The romantic cities in the world

If you’re planning a trip away with your loved one this year, it can be tricky to nail where to go. With so many options to choose from, where in the world has the most gorgeous, picturesque, peaceful streets for you to stroll on and relax together? Somewhere that will take your breath away, and feel like it’s straight out of an Ed Sheeran song.

What makes a city best for couples? Is it the old buildings? The food? An abundance of flowers or horse-drawn carriages?

To find out, online casino Jackpot City Casino looked at the 100 most visited cities in the world, before whittling them down into the best areas for a romantic getaway this year - whether you’re looking for a honeymoon, the perfect date night, or even a location to pop the question.

What makes a city romantic?

Jackpot City Casino looked at a number of different points to establish the romantic ranking of each city. This included the percentage of hotels and restaurants that are deemed ‘romantic’ on TripAdvisor, whether this included the feature of a spa, an abundance of candles, or fresh flowers.

It also looked at the LGBT friendliness of each country, according to the Equality rank on Equaldex, to measure the current status of rights, laws and freedoms, as well as public attitudes to the LGBT+ community, to ensure all locations on the index were inclusive for all.

Couples going on holiday together often want a certain level of history and culture when strolling through the streets, so it took the number of UNESCO World Heritage sites in each city that are either already certified, or on the tentative list. This includes the likes of the Sydney Opera House, the La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, and The Royal Botanic Gardens in London.

Finally, casino games site Jackpot City Casino looked at the level of noise and light pollution in each city, to ensure the location that couples pick is peaceful and not too overcrowded or chaotic.

Where are the most romantic cities in the world?

10 - Siena, Italy

Based in Tuscany, Siena can be well-distinguished by its medieval brick buildings and is a city filled with art and history, with some of the best cityscapes in Tuscany.

The Historic Centre of Siena is a UNESCO World Heritage Site by its own accord, with the locals working hard to preserve the city’s Gothic appearance, which has worked well so far - the landscape looks like it’s right out of a painting.

Not only does the architecture soar in Siena, but the city is home to so many hotel and food options for couples - and places fifth in terms of the number of romantic hotels to stay the night in. A third (33%) of all hotels in the city are labelled as romantic on TripAdvisor.

9 - Galway, Ireland

The famous harbour city on Ireland’s west coast, Galway is a charming place offering a plethora of romantic activities for people to enjoy, such as a coastal stroll near the Cliffs of Moher. Or, if you and your partner are more into music, visit one of its many music and art festivals.

The city was named the European capital of culture for 2020, but also has the lowest levels of noise pollution of all cities analysed, reflected by its breathtaking scenery and romantic views across the canal.

8 - Barcelona, Spain

Spain’s second city, Barcelona has so much going for it - not to mention a huge nine UNESCO World Heritage landmarks for couples to wander around. Seven of them are by the architect Antoni Gaudi, including Paul Guell, which perfectly blends nature and architecture.

With a mix of being a coastal resort and a diverse city terrain, Barcelona has a number of  options for couples, from magical sunset and sunrise views on the beach, to the option to rent a boat in Ciutadella Park - and not to mention tapas and sangria galore.

7 - Florence, Italy

With the kind of views that can make the heart skip a beat, there’s no shortage of things to do in Florence for an intimate getaway, whether you’re chasing the golden Florentine sunsets, wandering through an art museum, or sipping an Italian coffee by the Oblate Library, the Tuscan city has numerous options.

The Roman city is also 2,000 years old, and the Historic Centre of Florence is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in itself, as a core symbol of the Renaissance.

6 - Heidelberg, Germany

Heidelberg, a quaint town in Germany that you’ll struggle not to fall in love with, with its old cobbled streets and ancient buildings, is another example of Renaissance architecture, with its castle sitting above the Neckar Valley and looking like something out of a fairytale.

Germany also has one of the best scores for LGBT friendliness, and Heidelberg has relatively low noise pollution, meaning couples can experience the magic of the city and embrace its beautiful fountains and period houses in its Old Town with no interruption.

5 - Reykjavik, Iceland

One of the quietest places on the list, with its glaciers, waterfalls and potential views of the Northern Lights, Reykjavik is the ideal backdrop for a couple’s getaway.

It’s relatively effortless to see the romantic element of Iceland’s capital, with its natural landscapes, geothermal springs, quaint architecture and midnight sun in the summer months creating a unique atmosphere for couples. Whether you go to the iconic Blue Lagoon, Gulfodd waterfall or one of the other local hot spots, Reykjavik is ideal for a magical ambiance.

4 - York, England

If you’re thinking of whisking your partner off on a romantic city break weekend away, there’s no better place than York - with its low levels of noise and abundance of romantic restaurants and hotels to escape to.

Dating back to the 13th century, stroll along the beautifully preserved walls that surround the cobbled streets, or wander down the Shambles - which has been voted the prettiest street in Great Britain, and is said to be the inspiration for the film version of Diagon Alley in Harry Potter.

3 - Dubrovnik, Croatia

It may have been the backdrop for much of Game of Thrones, but this Croatian city has so much on offer for couples.

Dubrovnik is also called the “Pearl of the Adriatic” for a reason, with stunning sea views, encircled by spectacular stone walls and sixteen towers that are the city’s defining feature. Its historic charm provides the ultimate romantic backdrop, and the nearby Elaphiti Islands and Lokrum Island (also named the Island of Love), provide ample opportunities for a day trip. Dubrovnik was also home to the highest proportion of romantic restaurants for people to dine at - at 40%.

2 - Bath, England

In second place comes Bath in England, and it won’t take you long to understand why it’s one of the most romantic places in the UK. It’s not only deep-rooted in history, after being founded by the Romans in the 1st century, but it’s also been a UNESCO World Heritage Site for decades.

Living up to its namesake, it’s also one of the only places in the UK where you can take a naturally hot thermal bath. Much like others on the list, Bath is overflowing in history, with the literary genius of romance herself, Jane Austen, once living there.

1 - Bruges, Belgium

If ever there was a city that was built for romance, it would be Bruges, which comes top on the list. Bruges has the highest proportion of romantic hotels - with half of all accommodation dubbed ‘romantic’ by TripAdvisor.

The capital of West Flanders in Belgium, Bruges is only home to one UNESCO site - but the whole centre of it is a heritage site. Distinguished by its network of canals, smell of chocolate-making in the air, and fairytale buildings, Belgium’s City of Love is number one for a reason.

Paris didn’t make the top 15

Beyond the beautiful scenery, Paris, perhaps surprisingly, didn’t appear in the top ten. While Paris is known across the world for its romantic charm, in recent years it’s faced backlash in the form of a new term - named “Paris Syndrome”, as rose-tinted glasses are removed when people visit the city and are overwhelmed by the number of tourists.

Having said that, Paris still came in position 16 in the ranking, after Sydney, Madrid and Venice. 21% of hotels are dubbed ‘romantic’ and 9% of restaurants are identified as ideal for tourists - but it’s let down by its noise pollution score, with one of the highest out of all cities.

Map of top 20 most romantic cities in the world

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Jackpot City took 100 of the most visited cities in the world, according to the UN World Tourism Organisation. It then compared the below data points:

Each city was then given a weighted score out of 100 for each data point, to create an overall index score out of 500.

Methodology for ranking the top 20 most romantic cities in the world

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