Five Surprisingly Romantic Cities

Some cities you expect to be romantic; Paris has made billions of dollars on that premise alone. Other cities surprise you though with their ability to charm and to help create those special romantic moments between you and your loved one. Here are some of my favorite cities that may not sound romantic, but really are.

Grand Bazaar Istanbul

1. Istanbul - I admit it, I was dubious when I first visited Istanbul. In fact, I doubt we would have gone had it not been a stop on a Mediterranean cruise we took a few years ago. Thank God for that cruise though, otherwise we would have missed out on one of the great, and most romantic, cities of the world. It’s cliche, but it’s true, that Istanbul straddles two cultures, the East and the West. It’s position on the Bosphorus has made it a cultural crossroads attracting traders and wanderers from around the world for millennia. That globalism has made Istanbul an exciting and visually stunning city. One of my favorite romantic activities is to stroll around the Sultanahmet neighborhood, window shop a little before deciding on a cafe to spend the evening enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of this ancient town.

Prague Views - Vltava River

2. Prague - After decades of Communist rule one may incorrectly assume that Prague is littered with drab buildings, dour people and general unpleasantness. The last thing that came to mind before I visited was a lovely city with lots of opportunities for romantic moments, but that’s what I found. Since the Velvet Revolution in 1989, Prague has blossomed into not just a nice place to visit, but a hugely popular tourist destination. Sure, there are remnants of its Communist past and yes, I saw a few drab buildings, but the medieval art and architecture more than make up for the design errors of the 1970s. While you won’t be alone, be sure to take a stroll along the Vltava river with Prague Castle looming nearby. I can’t think of a more romantic moment anywhere else in the world.

St Michaels MD

3. St. Michaels - If you’re a local than this won’t surprise you, but strangers to the DC metro area may not be familiar with the sleepy towns nestled along the Chesapeake Bay. One of the oldest areas of the state, the Eastern Shore has become a popular area to spend a quick weekend, or a longer retreat. I don’t like the term, but the only one that fits the many, small villages in this part of the state is cute. There, I said it, they’re cute – damn cute. One of my favorite towns is St. Michaels, also home to the critically acclaimed hotel the Inn at Perry Cabin. The perfect romantic weekend here starts with one of the Inn’s generously appointed rooms overlooking the water, followed by aimless wandering past the quirky shops lining the main street. Spas are available for those who want to relax and be pampered, and there are plenty of things to do outdoors for the more active traveler. No matter what you do during the day, in the evening head to restaurant 208 Talbot for a great meal prepared in what I call upscale American southern contemporary.

Amman, Jordan

4. Amman – The fact that 1) I knew nothing about Amman before visiting and 2) that I thought it’d be anything but romantic is a conceit of living in the U.S. Our media outlets, all of them, traditionally have not done a great job portraying the Middle East except in terms of war and aggression. At first Amman looks like a lot of other cities in the Middle East. It’s large, somewhat sprawling, and the buildings mostly blend in a blur of brown stone. I think it’s the people that transform this city, their warmth and hospitality make it hard not to love Amman almost immediately. My favorite moment is atop the Citadel, the mountain in the middle of the city and the site of ruins from civilizations long gone. Standing there, the breeze gently blowing, smells of vendors wafting up and the call to prayer rebounding around the hills simultaneously; it may seem unlikely, but that moment is one of the most amazing and romantic you could ever have.


5. Franz Josef - More a village than a city, and a tourist one at that, Franz Josef, at the foot of its eponymous glacier, is the classic definition of mountain romance. The town revolves around the glacier and tourists to the massive Mount Cook, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a fun place to visit. For the perfect romantic evening, start off with a stroll through the tiny town as the sun sets behind the glacier capped mountains. Wander over to the Glacier Hot Pools for a dip in a private, glacier spa and finish the evening with an intimate dinner at one of the several restaurants in town. No matter what you decide to do, it’s hard not to be in awe of the natural surroundings and to feel more connected with your loved one.

These are some cities around the world that surprised me with their ability to inspire romance. What are some of yours?

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By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.Also follow Matt on Twitter, Facebook and

21 Responses

  1. Scottishlass10

    I found Rothenburg, Germany to be an incredibly romantic city, much to my surprise. Also, most people don’t think of Edinburgh, Scotland to be romantic, but I totally disagree! Great article – very surprising (except for Prague.)

    Reply
  2. Bobbi Lee Hitchon

    I recently visited Franz Josef and it’s true romance is in the air there. Something about the place makes you want to curl up with your partner in front of the fire. I found Taormina, Italy to be extremely romantic as well. Ever been?

