Bristol Business News travel: Europe’s best capital cities for a romantic spring break

February 9, 2023

With spring just around the corner, it’s an ideal time to plan a weekend away. Flights are often cheaper and airports less busy – provided you avoid school holidays! And remember, you don’t always have to head to Paris to impress your Valentine, says Bristol Business News Travel Editor Anne Gorringe.

The approach of Valentine’s Day can put pressure on couples to plan a perfect night out at a romantic restaurant. But, whether you’re coupled-up or single, why not spread the love, think bigger and set out to try a new restaurant in a new city. 

And if you’re looking for inspiration, research by yacht charter group Catamaran Charter Croatia analysing Trip Advisor data came up with a list of European cities boasting the highest number of romantic restaurants and hotels per capita.  

Using my local knowledge, I’ve narrowed their top 10 down into six sensational easy trips from Bristol Airport.

Top of their list – and mine – is Portugal’s coastal capital Lisbon, which promises the best choice of romantic hotels and restaurants in Europe per capita.

At around a quarter of the size of Paris, it’s easy to explore. And, like Rome, it’s also set on seven hills, so there are plenty of romantic viewpoints to be found in most neighbourhoods.

Lisbon offers a stunning choice of 588 restaurants and 152 romantic hotels and prices are generally easy on the pocket and good value. Of course, it is also known as the home of the delicious pastel de nata (the traditional Portuguese custard tart).

Plus, the fact that the city’s just a 20-minute train ride to the nearest beach makes it a top choice. Or explore the nearby historic town of Sintra with its impressive buildings surrounded by pine forests.

To explore Lisbon itself, jump on board one of the city’s vintage yellow trams, pictured above - number 28 winds its way through some of its prettiest and most historic neighbourhoods.

What to expect: Average February and March temperatures here are 16 degrees and 18 degrees. If you’re lucky enough to get a sunny weekend, head for a rooftop bar for an amazing sunset view. Fly direct from Bristol to Lisbon with easyJet in two and half hours. For more on what Lisbon has to offer, go to:

With wonderful museums and galleries and the chance to stroll alongside the Seine, I absolutely had to include Paris. It’s also wonderful to just sit at a great café and watch the world go by, pictured right. And, if you’re looking for a Michelin-starred restaurant, the city has 119 of them to choose from!

Paris boats 1,387 romantic restaurants, says Catamaran Charter Croatia, and more than 540 romantic hotels (with a population of 2m-plus, that’s fewer per capita than Lisbon – but still mighty impressive).

Direct flights from Bristol get to Charles De Gaulle Airport in around an hour and 25 minutes. Then there’s a 40-minute metro ride to reach the city centre.

If you like trains (or don’t much like planes) – or work in London during the week and want to tag on a short break – take the Eurostar from St Pancras. It takes around two hours and 15 minutes and you arrive at the Gard du Nord in the heart of Paris.

Plus you only have to check in at the station an hour before your trip begins – or you could arrive even earlier and enjoy a romantic glass of fizz at Searcy’s Champagne Bar at St Pancras before you board.

Another Eurostar plus is that you get to keep your luggage with you all the way – so there’s no time wasted queuing at baggage reclaim.

Eurostar currently offers single tickets from £39 – plus its Valentine offer means discounts of £14 each on some trains when you book for two people. Use the code: LOVE2TRAVEL2

What to expect: Average temperatures in Paris in February are 9 degrees and 13 degrees in March. For more information, visit and 

Rome also proves a winner if you’re looking for great food and accommodation. The ‘greater’ Rome area has a population of 2,761,632 – but, somehow the actual central historic area, which takes in the Forum, Colosseum, pictured right, and Vatican, seems compact and relatively easy to travel around. The open top red bus system in Rome will take you to most of the must-see destinations.

The city boasts 1,291 restaurants and has a great choice of four-star and above hotels, with 650 across the city.

EasyJet’s service from Bristol has a flight time of two hours and 50 minutes. If you want to extend your trip, one option is to explore the excellent Italian train system and try a two-centre holiday.

Ryanair flies direct to Venice from Bristol. Spend a day ambling around St Mark’s Square and the Doge’s Palace before taking a train to Rome where you can catch easyJet’s flight back.

What to expect: If you’re lucky, a February break to Rome could turn out to be a warmer option than Paris. Average February temperatures in Rome are 14 degrees and 16 degrees in March. For details of flights to Venice, go to and for trains in Italy check out

Amsterdam is packed with art galleries and museums and is all about laidback vibes, canal-side strolls and avocado brunches.

The city stretches across 219 sq km. With a population of 905,234 people, there are 486 romantic restaurants in the city and 155 romantic hotels (that’s 537 restaurants and 171 hotels per million people).

One of the best-loved galleries is the Rijksmuseum, pictured right, which houses paintings from the Dutch Golden Age. There’s also the Van Gogh Museum and, of course, Anne Frank’s House – showing where the family hid from the Nazis during the Second World War.

If you plan to visit in April, be warned that King’s Day (officially, the national celebration of the king), takes place on the 27th this year and most of Amsterdam’s major museums and galleries will be closed. However, the city does host the country’s largest open air festival on the day – which is a great excuse to party.

What to expect: Average temperatures in Amsterdam are likely to be around the same as Bristol in February and March – around 7 and 10 degrees. For more inspiration, go to

If archaeology’s your passion, Athens is certainly the city to visit. And what could be more romantic than a visit to the Acropolis, minus all the peak summer crowds.

Said to the be birthplace of democracy, the Acropolis, pictured below, was also the home of the giants of philosophy – Plato and Socrates once walked and stood on this spot. It’s also relatively easy to reach by metro.

Athens has 367 romantic restaurants and 63 romantic hotels across its 39 sq km. With a population of 637,798 that’s the equivalent of 575 restaurants and 99 hotels per million people.

EasyJet flies direct from Bristol on Thursdays and Sundays in February and March, so you can grab a three-night-long weekend break. With a flight time of three hours and 45 minutes it’s the furthest destination from Bristol featured here – but, with luck, it’s also likely to be warmer.

What to expect: Average temperatures of around 14 and 16 degrees for February and March. For more information, visit

Known as the ‘Paris of Eastern Europe’, the Czech Republic’s capital Prague lies at the heart of the continent and boasts a rich architectural heritage.

Prague Castle, on the left bank of the Vltava River, dominates the view. And, who could resist a stroll across the beautiful Charles Bridge, pictured below, and a meander through the beautiful Baroque buildings of the old town.

This former Communist city runs on beer and offers endless cobbled streets filled with bohemian cafes and tourist-free bars.

Spread across 496 sq km and with a population of 1,352,374, its 399 romantic restaurants and 246 romantic hotels means it has 295 restaurants and 182 hotels per million people. 

EasyJet flies direct from Bristol four times a week with a two hour and five min flight time.

What to expect: Wrap warmly for this spring break. Average temperatures will be around 5 degrees in February and 9 degrees in March. For flight options, see

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