‘Love is in the air, everywhere I look around…..’. With Valentine’s Day fast approaching it has got me thinking about my Top 5 Most Romantic Cities in Europe………………..
1. Florence, Italy
This is my favourite city in the world. This city holds so many beautiful, wonderful and romantic memories for me, there was no way that it wasn’t making the top of my list. I had one of my first dates with my (now) husband there and this was the city that started my love affair with Italy. Florence is the capital of the region of Tuscany, is steeped in history and considered the birthplace of the Renaissance.
Top five – Florence
- Museums/art – To be honest the streets and buildings of Florence are art themselves but if you fancy something more I recommend Accademia Gallery, where you can see Michelangelo’s David in all his glory and Uffizi Gallery which offers breathtaking (especially at sunset) views of the Ponte Vecchio.
- Gelato (ice cream) – this creamy goodness in it’s many different flavours, can be found all over Florence, be warned the scoops are massive and on a summer’s day you may end up with more of it on your hand(s) then in your mouth.
- Food – especially pizza (yum). Here I found the most obscure pizza topping pairing of sausage and broccoli but by gosh it’s immense and I have yet to find it anywhere else.
- Booze – If you like me love Italian wine, especially Pinot Grigio why not indulge in a bottle (or 2) overlooking the Piazza della Signoria? Or why not try a glass of Prosecco or a shot of lemoncello after a meal (hic).
- Duomo – The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore is the main church of Florence and stands proudly in Piazza de Duomo. It is beautiful and if you are feeling fit you can even climb the 463 steps to the top of the cupola which offers panoramic views of the city!
2. Venice, Italy
I got engaged in this lovely, unique city. Another Italian city granted but completely different to Florence. Venice is the capital of the Veneto Region and has been known by numerous names over the years including “La Dominante”, “Serenissima”, “Queen of the Adriatic”, “City of Water”, “City of Masks”, “City of Bridges”, “The Floating City”, and “City of Canals”. There is no doubt Venice is stunning and like no-where else in the world. From leaving the train station until returning four days later we did not see one car. This city relies on water transport seeing as though it is made up of 117 small islands.
Top five – Venice
- Take a Gondola ride – very touristy and possibly overpriced but in my opinion a ‘must do’ in Venice. We did this the day after we got engaged and it was great although once you’ve seen one back street canal maybe you’ve seen them all?
- The Grand Canal – this canal is the main water corridor through Venice with many water buses and water taxis sailing it every day. If you can afford it I imagine a hotel with balcony over the Grand Canal would be superb and very romantic especially for a wedding anniversary – hint, hint husband ;0)
- Get lost in the narrow streets – not lost per se but you get my drift. Put down the guidebook and go for a wander. You may be surprised what you find. We found numerous cafes, restaurants, markets and of course photo opportunities.
- San Giorgio Maggiore – take one of the many water buses over to San Giorgio Maggiore and visit the 16th century church of the same name. Don’t forget to go up the bell tower as the views back towards St Mark’s Square are something else – definitely worth the trip.
- Rialto Bridge –This is the oldest of the 4 bridges spanning the Grand Canal and the most famous. It is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Venice and I for one have visited it, had my photo taken on it and walked over it….possibly a great place to ask that special person to marry you?
3. Paris, France
I imagine number 1 on a lot of people’s list and probably would have been on mine if not for the events and memories created in Florence and Venice. My delightful husband took me to Paris (the capital of France) for my 30th birthday. It was perfect and exactly what I expected apart from the weather….we visited I may and it rained…a lot! Our clothes may have been damp but our spirits certainly weren’t. Paris was always somewhere I wanted to visit so was going to make the most of it.
Top five – Paris
- Drink champagne at the top of the Eiffel Tower – my husband is not great with heights but there was no way we were not scaling the most famous landmark in the city. At the top you will find a champagne bar were you can treat your loved one (or yourself) to a glass of the fizzy stuff.
- The Louvre – a monsoon (maybe a slight exaggeration) hit Paris the day we went to visit the Louvre. Which meant we had the whole courtyard of the Louvre Museum all to ourselves resulting in amazing pictures of just the two of us and the pyramid.
