The World's Most Effortlessly Romantic Cities

It doesn’t have to be Valentine’s Day for romance to be in the air in these international destinations. Whether it’s the incredible architecture, beautiful scenery, great food or just that warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you’re there, you’ll find that the following cities are some of the most romantic places in the world:

Historic colonial balconies and church [Cartagena, Colombia]

Cartagena, Colombia | If your idea of romance includes the sparkling Caribbean Sea, the sibilant sounds of the Spanish language and some of the most colorful and beautiful colonial buildings in Latin America, you’ve got to get to Cartagena. The city’s picturesque old town is best explored on foot, so link hands with your sweetheart and start strolling the cobblestones. Ancient churches, window boxes overflowing with flowers and the city’s wonderfully thick inner walls await you. End the day with a delicious seafood meal along the waterfront. For more entertainment after that, you’ll be happy to know that Cartenga’s clubs go until the sun rises. 

Live Oak Trees [Charleston, South Carolina]

Charleston, S.C. | Elegant and antebellum, Charleston is yet another beautiful city filled with pastel-colored architecture and carefully maintained historic streets. Meander along the Rainbow Row at sunset for iconic photographs. Take a carriage ride past the narrow houses with multi-story porches built in the Charleston Single House design. Linger in a stately park inhaling the scent of honeysuckles, jasmine and gardenias. Visit grand old mansions, art museums and galleries. When you need to sit down, you’ll find delicious Lowcountry cuisine and unparalleled Southern hospitality.

Beautiful Coastline [Wellington, New Zealand]

Wellington, New Zealand | Tucked between the shoulders of a group of craggy hills, Wellington encircles a deep blue natural harbor. This city of high lookouts, gold sand beaches and rugged coastlines is meant for romance in all its forms. You could be lounging on the beach, watching a romantic sunset from on high, or exploring the picturesque coastal cliffs. To top it off, Wellington is much more than its undeniable natural attractions. Visit the roaming ground of hipsters as you seek out local art, vintage stores and bohemian bars and cafes. If you’d eat your way around Wellington, you can rest assured that you are feeding your sweetheart with very local meat, produce and craft beer. 

Puerto Madero Neighborhood at Night [Buenos Aires, Argentina]

Buenos Aires, Argentina | It’s not just the sizzling tango moves that put Buenos Aires on the list; the city has undeniable style. Sure, you’ll want to splurge on a dramatic tango show, but Buenos Aires is also the perfect place to try out your own tango skills. If you’re ready to dance, you’ll be dancing late. Take a nap and then get ready for the excitement and romance of dancing til dawn with the one you love. 

Canal at Night [Bruges, Belgium]

Bruges, Belgium | Bruges is undeniably one of the most romantic cities in the world and during the winter, nearly no one else is visiting. Expect the occasional snowflake, or gust of wind as you explore this storybook city and its cobblestone streets, church spires and medieval gables. To fuel your adventures, turn to delicious Belgian chocolates and warm up with steamy mugs of hot chocolate or coffee. There’s nothing lovelier than standing in the twilight as the city’s twinkling lights come on to illuminate the slow-moving canals. 

View of the City [Heidelberg, Germany]

Heidelberg, Germany | The red-roofed city of Heidelberg protects a half-ruined castle, Germany’s oldest university and a charm you have to experience to understand. Germany’s 19th romantic writers, poets and painters loved Heidelberg for the same reasons you will on your romantic getaway. The city’s incredible old buildings, gorgeous pastoral setting and deep sense of history are irresistible to dreamers, lovers and intellectuals.  

Row of brightly colored huts, Muizenberg Beach [Cape Town, South Africa]

Cape Town, South Africa | What could be sexier than endless white sand beaches, crashing waves and towering headlands? Cape Town has everything you’d ever want for an unforgettable trip for two. In no time flat, you’ll be wondering the city’s historic quarters, exploring Kristenbosch Botanical Gardens and taking in the views from Table Mountain. If the pristine beaches, awesome surfing and thrill-sport opportunities aren’t enough to hold your attention, don’t forget that the rolling vineyards of the Cape Winelands are at your doorstep. 

Ginkaku-ji [Kyoto, Japan]

Kyoto, Japan | If your idea of a romantic Valentine’s Day is to retreat into old-world Japan, the stunning city of Kyoto should be on your bucket list. Languid temples, relaxing public baths, Zen gardens and riotous spring blooms set the scene. It’s up to you whether you want to spend the day immersed in the city’s history, climbing the mountains that surround it, or discovering the perfect dinner date for two.  Don’t miss the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove where you’ll be transported into a cool, green landscape of light and shadow.  

Alfama District [Lisbon, Portugal]

Lisbon, Portugal | The crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean, the whitewashed buildings and the enchanting alleyways of Lisbon make it an impressive backdrop for your romantic trip. You could be wandering the sun-bleached backstreets looking for the perfect cup of coffee, or snuggled up in a cafe listening to the mournful strains of a fado singer. Make time to explore the towering cathedrals, dusty monasteries and tucked away museums. As you ride the funicular to the Bairro Alto – the upper town – you’ll be able to enjoy panoramic views of this city by the sea. With local wines, fresh fish and a steady supply of fresh vegetables, Lisbon’s chefs are ready to impress you with a delicious and romantic dinner for two. 

Hoi An [Vietnam]

Hoi An, Vietnam | Perched along a wide and ambling river, Hoi An miraculously preserved its eclectic collections of Japanese, Chinese and French architecture. These foreigners built up the town when it was a major trading port and a hub for tea and rice. Visit the old town at night when the temperature cools down and the town is lit with lanterns. Once you’ve enjoyed Hoi An’s wonderfully atmospheric center, adventure awaits. A trip by bicycle, motorbike or boat takes you past some of Vietnam’s most wonderful scenery. Whether it’s beaches, rainforest or rice fields you are after, there’s an adventure to get you where you want to go. 

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Carmen Fifield

The delight of finding an unknown park, a captivating history museum or a fantastic desert means exploration is never far from Carmen Fifield’s mind. Carmen’s favorite travel memories include biking to historic sites on the island of Guernsey, huffing and puffing up the stairs to the Great Wall of China and eating the most delicious crab cake ever in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Carmen’s Favorite Travel Tip: Say goodbye to airplane food and tuck some fruit and your favorite sandwich into your carry-on.