What's your idea of a romantic holidy in Europe?
December 8, 2008 7:02 AM   Subscribe

What are your recommendations for a romantic holiday in Europe?

We are American newlyweds living in Edinburgh for a short period (1-2 years) and we'd like to make the most of the opportunity. What are some romantic holidays that we can take while we're in Europe -- and most importantly, what do you find romantic about them? We're interested
in both weekend (or 3-4 days) getaways and longer trips, in any season (including Christmas, if there's something good). We like food, wine, and art, and we like to go off the beaten path, but don't want to be prescriptive and miss out on your great advice -- if there's something wonderful that doesn't include those elements we'd love to hear it.
posted by alopez to Travel & Transportation (19 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Bled, Slovenia. Picturesque. Mountainous. Beautiful. Quaint. More off the beaten path than, say, Paris.
posted by nitsuj at 7:28 AM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


All the usual major cities like Paris, Berlin, Venice, Vienna, etc. are worth it. I found Barcelona disappointing, but San Sebastian was great. Some cities like Marseille & Nice are shit holes, avoid them, but even still the surrounding area is great if you rent a car & escape the city.

Time your travel for local festivals, shows, etc. like say the Salons des Vins des Vigneron Independant, the summer music festivals, etc.

Find cheaper hotels than the ones found on online booking sites. Always use skyscanner to find possible flights since they are infinitely more flexible, but then compare prices on another like kayak.com.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:39 AM on December 8, 2008


Scottland is the nice part of England. You might see London, Oxford, and Cambridge, but then ignore the rest of England.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:42 AM on December 8, 2008


Scotland is not part of England. Scotland and England are two parts of Great Britain. Scotland is REALLY REALLY not part of England.
posted by runincircles at 7:53 AM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure if you've done this already, but my wife and I were married in Scotland and the best part of our honeymoon there was spent in the little restoration villages and guest houses in the highlands.

We did the west coast, Iona, Mull, Ullapool, Tobermory and the like. Bag a few munros while you are up there, and stop whenever you see an old castle ruin.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 7:53 AM on December 8, 2008


I lived in Edinburgh for two years and for my money, your two best choices are Krakow, Poland and Dubrovnik, Croatia. The former is easily reachable on budget airlines (WizzAir, Ryanair, Easyjet etc) due to all of the Polish ex-pats in Britain. Dubrovnik is a little more complicated but I think Centralwings (and maybe Easyjet, now?) fly there too.

Krakow is good any time of year. It's almost as magnificent as Prague but whereas that city has become a sort of eastern european Disneyland, Krakow is still pristine, inhabited and eclectic. The gorgeous old town is still the centre of the place, its enormous market square still the place that locals hang out, and whereas much of Poland can be bleak, Krakow is its cultural hub - full of galleries, theatre, symphonies, jazz and much of Poland's coolest new rock. Wander the old town, eat cheap pierogi and fine pastries, drink amazing hot chocolates, linger in cafes. Visit the castle, the weird sort of flea-markets, and the old Jewish quarter, Kazimierz, with amazing evocative bars like Singer. Take a day trip to the remarkable Wieliczka Salt Mine (chapels and sculptures deep underground, made of salt!) or, less romantically, to Auschwitz (though they do a fine tour). One of my favourite places in the world. Will be very chilly right now but the Christmas Market will be on which is great.

Dubrovnik's where I'd pick for my honeymoon. Go any time except during the tourism boom of July and August (I'd even avoid June, unless you are beach-crazy). Balmy, with a wonderful Adriatic flavour. Takes much of the best of parts of italy (the sea air, pasta, ice-cream, seafood) but adds an Eastern European vim (and prices!). Hilly, picturesque, old, outstanding for walking - along the old city walls, up and down the streets, along the dawny and dusky coastline. It's mobbed by tourists for its beaches in the summer, but if you visit off-season for the ambience it's quiet and perfect and still warm. Limes and oranges growing over your heads. (I might avoid, say, January-February though because while I'm sure it's still lovely, it's so off-season that too much stuff will be closed.)

I've been to Bled and think both these spots are much more special, visited at the right times.
posted by Marquis at 7:58 AM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Scottland is the nice part of England.

