fact, Seville boasts the most flamenco dancers in the nation. Masterful performers are riveting, combining high-drama theatrics with precisely executed movements.

Beautiful architecture of Santa Maria de la Sede

Santa Maria de la Sede in Seville, Spain

At the heart of Seville lies Santa Maria de la Sede, often simply referred to as Seville’s Cathedral, and the world’s largest Gothic cathedral. It took more than a century to complete and remains absolutely breathtaking to this day.

Nearby, the Royal Alcázar of Seville, or the former royal palace, is another must-see stop. It’s an exceptional example of Islamic architecture, complete with manicured gardens.

Kotor, Montenegro

Kotor, one of the most romantic cities in Europe

Kotor, Montenegro

With its handsome red-tiled rooftops and vestiges of medieval architecture, the Old Town is one of the best things to see in Kotor. Make your way through the narrow streets to St. Tryphon’s Cathedral, a stately Romanesque church with Baroque bell towers.

Climb up the ramparts that snake over the hills behind the city. The views from even halfway up are spectacular, looking all the way down the deep Bay of Kotor.

Montenegro offers a laid-back vibe combined with beautiful coastlines. Kayak in the bay, or stop for fresh seafood in one of the many restaurants.

Bordeaux, France

Bordeaux, one of the most romantic cities in Europe

Bordeaux, France

Bordeaux may be synonymous with wine, but it’s also one of the most romantic cities in Europe. During the 1700s, the royal intendants gave the city a drastic facelift, much of which remains to this day.

Vieux Bordeaux, the historic part of town, is almost relentlessly picturesque, with broad, pedestrian streets lined with trees and restaurants. Travelers could easily spend hours just meandering through the Saint-Pierre district.

Street view of Saint-André Cathedral

Saint-André Cathedral in Bordeaux, France

After some leisurely window-shopping, stop by the Saint-André Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a masterful example of the French Gothic style.

One of the best things to do in Bordeaux is to make your way to the Place de la Bourse, which literally translates as “Stock Exchange Square.” This public gathering place serves as the de facto nerve center of the city.

Beautiful reflection in Miroir d'Eau in Bordeaux, France

Miroir d’Eau in Bordeaux, France

It also happens to be next to one of Bordeaux’s most striking modern additions. The Miroir d’Eau, or “Water Mirror” instantly achieved iconic status. The artwork consists of an immense slab of granite topped with less than an inch of water.

As the name implies, it reflects the historic architecture around it. Given how photogenic the whole composition is, it’s not hard to see why so many couples have proposed here.

Rome, Italy

Couple sightseeing from the Colosseum in Rome, Italy

Colosseum in Rome, Italy

From Audrey Hepburn to Anita Ekberg, plenty of cinematic starlets have flirted with romance in the Eternal City. The allure of Rome is seductive and undeniable. There are few places in the world where one can see thousands of years of history so conspicuously layered on top of one another.

Take your date on a tour of the famed Roman landmark, the Colosseum, where ancient Romans staged full-scale naval battle reenactments. Or skip the line for the Vatican and head instead to the Villa Borghese. Once the home of a wealthy cardinal, the villa is surrounded by nearly 200 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens.

Inside, it houses one of the finest collections of Gian Lorenzo Bernini sculptures in the world. Although the baroque artist worked in marble, his Daphne, a nymph from Greek mythology who the gods transformed into a laurel tree, looks so lifelike one expects her to run away.

Couple making a wish at the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy

Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy

After taking in the art that Italy is known for, follow Fellini’s footsteps to the Trevi Fountain, an 18th-century masterpiece envisioned by Nicola Salvi. While you’re not actually allowed to splash around, you and your beloved can always throw a coin into the water.

Finally, head to the Piazza Navona, an especially atmospheric square in the late afternoon. It’s the perfect place to watch the world go by over a glass of wine and a plate of fried artichokes

Aix-en-Provence, France

Aix-en-Provence, one of the most romantic cities in Europe

Aix-en-Provence, France

Join the European jetset in the former capital of Provence, a city that prides itself on its sunny weather and disposition. Sometimes known as the “City of a Thousand Fountains,” Aix-en-Provence boasts plenty of impressive public architecture.

