6 Surprisingly Romantic Cities

Posted by Amy Clyde on 2/14/2014
Posted in: Tauck’s Travelogue
Tags: Travel, Vienna, Japan, India, Amsterdam, Buenos Aires, Charleston

With Valentine’s Day here, hearts and minds turn to love, and the world is full of romantic cities that set the stage perfectly. Some of our favorites may surprise you, but they’re all wonderful places to visit whether you’re planning a unique honeymoon, a memorable anniversary trip, an idyllic getaway... or simply love to be around love. Welcome to our annual list of destinations for romantic getaways that you won’t want to miss.

Romantic ViennaVIENNA
If music be the food of love, then Vienna serves up the finest – on a magnificent platter. No city is more opulent and elegant than the heart of Imperial Europe with its grand boulevards and plazas lined with fairy tale palaces and gardens. In the historic center, explore the city’s renowned classical music heritage at the House of Music, an award-winning interactive multimedia museum where you can sample a vast array of works and “conduct” the Vienna Philharmonic. Another day perhaps attend a romantic opera at the world-class Staatsoper, a Neo-Renaissance-style wedding cake of a building. Visit a cozy tavern in the Vienna Woods for wine tasting, a traditional lunch, and more beautiful music.  

Romance lives in Vienna around every corner. Wander through celebrated museums – and, at the Belvedere, be sure to stop in front of Klimt’s famous mosaic-like painting, The Kiss. Cruise along the Danube together… perfect your waltz… ride in a horse-drawn carriage… share strudel in coffeehouses…  and dine by candlelight in palaces. Take a ride on the giant Riesenrad ferris wheel after dark and enjoy the view of the illuminated city below. The world is at your feet.

KYOTO
Romantic JapanOne of Japan’s most beautiful cities – home to two thousand temples and shrines set in exquisite parks and Zen meditation gardens – Kyoto offers many peaceful places in which to stroll, talk, and share meaningful silence. Contemplate the thousand and one expressive statues of bodhisattva, the embodiment of compassion, in the Sanjusangendo temple. Marvel at the Golden Pavilion – Kinkau-ji temple – topped by two gold-leafed stories and standing beside a pond, its image a shimmering reflection in the water. Toast each other and, in the traditional manner, drink to love, longevity, or success from special cups with poles for handles at the Kiyomizudera Zen “pure water temple.” And you won’t want to miss the wondrous seated bronze Buddha – nearly fifty feet high – at the Toda-ji temple. A Zen adventure can culminate with a graceful tea ceremony.

There’s also a lively side to romantic Kyoto. It’s fun to ride in a rickshaw in Gion, a historic district with narrow streets lined with bustling markets, fine restaurants, and teahouses. Observe the beguiling ancient rituals of a Maiko, an apprentice geisha. Active couples can take a short hike to Monkey Park to feed gentle macaque monkeys – or bike the trails of the stunning Sagano Bamboo Forest.  And along the Hozu River, there’s a scenic vintage train ride – aptly translated as the “Romantic Train Ride.”

Romantic IndiaUDAIPUR
Known as the most romantic city in India and the “Venice of the East,” Udaipur sits on eight blue lakes at the feet of the majestic Aravalli Mountains. A cruise on serene Lake Pichola is the ideal way to introduce yourself to this mirage-like city at the edge of the desert – defined by centuries-old white marble palaces, ornate mansions, and magnificent temples. Take in dreamlike sights such as the gleaming Lake Palace, which seems to float on water. On land, stroll through the royal Garden of Maidens, a gift from a king to his queen, decorated with lotus pools, lush greenery, marble pavilions, and elephant-shaped fountains. Experience the City Palace complex – eleven palaces built over generations plus the Jagdish Mandir Temple, where music and chanting are heard throughout the day and flower sellers display their colorful wares.

