The City of Light tops the list of most romantic cities, and for good reason. A day spent sipping cafe au lait in a tiny side street bistro, window shopping along the ritzy Champs Elysees, and visiting Sacre-Coeur Basilica for a jaw-dropping view of the city, and all the while eyeing the Eiffel Tower, is enough to make any pair of honeymooners feel like they’re floating on air. Pack your itinerary with culture and take in modern art at the Centre Pompidou and classic masterpieces at the Louvre. Spend a leisurely evening people-watching and drinking champagne.
Romantic Must-do Take a stroll along the Seine (the river that cuts through Paris) and admire the scene along the left and right banks. Along the way, spend some time relaxing on the Pont Neuf (the oldest bridge in Paris) and check out the unbelievably beautiful cathedral Notre Dame. At night, visit one of Paris’ famous jazz clubs.
Few images are more emblematic of romance than a gondola ride on the waterways of Venice, the city that came in a close second in our survey. Venice’s unique layout — curvy, narrow streets interspersed with canals — makes it a wonder to explore. Although you shouldn’t miss the major tourist spots like Piazza San Marco, the city’s main square, and Ponte dell’ Accademia, a bridge across the Grand Canal, you should also take a boat off the beaten path. Travel by a water bus (called vaporetto) to visit the nearby island of Murano, famous for the glass-blowers who practice their trade there, or to the less-traveled Burano, known for its lacework.
Romantic Must-do There’s no better way to see Venice than to wander because you can’t get lost. Start at Piazza San Marco and see where the side streets take you. Be sure to stop in a bacaro (a Venetian wine bar) for a glass of Chianti in the afternoon.
Rome + Florence
Two more Italian cities finished neck and neck in our poll, each with its own reasons to rank among the world’s most romantic cities. Rome has a more energetic feel, and you can spend each day admiring monuments like the Colosseum and St. Peter’s Basilica. The ambience in Florence is all about the Renaissance, so soak in the art of Michelangelo and Botticelli, and marvel at the dome in the Duomo Cathedral.
Romantic Must-do In Rome, sample gelato at Il Gelato di San Crispino and visit some of the city’s famous fountains at night. If the Trevi Fountain is too crowded, head to the Fountain of the Four Rivers at Piazza Navona (but throw a coin and make a wish at each). In Florence, climb to the top of the Palazzo Pitti (one of the biggest palaces in the city) for a fabulous view or place a lock on the bridge Ponte Vecchio and throw the key into the Arno River: According to legend, this means your love will last forever.
New York City
What do brides choose as the most romantic city in the United States? None other than New York. There are countless places to have a romantic moment in the city — a picnic in Central Park, a walk around The Cloisters museum, or a candlelit dinner at One if by Land, Two if by Sea in the West Village. Tourist traps like Times Square are worth a visit if you’ve never been, but you’ll probably have a better time strolling along the side streets of SoHo or relaxing on the lawn amid the skyscrapers in Bryant Park.
Romantic Must-do Walk from Manhattan into Brooklyn across the Brooklyn Bridge (stop at Grimaldi’s for pizza), and then along the promenade for an amazing city view.
The islands of Hawaii are known for sparkling water, picturesque beaches, and idyllic sunsets. Honeymoon in Honolulu and you’ll find all of that, plus the exciting nightlife and amazing restaurants you’d expect from any major city. Spend an afternoon shopping for clothes, art, and jewelry at the newly rebuilt Waikiki Beach Walk, and take a hike to the top of Diamond Head (a huge volcanic crater).
Romantic Must-do Cuddle up on a bench at the Foster Botanical Gardens, and then take a fun (and frightening) ghost tour. You’ll probably need to cuddle here too. See OahuGhostTours.com for details.
Even if you’re not architecture buffs, nearly everyone who sees the surreal designs of Antoni Gaudi — which can be found throughout Barcelona — is enthralled. The most awesome example is the enormous (and still unfinished) basilica Sagrada Familia, which Gaudi worked on for over 40 years. And don’t forget to wander around the cool shops and cafes on Las Ramblas, one of Barcelona’s most famous and lively streets.
Romantic Must-do Go to a flamenco show (try a place like Tablao Flamenco Cordobes) and then practice a few of your own moves of this steamiest of dances.
Honeymoon in San Francisco and you’re practically guaranteed fine food and a laidback metropolitan vibe. If you can handle the crowds, spend an afternoon eating oysters in Fisherman’s Wharf or shopping for souvenirs at Union Street. If not, drive to Inspiration Point in the Presidio for a romantic vantage of Angel Island, Alcatraz, and the San Francisco Bay.
Romantic Must-do Take a walk among the towering redwoods in Muir Woods outside of the city. The drive back into San Francisco will provide one of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge imaginable.
Austria’s capital is totally conducive to taking long, romantic walks. The main streets are laid out in rings, and there are lots of little shops and cafes on streets like Karntnerstrasse. The buildings have the sort of stylized facades that make you really feel like you’ve traveled to Europe. And don’t forget to try a traditional weiner schnitzel, a thinly sliced piece of breaded veal.
Romantic Must-do You can’t visit Mozart’s hometown without seeing an orchestra. Even if you’re not into classical music, a performance by the Vienna Philharmonic can be overwhelmingly beautiful.
London is the perfect honeymoon destination for travelers who want the culture of Europe with the convenience of an English-speaking country. There’s lots to see in the city’s museums (trips to the Victoria & Albert and Tate Modern are a must), and if you’re there in season, see a play at Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. There’s no roof and the space in front of the stage is standing room only. After the performance find a bench along the Thames River (preferably one with a view of St. Paul’s Cathedral) and simply enjoy being newlyweds.
Romantic Must-do Reserve a private capsule for a 30-minute ride on the London Eye (it’s like a big Ferris wheel that lets you see for 25 miles in each direction on a clear day) with a bottle of bubbly.
Nothing says “fairytale” like a castle on a hill, and Prague has just that. Even in the winter (when there are way fewer tourists), Prague’s dramatic architecture is a wonder. Spend a day exploring Prague Castle and return to the Old Town Square on the hour so that you can witness the chime of the 600-year-old astronomical clock.
Romantic Must-do Have a phenomenal meal right on the river bank at Kampa Park (see a menu at kampapark.cz), and then walk along the Charles Bridge to feel like you’ve been transported back 200 years.