While visitors can and should take in sights like the Gothic Aix Cathedral, this is one of the best places to visit in Southern France for lovebirds who just want to relax and gaze at the mountains that inspired Paul Cézanne, who lived here. This is a place travelers have come to unwind since the ancient Romans discovered its thermal hot springs.

Above all, this is a wonderful city in which to eat and drink. Indulge in the French tradition of a long, wine-soaked lunch at a brasserie. Order a saffron-tinted bouillabaisse bobbing with the bounty of the Mediterranean. For dessert, try a calisson, a delicate almond sweet perfumed with citrus zest. Wash it all down with a glass of Pastis.

Valletta, Malta

Valletta, one of the most romantic cities in Europe

Valletta, Malta

The exceptionally charming capital of Valletta packs plenty of history and culture into a small, walkable package. Admire the masterful Caravaggio in St. John’s Co-Cathedral. Take in the sweeping panorama of the Grand Harbor, or the Port of Valletta, with its imposing fortifications.

Amble through the Upper Barrakka Gardens for views of the constantly buzzing harbor. This lush, immaculately kept public park has a phenomenal view of the waterfront. Or take a harbor cruise and gaze at the ancient, honey-colored ramparts, built by the Knights of St. John.

Read: Best Things to Do in Malta

Corfu, Greece

People relaxing on Paleokastrisa Beach in Corfu, Greece

Paleokastritsa Beach in Corfu, Greece

Ruggedly beautiful Corfu in the Ionian Sea looks like something plucked straight from mythology. It’s not hard to see why Homer used this space as the inspiration for parts of the Odyssey, the tale of Odysseus’s epic return voyage from the Trojan War. This was his “rich and beautiful” island where the hero told the Phaecians of his adventures before sailing home.

Most travelers come to Corfu for its beaches, with good reason. The sandy crescents are as dreamy as can be, although their rocky counterparts have their own distinctive charm here. Paleokastritsa beach, which is named for an old fort, is an especially lively spot. Rent a canoe or sea kayak and paddle out to explore the nearby caves jutting out of the sea.

Street view of Old Town of Corfu, Greece

Old Town of Corfu, Greece

Explore the historic Old Town of Corfu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Thanks to its key position near the mouth of the Adriatic Sea, this port has long been of critical strategic importance to the region and the neoclassical downtown of Corfu is full of boutique shops and eateries.

Stockholm, Sweden

Boat cruising through Royal Canal, Stockholm

Stockholm, Sweden

It might seem hard to believe, but Stockholm encompasses an entire archipelago of 30,000 small islands in the Baltic Sea. The city itself occupies 14 of these and walking over bridges and through the streets of the Gamla Stan, the old center,  is endlessly romantic.

Learn about the vagaries of 17th century shipbuilding at the Vasa Museum or art at the National Museum, one of Stockholm’s best museums. Don’t forget to stop for a kanelbullar (cinnamon bun) from one of the many exceptional bakeries here for your special someone.

Lisbon, Portugal

Street view of Lisbon, Portugal with iconic yellow tram

Lisbon, Portugal

It may not quite be the under-the-radar gem it was a few years ago, but Lisbon is still one of the most romantic cities in Europe.

With its colorful buildings topped by red-bricked roofs, the whole city looks fresh off of a postcard. It’s hard to imagine a better date than walking through the twisting streets of the Bairro Alto neighborhood in Lisbon, the historic quarter dating back to the 16th century.

Linger over espresso at the famous Café Nicola on Rossio Square. The grand, old European-style coffee house was a regular meeting point for poets, writers, and thinkers in the 18th century. Today, it’s a fabulous spot to take in the scenery at one of Lisbon’s most popular meeting points.

Iconic black and white tile in Rossio Square in Lisbon, Portugal

Rossio Square in Lisbon, Portugal

Take a moment to note the distinctive black-and-white wave pattern on the square’s pavement. The design is popular throughout Portugal and its former colonies, but is especially associated with Lisbon.

