Best romantic European city break destinations for couples

Here are some of the most swoon-worthy destinations in Europe to woo your beloved on a romance-filled city break.

Best for beachy escapism: Comporta, Portugal

All lime-green paddy fields, pine-backed sand dunes, wildflower meadows and cork tree forests, this series of mellow, beachy villages an hour south of Lisbon in Portugal’s Alentejo rank highly in the rustic charm stakes. 

Comporta’s long sands, including pretty Praia da Comporta, can be explored on foot or by horseback, guided by Cavalos na Areia. The main village has a clutch of hippy-chic design shops to explore  – including Rice for baskets and Lavanda for soft linens – while in nearby Troia, resident bottlenose dolphins can be spotted gliding through the Sado Estuary, with eco-experts Vertigem Azul.

Where to stay

Sublime Comporta has A-Frame cabana suites and villas with all-white decor, billowing gauzy curtains, driftwood touches and egg-shaped bathtubs set in dappled woodland. At its bohemian restaurant, Sem Porta, Chef Hélio Gonçalves serves a riot of Alentejan dishes in an atmospheric former rice barn.

Best for stylish scenery: Copenhagen, Denmark

Combining canals, cobbled streets, brightly-coloured houses, a skyline zig-zagged with twisting spires, world-class design museums and more artistic New Nordic eateries than you shake a stick at, no matter what gets your hearts racing, the Danish capital’s got it covered.

Appealingly easy to navigate – by foot or by bike – highlights include Tivoli Gardens for fairytale kitsch and retro funfair rides, and the ultra-stylish Danish Design Museum. Foodie couples will be in heaven too, whether you’ve managed to bag a booking at The Alchemist, Rasmus Munk’s 50-course dining experience, or you’re just tucking into Hart Bageri’s double-baked croissants.

Where to stay

The 87-room Manon les Suites, close to the lakes and central square, was created by the team behind Ubud’s Jungle Fish “no beach” beach club. It serves up tropical thrills with its foliage-wreathed swimming pool, giving the feel of a dip in the forest, surrounded by dangling plants in terracotta pots and Balinese penjor poles.

Best for historic grandeur: Bath, England

Packed with heaps of history and heritage, from 2,000-year-old steamy, columned Roman Baths to curves of honey-hued Georgian architecture, Bath does supercharged romance with aplomb.

Lovers can ‘take the waters’ while enjoying skyline views from the spring-fed rooftop pool at Thermae Bath Spa, step back in time at the Jane Austen museum, or opt for bird’s eye views from the top of Bath Abbey’s tower. For trad diners, there’s Afternoon Tea at the Georgian Pump Room, while for 21st-century British flair, Beckford Canteen has walls dressed in jade green Wedgwood cabbage plates, Czechoslovakian pendant lights and a menu featuring the likes of chestnut soup and rarebit with pickled onions.

Where to stay

In a prime location on Bath’s Royal Crescent, the 45-room Royal Crescent Hotel has a lovely spa – the highlight being the 12m relaxation pool which sits by Bath stone brick walls and arching cathedral-style windows. The swankiest bedrooms have ornate plasterwork, chandeliers and four poster beds, and a new garden-bar-dining experience, Montagu’s Mews, will open this spring.

Best for classic romance: Paris, France

Synonymous with romance the world over, Paris, with its boulevards, classical monuments, pavement cafes, atmospheric bistros and late-night jazz bars, never fails to enchant. Make for Saint-Germain-des-Prés to stroll through tree-lined Le Jardin du Luxembourg and for sultry nightcaps at Bar Joséphine, a sexy spot with Romanesque frescoes on the walls and punchy vodka, Champagne and St-Germain cocktails.

Architecture fans can ogle the Arc de Triomphe, Grand Palais and Montmartre’s cobbled streets and windmills, not to mention the Eiffel Tower, which sparkles golden each evening. Best of all? Fuelling up on the world’s best patisserie – don’t miss Pierre Herme’s macarons and chocolate-pistachio escargots from Du Pain et des Idees.

Where to stay

Hotel Rochechouart sits in the arty Pigalle neighbourhood, within sight of the Sacré Coeur. From its attractive crimson and gilded Art Deco facade to its earthy-toned bedrooms and revamped Le Mikado club – where DJs spin disco and funk Thursday to Sunday – the vibe is belle epoque hedonism at its best.

Best for arty quirk: Amsterdam, Netherlands

An attractive compact city, crisscrossed by canals lined by crooked townhouses, and a host of world-class museums, Amsterdam suits arty couples down to the ground. A roll call of masterpieces can be found in The Museum Quarter, with Rembrandts at the Rijksmuseum, Warhols at the Stedelijk, and Sunflowers on show at the Van Gogh Museum.

Pootling alongside the waterways by bike or floating along them by boat is another pleasant way to pass the time, as is visiting the indie boutiques and Albert Cuypmarkt in trendy De Pijp. It’s worth taking time to settle in for a pint at a traditional “bruin café” (brown cafe, these homely spots are a bit like the Dutch equivalent of an old-school neighbourhood pub) to best experience the slow charm of the city’s gezellig– or convivial – atmosphere.

Where to stay

Spread through 25 historic canal houses in Nine Streets, Pulitzer Amsterdam’s playful bedrooms have bar carts, peaked gable-inspired headboards and bathrooms with Le Labo toiletries. Top suites are extra whimsical; one has a book archway, another,  a wall hung with trumpets. Plus there’s modern Dutch grub at Restaurant Jansz and a cute courtyard garden.

Best for mountain charm: Megeve, France

Set in the heart of the Mont Blanc massif, this trad wintersports resort is a favourite for powder-mad couples. The region has 400km of pristine pistes and snow-topped mountains to admire (ski season runs from mid-December to mid-April), as well as a picturesque medieval centre packed with artisan shops, including ski favourite Allard and perfumier Mizensir whose fragrances are inspired by the pine-filled mountain air.

Slopes aside, lovers can clop through the village square by horse drawn carriage, or dine at the likes of Flocons de Sel, where Chef Emmanuel Renaut serves up dishes inspired by his love of the Alpine region, or farmhouse-chic La Ferme de mon Père which has vaulted lounges and the likes of poached eggs with truffled Reblochon and whiskey profiteroles on the menu.

Where to stay

Recently renovated, plush Beaumier property L’Alpaga has chalet-style bedrooms with velvet headboards, botanical artwork and wood-panelled touches, not to mention breathtaking views straight onto the slopes, and two Michelin-starred restaurant La Table de L’Alpaga.

Best for set jetters: Dubrovnik, Croatia

With its Unesco world heritage listed Old Town, riot of Baroque, Gothic and Renaissance monuments and whitewashed terracotta-roofed buildings which tumble down to the teal waters of the Adriatic Sea, Dubrovnik is as handsome as they come. Couples can play Game of Thrones bingo – the city had a starring role as King’s Landing, with the likes of Fort Lovrijenac doubling up as the Red Keep and the 15th-century Rector’s Palace as Qarth – as they walk the historic walls.

Aside from seen-on-screen good looks, other highlights including the cable car whizz to the top of Mount Srd, lazing at Banje beach, and wandering along photogenic stone alleyways draped in tendrils of hot pink bougainvillea to stumble upon candlelit seafood restaurants. For something a little different, the fascinating Love Stories museum features sentimental items which bring to life real-world romances.

Where to stay

Soak up the views at calming cliffside retreat Hotel Bellevue Dubrovnik, which looks out to Miramare Bay. As well as restful rooms – some with balconies – there’s an incredible spa and freshwater pool and Michelin-recommended Vapor restaurant for blowout fine dining.

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