With Valentine’s Day hovering on the horizon, now is the time to book that getaway for two. With a few of our personal favourites and from feedback gathered from our travel network here’s our list of Europe’s finest romantic things to do, guaranteed to please even the snobbiest of travellers…
Feel regal at Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
This famous 19th-century castle looks so much like it was plucked from a storybook that it actually inspired Disney’s design for Sleeping Beauty’s castle. Originally built for Ludwig II as a romantic fantasy lair, it sits proudly on top of the beauty of the Bavarian Alps – an apt setting for any love story. While you can’t actually stay in the castle residing nearby luxury hotels is always an option.
Try an old fashioned spa experience at the Milk Manor, Latvia
The Milk Manor is probably one of the only places in Europe where you’ll get to bath in Milk and honey. Yes that’s right just like Cleopatra. A boutique chateau nestled deep in the heart of the extremely tranquil Latvian countryside is the place to come for delicately old fashioned accommodation, organic food plucked fresh from the manor gardens and a huge range of spa treatments. Try the scary-sounding ‘black sauna’ or the more run-of-the mill ‘classic massage’.
Take tea for two in Paris
The relentless muse of writers, musicians, painters, and lovers the world over, Paris flirts with all who seek her. So really there could be no better place for a romantic rendezvous. For a full on grand-slam experience of Gallic grandeur you can’t do much better than the Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris, an eight-storey landmark built in 1928. Afternoon tea for two with its delicate tea and pastry offerings served in elaborately decorated floral surroundings and relaxing piano music is always a good option.
Escape the crowds in Cesky Krumlov
Do you love Prague but you’re a bit worried that the city’s stag do culture might just kill the romance? Well Czech Republic’s second city may be the answer. It’s just as timeless and beautiful as the capital but without the beer-swilling crowds. Cesky Krumlov – an UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site – has maintained its grace since the 18th Century and as you tread down the winding cobbled streets you really will feel like you’re in a different era. Also visit for the fine collection of baroque buildings and kitschy shops.
Follow the wine trail in the vineyards of Douro Valley, Portugal
In a place that’s been described as the most beautiful wine region in the world it shouldn’t be too hard to find the romance. To add to your experience this is one of the few remaining vineyards in the world where grapes are still trodden by foot. Okay you will have to wait until late September, early October time to take part in the grape treading ritual, but there’s still plenty of picture postcard pretty scenery to keep you happy in the meantime.
Sample Ranch life in Seville
Formerly a part of a thriving olive estate, the 18th century Hacienda de San Rafael is where a slower pace of life comes as standard. Find it in glorious rural surroundings between the cities of Seville and Jerez. The ranch-style boutique retreat is white washed to perfection and mixes a rustic charm with contemporary chic. Sip sangria whilst watching the sunset over the Sierras of Grazalema, take breakfast in the pretty courtyard or choose one of the three private pools to take an afternoon dip.
Visit Château de Chillon, Switzerland
This huge structure set right on the shores of Lake Geneva is really the stuff of fairytales. Aside from the stunning views, great air quality and exquisite food that its village surroundings offers there is much to explore in the castle itself. Take a self-guided tour through the vast collection of perfectly preserved medieval rooms including a crypt, prison and a large hall with an armoury collection.
Picnic at the Villa Doria Pamphili, Rome
Spring starts early in Rome and the warmer weekends practically beg for a romantic picnic for two. Try the elegant, fine and grand landscaped gardens of the Villa Doria Pamphili – a seventeenth-century villa and the largest landscaped public park in Rome. Probably best to take a look at the grand house first before laying out your picnic rug by the park’s lush flora and fauna.
Get lost in Bruges, Belgium
One of the most romantic cities in Europe is best enjoyed without a guidebook. Throw away your map and wander the cobbled streets instead. Meander past picturesque canals covered by pretty bridges and fine medieval architecture, including the UNESCO listed square. Of course, when you’re in Belgium it would be a crime not to sample some of their world-famous chocolate. Try stopping by Sukerbuyc Katelijnestraat, a small family-run café that offers homemade chocolate with every hot drink served.
Discover Cinque Terre, Italian Riviera
A favourite romantic destination of all our Italy loving team – this beautiful and rugged portion of Italy comprises of five stunning villages, a beautiful coastline and rolling hillsides, all of which are part of the Cinque Terre National Park (a UNESCO Work Heritage Site). Terraces have been built to overlook the sea and the place is thankfully devoid of industrial or commercial development. Each of the villages (Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore) are connected by path, train and boat, keeping it blissfully car-free.
Stay on one of the last unspoiled Greek islands
One of Europe’s best-kept secrets is Meganisi – one of the last truly unspoiled Greek Islands. A secret hideaway where time stands still is blessed with all the usual Greek island cliches – pretty sandy coves, crystal clear waters and pastel-coloured houses. With only just three small villages on the island, each complete with winding side streets, stunning views and shady courtyards lined with vines – a slower pace of life (and plenty of time for romance) is guaranteed.
Lord it up at Ashford Castle Hotel, Ireland
If you plump for a stay at five-star Ashford Castle you’ll be in very good company. The luxury Irish hotel is a favourite of A-listers including Brad Pitt, Pierce Brosnan (who had his wedding here) and Barbra Streisand. Surrounded by the castle’s 350-acre estate you won’t be short on things to do either – try dabbling in a bit of falconry or clay pigeon shooting before heading back to enjoy the hotel’s renowned fine dining.
Go boating in Burgundy
A private hire canal boat is definitely the best way to make the most of this tranquil corner of France. If you can learn how to steer the boat, picnics by green hedgerowed countryside dotted with postcard-pretty medieval towns and Romanesque abbeys await you. Why should you choose Burgundy for your romantic break? It has a quiet rustic charm with beautiful scenery and world-renowned Grand Cru wineries.
Explore the Scottish Highlands
With its wild rugged landscapes, ancient woodlands, historic castles and crystal-clear lochs, the Highlands is one of the most underrated romantic destinations in Europe. In these areas the lakes and woods have an eerie stillness and the landscapes have been virtually unchanged for hundreds of years. Worried that the wind and rain will start getting you down? Don’t worry you can always warm up again by your cosy log cabin fire.
Nothern Light watching in Lofoten, Norway
Watching the Northern Lights seems to be high up on everyone’s bucket list, and who better to experience it with than the love of your life? Winters in Norway benefit from the quiet of a lull in tourism as well as the exceptional views of the Northern Lights. To crank the romance up a gear try one of the cosy fisherman’s cabins on Lofoten – an unspoilt archipelago and Europe’s best-kept secret. Life is simple and traditional there with low tourism and unspoilt mountain landscapes that have to be seen to be believed.