Amsterdam, NetherlandsAlthough Amsterdam has a reputation for the scandalous, there’s definitely another side to the city. Amsterdam can be an astonishingly romantic destination for couples looking for a nice weekend escape! It’s hard to resist the beautiful canals, which are perfect for a long stroll around sunset or a scenic boat ride (that you pilot for yourself if you dare). While biking in Amsterdam isn’t for everyone, a long bike ride to Amsterdam’s lesser-known neighborhoods is often a great beginning to a date prior to browsing the many markets that Amsterdam offers. On Saturdays, head down to the Jordaan for a lazy brunch before perusing the Noordermarkt for fresh bread, fruit, and sweets to bring back to your flat. Strolling through the Jordaan is easily one of the more romantic things to do in Amsterdam as it has beautiful canal houses, a quiet atmosphere, and some lovely waterways without the crowds. For a romantic escape, skip the Airbnbs and head to one of Amsterdam’s many charming boutique hotels. Max Brown Canal District is perfect for couples seeking a place with a special touch and a great central location. Submitted by Karen Turner of Wanderlustingk
Budapest, HungaryWhenever we are in the mood for a romantic weekend escape, we always end up in Budapest. If you have ever waltzed by the tune of The Blue Danube (Johann Strauss II), you already know that Budapest and the Danube passing through it have an amazing romantic charm. A weekend in Budapest is barely enough to scratch the surface of this beautiful European city. But rest assured that you will have a lot of fun and enjoy every second of it. Walking hand-in-hand on the Danube Embankment is the perfect way to see the sights along both sides of the river. And once you get to the Chain Bridge cross it and make your way to the Fishermen’s Bastion within the Castle Hill. If you show up here for sunrise or sunset, it is even more special. And if you plan to pop the question, this is one of the best places to do it! For a special night out, why not dance the tango! There are plenty of milongas taking place almost daily and you can find some with live music. Or you can go for a romantic dinner at one of the lovely restaurants. Nika Restaurant is a personal favorite as it also offers vegan (and vegetarian) options and the servers speak English. Submitted by Cris Puscas from LooknWalk
Girona, SpainGirona in Spain is a superb choice for a romantic long weekend away. The medieval old town is a mess of ancient, narrow lanes from which creamy stone buildings rise vertically upwards. It’s the perfect town for lovers to stroll, hand-in-hand along the twisting streets, down winding staircases, and through hidden squares. Surrounded by high town walls and dominated by the white stone cathedral, it feels like the set for a Dan Brown novel. It’s also a wealthy place and excellent for a spot of window shopping. The shops are filled with beautiful boutiques selling everything from household goods to designer children’s clothes. Girona is also foodie-heaven – find a cozy bar or restaurant and grab a glass of the local wine, then follow it up with a delicious meal. Unless you’ve booked months in advance, you’re unlikely to get a seat at the city’s most famous restaurant, El Celler de Can Roca… It’s got three Michelin stars and Restaurant Magazine says it’s the third best restaurant in the world! But not to worry, there are plenty of other incredible restaurants to choose from. We loved Llevataps, in the heart of the old town, a slick restaurant-feel with a modern yet casual ambiance and food to die for! On a practical level, Girona is easy to get to since it has its own airport and is only an hour and a half north of Barcelona. Girona oozes romance and it’s certainly where I’d choose for a romantic weekend.
Submitted by Clare Dewey of Epic Road Rides
Istanbul, TurkeyWhen it comes to dreamy romantic cities, it is hard to beat Istanbul’s allure. A city that is seemingly stuck in time offers two sides in everything it has to any couple in love. Pick from being in Asia on one day and Europe the next day. Try Turkish coffee in the daytime and Turkish Raki once the sun sets. Explore Ottoman-era palaces and mosques or step into the modern arthouse scene at the city’s revamped museums. Indulge in some old-fashioned bargaining at the Grand Bazaar or gawk at the latest collections along Istiklal Avenue. The list goes on and on. As a couple, you are assured of a different experience that will stimulate your better half regardless of what you pick to do during your time in Istanbul. But of course, some experiences surpass others when it comes to amping up the romance. I recommend taking a seat at any of the stands selling Turkish fish sandwiches near the Eminonu Pier for an unforgettable meal that you can wash down with pickle juice instead of a soda. If that’s too pedestrian for you, go upmarket at Istiklal Street through Taksim or Beyoglu for a quiet romantic meal. If you’re like me then a visit to former Ottoman palaces will do the trick for your romantic interests. The sheer opulence of places like the Topkapi Palace and Dolmabahce Palace will make you look dreamily into each other’s eyes while you replenish yourself with some food at a nearby café. And finally, if nothing else works, an hour away from the city is Princes’ Islands where a horse-carriage ride with your partner has the power to gallop your love into the stratosphere if you make all the right moves. Geddit? If you like the idea of a romantic getaway in Turkey but are interested in being outside a city, you will want to visit the magical Cappadocia. Submitted by Priyanko Sarkar of Constant Traveller
