Thinking about Valentine’s day? You could do the obvious and gift your beloved with roses and chocolates, you could boycott it altogether. OR, you could use it as another excuse to travel! Whether you’re celebrating the day with your partner, favourite person or even your friends, here are some city breaks that you’re bound to fall in love with.
Everywhere listed can be reached with relative ease from most UK airports. I tend to use Skyscanner for finding the best flights and stay in homes and hotels from Airbnb and Booking.com. It’s worth using the explore options before you settle on a specific destination, especially if you are on a budget. Madrid, for example, is a city I visited purely because it was the cheapest place to fly to at that time – and I’m glad I did!
If you want to do something really special for Valentine’s day then look for activities, theatre shows, spa days, events or gigs happening the same weekend. Groupon, Pinterest, and good old google have helped me to find all sorts of ideas in the past. Whether fancy or free, experiences will last long after the roses have died!
What could be more romantic than Valentine’s weekend in Verona, home of Romeo and Juliet? Granted it didn’t end so well for those star crossed lovers but the romance is still there. Buckets of it! From the pastel buildings and enticing alleyways to Aperol spritz filled evenings and nights at the opera. Take in the history of the Roman arena, visit Juliet’s balcony, watch the sun go down over the city or people-watch with a bottle of wine in the Piazza del Erbe. Verona even hosts the annual Festival of love!
For everything you need to know, check out Ultimate Guide to Verona: Things to do, see, eat and where to stay.
If you fly into Verona and have a bit of time to explore further, then check out the stunning village of Borghetto – the home of the most romantic pasta!
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague’s old town square and winding alleys feel like something from a fairy tale. In the mornings you can watch the world go by from its charming cafés while enjoying coffee and pastries. By night, cosy up under the heat lamps and blankets in one of the many bars. Admire the magic of the 600-year-old Astronomical clock as it strikes the hour. Watch the sun as it rises and sets over the Charles Bridge. Dare yourselves to a ghost tour or treat yourselves to a spa day. If all that culture and romance is too much then check out something else Prague is famous for – BEER! It’s cheap, it’s strong and they’ll even let you bath in it!
If you’re looking for a magical location this Valentines, without leaving the UK, then look no further. Edinburgh was a large part of J.K.Rowling’s inspiration for the wizarding world and its easy to see why. Fly direct, road trip or take a scenic train journey into the city before exploring its many charming shops and cosy pubs. From Harry Potter tours and haunted buses to exploring the castle and strolling through the park. Edinburgh has something different to offer in every season, but you can see some of the best things to do in the colder months, here.
San Remo, Italian Riviera
An hour from Nice airport and the French Riviera, this Mediterranean town is beautiful all year round. With all the charm of Italy, you can enjoy beach-side hotels or hillside villas. With plenty of opportunities to shop, dine and drink, San Remo could be your next big romantic break. The peaceful villages of La Pigna and Bussana Vecchia give the impression of stepping back in time and the artists village offers a different side to the marbled town of San Remo.
Rothenburg, Bavaria, Germany
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is truly the stuff of fairytales. Said to be Walt Disney’s inspiration for Pinnochio and even appearing briefly in Hary Potter! Every cobbled street is lined with quirky shops and delicious bakeries. At Christmas, the town turns into a winter wonderland but the magic can be felt all year round. Climb the tower and explore the weird and wonderful museums before cuddling up in front of an open fire in one of the hotels or restaurants. Fly into Nuremberg, Munich or Frankfurt and combine your visit with another German city.
Ah, Krakow. Beautiful architecture, incredible history and surprises around every corner. Explore further than just the picturesque main square. Discover the Jewish quarters and sample as much of the food as you can! Krakow is one of my personal favourite foodie cities with all sorts of hidden gems, including vegan kebabs – Vegabs! Take a free walking tour to really experience true Krakow. Bars offer blankets and heat lamps so you can still enjoy Krakow by night, even in the colder months. Food and drinks are cheap and plentiful and many of the bars and restaurants are underground, down cobbled alleyways, in firelit corners and vintage bookshops. Look out for the chocolate factory and indulge in thick hot cocoa or handmade treats!
If you want to see something really cool then check out the Krakow salt mines.
Famous for its wish-granting fountain and Roman coliseum, Rome is bursting with atmosphere. Easily one of the busiest cities on the list but worth fighting the crowds for. Less of a relaxing choice but great for culture vultures and history lovers. Indulge in creamy pasta and crisp pizza washed down with prosecco or Peroni. Plan carefully before settling on a hotel or place to eat. While you may want to splash out, it is easy to get stung by places charging the earth for the view available from their windows and terraces. Consider any tours you would like to do beforehand and do a little research before you go. Make sure to explore side streets, eat gelato – whatever the weather, and buy a rose from streetsellers for your valentine!
Possibly the ultimate romantic city break!? Similar to Rome, it is busy and can be expensive. Be aware, think before you buy – and you won’t break the bank! Gondolas can be incredibly expensive so do your research first! You can expect to pay a minimum of $80 for a short trip. While it may be a memorable experience, Venice’s romance is not reserved only to the gondolas. Everywhere you wander will feel like you’re crossing the pages of a storybook. Use the water taxis to get around and experience life on the canals, explore the back streets for tiny restaurants offering incredible food and don’t forget to try on a mask!
It’s warm(er), it’s cheap, it’s trendy. While it may not be as popular as Barcelona, the upside is that it’s not as full of tourists either! Despite being the capital city, Madrid has a relaxed feel to it. An ideal city break with plenty of chance for romance. Row across the great ponds, stroll through the park, listen to live music in the streets and admire the artwork. There is always something happening in the city. When the sun goes down though, you want to be on a rooftop, drink in hand. You can read more about Madrid and where the best rooftop bar is, here.
So, there you have my top recommendations for a romantic city break this Valentines weekend… or any weekend! If you do make it to one of these places please let me know! I would love to know what you thought of the city and any recommendations you have! Don’t forget to take a locket with you for an added cheesy touch of romance. Most of these cities have bridges where lovers leave lockets with their names on! I can’t guarantee it will stay there, especially in Verona where they have to remove locks and letters regularly to make space for more – but it’s a sweet moment to share none the less!