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Cities to celebrate love around the world

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It’s always a good time to take a romantic trip, in our view – and travel is so experiential, so led by the senses, that anywhere can be romantic. There are some special places, however, where it’s easy to stoke a sentimental mood. Whether it’s the overt glamor of a gondola ride on the canals of Venice, or a simple beer-clink under the lanterns of Hoi An, let this article inspire you to celebrate love in cities all over the world. 

Hoi An, Vietnam

With over 2,000 years of history, the port town of Hoi An in Central Vietnam has seen Chinese, Japanese and European influence pass through its lantern-lit streets. This fusion of styles is evident in its gorgeously designed temples, lacquered facades and intricate bridges. The Old Town is particularly evocative and charming, especially when walking hand-in-hand with a loved one.

Tourists flock here of course, but unlike the frenetic street life of Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An invites you to slow down and absorb the atmosphere. The Thu Bon River runs through Hoi An, and during full moon festivals and local events, people traditionally place glowing lanterns onto the water. There’s nothing more atmospheric than taking a boat ride surrounded by floating orange lights. Afterwards, share beers and fresh food at a family-run water-side restaurant – cao lau, a rich dish of thick rice noodles, is Hoi An’s specialty. 

After a day in the picturesque Old Town, you can spend another cycling through surrounding rice fields to the golden sands of An Bang Beach; go shopping for crafts and handmade clothing, or even be fitted for a custom suit or dress – after all, Hoi An’s expert tailors are globally renowned, and you’re here to treat yourself.

Jaipur, India

With resplendent festivals of color; flavorful, hands-on cuisine; and the combined sound of calls to prayer, car horns and Bhangra beats; everything in India is passion-fueled. Even the iconic Taj Mahal itself, the vision of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, was intended as a declaration of eternal love for his late wife, Mumtaz.

For a truly romantic mood in India, however, you can’t beat the sensory pleasures of Jaipur in Rajasthan. The former Royal City, designed with the principles of Shilpa Shastras (Indian architectural rules) became a cultural heart of Rajasthani dance, music and art. Its Old Town, referred to as the ‘Pink City’, is resplendent, full of stunning, pink-hued architecture and sprawling gardens. 

Palaces, forts and temples dot the landscape. There’s the renowned Amber Fort, linked to the tragic folk tale of two lovers, Dhola and Maru. Nearby, the breathtaking Hawa Mahal; a blush-hued palace with divine honeycomb facades and intricate latticework, built so that the Royal women could have a secret viewpoint of the streets below. 

As well as arts festivals and cultural shows, there are plenty of gardens to stroll, craft markets to peruse, and wonderful sunsets to watch, perhaps from the vantage point of Nahargarh Fort which overlooks the city. Take it slow in Jaipur, imagining the opulence that once existed here, and it’s easy to get swept up in the romance of it all.

Kyoto, Japan

Another city steeped in charm, Kyoto offers the ornate, sakura-framed vision of Japan many of us dream about. As the former imperial capital, its cultural richness and preserved architectural jewels are unparalleled in Japan; with landscaped gardens, temples, shrines and palaces galore – not to mention the traditional geishas that wander the Gion District.

Don’t miss the Golden Pavilion, its gold leaf exterior reflecting in its surrounding pool; walk through the thousands of iconic vermillion gates that lead to Fushimi Inari Shrine; or find peace in the Zen garden of Ryoan-ji Temple – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Though the heat of summer and golden hues of fall offer their own aesthetic draws, the resplendent cherry blossom season of spring is unsurprisingly the best time to visit. Sakura season, as it’s known, descends from north to south of the country, and brings with it a celebratory mood full of hanami (flower-viewing) picnics, night-time illuminations, and scenes of gorgeous falling petals. In only two weeks, the blossom will be gone; it’s this fleeting quality that makes it so precious to Japan. 

Venice, Italy

Italy is fit-to-bursting with quintessential romance. From the magnificent ruins of Rome, Romeo and Juliet’s Verona, to the architecture and Renaissance art of Florence in Tuscany; it’s fair to say the Italian way of life is to lean into the romantic. Most would agree, however, that the archetypal ‘City of Love’ crown goes to Venice.

Dating back to the Middle Ages, the meandering, cobbled streets and criss-cross canals of this city beckon lovers to lose themselves. Couples can glide in a gondola across the Grand Canal, passing by stunning architecture, grand palaces and centuries-old churches. On foot, admire historic landmarks such as St Mark’s Basilica, with its striking domes and towering obelisks; or amble over the sublime Rialto Bridge, the oldest of the four bridges in Venice, dating back to the 16th century. 

In the nights, the city glows with a sense of twilight tranquility. Now is the time for candle-lit dinners, street-side serenades, and sharing a bottle of locally-made prosecco with your beloved.

The romance continues in winter, when there are fewer visitors, as the masquerade parades of Venice Carnival are magical in a whole new way. Participants wear elaborate period costumes and beautifully-designed masks, and take visitors back in time as they dance to music in the frosty streets. Visit in January or February to catch this captivating spectacle. 

Bergen, Norway

Cozy couple escapades abound with a trip to Bergen in Norway. This quaint harbor city is offset by a stunning backdrop of the snow-capped ‘Syv Fjell’(Norwegian for ‘Seven Mountains’), and glorious views of the surrounding fjords. 

Stroll along the UNESCO-protected Bryggen wharf, so picturesque with its succession of sharp-roofed, pastel-colored buildings. The historic wharf dates back to the 14th century, when Bergen was a busy trading port for the Hanseatic League. Today, you can wander the shops, galleries and cafes housed in the former offices and warehouses.

Take a ride to Mount Fløyen on the Fløibanen funicular – once at the top, you’ll find panoramic views of Bergen, and you can wander the alpine forest surroundings before heading back down. 

As fish plays a crucial role in the history of Bergen, the restaurants here take pride in serving some of the freshest seafood imaginable – so you’re in for a treat. The fish market makes for a vibrant wander if you’re interested in seeing what ends up on your plate.

Bergen is a beautiful stop on a trip to Norway, where couples can also stay in an igloo under the night sky, enjoy the Norwegian custom of saunas and cold-pool plunges, take a husky-drawn sled ride through the snow-covered forests, and of course, witness the majesty of the northern lights. 

Make it happen

If you’re in the mood for a romantic getaway, the world is waiting for you. Click on any of the destination links above to be put in touch with our locally-based experts, who will arrange an itinerary based on your vision and their knowledge.

  1. Vietnam
  2. India
  3. Japan
  4. Italy
  5. Norway

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