There is something that’s just so inherent romantically about canals, and especially gliding across them cuddle up with the one you love. While there are some city’s that are famous around the world for their waterways, like Venice, there are other lesser-known gems you might want to experience as well. With this mix of both, you’re sure to find your perfect destination.
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Venice, Italy (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Venice is well-known as one of the world’s best cities for love – after all actor chose George Clooney chose to wed his bride here and countless others have as well, and arguably the primary reason for this is its beautiful, gondola-filled canals. Though the picturesque hidden bridges and cobblestone alleys surely add to that allure. this is a destination celebrated for its rich musical and artistic cultural heritage, magnificent architecture and overall charm. The Grand Canal, the city’s main waterway, is lined with more than 170 historical buildings from the Gothic and Renaissance Era, some dating all the way back to the 13th century. It also connects to smaller channels, including one which drifts beneath the Bridge of Sighs, made of white limestone. Legend has it that a kiss underneath the bridge will lead to eternal love.
Suzhou, China (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Dubbed the “Venice of the East,” Suzhou is known for its beautiful canals that run alongside exquisite gardens. Founded in 514 B.C., this city has over 2,500 years of rich history with an abundance of attractions including museums with ancient relics, spectacular artwork and classical gardens. The unique charm and peaceful atmosphere of Suzhou has led it to being described by some as a “true paradise on Earth.” Its Grand Canal is approximately 1,200 miles long, making it the longest man-made waterway in the world. You can float down the Grand Canal with your lover and experience Suzhou in a traditional wooden Chinese boat. Along the way, traditional Pintan music will echo from each teahouse, overlooking waterside gardens and gorgeous historic dwellings. Afterwards, stop into one of the many teahouses to sip on herbal tea, and then take a stroll through one of the gardens, like the Couple’s Retreat Garden.
Annecy, France (Hotel Prices & Photos)
France on its own is considered one of the most quintessential romantic destinations to visit in the world. Here you’ll find countless opportunities for romance including watching sunsets from the Eiffel Tower, candle-lit dinners for two at any one of practically endless romantic eateries, or strolls through rolling wine vineyards. If you’re looking for the best of the best, head to Annecy. Surrounded by the majestic French Alps, its divided by small canals and streams that run from the intensely blue Lac Annecy. Highlights include the popular terraces that line the canals, giving it a Venice-like feel, as well as the famous Palais de l’Isle, a picturesque 12th century castle built right in the middle of one of the canals. This town actually has more waterways than roads, allowing one to meander around islands linked by arched bridges cloaked in flowers, before exploring the charming shops and restaurants.
Bruges, Belgium (Hotel Prices & Photos)
What’s more romantic than spending the day in a fairy-tale medieval town with some delicious chocolate? Bruges is another top choice for a romantic getaway. Sometimes called the “Venice of the North,” it seems to be made just for strolling with a lover along its cobbled streets and peaceful canals, past 17th-century mansions, Gothic churches and flower markets. The Groeneri Canal is considered its most romantic of all with its lovely bridges and secret gardens. Here, even the government is in on the romance, with a statue near City Hall honoring couples who’ve married there. To complete the experience, be sure to enjoy a plate of moules mariniere (mussels) followed by sampling handmade chocolates and hot chocolate at De Proeverie.
Amsterdam, Netherlands (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Amsterdam, Netherlands is a fantastic destination for those seeking a rich cultural and romantic experience. Amsterdam is packed full of opportunities to explore and experience new things, with more than 100 kilometers of canals, 90 islands and about 1,500 bridges. A cruise along one of its canals is considered the number one tourist attraction in Amsterdam, and they’re a great way to see all that the city has to offer. During the day, explore the city by boat with a hop-on, hop-off experience, and take in the sights of 17th-century historical buildings with century-old colorful houseboats lining the canals. At night, take a romantic candlelight dinner cruise complete with wine and cheese while admiring the city lights and vibrant night-life.
Tigre, Argentina (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Tigre, Argentina, less than an hour train ride from Buenos Aires, is built around water and perfect for exploring by kayak or canoe. Many tourists relax the day away drinking, eating delicious barbeque, and daydreaming amongst beautiful rivers surrounded by a lush green atmosphere. You can hang out at one of the many canoe clubs, then float peacefully down the canal of carefree Tigre, surrounded by an abundance of plant and wildlife. After a long day of exploring, eating, and kayaking, couples might opt to spend the night at one of their spas, making Tigre the perfect place for a relaxing, romantic getaway.
Stockholm, Sweden (Hotel Prices & Photos)
If you’re looking for a romantic destination minus the tourists, Stockholm is a great choice. Spread across 14 islands, you’ll find plenty of water for romantic excursions along with impressive scenery. While Sweden is famous for its jaw-dropping landscapes, royal palaces and castles, and abundance of outdoor recreational activities like hiking, skiing, canoeing and cycling, in the summertime, renting a boat, canoe or kayak and drifting down one of its many canals is the perfect way to experience this city. Water makes up almost one-third of Stockholm, giving it its nickname, “Beauty on the Water.” Gota Canal is one of the top spots for romance, where there are plenty of moors you can dock at to explore 12th century churches, museums, restaurants and pubs.
Alleppey, India (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Alleppey, also known as Alappuzha, is a city on the Laccadive Sea. Often called the “Venice of India,” it’s an agricultural town gifted with natural beauty and rich cultural history. Its large network of serene canals in the rustic Kerala backwaters makes it a fabulous destination for romantic houseboat cruises. These thatched houseboats, called kettuvallams, were originally used to transport rice, and at some point in time were used as living quarters for royalty. Now, they have been renovated to accommodate tourists, with western-style toilets, a dining area, deck and even air conditioning. Many tourists spend the night on these houseboats, where they can take in beautiful sunsets, eat delicious local food, and float tranquilly into the night with only a lantern for light.
Giethoorn, Netherlands (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Another great destination if you’d rather not battle tourist crowds, this “Venice of the North” is a small, dreamy village situated about 75 miles north-east of Amsterdam and is especially peaceful as no cars are allowed. Instead, transportation is mainly on foot, by boat or bicycle – even the mailman delivers letters and packages by boat. There are some 180 bridges which cross over the picturesque canals and the loudest sound you’re likely to hear is the quacking of a duck. Rent a boat and paddle through the 56 miles of canals, or walk the footpaths that run beside them. You’ll find lots of canal-side eateries as well as cozy thatched cottages and even three canal-side museums along the way.
St. Petersburg, Russia (Hotel Prices & Photos)
St. Petersburg, Russia may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of a romantic getaway, but its awe-inspiring canals and architecture make for a fantastically romantic atmosphere. The Griboedov Canal is its most famous canal, a little over three miles in length, flowing right through the city’s center, where you can soak up impressive views of St. Petersburg’s spectacular architecture which includes extravagant palaces, cathedrals, and famous historical landmarks. The Griboedov Canal possesses an especially poetic charm, while the Potseluev Bridge, or the Bridge of Kisses, is a popular landmark that overlooks St. Isaac’s Cathedral. This is the spot that’s been legendary for couples who share a kiss before attaching a padlock to the bridge with their names. Legend has it that the longer the kiss on top of the bridge, the longer a couple will be happy.