Valentine’s Day, a holiday steeped in romance and devotion, has been inspiring lovers to declare their love for centuries. It’s a day for heartfelt gifts, fancy dinners, pretty jewelry and even poems. And for travel lovers who use any excuse to plan a trip (that would be me!), it’s an opportune time to discuss a romantic summer getaway—of course, a European romantic summer getaway! Though destination options are numerous, the following three cities combine history, art, culture and romance into exquisite romantic packages.
Snow or sun, day or night, on your first visit or even your twentieth, Paris always exudes romance. Striking Neo-Classical architecture, fine art, and the idyllic Seine River set the scene, as do the unabashedly affectionate, chic locals themselves. For a particularly romantic day, start at the Pont des Arts Bridge , otherwise known as Lover’s Bridge, built in 1804—seeing all of the attached testaments of love (locks) have left more than a few visitors misty eyed.
After an afternoon of exploring Paris’ famous art museums, visit the Eiffel Tower, the iconic 324-meter metal structure that has been inspiring adoration since its opening in 1889. At night, the Eiffel Tower’s sparkling lights are particularly enchanting. At the end of the evening, act like a local and cozy up close to your loved one over fine French wine and food. Ooh là là!
With picturesque stone streets winding past Renaissance-era buildings and grand cathedrals, museums housing some of the world’s most cherished artwork, and cozy cafes that are abuzz with canoodling couples, Florence is certainly a charmer. Rich in Italian Renaissance sights and one of the world’s most beloved cities, planning a romantic day (or, an entire week for that matter) in Florence is easy-peasy!
Begin your trip at the Uffizi Gallery where illustrious, iconic masterpieces are practically everywhere, from renowned artists such as Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo and Caravaggio (to name but a few!). And then it’s time for David—that would be THE David, perhaps the most famous sculpture in the world, expertly crafted by Michelangelo in the early sixteenth century. To admire the marble sculpture up close and personal, visit the Galleria dell’ Accademia
The grand, world-renowned Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, better known as the Duomo, should be high on your list too. To truly appreciate its elaborate Gothic-Renaissance architecture and intricately patterned marble façade, walk around the cathedral several times before venturing inside. Cap the evening off with dinner and drinks in one of Florence’s fine restaurants—though a tad touristy, the restaurants on the Square overlooking the Duomo afford stunning views.
Dubrovnik may not have the romantic star-power of Paris and Florence, but don’t allow that to deter you from a visit. This is one romantic city, indeed! Sitting on the stunning Adriatic Sea coast and backed by hills of greenery, Dubrovnik’s dramatic location is in and of itself a reason to visit. Take advantage of the seaside setting on one of many area beaches such as Banje Beach, which is within quick walking distance from Old Town and is home to the exclusive EastWest Club.
After your fill of the beach, spend at least one full day sightseeing in Dubrovnik’s Old Town – the late-Medieval era walled city is a show stopper with grand Baroque buildings, marble streets, cozy shops and restaurants galore. Begin by exploring the wide central boulevard and winding tiny streets, and then walk the colossal city walls hand in hand. The sheer size of the walls is astounding, as are the resplendent Adriatic Sea views. Dinner within Old Town will cost you, but the ambiance and vistas are well worth the inflated prices.
Written by Katherine Sazdanoff for EuropeUpClose.com