    Reply
  3. Waegook Tom

    Sokcho in South Korea is a very romantic place – nestled in the mountains, but with a beautiful sandy beach where you can sit and watch the sunset.

    I second you on Prague. I went there solo, and thought how much lovelier it would have been had my partner been there with me. I’d also go with Gdansk & Sopot in Poland, too – both great cities on the Baltic Sea, and those most romantic of birds, swans, swarm to Sopot. Must be something in the air!

    Reply
  4. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures

    I haven’t been to any of these cities yet! But I’ve heard Prague is over the top romantic.

    Reply
  5. IamJoyceee

    I haven’t been to any, sadly. But they say Bruges is also great too. :)

    Reply
    • JT

      Brugge would be in a top 10 list, this is about surprising cities.

      Amsterdam probably wouldn’t make the list, but imo it is surprisingly romatic also.

      Reply
  6. Dmitry

    I have visited Istanbul, also during a cruise. It was great place to visit, there are definitely quite a few places for a nice stroll. The larger mosques have big gardens in front of them. Though a lesser known Turkish city, Kusadasi, i think is even better as it has great walk next to the port, small restaurants with delicious food and a small town atmosphere

    Reply
  7. Anji

    It’s interesting and surprising to find Amman on your list. I would have never thought it would… I guess because of all the stereotypes and conditioning we’re constantly going through. But I do believe that it is in cities with deep historic engraved in each corner, that each street hides a love story.

    Reply
  8. The Time-Crunched Traveler (Ellen)

    I’d be content to celebrate Valentine’s Day in Instanbul — or any of these places for that matter. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  9. Andy

    This is an interesting list, it’s always good to read blogs coming from a different perspective; all European writers would include Prague but the other entries were both inspired and inspiring. I would include Stockholm here – especially in the snow-covered winter. It has an atmosphere all of its own. As Joycee says Bruges is also a European classic that does manage to live up to expectations as does Venice on most counts. Krakow in Poland is another place to consider. All very topical what with Valentine’s Day coming up!

    Reply
  10. Curt

    Baden-Baden would be high on my list of romantic places. After soaking for hours in thermal pools and steam rooms, you have a charming town full of pedestrian streets and wooded parks to stroll through.

    I’d probably put Williamsburg, Virginia, on my list too. Duke of Gloucester Street is a great stroll at night. Crim Dell oozes romance, except when they drain the pond, and then it just oozes.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Williamsburg is a great addition Curt, I went to undergrad there and so I know Crim Dell pretty well :)

      Reply
  11. Sophie

    Oslo :)
    Long, white nights during summer, cross-country skiing by moonlight in winter. Absolute magic!

    Reply
  12. Changes In Longitude

    We’re heading to Amman in a few weeks so were excited to read this. I can tell you which city is most definitely not romantic, Pyongyang, North Korea. We visited there recently and it definitely didn’t get the romantic juices flowing.

    Reply
  13. Ceylan Zere

    You should definitely come back to Istanbul in spring. Bosphorus is the most romantic place when the pinkish judas trees bloom on the hills along the Bosphorus.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      I’d love to, really enjoyed my time in Istanbul

      Reply
  14. TSloan

    Udaipur in Rajasthan, India is by far the most romantic city I have ever been too. Absolutely beautiful.. Just dont swim in the water!

    Reply
  15. Ersatz Expat

    I think the list depends on where in the world you hail from. Most Europeans would automatically include Prague and Istanbul in top 5 lists. Bruges and Ghent are also popular romantic breaks.

    As far as other must visit romantic stops – Budapest is beautiful and the castle is spectacular. Lubljana (Slovenia) is a compact city with a big heart and perfect for a romantic stroll. St Petersburg is one of the most stunning places to visit in the world – fantastic museums, beautiful riverbanks, churches, history and more. You don’t get much more romantic than Bangkok and Byblos (Lebanon) with its castle to explore and the stunning historic harbour is a must see.

    Am putting some of the suggestions on here on my trip wishlist.

    Reply
  16. Marysia @ My Travel Affairs

    Can’t agree more about Amman! It is hard not to fall in love with this city! And the view from the atop of Citadel…superb!

    Reply
  17. Jörg

    Been to two of them, Prague and Istanbul. Istanbul is def. historic and great, however it is not very romantic in winter, just a bit ugly outside the polished mosque areas. (the bosphorus is great in winter as well however) I have heard it is warm and sunny and beautifull and romantic in summer.
    Prague is always cool. But being in the czech republic, take the trip and visit Carlsbad (Kalrovy Vary) that city is quite a big surprise if you come with no expectations in your mind…

    Reply

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