Regardless of what else you do, a romantic meal in Lisbon is essential. Portugal is justly proud of its exceptional cuisine and fine wines. As one of the best food cities in Europe, it is absolutely packed with delicious seafood.

Porto, Portugal

Beautiful skyline of Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal

Lisbon may be larger, but there are still plenty of things to do in Porto. Start your journey in Ribeira Square, which is lined by pastel facades and sidewalk cafés.

Next, check out the Palácio da Bolsa, or “Stock Exchange Palace.” The impressive 19th-century neoclassical building is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has a particularly grand interior. Wander down to the waterfront, where there’s a buzzing food and drink scene.

Head across the Douro River to Vila Nova de Gaia, the city on the opposite bank. This is where the famous port lodges are located, oozing old money and centuries of tradition in producing the famous port wine.

There are some gorgeous terraces where you can sit with a pink port and tonic, a delicious summer drink, and gaze across at the colorful jumble of Porto clinging to the hillside.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik, one of the most romantic cities in Europe

Old Town in Dubrovnik, Croatia

With its 16th-century stone walls rising over the Adriatic Sea, Dubrovnik is certainly an ideal setting for the many movies that have been shot here.

Begin your journey here by walking along the Stradun, one of the best things to do in Dubrovnik. This vibrant pedestrian street lined with shops is the beating heart of modern-day Dubrovnik.

After exploring the city’s present, delve into its past at the Lovrijenac Fort. The first brick for this imposing structure was laid back in 1018. It rests on a rocking formation rising dramatically above the water. As the heat of the day lessens, wander round the ramparts for spectacular views of the terracotta rooftops. Reward yourselves afterwards with a glass of crisp local white and a platter of cheese and air-dried ham.

Tallinn, Estonia

Couple exploring Old Town of Tallinn, Estonia

Old Town of Tallinn, Estonia

Arguably one of the most beautiful capital cities in Europe, Tallinn has a medieval heart that resembles a scene from a fairytale, with half-timbered houses, cobbled streets, and dreamy spires.

Tour the Kadriorg Palace, which the Russian Tsar Peter I named for his wife, Tsarina Catherine I. The palace and the surrounding gardens are worth visiting for the architecture alone, but what really makes this stand out is the Kadriorg Art Museum.

Once you’ve explored the Old Town of Tallinn, stop for craft beer at Sori Brewing, housed in a former Soviet military structure, or check out Põhjala Brewery, which puts its own spin on traditional Estonian beers.

Istanbul, Turkey

Beautiful waterfront of Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Whether it’s gone by Istanbul or Constantinople, this ancient city straddling the border of Europe and Asia has a sweeping air of grandeur.

Pay a visit to Hagia Sofia, one of the best places to visit in Istanbul. This magnificent place of worship has served as both cathedral and mosque over the centuries. Its glittering Byzantine mosaics are enough to take your breath away.

Exterior of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey

Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey

See the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, commonly known as the Blue Mosque, with its immense domes and intricate tilework. To unwind as the locals do, spend an hour or two at a hammam. These saunas reach sweltering temperatures and promise to leave you and your partner feeling rejuvenated.

If your idea of a romantic trip involves shopping in some of Istanbul’s markets, dive into the chaos of the Grand Bazaar. The assault on the senses can be a bit overwhelming at first, but there are fine ceramics, fabrics, and other treasures here.

Sorrento, Italy

Sorrento, one of the most romantic cities in Europe

Sorrento, Italy

Lapped by the azure waters of the Bay of Naples, Sorrento is the ideal spot to bask in la dolce vita. Life in this seaside Italian city is decidedly laid-back and the scenery is so pretty that it’s hard to know which direction to point your camera. Stroll along the Corso Italia and prepare to gaze at all the lovely shops and cafés.

Like its neighbor the Amalfi Coast, Sorrento is characterized by its strikingly colorful buildings, clear waters, and abundance of fragrant local citrus. The region’s spectacular, softball-sized lemons make for an utterly delicious digestif in the local limoncello.

