Spring is on the horizon, which means happy thoughts, sweet beginnings, and romantic inspiration. Simply getting out into the clean air can be enough to shake off the heavy winter solitude, but if you’re pining for an adventure, do your heart a favor and inject a little romance into your holiday. From idyllic coastal towns to legendary medieval settings, find the perfect city to celebrate – or awaken – your passion.
If medieval charm is your taste, than Croatia’s oasis of culture and character on the edge of the Adriatic may be your perfect setting. Dubrovnik still stands behind ancient fortress walls, and the Old Town preserves its medieval aura beautifully, with cafes cut into the stone walls, winding alleyways, and stoic churches. If ever you feel a little claustrophobic, pop out of the city center to visit the pebbly beach and enjoy a quiet moment for two at the seashore.
This southern sanctuary is bursting with hospitality, and offers up some of South Carolina’s prettiest neighbourhoods to stroll through, shop in, and maybe even pop the question. After all, the moss-strewn oaks, antiquated mansions, and idyllic river views provide the perfect backdrop for a proposal to remember, but are equally suited to a little weekend getaway with your life-long love. You can top off your days with celebrated cuisine and a couple of Southern cocktails under a starry sky.
Small town warmth, historical charm, and a perfect portfolio of leisurely living come together in this Ontario wine region. Where Niagara Falls gets a bit gaudy, its neighbour to the north is serene, rosy, and delightfully laid-back. Boasting more B&Bs than any nearby city on either side of the border, you can choose a beautifully preserved 19th century house to serve as home base while you enjoy the festivals, wine route, orchards and river trails with that someone special.
Life rolls along slowly in Carmel, where the boutiques and B&Bs invite you to pop in and stay awhile. The coastline is notoriously picturesque, and there are plenty of places to stop the car or step off the hiking path to enjoy a sunset over the Pacific. The towering redwoods and white sand go well with the luscious wine tastings and leisurely patio dinners overlooking the rolling hills. In fact, Carmel marries natural beauty and quiet comfort seamlessly, and that makes the perfect setting for romance.
If Rome has flash and Venice has whimsy, Florence has a more measured charm. Sure, you’ll find some iconic monuments and incredible museums, but it’s the small touches that make for a romantic holiday to remember: the street side enotecas where you stand shoulder to shoulder while enjoying a glass of wine, the regal pathways and intimate corners of the Boboli gardens, and Tuscan cuisine that is the culinary counterpart to courtship.
Hawaii has long been a top pick for honeymooners, and Honolulu might be the most romantic destination in the state. With all the sun, sand and surf you could hope for, the island city is made for relaxation and re-connection. Dozens of romantic spots and activities surround the legendary Waikiki beach, with musical shows, quiet cocktail corners, and some of the most intimate accommodations in the island chain.
Prague, Czech Republic
It may not be as serene as the Mediterranean, but Prague can be considerably cozy and inviting. Enchanting gothic architecture lines the Old Town, and the looming medieval castle finishes the fantastic silhouette; both sides of the bridge are dotted with wooden-raftered taverns and candlelit windows. Although the grassy knolls and sparkling river are lovely in the heat of the summer, the cooler seasons are magical in the Czech capital, when you can finish a chilly stroll with plum brandy and potato dumplings in a dark little medieval café.
Hollywood may have had a hand in drawing crowds recently, but couples have known and loved this storybook town for centuries. Tucked between Belgian’s coast and capital city, Bruges sits almost perfectly preserved: 13th century cobbled streets (with some original wooden houses to match), gilded historic squares, and stone bridges that jump the dozens of canals make Bruges worthy of any romantic`s attention. It also happens to bill itself as the chocolate capital of the world, and everyone knows that romance and chocolate go hand-in-hand.
The city of Venice is a charming maze of narrow stone alleyways, storybook boutiques, floating gondolas and sumptuous cuisine. Summertime brings a bottleneck of tourists, but visit earlier in the year, and you can enjoy the sunsets from the iconic Rialto Bridge with a little more privacy. The little bridges that straddle the canals are often just wide enough for two, and if you happen to stray off the tourist path and into a quiet courtyard, you won’t regret it.
It’s known as the “City of Love”, and for good reason: tree-lined boulevards, centuries-old cobbled streets, and oodles of bridges, benches, nooks and crannies straight out of a romantic movie make Paris a feast for the senses (and the heart). Inspiring masterpieces decorate dozens of galleries and museums, but there are just as many opportunities for leisure as there are for culture. Parisian parks are made for picnicking, and the tiny bistro tables at outdoor cafes keep lovers close as they enjoy their wine and crepes against the majestic backdrop.
Some cities are more romantic than others, but it’s what you bring to the surroundings that really makes for a passionate atmosphere. You don’t need to spend a fortune to get a truly romantic experience, but it does pay to do a bit of research on areas for accommodation, transportation, and sightseeing routes – most cities have lovely, lesser-known corners where you can catch a breath, share a drink, or steal a kiss away from other visitors.