Many couples looking for a romantic escape tend to immediately think of classic destinations such as New York or Paris. And while both have earned their marks as two of “the most romantic cities in the world,” there’s something alluring about discovering a new destination to love with a special someone. Our editors traveled the globe for unassuming places and found 10 cities that they’re smitten with right now.
The French Riviera may seem like an obvious choice, but we think the village of Èze is especially romantic. Often compared to an eagle’s nest, Èze sits atop a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean and St. Jean-Cap Ferrat. But what’s really majestic about the medieval village—aside from its view—is its tangle of narrow paths that lead into tucked-away squares and tranquil courtyards. The village, once a fortified stronghold thanks to its proximity to Nice, is also home to La Chèvre d’Or, a fantastic restaurant with arguably one of the most beautiful vistas just outside its doors.
There’s something romantic about walking through a city like Madrid, which reveals a different personality in every neighborhood. But it’s the architecture—both historic and modern—that sums up this city the best: It’s a juxtaposition of past and present. Wander through El Retiro Park to marvel at its monuments and sculptures—from the semicircular colonnade built for King Alfonso XII to the statues that line Paseo de la Argentina. At the northwest corner of the park stands the enormous gate that once guarded the city—yet another glance into Madrid’s past.
When you think of romantic cities, the nation’s capital probably doesn’t come to mind. But as you stroll through the National Mall you’ll see why, despite all of the rhetoric and politics, D.C. is downright alluring. History buff or not, you’d be hard-pressed not to be awed by its historical monuments, and come nightfall, they’re all aglow with romance. The brick streets of Georgetown add to D.C.’s charm, while its up-and-coming restaurant scene provides more ample options for dinner for two.
If you’ve never been to Pittsburgh, it’s probably the last city you’d think of as romantic; but what was once a steel town now shines. The numerous bridges—there are more than 440—add to the wonder of Pittsburgh’s skyline, and its abundance of nature really makes the city romantic. Walk through Point State Park, which sits where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers meet to form the Ohio River, and you’ll see the softer side of Steel City, or take the Duquesne Incline up to the top of Mount Washington for a view from above.
The moment you arrive in one of the five towns that make up Cinque Terre, you’ll know what why this spot made our list. It’s tough to find anything about these cliffside villages on the Italian Riviera that’s not steeped in romance. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site, so cars or motorbikes are banned in the villages, though electric buses do run throughout. Take a walk along the appropriately named Via dell’Amore (Lovers’ Lane) between Manarola and Riomaggiore, and you’ll find stone beaches carved into the cliffside and unbelievable ocean views. The longer blue trail links all five towns, and, if you’re surefooted, it’s definitely worth the hike.
Once the scorching temperatures begin to drop, fall is a wonderful time to visit Texas. Austin, with its state pride and quirky neighborhoods, is a great place to soak up that eclectic spirit. The capital city is centered on Lady Bird Lake (known as Town Lake) where residents and visitors flock to paddle board, kayak and canoe. Stroll along the path surrounding the lake to immerse yourself in the city’s green belt, or head down South Congress to the infamous food truck parks to experience more of the local vibe. Seal the deal with a romantic dinner at the modern Japanese hot spot Uchi. It’s located in a unique house just across the lake from downtown, so you’ll want to take advantage of its outdoor seating while you imbibe on a glass of top-notch sake.
If there’s one Minneapolis landmark that says romance, it’s the Stone Arch Bridge (trust us on this one). When it’s lit up in an orange glow, the Mississippi River glimmers beneath. While the Twin Cities are plenty urban, you can surround yourself in nature thanks to the 180 parks and 22 lakes, not to mention 80 miles of bike trails to explore. Head to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden or catch a show at the Guthrie Theater to immerse yourself in the city’s cultural scene. Just be sure to head to Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star La Belle Vie for a romantic French dinner—think pan roasted poussin (young chicken) with foie gras, hazelnuts and black trumpet mushrooms—and wine.
We’ve all seen the iconic Sydney Opera House and there’s not much about it—or the Sydney Harbour—that doesn’t say romance. But there’s more to this Australian city than its opera. Take a stroll through the Royal Botanic Gardens and you’ll stumble upon picturesque picnic spots (with the Opera House in the background, of course). If you don’t have the butterflies yet, climb up the Sydney Harbour Bridge to see the city from a different point of view. Soaking up the sun at the infamous Bondi Beach is a must for couples, but you’ll find quieter—and perhaps more alluring—scenes at Tamarama and Coogee. If you can’t get enough of the captivating views, head to the 36th floor of Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney and watch the nighttime skyline come to life with a glass of champagne or a signature cocktail at Blu Bar on 36.
Fall in the Berkshires is undoubtedly the most picturesque time of year in the area thanks to the transforming fall colors. Drive around the region by car, stopping at Bish Bash Falls in Mt. Washington. Bish Bash Falls offers plenty of hiking and walking trails, many of which lead straight to the stunning waterfall. After, dinner at the intimate restaurant Wheatleigh, is also a must. Here you can dine on the cuisine of chef Jeffrey Thompson while you soak up the beauty of the Berkshires from The Dining Room’s open-air portico. Lenox is also home to The Mount—Pulitzer Prize-winning author and designer Edith Wharton’s estate and gardens—which is known as one of the most beautiful settings in the area. And when it’s time to get cozy by the fire, there’s no better place than Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Blantyre inn’s countryside locale.
It may be the capital of the European Union, but it’s also an intriguing city. The eclectic public art reveals Brussels’ humorous side, while the French and Flemish influences make for fantastic cuisine. The 17th-century cobblestoned Grand- Place is particularly romantic with its border of gilded buildings and gothic towers—so a tour here is a must. As is a visit to the Magritte Museum for a look at its collection of René Magritte’s surrealist artwork. And no romantic trip to Brussels would be complete without indulging in (a lot of) its famous beer and chocolate.
Photos Courtesy of iStock- D. Nadig, iStock- Ziutograf and iStock-traxlergirl