Couple trying limoncello from Villa Massa Limoncello Distillery in Sorrento, Italy

Villa Massa Limoncello Distillery in Sorrento, Italy

One of the best things to do in Sorrento is to stop by Villa Massa Limoncello Distillery for a tasting with your significant other. Unlike commercial limoncellos, which are often cloyingly sweet, artisanal limoncellos are subtle with a haunting, nuanced perfume.

London, United Kingdom

Skyline of London, United Kingdom

London, United Kingdom

Cosmopolitan, chic, and packed with a dizzying array of things to see and do, London is known as one of the most romantic places in the world. Take a cruise along the Thames to see the Houses of Parliament and Tower Bridge. Join a guided tour of the Tower of London, its history stretching back 1,000 years.

For jaw-dropping views of the luxurious city, ride the elevator up The Shard, a glinting 72-story skyscraper designed by Renzo Piano. You could also join your beau for a leisurely spin on the London Eye, the city’s iconic ferris wheel. Back on the ground, pack a picnic and relax on the grass in beautiful Green Park, or cozy up in front of the fire in a traditional pub.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Colorful canal of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Venice may lay claim to the title of Europe’s “City of Water,” but the moniker could just as easily apply to Amsterdam. Free public ferries make getting around by water a breeze, as do guided canal tours by boat.

But arguably the best way to see the city is to rent bikes and make your way through the labyrinth of concentric canals at the heart of it. Stop along the way for a plate of pannenkoeken, thin, wagon wheel-sized pancakes with either sweet or savory toppings.

Amsterdam, one of the most romantic cities in Europe

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

A hub of contemporary culture that’s still steeped in history, the Dutch capital is a pleasure to visit, not least thanks to its sophisticated dining scene, superb art museums, and cutting-edge art galleries.

Exterior of Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

To see an unparalleled collection of Dutch old masters including Vermeer and Rembrandt, visit the Rijksmuseum. Or walk through the Begijnhof Courtyard in Downtown Amsterdam, home to its own small, but remarkable collection of Dutch masterpieces.

Cinephiles should visit the Eye Filmmuseum, housed in a visually arresting modernist structure. The interactive exhibits here allow you to create your own silent movie with your date, watch movies from Hollywood’s golden era, and more.

Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Skyline of Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Rotterdam, The Netherlands

If Amsterdam is all about historic buildings, Rotterdam, stretching along the banks of the Nieuwe Maas river, is edgy and new, famed for its cutting edge architecture. In fact, it’s known locally as “Manhattan on the Maas”.

Admire the graceful Erasmus Bridge, nicknamed “The Swan”. If you and your partner are art lovers, head straight for the Depot Boijmans van Beunigen, which resembles a giant mirrored bowl. The structure is actually a storage facility of priceless art and you can take a tour to learn about how the works are stored and renovated.

Visit the Markthal, Europe’s largest covered market, and admire the colorful mural spread across the ceiling. And check out the Cube Houses, bright yellow cubes tilted at a dizzying 50 degrees. One is open as a museum.

Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen, one of the most romantic cities in Europe

Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen, as well as being a hub of art, design, and culture, has risen to become one of the most influential dining cities in the world. Try Neapolitan-style pizzas at BÆST, by chef Christian Puglisi, which makes its own mozzarella. Or order tacos on freshly made tortillas at Hija de Sánchez, by Rosio Sanchez, former confectioner and the famous Noma. For local flavor, head to colorful Nyhavn and sit on the waterfront with a beer, listening to the hubbub of daily life.

Connect with your inner children at Tivoli Gardens. First opened in 1843, this amusement park makes for a whimsical date. As well as assorted roller coasters, it contains wonderfully romantic gardens, perfect for a picnic or a stroll.

Read: Best Things to Do in Copenhagen

Copenhagen, one of the most romantic cities in Europe

Copenhagen, Denmark

The best way to have a fling with a whole string of European cities is aboard a cruise. Browse our upcoming European itineraries and plan your next whirlwind romance today.

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