Romance in the Great Outdoors

Lose Yourself in Europe

Naturally, some towns lend themselves to romance a little better than others. Los Angeles, for example, would not be at the top of my list. Here are some European classics that are—cities where you can walk till the soles drop off your shoes and still feel like there's more inspiring streets to explore.

Of course, Paris. But after you've hit the always-inspiring Jardin de Tuilleries and the pedestrian bridge crossing just in front of Ile de la Cite, it's time to move on. You might try the canal Saint Martin, one of the lesser-known romantic treasures—a three-mile aquatic connection between the Seine and the Canal de l'Ourcq, completed in 1806. The shady towpaths are now footpaths and the trees filter sunlight through with laserlike precision. And don't forget to head for some of the parks outside the scope of most tourists (Bois de Boulogne to name but one). How do you know you're beginning to get off the beaten path? Here's an easy test: If you can see a major tourist attraction (bar the Tour Eiffel) or pass someone selling postcards, you're too close to the main drag.

Rambling on Las Rumblas is tough to beat for romance. But when you're ready to move on, toss the map aside and see how many Gaudi creations you can stumble into. A good place to get started might be the Parc Guell, where Gaudi gave landscaping a go. Mosaics, oversized ceramic benches, and imaginatively constructed lizards make this park such an unusual success. From here, head any way you please and when you need a breather, poke your head into cafes with signs so small they could fit on a bumper sticker. Or work your way to the sea and stroll along the beaches. What Barcelona lacks could fit on the tip of a pencil, so it's just up to you to find what you're looking for.

The only thing that keeps Venice from being the most romantic city in the world is the stampede of roughly 25 million tourists each year, who march through with white sneakers and dangling video cameras and colorful little tourist hats. Believe it or not, this place is practically deserted in February. Simply pick up your hotel's business card in the lobby and start exploring the city's 117 islands. When it starts getting dark, hail a water taxi, hand the driver the card, and enjoy the moonlit ride back. And don't forget to appreciate the absence of the annoying buzz of Italian scooters that plagues the rest of the country.

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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