Europe is glorious in winter – relatively empty cities, architecture that pops against the stark weather and low prices for hotels – and it’s pretty romantic, too. So a Valentine’s trip across the pond is understandable – but where should you go? If you want to think a little beyond the usual suspects (ie Paris, Venice and Prague) here are a few ideas.
Seville is one of Spain’s most overtly romantic cities for romance. Spend a day in the expansive gardens of the Alcazar, wander the crooked alleyways of Santa Cruz, the old Jewish quarter and take a stroll along the Guadalquivir river. Then step it up come nightfall with a trip to an authentic flamenco club in the Triana district across the river.
Milan gets an unfair rap as being boring, business-like and un-Italian compared to the rest of Italy, but not having to deal with the chaos that prevails in many other cities is a welcome break. There are fewer tourists here, and nothing feels more romantic than the idea of being locked away with the locals – so shop your way around the Quadrilatero d’Oro’s designer district, mooch around the canals, get your artistic juices flowing with a visit to Da Vinci’s Last Supper and then climb to the roof of the gothic cathedral – a sunset there is pure romance.
The budget – and less crowded – alternative to Prague, the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana is full of gloriously frothy Baroque architecture, with more than a strong hint of Vienna, too. A 15th century castle perches on top of a hill overlooking the city, and there are cobbled streets, cute churches and some beautiful gardens – the Tivoli park – to explore, too.
If you want the ease of being somewhere that speaks the same language as you but London feels too urban to get romantic, head out to Bath. The train ride from the capital goes through glorious countryside, you can take day trips out to the Cotswolds and Bath itself is where much of the action in Jane Austen’s books take place. Frilly architecture, cutesy tea rooms and a high tech spa over the Roman remains await you.
Want to speak the language of love to your valentine? If Paris is too obvious, hop on the train south to Dijon where you’ll find a mix of gothic and renaissance architecture, multicolored roofs and some great places to eat – it’s not known as the culinary capital of France for nothing.