When it comes to romance, it’s hard to beat a quick European getaway. Throughout the continent, candlelit cuisine and bewitching scenery await any couple seeking an enchanting break for two. The twinkling lights of Paris or wistful waterways of Venice are standard settings for a starry-eyed rendezvous, but they aren’t the only locations for lovers. There are scores of secret spots across Europe for an unforgettable romantic escape.
A Tryst in Troyes
Champagne has been synonymous with luxury from the moment it became the beverage of choice in France’s royal courts back in the 18th Century. What could be more romantic then than popping a cork in the famous Champagne region itself? It’s the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion such as a proposal or wedding anniversary – or simply your time together. Just a three-hour drive from Calais, charming Troyes has all the right ingredients for a memorable tryst. After a day touring vineyards and sampling fizz, explore the gorgeous medieval city that was once home to tragic lovers Abelard and Heloise, a French precursor to Romeo and Juliet.
Amour in Amsterdam
Although it’s better known for its liberal attitude than as a city of love, Amsterdam is actually a perfect place to spend a whimsical weekend. Dream away the afternoon in a cosy café before loading up on fragrant roses at the famous floating flower market. In the evening, soak up the ambience as you wander hand-in-hand along charming canals and fairy-lit bridges. For couples who enjoy live music, Amsterdam boasts a rich jazz scene, with plenty of intimate clubs that stay open until the small hours. ‘Venice of the North’ is around an hour’s drive from Europoort Rotterdam.
Dark Romance in Northern Ireland
In his bestselling book The Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin wrote, “We are only human, and the gods have fashioned us for love.” Although the award-winning HBO adaptation is more commonly associated with bloody violence than romance, its filming locations are impossibly romantic. Venture to The Dark Hedges of Country Antrim, better known to fans as the Kingsroad, where an ethereal avenue is crosshatched by the branches of beautiful beech trees. The highway that connects King’s Landing to Castle Black is a one-hour drive from Larne, and there can’t be many better places for a romantic hike in the woods, isolated from the rest of the world.
Dalliance in Dublin
Cynics say Valentine’s Day was invented by greeting card companies, but the romantics of the world know better. A champion for courtly love, Saint Valentine of Rome was a true sweetheart, performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry. Persecuted under the Roman Empire, he was executed on February 14th and his martyrdom is celebrated to this day. Did you know that his bones and a small vessel of his blood reside in Dublin? They were brought from Rome by Irish Carmelite John Spratt in the 19th century, and are today held in Whitefriar Street Church, where a shrine to the saint includes a notebook for visitors to write requests for blessings. While 14 February naturally sees masses of lovers come to see the relics, people have been known to propose at the site throughout the year.
If this has inspired your own romantic getaway, take a look at our adventure planner, where you can tailor-make your next escape.