If you’re planning a getaway with your partner, chances are that you’re looking for some place romantic, away from the crowds with the perfect atmosphere. Forget about the obvious destinations and seek out beautiful towns where you can enjoy stolen moments while soaking in the scenery. Here are six of the most romantic towns in Europe.
Bad Gastein, Austria
Image: Bernd Thaller @ flickr
Surrounded by mountains and waterfalls, this Alpine town is beautiful at any time of year, but in winter a dusting of snow transforms it into a romantic hideaway. In the past, this ski and spa resort was frequently visited by royalty thanks to its spectacular scenery and healing waters, but it’s currently a bit of an undiscovered gem, meaning that you’ll find it easy to enjoy stolen moments together. Spend your trip snuggling up inside in front of a roaring fire, hiking to waterfalls, soaking in the thermal waters and admiring the Belle Epoque architecture.
Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic
Located on the banks of the Vltava River, Cesky Krumlov is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful towns in the whole of Europe. The town feels stuck in the past, in a good way, with cobbled streets and beautiful old buildings. Couples can spend their days strolling around the town, admiring the striking Baroque castle, a pretty river, a charming puppet museum and plenty of luscious greenery. In the evening, dine al fresco in quaint restaurants before taking a moonlit stroll along the banks of the river.
The small town of Bled sits beside the lake of the same name, in the foothills of the Julian Alps. The lake is like a postcard, perfectly reflecting the picturesque island that sits in its centre with the Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Maria dominating the view. For a romantic afternoon, take a rowing boat out to the island where you can sit and relax or visit the church and ring the bell – legend says that if you ring the church bell, all your wishes will come true. A romantic hike will take you up onto one of the many hills that surround the lake, offering stunning views of the surrounding area. There are also thermal springs to soak in, many of them heating up the swimming pools of the hotels in the town.
Bruges is widely known as one of the most romantic towns in Europe, thanks to its pretty canals and quaint streets. Couples will enjoy simply strolling around, admiring the medieval buildings, peeking into traditional shops and watching the world go by from atop picturesque bridges over the many waterways. During the summer months, Bruges can be packed full of tourists, but if you visit during the winter you will find a magical, cosy town straight out of a fairy tale with much less of a crowd. Find an old-fashioned inn, order a warm drink and snuggle up together in front of an open fire.
Known as the Venice of the Netherlands, Giethoorn is one of the prettiest towns in Europe. Locals get around via a network of canals, footpaths and bike-trails, with barely any cars in sight. Stay in an ancient thatched cottage right beside the water and wake up to beautiful green landscapes every morning. Hire a boat and take a trip down the canals, admiring the scenery, before stopping for a picnic on the banks. The only sound you’ll hear all day is likely to be the noises of the local wildlife.
Yes, Postiano is expensive and full of tourists, but if you visit in the shoulder season, it is also one of the most romantic places in Italy. The houses, hotels and restaurants are all perched on the side of the cliff, steep steps leading down to small beaches below. Dine in restaurants overlooking the sea, wake up to the sound of the waves crashing far below, and perhaps hike to one of the other coastal towns on the footpaths that line the cliffs. If you’re looking for a more unusual experience, take a boat trip to the beautiful Grotto dello Smeraldo, a particularly romantic cave filled with emerald green water.
Emma Lavelle is a UK based writer and photographer and has her own blog Field and Nest.