Do you need an excuse to leave the British winter behind? With the excitement of Christmas over, the joys of going back to work and the miserable weather are well and truly with us. Taking a short city break doesn’t seem like such a bad idea, does it?
What better way to escape for a long weekend and surprise your beau, than with a romantic city break just in time for Valentine’s? With our guide to the top 5 romantic city breaks, you can’t go wrong.
Barcelona has it all – celebrated historical architecture, endlessly vibrant culture, a stunning coastline – so much so, that it inspired the likes of Dalí, Miró and Picasso.
The rolling Collserola mountain range offers an alternative to the bustling city. Its protected park is home to some 190 different species, and if you and your love are up for a wander, it provides spectacular views. The city is laced with a long and fascinating history that dates back to the Roman-era. With traces of the Gothic Middle Ages as well as 14th century cathedrals, old is mixed with modernist creations by the great Gaudi and his contemporaries.
Barcelona isn’t short of places to eat or drink. Find any food from traditional Catalonian dishes, to pintxos Basque-style tapas, to avant-garde Japanese restaurants. You are equally spoilt for choice with bars, from sunny terraces offering panoramic views to cosy taverns with vermouth flowing and acoustic accompaniment. Barcelona is likely to inspire the wild side in you, so make the most of what it has to offer!
Flying Time: 2h 15m direct
Most romantic spot: The Magic Fountain of Montjuïc, designed by Carles Buigas in 1929. Its colourfully-lit plumes of water brilliantly illuminate the area.
Home to Germany’s biggest port and second largest city, Hamburg is a tireless trader. Yet despite its somewhat harsh exterior, the city is full of romance.
As diverse as it is charming, Hamburg’s maritime location plays a large role in its culture and cuisine. Its harbour welcomes thousands of ships from all over the world and brims with restaurants and shops. If you’re around on a Sunday, wander down to the Fischmarkt in St Pauli – listen to the market criers selling their wares amidst old German pop songs resonating from the auction hall next door. Explore the city by foot and absorb its fascinating architecture, from the famous redbrick warehouses that line the Speicherstadt archipelago, to the impressive Chilehaus, shaped like an ocean liner with staggered balconies.
At night, Hamburg comes alive. It has lots of chic cocktail bars, dance clubs and live music venues. Sip on a cocktail with your sweetheart while you watch the hustle and bustle, dance until the wee hours on board one of the popular river barges, or take a boat trip on Lake Alster, where you’re sure to soak up the city’s romantic charm.
Flying Time: 1h 35m direct
Most romantic spot: The floating Landungsbrücken piers. Watching the sunset here gives you glorious views over the Elbe river.
On top of being home to some of the world’s best seafood, Lisbon boasts a warm Mediterranean climate and a mix of traditional architecture and contemporary culture. It’s an ideal couples’ destination.
This capital city’s centre can get very congested, but what better excuse to explore it on foot? Go old-world romantic and marvel at some of the ancient architecture such as the 16th century Gothic Tower of Belém or the Jerónimos Monastery, with its elaborate portals and serene cloisters.
For a real taste of Lisbon, get lost in the Alfama district, a network of charming cobbled streets.. Take a leisurely stroll to the promenade and relax in one of the many intimate cafés, or if you’re feeling more adventurous, hop on the cable car for magnificent views of the city and its coast.
By night, Lisbon’s wine bars are a hazy, alluring delight where you can nestle up with some of the country’s best wines and sample specialty dishes. You mustn’t leave without trying a pastéis de belém – heavenly crispy pasty filled with custard cream and sprinkled with cinnamon. Enjoy the city like a local and you will soon fall for its warm character and beguiling charm.
Flying Time: 2h 50m direct
Most romantic spot: One of Lisbon’s many hilltop terraces or “miradouros”. By day, the views are breath-taking and by night, they’re simply magical.
What are you waiting for? Book your flight now.
Despite being Europe’s highest capital, Madrid remains remarkably clear-skied and warm in the sunshine during the winter months – a far cry from a British winter. Explore the city’s beauty on a stroll through one of its parks. See masterful art by Goya at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum or view 19th century paintings and furniture in the Museo del Romanticismo. Once you’re cultured out, warm up in one of the city’s cosy, character-filled cafés. Order a café con leche with churros and melted chocolate.
Madrileños typically eat at 10pm after the afternoon siesta, so if you can wait until then, you’ll experience the city’s true spirit. Skip the touristy spots in the centre and venture out to the neighbourhoods of Malasaña, La Latina or Chueca to dine like a local. Split a jug of sangria and several tapas. Cosy up in Bodega de los Secretos, a maze of underground 17th century wine cellars, and catch an intimate flamenco show – the atmosphere will have you and your date feeling romantic in no time.
Flying Time: 2h 30m direct
Most romantic spot: El Capricho Park, with its winding river and beautiful lake. With French and Italian influences, it gives a real flavour of the gardens in Madrid.
Feeling inspired? Book your flight now.
If you’re planning a last minute, romantic getaway with your love, Málaga is the perfect destination. Situated along the southern coast of Spain, it’s filled with beautiful parks, charming plazas and a climate that stays pleasant all year round – what more could you want?
The city has a rich culture, boasting approximately thirty museums, including the Museo del Vidrio y Cristal with its stunning collection of glass and crystals and the magnificent works of Picasso in the Museo Picasso, who was of course born in Málaga.
Although it may not have a coastline to brag about, Málaga’s cuisine makes it stand out from the crowd. The city has a range of climates and conditions, making it a hotbed for all kinds of produce which are showcased in its gorgeous cuisine. With an impressive 22 stalls, Mercado Merced in the heart of the city showcases traditional and innovative producers. It’s the perfect venue to taste the local gastronomy with your partner, and experience the authentic atmosphere.
Flying Time: 2h 55m direct
Most romantic spot: The Parador de Gibralfaro, with breath-taking coastline views. Cuddle up and watch the sunset here.