World's Most Romantic Cities
You might always have Paris, THE city of love, the eternal city of Rome and of loved-up Roman Holidays and memories of a weekend in Venice that was nothing short of magical, but where to take him or her for your next romantic break?
Bruges: For lovers of Beer and Architecture
Pleasing Her: Medieval Bruges is a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. Its reputation for a quiet bordering on sleepiness is perfect for wooing, just choose one of the many little restaurants, all loaded with charm, and order suggestively shaped moules mariniËre with a gift of handmade, locally produced, chocolates, presented at just the right time while you're strolling along the canals.
Pleasing Him: The area around Bruges is known for beer production and there are hundreds of different brews to try, they also have a museum to the frite - that's a chip or fry to you or I - if that's any indication of how seriously they take them.
Dubrovnik: For Sunsets and Night Swims
Pleasing Her: Dubrovnik's lovely ancient castle-like walls were once used as a protective barrier by Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, who'd come here for a bit of alone time. Naturally Liz used to enjoy checking out the jewellery stores in the old centre of town while Burton favoured the private bars and cafes.
Pleasing Him: An enviable position on the sunny Adriatic means sunset strolls are at a premium, especially on the peninsular around Uvala Lapad, and on Uvala beach there are bars open in the evening where you can have a drink while you contemplate a night swim amongst the pulsing glow of plankton.
Tozeur: For the Romance of a Desert Oasis
Pleasing Her: There's something profoundly romantic about the desert, to the best way to get to Tozeur passes the maddeningly foreign landscape around the dried salt lake, Chott El Djerid, so that by the time you reach the sudden wall of palm trees that marks out Tozeur in the desert you're well aware that you're visiting an oasis. The busy medieval medina and unfamiliar, yet beautiful shapes of the ancient mosques and detailed brickwork of the buildings all add up to the feeling that anything could happen here...
Prague: For Fairytale Surroundings
Pleasing Her: In Prague in love it can seem as if everything is done in candle light: candlelit churches hold romantic sounding recitals, you can dine under candelabras at castle view restaurants the calibre of which you possibly couldn't afford at home, then be beckoned into underground bars lit with the similar warm, flickering.
Pleasing Him: Fine beers and a lively local music scene take this city effortlessly from the museums, galleries and river cruises of the day into livelier evenings. It's a classic destination that's less expensive than some of the other must-go European destinations.
Valletta: For the Romance of Military Achievement and Homer's Odyssey
Pleasing Him: Malta's military achievements are uniquely impressive: as well as being home to Crusading Knights, it's the only country to have been been awarded the George Cross: they were incredibly stoic during the great siege of the early part of WW2 when supplies were perilously low and they were being bombarded day and night by German bombers. These days they still recall their honourable military achievements in the form of the NOON DAY GUN. If you're not expecting it it might make you jump.
Pleasing Her: Just off Valletta's lovely beach-lined coast is the island of Gozo, Homer's island of Ogygia where Calypso kept Ulysses as a love slave, or something. She probably chose it because of the golden strings of beaches on both sides of the channel and for the amazing diving and snorkelling-friendly waters.
Budapest: The Paris of Central Europe
Pleasing Her: The ancient architecture isn't as lauded as that of Paris, Prague or Venice, but maybe it should be, to say this is a picturesque town would be to do it a disservice. A simple stroll along the river, or even more romantic, a cruise , is enough for many people to fall in love with this city.
Pleasing Him: Budapest has no fear of change, so expect to find familiar favourite foods with a local twist and all mod. cons. sandwiched between old Turkish thermal baths. There's also a funicular railway up to the castle.
San Sebastián: For Foodies
Pleasing Him: San Sebastián has more Michelin stars per capita than any other city. Do your romantic strolling along the Playa de la Concha or Zarautz to help you work up an appetite for a spectacular meal.
Pleasing Her: An excellent one for a valentines break, in February it still has all the Michelin stars, and the weather is surprisingly mild. During the film festival it's busy but dynamic – and good for a spot of celebrity spotting – and the normally vibrant nightlife has extra kick.
Florence: For the Love of Art
Pleasing Her: You can't walk anywhere in Florence without seeing something beautiful and it's possible that women have been proposed to on every square inch of this city – but the Ponte Vecchio, with its rows of jewellery stores linking both sides of the meandering Arno River in a romantic, covered, embrace, is probably one of the prime locations... As well as visiting the Pitti Palace, the Uffizi Gallery visitors inclined towards romance can stay at the Hotel degli Orafi, which is where 'A Room with a View' was filmed.
Pleasing Him: Amazing pizza, wine and coffee, served at small tables the kind of picturesque squares that can make any man feel a Casanova. It would be hard not to feel romantic strolling these streets at night, past fountains, statues, great churches and the warm lights of many promisingly intimate cafes and bars.
And much of Florence's great art depicts that wonder of nature, the female form...
Fes: For the Exotic
Pleasing Him: Hide her behind 800 year old walls, decorated in an enticing layer of tilework and coated with a sheen of incense to cancel out the ancient smell of the tanneries, taking her out protectively through the markets, showering her with exotic gifts then retiring to a roof terrace with some mint tea to take it all in and spend a bit of time losing yourself in each other. Eat, drink, smoke and allow all your five senses to take it, and each other, in.
Pleasing Her: Lose yourself in the most exotic shopping experience of your life: Achbine Souk was once the place to source your traditional remedies, your chameleons in jars or snakeskins or gazelle's horns, Souk Triba has cosmetic and electronics shops, and an orange tree in the centre of the square. Behind it is Souk Tallis, good for wool, wheat and cloth. Souk Selham and the few surrounding it all sell material and haberdashery, but for a really special outfit you should hop over to Chemmaine Souk, which sells ceremonial garb.
Seville: Spanish elegance
Pleasing Her: Don Juan, and Bizet's Carmen were both tragic lovers harking from Seville, not just the barber, and this 2000 year old Spanish city has supported far more romance than that. Strolling guitarists and gypsies will help set the scene for your own romance, among the quiet squares, decorated with Moorish designs, under bright geranium covered patios.
Pleasing Him: Bullfighting in the day, tapas feasts in the evening and flamenco all night...
Biarritz: For Old Fashioned Romance
Pleasing Her: Traces of the Belle Epoque in the architecture and style of the town show though on the lifestyle as well. Napoleon made this one of the most glamorous and fashionable seaside resorts and it's still popular with the vintage proponents of the celebrity set – in fact it was probably the first proper seaside resort – and its still benefits from the early popularity of seawater treatments, which these days are called spas, The chocolate shops in nearby Bayonne are some of the best in France.
Let us know if you think we're missing any of your own recommendations for romantic city breaks.
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