Revealed: The most romantic European cities to visit
Exploring a new city, immersing yourself in a new culture and trying out the local delicacies is a great way to spend time with the person you love.
So, if you’re dreaming of a romantic European city break packed with things to do, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve analysed a range of factors, including the number of restaurants and local attractions in each European city, to create a definitive ranking of some of the top locations for a romantic weekend away.
1. London, UK
London takes the number one spot in the ranking by not only boasting more attractions than anywhere else at 8,381, but also having the most restaurants (18,003).
So, whether your vibe is watching a show in the West End followed by a candlelit dinner for two, a romantic walk along the Thames or trying out the many secret basement bars the capital has to offer, London is the perfect city for an intimate weekend away.
2. Paris, France
Known as the ‘city of love’, Paris takes second place in the ranking. With 8,177 attractions to choose from and a choice of 15,706 restaurants to dine at, there are so many things to do. If it’s your first time in Paris, then you’ll enjoy taking in all the sights – the Louvre, the Moulin Rouge, a trip to the Ladurée tearoom to nibble on delicate macarons, and watching the twinkling lights on the Eiffel Tower at night.
And if you’ve been before, you’ll know there’s an abundance of romantic things to do – from sampling some of the many intimate bars and restaurants to a picnic in one of the pretty parks or sailing on a sunset cruise along the Seine.
3. Madrid, Spain
Spain’s capital, Madrid, takes third spot in our ranking, and for good reason. With the Royal Palace, Botanical Garden, El Retiro park and much more, it ranks sixth for its number of attractions (3,525) and has the third-highest number of restaurants at 10,440.
From admiring the sunset at the Temple of Debod to boating on Casa de Campo Lake to catching a cable car for breath-taking views of the city, Madrid’s a great place for a romantic break.
4. Prague, Czech Republic
Prague has 5,574 restaurants spread across the city. And with Czech food being hearty and filling (think bowls filled to the brim with soup and crusty bread), it’s a perfect place to visit for a wintry Valentine’s Day.
Spend your days admiring local artists’ work on Charles Bridge, enjoy a drink in Old Town Square, take in the views of the gothic Church of Our Lady Before Tyn, and listen as the elaborate astronomical clock strikes the hour.
5. Rome, Italy
If you’re searching for somewhere warmer for your romantic getaway, then look no further than Rome. With 9,878 restaurants across the Italian capital, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from. And, after you’ve feasted on Italian food, there are 5,946 attractions to explore.
If it’s your first time in Rome, then you have to visit all the key sights, like the Trevi Fountain and the Colosseum. But if it’s romance you’re after, then head to the Spanish Steps to watch the sunset and pretend you’re starring in your very own classic Italian film, or enjoy an opera or ballet at Teatro dell’Opera.
6. Pristina, Kosovo
For a romantic European city break that won’t break the bank, why not give Pristina a try? The Kosovan capital might not be the first place you’d think of when booking a romantic weekend away, but it has so much to offer.
Coffee culture is big here, so start off by sampling a few of the capital’s many cafés, before switching to Balkan staple, rakija, at the bars in the evenings.
And if you’re on a budget, then you’re in luck – Pristina offers the cheapest accommodation on our list, at an average price of £45.92 per day, alongside the lowest price of a meal for two (£17.58), and the second-cheapest cost of public transport (£1.76 for four one-way tickets).
Kosovo is also handily positioned for extending your Balkan adventure into neighbouring countries, with cheap and easy transport into Albania, Montenegro and North Macedonia.
7. Sofia, Bulgaria
Bulgaria may be better known for its beaches than its cities, but its capital Sofia is a great place for couples to spend a romantic weekend away together.
As you wander around, you’ll feel the uniqueness of the city, with Roman ruins alongside communist architecture and modern skyscrapers. If it’s breath-taking buildings you’re after, then make a beeline for the iconic Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, alongside the National Theatre and Central Sofia Mineral Bath.
Another thing to add to your to-do list, is take the cable car up to the top of Mount Vitosha. In the winter it’s a skiing destination, but in the warmer months it offers lots of romantic hiking opportunities.
Sofia is another cheap city, with the second-cheapest accommodation at £50.84 per day and the seventh-cheapest public transport, at £2.88 for four one-way tickets.
8. Budapest, Hungary
Not only is Budapest affordable, but this popular central European city also boasts lots of romantic activities to explore. Plus, it has the eighth-cheapest rates for accommodation (£67.24 per day. It also offers cheap public transport (£3.12 for four one-way tickets) and ranks 12th for the cost of a meal for two (£35.69).
Whether you choose to lounge in the pools or book yourself in for a couple’s massage, there’s nothing more romantic than spending a relaxing day at one of the many thermal spas around the city.