Haha I'd advise you not to say that in front of a Scottish person
posted by serak at 7:59 AM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sorrento, Italy. Lemons on the trees and Pompeii a short train ride away. Vespas and sunsets.
posted by Freedomboy at 7:59 AM on December 8, 2008


Secretplaces my wife and I found some fantastic hotels at great rates using this site. Back then it was just Spain and Portugal, but it has expanded.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:44 AM on December 8, 2008


Bruges/Brugge in Belgium was totally lovely in Winter. Very fairytale-like and captivatingly beautiful. Plus, everyone seemed happy and friendly and the food is amazing. I'm sure it's equally nice in summer, i just happened to have been there right before Christmas.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 9:02 AM on December 8, 2008


(funny i'm writing this a few days before leaving for the tropics) But i'd like to place my vote for Copenhagen. I live in this wonderful city which is a wonderland of the scandinavian winter season. You have very cozy cafés and it's great to walk around and there are free open-air skating rinks and gløgg (sort of mulled wine), and I could go on, but just make a search and see if you like it.
posted by alchemist at 9:19 AM on December 8, 2008


I'm seconding Dubrovnik, Croatia. One of the most romantic places I've been in Europe. Easy day trips further up the Croatian coast or down into Montenegro are easy to do.

I also know the most fabulous place for you to stay if you decide on this option - gorgeous apartment, non-intrusive English speaking hosts and one of the few places to stay actually in the walled Old Town. I would have stayed a month here if I could have. MeMail me if you want the contact details/website.
posted by meerkatty at 9:34 AM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you're already in love, you can't really beat Venice in January - nothing but the sounds of bells, boats and babble, sunny cold skies all around and your hand tucked warmly in his (or hers)!

You cannot run out of stunning places to see, tourists are entwined with its history (so visitors are part of its tradition, not annoying extras), in January you will occasionally find yourselves completely alone in some absurdly romantic church or tiny square and if you can't afford a gondola (who can?), look out for the traghetti - tiny ferries that take you across the main canals for about 75c a person - you cross standing up, so you have to grab each other for balance (more romantic opportunities).

We stayed at a pensione, La Calcina, in the Dorsoduro district- once Ruskin's old digs. Three days of heaven - and we weren't in a great mood at the start. So trust me, its magic works!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 10:09 AM on December 8, 2008


You MUST take advantage of the Landmark Trust. Fancy spending a weekend in a 17th Century garden pavilion that looks like a Jacobean estate, while surrounded by a (gently) working farm? You can.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:13 AM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Erm, I would've said Edinburgh...

I also really like Bayeux and Caen in France. It was picturesque and pretty. And there are interesting things to do, museum-wise, and I found a really delicious creperie there.
posted by santojulieta at 12:51 PM on December 8, 2008


Seconding Slovenia, I recently went there and wished I'd been in a relationship, as its just so beautiful and picturesque. Ljubljana (the capital city) is just gorgeous at night, and as nitsuj pointed out, Bled is simply amazing and very romantic.

Also nearly everyone speaks English, and are very tourist friendly.

Slovenia also has a small section of Adriatic coastline (I went to Piran, loved it), the Julian alps, some amazing caves ... I can't recommend it highly enough.
posted by Admira at 1:02 PM on December 8, 2008


Venice is still drying out. And it's freezing cold.

Messina's tolerable right now (in Sicily). The San Domenico is a nice hotel. It's not terribly warm there right now but it's comfortable. The property is actually in a town called Taormina.
posted by Zambrano at 1:23 PM on December 8, 2008


Venice is still drying out. And it's freezing cold.

No need to be negative, Zambrano!

Love will keep visitors warm!

And as a woman who lives in Venice wrote on her blog about the recent very high tides and rain, the philosophical Venetians have a saying: “Fanno come vogliano: il tempo, i cani, e i padroni.”

(They do as they please: the weather, dogs, and proprietors.)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 3:27 PM on December 8, 2008


Seconding otherworldlyglow - I went to Bruges/Brugge a couple of weeks ago and it was lovely (here are my photos if you're interested). We missed the Christmas markets by a week, which was a shame, but there was still plenty to see. The buildings and streets are very pretty and they run horse-drawn carriages on a 30-minute tour of the town from the market square all day long.
posted by bent back tulips at 7:31 AM on December 9, 2008


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