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Valentine's Day: 5 Beautifiul Cities with Historic Love Stories

Even if you’re not into Valentine’s day, everyone can appreciate some European romantic atmosphere. And not only are the following romantic cities but they have witnessed love stories so epic, they have travelled through the years of history. Whether you are into art galleries, restaurants, history or yes, love stories, these cities make the perfect vacation for couples, friends or a little solo adventure.

Edinburgh edinburgh

Edinburgh’s cobbled streets, Georgian architecture, castle and often gloomy weather create a perfect romantic backdrop for a couples vacation. Snuggle into pubs, picnic under Arthur’s Seat (an extinct volcano in Holyrood Park), and wander down The Royal Mile discovering historic shops and street performers.

The love story of Mary Queen of Scots and Lord Darnley haunts the cobbled streets here. Their marriage was hoped to create a strong alliance between Scotland and England but political ambition and power struggles ended in the murder of Lord Darnley. Mary later married his suspected killer. Couples vacation, yes. Couples goals? Not really.

Romantic spots not to miss

Sunset at Calton Hill: Part of the UNESCO world heritage site, Calton Hill has panoramic views of the city.

Tea at the castle: Have a traditional cream tea at The Tea Rooms in the castle and feel like a Scottish Queen.

Walk by the Water of Leith: The main river through Edinburgh winds away from the city through lush green countryside with lovely views.

Paris

paris

Paris can’t shake its enduring reputation as the City of Love no matter how unlovely Parisians can sometimes be to tourists. Still many a proposal happens under the Eiffel Tower and it’s hard not to get a little carried away in the romantic boulevards, parks and bistros of France’s capital.

The love story of Napoleon and Josephine still echoes around the city. Their passionate relationship was recorded in Napoleon’s love letters and captured the French public's imagination. After ups and downs, affairs and children with other people it ended in divorce in 1809. But forget the ending! Today on your romantic vacation you can visit Chateau de Malmaison, a huge château where they lived in happy times and created one of the best gardens in France.

Romantic spots not to miss

Ponte de Artes: this pedestrian bridge crosses the Seine from the central square of the Palais du Louvre and is heavily adorned with locks representing the many couples who have declared their love here.

Seine River Cruise: Grab yourself some croissants and sail down the Seine passing the Eiffel Tower, Louvre and Notre Dam Cathedral.

Luxembourg Gardens: Have a picnic in these gardens, 25 hectares of calm in the middle of the city.

Prague

prague

Prague managed to avoid a lot of the destruction across Europe in the twentieth century and its medieval old town square can feel like a fairy tale, especially when lit up at night. Start off a romantic vacation with a stroll across the Charles Bridge, through narrow streets and hidden squares and hole up on one of Prague’s famous coffee houses. These cafes were meeting points of intellectuals, politicians and artists and continue to attract crowds looking for hot coffee and pastries filled with cream cheese, poppy seeds, and fruit compotes.

One of Prague’s famous love stories is about composer Bedrich Smetana and his muse Kamila Stosslova. Kamila inspired some of his most romantic compositions and when Smetana went deaf she transcribed his melodies for him to experience through touch. You can visit the museum dedicated to his music on the banks of the River Vlatava.

Romantic spots not to miss

Charles Bridge: The Charles Bridge is an iconic emblem of Prague and you can enjoy views of the old town, Prague castle and the Vlatava river.

Cruise Vtava River: Take in the ‘City of 100 Spires’ from a cruisy river trip, with many including dinner and live music it’s a good way to experience the city as the sun sets.

Petřín Hill: A peaceful park in the middle of the city, you can climb a look out tower for views or get lost in the mirror maze.

Venice

venice

There can’t possibly be a more romantic city than Venice. Built in a lagoon on 100 islands, at its centre is a grand canal lined with Gothic and Renaissance palaces. Winding alleys lead to hidden squares, there are infinite intimate restaurants and not to mention the old legend of Casanova.

A writer, diplomat and notorious womanizer Casanova was known for his wit and charm and ability to navigate 18th century society. He was also a professional gambler, violinist and spy so while no one knows for sure if his autobiogrphies are exaggerated he has gone down in history as Venice’s ultimate romantic.

 Romantic spots not to miss

Gondola ride: yes, it’s obvious but you can’t go to Venice without trying a gondola ride through the cities canals. Many gondolaliers will tell you stories from Venice’s past as you float through the canals.

Get lost: Venice is notoriously tourist-packed but if you veer off from the main sites you’ll find local neighbourhood restaurants and authentic parts of the city.

Long Story Short...

Whether you are looking for a romantic vacation, a vacation for couples or just an unforgettable time in a romantic city, these places have some of the best architecture, history and culture in Europe.

 

Written by Laura Sedlak