Insider tips: how to spend the most romantic day in Paris, Venice and more

Whether you’re celebrating with a champagne experience on the London Eye or sealing your love with a kiss on a bridge in Bruges, Europe holds some of the most magical destinations for lovebirds. We share insider tips from 10 local experts, who describe the ultimate romantic day in their city.

Paris, France. Image: iStock/Nikada

Paris

I would start with breakfast at brasserie Les Deux Magots in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, which is always special, followed by a walk to the Jardin du Luxembourg and its Medici Fountain, a good-luck spot for lovers. I would then have a light lunch at Alcazar on Rue Mazarine, visit art galleries or enjoy window-shopping in the neighbourhood, before taking tea at Ladurée Bonaparte – the essence of romance itself! At Spa 28 on Rue Monsieur-le-Prince, I would indulge in a couples massage, before dinner at Ciel de Paris in the Tour Montparnasse, which offers the best panoramic views of the city. As the former home of George Sand, and with the most romantic café on site, the Musée de la Vie Romantique is certainly the best place for a lovely escape in Paris, while l’Île Saint-Louis is perfect for a quiet stroll. Foodies and culture-seekers would obviously find a lot to enjoy here, but adventurers may also be surprised by off-the-beaten-track paths, from the Catacombs to the old Roman city of Lutèce.
– Julie Touber, International Public Relations Manager at Hotel Prince de Condé

The best way to enjoy Paris as a couple is to lose yourself in its streets and try not to plan too much – the beauty is in the surprise of what you’ll find, whether you’re travelling on foot or renting a scooter. I would stroll around the grand boulevards very early in the morning, to explore the boutiques when they’ve only just opened, before finding a secret green space to relax in – I love the Jardin Catherine-Labouré and the Parc des Buttes Chaumont. I would take my loved one to Montmartre and enjoy a true Parisian coffee far from all the tourist hotspots, before taking a rooftop lunch at Hotel Molitor. I would rent a small boat near the Bois de Boulogne for a glass of wine in the middle of the lake, catch a 1960s film at one of the city’s really old, uncrowded cinemas (Cinéma Le Chaplin Denfert is my top pick) and, come nightfall, dine on board a Parisian barge whilst taking in the historic monuments and scintillating Eiffel Tower. Lastly, I would top an evening off with a jazz club concert on Rue des Lombards – the perfect way to soak up the city’s music and romance.
– Axel Briend, Senior Contracts Manager at Secret Escapes

Little Venice in London, England. Image: iStock/Willbrasil21

London

London is perfect for all types of couples, it’s an ideal weekend break location as there is something here for everyone! You’ll find a lot of British history and culture, an abundance of luxury hotels, and dozens of amazing restaurants. I would take a canal boat ride from Little Venice to Camden, have a picnic and visit the famous rose gardens at Regent’s Park, take a sunset stroll along the South Bank, enjoy a champagne experience at the top of the London Eye, and take in the city views from the 72nd floor at the Shard. You couldn’t miss a chance to take a sunset river cruise, passing by some of the city’s most famous landmarks, such as Tower Bridge and the Big Ben. Come nightfall, you could try dining in the dark at Dans Le Noir restaurant, or enjoy late-night access to famous museums.
– Claire Gilbertson, Regional Revenue Director at the Mondrian London at Sea Containers

I’d begin with a long walk along the river, starting at historic Rotherhithe. The cobbled streets and old-world pub, The Mayflower, are a perfect picture of a London that time forgot. Following the Thames Path, you can walk along the riverside all the way into town, passing the converted Victorian warehouses just before Tower Bridge. At London Bridge, Borough Market makes a great pit-stop for a bite to eat. Grab a bunch of roses – if like me, you’ve been utterly useless again – whilst your better half searches for their lunch. Head further up the river for a quick pick-me-up on the rooftop of the Tate Modern, for superlative views over the city. My partner and I love a bit of history and culture, so a stop at Leighton House is a great conversation starter. The Arab Hall is covered in sumptuously rich colours, beset with turquoise tiles that date back centuries – this little-known gem inspires wonder at every turn, with an incredible collection of art and sculpture dating as far back as the ancient Greeks. I’d also recommend Sir John Soane’s Museum – we’ve just been too many times! As the sun begins to set, I’d head to Soho for an Aperol spritz at London’s iconic late-night café, Bar Italia – open since 1949. It’s a seriously cool hangout to kickstart your night, before heading over to Polpetto for Venetian cicchetti. This intimate space is perfect for sharing small plates of delicious Venetian bites. To finish things off, I’d see what’s on at Ronnie Scott’s, the iconic Soho jazz venue. Swinging on the floor to the sounds of trad jazz, afrobeat and soul is a perfect way to round off the night. As the lights go up, I’d head back to Bar Italia for a quick espresso, before catching the last train home.
– Oliver Jones, Media Editor at Secret Escapes

Dinas Dinlle beach with view of Snowdonia National Park in North Wales. Image: iStock/lleerogers

Wales

I would start by arriving to one of Wales’ beautiful country house hotels, where my partner and I would be greeted by roaring log fires and true Welsh hospitality. We would then go through a journey of culinary delights, sampling the best of local produce. The following day we would wake up to a full Welsh breakfast and an action-packed day of local adventures! Thrill-seekers will be in heaven here, given the dramatic landscape complete with breath-taking mountains and lakes, but you’ll really find something for every couple – from the romantic castles which are amongst the finest in the UK, to local wildflower-filled woodland for a leisurely stroll. For me, the single most romantic experience is taking the steam railway from Bala Lake to Portmeirion, an Italian-style Welsh Village that oozes romance.
– Georgia Wild, Chef de Rang at Palé Hall