- Lunch in the shadow of Notre Dame – We had lunch one day at the Notre Dame Hotel Cafe overlooking Notre Dame itself. Not a massive fan of French food (sorry) but a great view neither the less especially on a warm summer’s day.
- Take a boat trip down the River Seine – we took a lovely day time cruise from the Eiffel Tower down the Seine under the bridges and admired
the beautiful buildings along the banks. To make it even more romantic you could take an evening dinner cruise with the one you love.
- Padlock Bridge – you need a padlock with 3 keys. Fasten the padlock to the bridge, chuck one key in the Seine. You keep one and your lover keeps the other. Mine sits proudly on my key ring. It pretty obvious which bridge is the right one – it’s the one with all the padlocks on!
4. Bruges, Belgium
I’ve been to Bruges at least half a dozen times and never tire of its quaint charm (and delicious beer of course). This Belgian city is the capital of province of West Flanders is very picturesque and well worth a wander round hand in hand with that special someone. It is often called the ‘Venice of the North’ along with other canal-based cities. I personally think Bruges comes into its own at christmas when there is snow on the ground and you can cozy up in front of a roaring fire.
Top five – Bruges
- Drink Beer – there are so many Belgian beers it’s unreal, in fact there are over 180 breweries in the country. Why not check out the 2be Beer Wall (53 Wollestraat, Bruges 8000) there appears to be millions of them all lined up neatly. My favourite is the locally brewed Brusge Zot – a lovely blond beer although I’m sure if you attempt to work your way through them you’ll find your own favourite.
- Eat chocolate –mmm chocolate, lovely chocolate! The best chocolate that I have ever eaten has been made in Bruges. Every shape, size, texture, flavour you can think of can be found in one of the many chocolate shops in Bruges whether for yourself or your valentine or as a gift for friends or family.
- Take a canal boat ride – Bruges is beautiful and the canal boats are very narrow therefore the perfect opportunity to snuggle up to your loved one as you take in the sites of Bruges as you zip around the cities waterways. This mode of transport also allows you to see parts of the city that you may not be able to get to on foot.
- Look at the buildings – there are so many beautiful, traditional Flemish buildings in Bruges. Bruges’ beauty saved it from being bombed during World War II therefore very few post war, ‘ugly’ buildings can be seen. I personally find their facades to be very romantic.
- People watching in the Markt – the market square of Bruges is pedestrianised and located in the heart of the city and is home to 12th century Belfry and Provincial Court together with a number of bars and restaurants which gives you the opportunity to sit back, relax and watch the world go by.
5. London, England
The capital of my very own country and somewhere I have personally had a number of romantic weekend’s away. London may not be the prettiest city in the world but it is one of the most vibrant and diverse. If romance is the name of the game there is always something to do or see in this, one of the most visited cities in the world.
Top Five – London
- Have a traditional afternoon tea –what a great British tradition? Anything that involves sandwiches, scones, cakes and tea gets my vote. Many luxury hotels in London offer afternoon tea (various prices) Why not add a glass of the sparkling stuff to make the experience one to really remember?
- Drink in a proper English Boozer – there are many trendy, hipster bars in London in fact they are ten a penny. What I recommend if visiting London is trying a pint in a good old-fashioned English pub (they seem to be a dying breed). One of my favourites is The Coal Hole on The Strand – why not treat yourself to a bag of pork scratchings too?
- Visit a museum or two – what better way to spend a day than wandering round a museum taking in culture at it’s best. And one thing that London isn’t short of is museums some of my favourites include the Imperial War Museum, the British Museum and the Natural History Museum and the best part…..they are all free!
- See a musical on the West End – I’ll be honest I’ve seen a lot of musicals on the West End in my time and cannot get enough of them! I personally think that they are a great way of spending an evening in the big smoke. Top tickets can be pricey so remember to surf the net for deals. If you want a couple
of hours of great entertainment by world-class performers then this is for you.
- Take the Emirates Sky Air Line – these cable cars can transport you between The Docklands and the 02. They give you a great view of London as you are carried up and over the Thames. Oyster Cards can be used on them and are a great alternative to the tube.
Can you recommend any romantic cities? I’m always on the look out for them….who knows maybe one of your recommendations could replace one of my existing ones.