5 romantic-but-not-too-cheesy city breaks for new couples

By , 25th February 2015

So you’ve found each other, been together for a few months and want to test the waters? Or maybe you’ve embroiled yourself in what you suspect might be a looming long distance relationship and need to plan a weekend rendezvous to, you know, make sure.

Whatever the situation is, you might be filled with excitement, nervousness or trepidation at the thought of your first trip together. So the last thing you need is the pressure of mimicking other lovey-dovey couples under the Eiffel Tower or competing for a gondola ride in Venice.

That’s why we’ve put together this tried-and-tested list of fun (but still romantic) destinations for first-time couple breaks sure to suit every preference whether you bond over food or art, whether you know he’s the one, or whether you’re just not sure at all.

Vilnius, Lithuania

The romantic altstadt in Vilnius, Lithuania.
Photo by © Vilnius Tourism & Convention Bureau

What it’s good for: exploring Europe’s biggest Baroque town
Who’ll love it: the alternative foodie couple

We promise you’ll be charmed by Vilnius’ UNESCO-listed old town, with its cobblestone alleyways lined with beautiful Baroque buildings. It’s small enough to discover over a weekend, but packed full of things to see, do, and of course, eat and drink. Try the national dish, Cepilinai (potato dumplings filled with pork mince), or for the more daring, kiaulės ausis (boiled pig’s ear), and wash it down with one of the 50 craft beers at Bambalyne. Work off the calories with a climb up to Gediminas’ Tower, which offers breathtaking views of the city before visiting the self-proclaimed hipster Republic of Užupis to soak up the bohemian and laissez-faire atmosphere of Vilnius’ artsy quarter. Fun but still romantic, this is the ideal city break for new couples.

Budapest, Hungary

Romantic city breaks for couples - Budapest, Hungary
Photo by Dennis Jarvis 

What it’s good for: a relaxing city break
Who’ll love it: the intimate couple

If you’re not already swooning in each other’s company, a view of the Danube at dusk will do it – at night, Buda Castle and the Hungarian Parliament Building light up the shores, whilst Budapest’s illuminated bridges cast a warm glow over the river’s surface. By day, wander the streets to take in the city’s Art Nouveau architecture or go treasure hunting at the Esceri Flea Market. Also, don’t miss a dip in one of the city’s thermal baths. Go to the Széchenyi Baths for their outdoor pool looking up at the Baroque palace surroundings or for a more intimate affair, head to the quieter Turkish-style Rudas Bath.

Edinburgh, Scotland

Romantic city breaks for couples - Edinburgh
Photo by Marketing Edinburgh

What it’s good for: culture, history and art festivals
Who’ll love it:
the artistic couple

Edinburgh is a city spanning centuries: from its meandering streets in the medieval heart of the Old Town to the neoclassical structure of the New Town and the eclectic façade of the Scottish Parliament. There’s plenty a couple could explore – history enthusiasts will love Edinburgh Castle, dating back to 1,000 BC, while a healthy climb up to Arthurs Seat is perfect for outdoor lovers, offering panoramic views of the city as well as the perfect spot for a picnic (and it’s free!) Or why not keep you and your other half occupied at the largest arts festival in the world, The Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Strasbourg, France

Romantic city breaks for couples - Strasbourg

Photo by @CRTA / Zvardon

What it’s good for: a little bit of France and Germany
Who’ll love it: the indecisive couple

You want to go to Munich but she fancies Paris? Stop right now and just go to Strasbourg, a city that sits at the crossroads of Germany and France. Before long you’ll be sipping the best of French wine whilst ordering the region’s German-inspired specialty Flammkuchen. Then stretch your legs and take in the sights of the crooked timber-framed houses in sherbet colours on Grand Île, a UNESCO World Heritage site. By day, you can easily eat and drink your way through with several outdoor cafes lining the narrow alleyways, or leave the city for a day to explore the Alsace Wine Route for its vineyards and quaint towns nestled in the hilly countryside. When night falls, maneuver your way around the lantern-lit maze of canals.

Milan, Italy

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan.

Photo by Paul Bica

What it’s good for: high fashion and culture
Who’ll love it: the metropolitan couple

This commercial hub may surprise you as a spot for romance – but its bustling streets can also make for a perfect chic getaway, with plenty of beautiful boutique stores and shopping arcades like the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. No doubt you’ll pass by the pearly white façade of the Duomo di Milano, one of the world’s largest churches, adorned with intricate spires and statues. Don’t skimp out on going up to the roof though – you can take the stairs or the lift, but what will surprise you when you’re finally at the top is the romantic view of the city surrounds. Cultured couples will enjoy seeing Da Vinci’s The Last Supper housed in the Santa Maria delle Grazie as well as a trip to Milan’s world famous opera house, the Teatro alla Scala.

Lead photo by Rocco Forte Hotels

What’s your favourite romantic city for you and your plus one? Comment below!