Killarney, IrelandKillarney, Ireland, is the perfect choice for a long weekend escape for couples who enjoy outdoor adventures. Killarney is a beautiful little town located along the Ring of Kerry, just 30 minutes from Dingle Peninsula. Its convenient location makes it a great location for exploring the Irish countryside and coast. Killarney itself is home to the beautiful Torc Waterfall (where you can enjoy a lovely hike and possibly spot some red deer), the Muckross House (a 19th century historic home), and Ross Castle (a 15th-century castle located along the Lough Leane). The Gap of Dunloe is a must-see. It’s the perfect, romantic escape from the crowds. The gap is a narrow mountain pass filled with rolling hills, lakes, sheep, and authentic cottages. Many tourists skip this destination, but it is a personal favorite of ours. You can choose to hike the gap (our choice), or you can hire a local driver and ride his horse-drawn jaunting cart. Before you leave the gap, enjoy lunch and dessert at Kate Kearney’s Cottage, a 150-year-old family-run restaurant located at the entrance of the gap. The Muckross Park Hotel & Spa is the perfect option for couples looking for beautiful, quaint, romantic lodging. The Victorian-style rooms are relaxing, and their combined spa and dining services will make for a relaxing evening after a long day of exploring. Many couples will want to rent a car during their stay in Killarney so that they can explore the area at their leisure. If renting a car isn’t for you, there are several day trips that you can take by bus. Submitted by Leah from An Adventure is Calling
Lake Garda, ItalyOne of the most romantic places to spend a long weekend is Lake Garda, Italy. Incredible mountain views, fresh air, lemon groves, fairytale castles, and picturesque villages dot the lake. All this makes it the perfect place to spend a few days with your love. Stay in one of the most evocative, romantic villages on Lake Garda, Sirmione. Sirmione has everything you could possibly want from a romantic long weekend destination. There’s even a magical castle with ramparts you can climb and a drawbridge to cross. Plus you’ll find narrow winding village streets with gelato on every corner, dramatic Roman ruins, and a range of luxurious hotels complete with natural thermal spas. Sirmione is also well-connected to the other villages on the shore of Lake Garda. Halfway up the lake are two more villages that you shouldn’t miss on your long weekend break. Limone boasts a beautiful harbor and rows of lemon groves clinging on to the mountainside. Malcesine, directly opposite Limone on the eastern side of the lake, has the most stunning castle, adorable village streets, and a cable car up to the summit of Monte Baldo. A cable car ride provides incredible views over the lake. If you and your partner enjoy doing adventurous activities together, there’s no shortage of things to do on Lake Garda. Try paragliding from the top of Monte Baldo, kayaking and SUP on the lake. Plus, there’s no shortage of beautiful mountain walks. If you prefer cultural activities, the city of Verona is only a short distance away by train and has outdoor opera performances throughout the summer. Romantic evenings in Lake Garda are all about enjoying each other’s company, wonderful Italian food, and some local wine. Choose a lakeside restaurant for stunning sunsets and the soothing sound of gentle waves lapping the shore. Submitted by Helen of Helen on Her Holidays
Paris, FranceParis, France, the city of lights, is the epitome of a long romantic weekend escape! Whether it is your first time or you are a repeat visitor, there is so much to do that you will fall in love with Paris (and your beau) over and over again. Being such a walkable city is one of Paris’ greatest assets. We recommend taking a self-guided walking tour hand in hand down the gorgeous streets. Stop whenever it pleases you to enjoy pastries in an adorable café or to stand together on the gorgeous bridges. Walk around Ile de la Citè, strolling through the majestic Notre Dame or gazing at the beautiful windows in San Chappelle. Stop for flowers at Marche aux Fleurs. Then head over to Tuileries Garden to have a romantic picnic or at least to smell the roses. Museums are plenty and the Paris Museum Pass will give you the flexibility to drop in when it suits you. Besides the popular Louvre and D’Orsay, there are more intimate options like Musèe Rodin which offers a sculpture garden that is well worth the visit. This allows you the ability to travel without an itinerary on your romantic long weekend. A favorite way to spend an evening in Paris is to take a river cruise on the Seine just before sunset. As dusk falls, the monuments will beautifully light up, and the Eiffel Tower will sparkle as you approach. It is a magical way to spend an evening and one that you will not forget. Consider setting your alarm early one morning to watch the sunrise at the Trocadero. It is the only time you will see the Eiffel Tower in such a peaceful state. For a special surprise for your loved one, a sunrise photo shoot will leave you with your wonderful memories captured. Adding a few days in this beautiful city will give you the opportunity to include even more highlights and croissants to your Paris itinerary. No matter the season, it is always a good time for Paris!
Submitted by Sierra Schmidt of Free to Travel Mama