Most romantic European city breaks

By Jenai Laignel, Tuesday 10 February 2015
Reviewed: Monday 10 November 2014

A visit to a European city makes for the perfect impulsive getaway. With so many romantic destinations just a short trip away, we pick five of the best.
Romantic Europe


Arguably the most romantic city in the world, Italy’s capital is bursting at the seams with sights – and scooters!

You’ll feel the vibrant pulse of the city when you arrive outside the mighty walls of the ancient Colosseum, Vespas beeping manically in the background.

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But you don’t have to travel far to swap the city’s soundtrack for something more subdued, for right in the heart of Rome is a city within a city – the Vatican. Most of this tiny sovereign state is out of bounds, but the museums are a must: few places contain such a literal wealth of art.

Of course Rome is renowned for its cuisine, so be prepared to put on a few pounds after indulging in platefuls of pasta, creamy cappuccinos and the obligatory gelato or two…

When you stroll back to your hotel after your final night’s feast, don’t forget to visit Neptune and toss a coin into his fountain to ensure your return to Rome.

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There’s something about Barcelona that inspires romance and creativity, which is why many artists come here to ‘stand on the shoulders of giants’, drawing inspiration from the likes of Gaudi, Picasso and Miro.

The artists still have a huge influence on the city’s galleries, museums, parks and buildings – most obviously the fantastical structures created by Gaudi, such as the Sagrada Familia.

But aside from simply admiring the artistic talents of Catalan’s capital and hunting down the standard tourist haunts, there are some more unusual attractions worth seeking out too.

Be sure to check out the museum that celebrates the achievements of Barcelona FC, and the Spanish Village built for the 1929 World Fair and now home to a variety of craft workshops, restaurants and bars.

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Looking wistfully out towards the Atlantic from the mouth of the Tagus River in Lisbon, 33 figures stand as tribute to the achievements of Portugal’s Age of Discovery.

The group of explorers, scientists, royalty and missionaries are led by Henry the Navigator, the man responsible for Portugal’s imperial expansion into Africa and the Far East. But a maritime heritage is just part of Lisbon’s attraction.

The pleasure of exploring this small, understated capital is often in the unexpected: striking-up conversations while travelling along the tree-lined streets by tram; or happening upon a bustling flea market after pausing for a Sunday morning espresso.

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