Valentine’s Day is upon us with its penetrating gaze and engulfing clutches and those of you currently beholden to the throes of romance may be considering an overseas adventure to celebrate your enduring/temporal/opportune affections. As escapism is ‘better than any drug’ (Prison Break) and ‘travelling is like flirting with life’ (Lisa St. Aubin de Teran), there is no surer way to nourish a nascent romance than taking a trip together to a foreign land. Thus, playing cupid, I have compiled a list of my top 5 romantic European city breaks:
The Venice of the North inspires long strolls along the (c)anal paths, intimate afternoons spent lazily in coffee shops and steamy nights in the Centrum. Full of impressive architecture, history, art and hard-core sex clubs, it caters for all kinds of couples and interpretations of romance.
-Contemplate the Old Masters’ creations at the Rijksmuseum.
-Investigate sex and love throughout the ages at Venustempel Sex Museum.
-Embrace Eros and catch a live show at Casa Rosso.
Alcuin said that ‘at Athens, wise men propose, and fools dispose’ and what better location to cement your spot in the 70% Club than the birthplace of western civilisation? With layers of history underneath your humble feet, explore ancient monuments and create new love stories.
-Visit the Parthenon; a striking symbol of eternity.
-Drink too much Ouzo at a rooftop bar overlooking the Acropolis whilst gazing lovingly into one another’s eyes.
-Hike up Lycabettus Hill together and enjoy unbeatable views of the sprawling metropolis as you contemplate the insignificance of humanity.
Situated on seven hills overlooking the Atlantic, bursting with terracotta houses and Moorish architecture, Lisbon screams romance in the age of immaculate Instagram feeds. The city is far more carefree than nearby European capitals, with a laid-back Mediterranean spirit and small, winding streets, the muttering retreats, which seem to go nowhere and everywhere.
-Go to Sintra- a hopelessly idyllic hilltop setting full of fairy-tale palaces, castles and gardens.
-Delve into your darker side in the shadow of the overpowering gothic architecture at Jerónimos Monastery.
-Saunter the streets of Alfama and sample several of its wine bars.
The crossroad of the East and West sparks inspiration within all who dare to wander its well-trodden streets. For millennia it has exhilarated writers, statesmen, scientists, artists and explorers alike, and its romantic potency continues to impregnate all who enter its gigantic gaze. Romanticist Lamartine went as far as claiming ‘if one had but a single glance to give the world, one should gaze on Istanbul.’
-Visit the magnificent Blue Mosque- imposing, impressive and of immortal beauty.
-Wander the Grand Bazaar and try not to be fools in love.
-Take a ferry to the Prince’s Islands and cycle round one of the antiquated, unspoiled islands.
Rome embodies everything my limited/tainted/disillusioned view of romance leads me to believe in. The city is saturated with romantic history, architecture and art. It is sensual, seductive and stimulating. No city has ever awakened such amorous sentiments within myself, and in my enlivened eyes Rome is the true city of romance.
-In the veritable spirit of romance visit the Keats-Shelley House by the Spanish Steps.
-Declare your undying love for each other at the enduring and epic Colosseum.
-Visit The Villa Borghese- nothing screeches eternal love quite like looking into the crazed eyes of Carravaggio’s Bacchus.