If the spirit moves you, take a yoga class together or lessons in donning a sari and turban. Steeped in tradition, Udaipur is also an urbane paradise filled with elegant jewelers, artisans, and world-class restaurants. And for a walk on the wild side, just outside the city you’ll find the Sajjangarh Wildlife Sanctuary at the Monsoon Palace. Overlooking the city, it offers unparalleled views and, if you’re lucky, sightings of panthers, sambars, blue bulls, and native birds. Sunsets are incredible here – as they are most anywhere in lovely Udaipur.

AMSTERDAM
Romantic AmsterdamLegend has it that couples who kiss on the Skinny Bridge over the Amstel River will stay together forever. And with more waterways than Venice, Amsterdam is an idyllic setting for love in more ways than one.  Exploring the city by boat on its 17th-century canals is a romantic treat – as is the sight of the bridges illuminated at night.  In winter during the Festival of Light, the historic center of the city is lit up by light sculptures and projections; view them by boat or on foot. The city is equally striking in spring and summer, when the Dutch generously decorate their picturesque houses and houseboats lining the canals with flowers and greenery. Don’t miss the unforgettable Keukenhof Gardens, famous home to show gardens and millions of tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths.

Virtually free of cars, Amsterdam streets are filled with bikes. Tandem, anyone?  If you prefer strolling through museums, the city has more per kilometer than any other European capital. At the great Rijksmuseum you can immerse yourselves in the atmospheric landscapes, domestic scenes, and intimate portraits of the Dutch Golden Age of painting (and much more). If shopping is your shared passion, tour one of the well-known diamond-cutting and -polishing factories – and bring home a sparkling souvenir. Hint: Amsterdam is the perfect place for popping the question.
 
Romantic Buenos AiresBUENOS AIRES
Called the Paris of South America for its European influences and cosmopolitan vibe, colorful Buenos Aires is a nonstop delight for the senses. It all starts with tango, of course. Catch a professional show, take a lesson, and watch the tango dancers on the streets of the artsy neighborhood La Boca. Another romantic city district – with tango parlors – is San Telmo, where you can stroll cobblestone streets, take in colonial buildings, linger in a hip bar, shop for antiques, and visit art galleries. Or go upscale to fashionable Recoleta; you’ll find more galleries, lavish European-style architecture, gorgeous boutiques, elegant restaurants and cafés, and the magnificent cemetery where Eva Perón is buried. Browse El Ateneo Grand Splendid, one of the most beautiful bookstores on the planet, housed in a stately historic theatre – and check out the café on the stage.

For more inspiring grandeur be sure to visit Avenida 9 de Julio – modeled on the Champs Élysées in Paris – a visual feast of world-class architecture. Here explore Teatro Colón, the majestic seven-tiered opera house with exceptional acoustics that make it one of the top five concert venues in the world. See a performance and dine afterwards – late as usual, Buenos Aires style. By day, don’t miss a stroll in the Rose Garden, where fifteen thousand rose bushes fill the air with fragrance.

CHARLESTON
Romantic CharlestonFor American history lovers there are few places more engaging than this romantic city with timeless Southern charm and a landmark district dating from the colonial period. Temperate weather most of the year means you can do much of your time traveling outdoors – tour the cobblestone streets in a white horse-drawn carriage for pure classic romance; modern romantics can go by bicycle cab. On foot explore the grand Battery promenade… take a ghost tour…  go antiquing on Lower King Street… and gallery hop along Broad Street.  Cruise Charleston Harbor and boat to Fort Sumter, a trove of some of the country’s most compelling history, which you can enjoy discovering together. Relax in Waterfront Park on a porch swing by the water – either by day or night, when the fountains are lit up. Another heart-stirring vista awaits you at the grand Middleton Plantation, home of the country’s oldest landscaped garden. It’s easy to imagine couples courting there in days past.

Culinary connoisseurs agree that Charleston boasts some of the best restaurants in the country.  Linger over fresh, locally sourced Low Country cooking – she-crab soup, shrimp and grits, Frogmore stew (without frogs); or indulge in familiar comfort foods reinvented with an imaginative touch. And don’t forget to sip sweet tea with your sweetie.

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