We would recommend that couples visit the village of Betws-y-Coed, Aber Falls south of the village of Abergwyngregyn and, of course, Snowdonia National Park itself. Outdoorsy couples who like walks amid beautiful scenery will enjoy Wales – we have it all, from dramatic mountains and countrysides to spectacular beaches. Idyllic views are served in spades here, as well as bold sunsets and good food. For an unconventional romantic break, challenge your active side with a trip to Zip World, or why not tackle mount Snowdon hand-in-hand.
– Chefs and Front of House Team, Bryn Williams at Porth Eirias restaurant

Bruges, Belgium. Image: iStock/RudyBalasko

Bruges

I would explore Bruges on a beautiful and sunny day, starting with a relaxing wellness session where I would forget about everything but myself and my partner. I would then like to discover Bruges on board a personal horse-drawn carriage, followed by a nice walk in the city centre or a boat trip to find out why Bruges is nicknamed the ‘Venice of the North’. I would recommend visiting the Church of our Lady, Old St John’s Hospital and Monastery, before the Halve Maan brewery and the Lake of Love – legend has it that if you kiss your partner on the bridge that crosses this lake, you will be in love for eternity. I would complete the experience with a stay at a historic hotel offering a cosy guest room with bathtub, and gastronomic dining.
– Claudia Clemmens, Reservations at Hotel Dukes’ Palace

I would get lost with my love in the beautiful narrow streets of Bruges, enjoy a hot chocolate on a bench along the canal, and have a delicious meal in one of the city’s many great restaurants. In winter, when the mist rises from the canals and the streets are less crowded, this historic city becomes all the more mysterious and poetic. I would visit the Belfry tower – you have to climb no fewer than 300 steps, but the view is absolutely worth it – as well as Sint-Janshuis Mill, which dates back to 1770 and still grinds flour to this day. I’d also take a stroll along Hoogstraat and Langestraat to find medieval houses, second-hand shops, and far less touristy restaurants and cafés – this is also a good area for trying Belgian French fries at a local friterie. Speaking of food, you’ll find a chocolatier on almost every street (speaking of chocolate, don’t miss the Choco-Story museum), and I’d also recommend trying stoofvlees (stewed meat served with fries), vol-au-vent (savoury puff pastry), tomaat garnaal (a tomato-based starter dish with shrimp), and a pint from a cosy beer cellar like Le Trappiste. My all-time favourite most romantic place in Bruges is the Bonifacius bridge: here, at night, the centuries-old houses, church and quiet little park together make a very pretty spot for couples.
– Nele van den Berghe, Junior Content Editor at Secret Escapes

Verona, Italy. Image: iStock/zodebala

Verona & Venice

Those with a passion for food and wine, as well as culture and luxury hotel-lovers, will find Verona to their taste. I would take a guided tour of Verona’s Roman underground city, enjoy a romantic walk along the river Adige to Castelvecchio, and dine in a famous restaurant on the historic Via Sottoriva. I would pledge my eternal love to my significant other at Juliet’s Balcony and her tomb, visit the red heart-shaped market at Piazza dei Signori, wander through the 16th-century Giardino Giusti, explore the cloister at the Church of San Francesco al Corso, and climb to the top of Torre dei Lamberti to see Verona and its wonderful Valentine’s decorations from above. And, of course, I would write a letter to my loved one and post it on the wall at Cortile Mercato Vecchio, during the Verona In Love Festival – the latter offers a full programme of events, from chocolate tasting and treasure hunts to theatrical performances and outdoor concerts.
– Elena Fontana, Sales Manager at Palazzo Victoria

If you’re in Verona, you should take the 80-minute commute east to Venice – this city is always a good idea. Its special je ne sais quoi doesn’t ever fade, no matter the season – though it is particularly pleasant in Spring. Venice really offers the ultimate, old-fashioned romantic getaway – it’s like time there came to a stop a long time ago, when women still wore silk gloves and courtship was an art. The only way to get around is by boat or on foot, so you’ll be literally forced to slow down, take things easy and enjoy yourself. Apart from its famous must-see sights (Piazza San Marco, Ponte dei Sospiri and Ponte di Rialto, to name a few), I think Venice’s magic can be found just by strolling along its narrow streets and cute little bridges, and admiring the pink street lights (yes, they are pink – I promise!). My personal favourite areas are the ghetto, la Giudecca and Sant’Elena. Forget about Murano and head to Burano, instead: the journey is a bit longer but once you’re there, you’ll feel you’re in a parallel universe, surrounded by ultra-colourful little houses. I might sound like a simple girl, but I think sipping a spritz at sunset, overlooking the Laguna, is the most romantic experience ever. I went to the Skyline Rooftop Bar at the Hilton Molino Stucky Venice on Giudecca island, and the view on Dorsoduro and San Marco was simply breath-taking. I also enjoyed the chilled-out vibe of Al Chioschetto, a bar close to San Basilio vaporetto station, and having dinner in some of the restaurants on Giudecca island – Ae Botti has a delicious seafood menu!
– Marianna Sgherri, Managing Editor at Secret Escapes

Venice, Italy. Image: iStock/bluejayphoto

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