Other things you and your partner could do when in Budapest include cruising down the Danube or enjoying a meal on its banks, visiting Margaret Island when the flowers are in bloom, and hopping around the many ruin bars, set in dilapidated buildings, that offer an atmosphere like no other.
9. Chisinau, Moldova
In ninth place is Moldova’s capital, Chisinau. Another cheap getaway, it comes third for the cost of accommodation (£52.48), third for the cost of a meal for two (£26.11), and top for public transport fares (just £1.04 for four one-way tickets).
Start by visiting the impressive Nativity Cathedral, with its elaborate gold-gilded interior. Plus, you can discover the cool Soviet mosaics dotted around the city and enjoy a romantic stroll around Stefan cel Mare Central Park, which is the oldest park in the country.
10. Warsaw, Poland
Rounding off our top 10 of romantic European cities is Poland’s capital.
Much of Warsaw’s Old Town was demolished in World War II, but you’d never know it. The rebuilding of the town is so impressive, it’s been granted UNESCO World Heritage status. The winding streets make for perfect romantic walks, and you should also put the Royal Route on your list of things to do. End up at Łazienki Palace, where the pretty park is the perfect place for a picnic.
If you and your partner love history, then Warsaw will be ideal for you – head to the POLIN Museum to learn more about the history of Polish Jews and admire the Palace of Culture and Science. It’s a building that divides everyone – you’ll either love the Brutalist communist architecture or hate it.
Which are the most romantic cities to visit in the UK?
With each European country boasting its own distinct culture and attractions, no matter where you go, you’re sure to enjoy a romantic city break away. Eastern Europe dominates the top 20 list, with Bucharest, Sarajevo, Riga and Vilnius all featuring. Spain makes multiple appearances too, with Barcelona, Valencia and Zaragoza in 14th, 15th, and 16th place.
If you’d prefer to stay in the UK and opt for a romantic staycation instead, then, as well as London, Birmingham, Sheffield, and Glasgow could be great alternatives. Just don’t forget that you’ll need domestic travel insurance to cover you in case unforeseen circumstances disrupt your trip.
What our expert says...
“Going on holiday is pricey enough, so it might be good news to know that opting for a couples travel insurance policy (also known as joint travel insurance), could save you some money.
Travel insurance for couples generally includes standard features, such as medical, baggage and cancellation cover, as well as cover for travel delays or disruptions. But like every other kind of cover, couples travel insurance policies vary between providers, so be sure to read the small print so you know exactly what you’re signing up for.
Another way to save on the cost of travel insurance policies is to consider buying an annual multi-trip policy rather than a single-trip policy”.
- Anna McEntee, Insurance expert
This dataset ranks 60 major European cities, based on how good they are for a romantic stay. The list of European cities was selected based on population size and availability of the required data. To form the ranking, six different factors were used. Once the data for the factors was collected, the factors were then normalised, to provide each factor with a score between 0 and 1. The normalised values were then summed, to give each city a total score out of 6. The cities were then ranked from highest to lowest, based on their total scores.
The factors used are as follows:
- Cost of a Meal for Two - The average cost of a three-course meal for two, at a mid-range restaurant, for each city.
- Cost of a Short-Term Rental - The average daily cost of a short-term rental.
- *Cost of Public Transport for Two - The average cost of four one-way tickets on local transport, for each city.
- Number of Local Attractions - The number of local attractions listed on TripAdvisor for each city.
- Number of Restaurants - The number of restaurants listed on TripAdvisor for each city.
- Search Volume - The total Google search volume for the phrase "romance" from January 2022 - December 2022, for each location.
The factors were indexed as follows:
- Cost of a Meal for Two - High values get a low score. Low values get a high score.
- Cost of a Short-Term Rental - High values get a low score. Low values get a high score.
- Cost of Local Public Transport for Two - High values get a low score. Low values get a high score.
- Number of Local Attractions - High values get a high score. Low values get a low score.
- Number of Restaurants - High values get a high score. Low values get a low score.
- Search Volume - High values get a high score. Low values get a low score.
All data is correct as of 10/01/2023. All monetary values are provided in Pound Sterling (GBP). An exchange rate of 1 USD = 0.82 GBP was used where necessary.
- https://worldpopulationreview.com/continents/europe/cities - Population
- https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/ - Cost of a Meal for Two, Cost of a Room for Two, Cost of Local Public Transport for Two
- https://analytics.alltherooms.com/ - Cost of a Short Term Rental
- https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ - Number of Local Attractions, Number of Restaurants
- Google Ads Keyword Planner - Search Volume Data