Best romantic cities in the UK for a city break

Bath City

When you think of the most romantic cities, I’m sure your first thoughts are likely to be of enchanting Paris, magical Venice, and beautiful Bruges.

But it’s often easy to forget to look closer to home for travel inspiration. The UK has a whole host of romantic cities which I think are perfect for a couples getaway.

From fairytale cobbled streets and captivating architecture to candlelit restaurants and fun activities, UK cities have a lot of romance to offer.

Here I have rounded up my favourite romantic cities in the UK for a weekend getaway or day trip.

Whether you live in the UK and are looking for a couples staycation, or you live abroad and are visiting the UK for a romantic break, I’ve got you covered with my handpicked selection.

Author Bio: Jessie Moore

Jessie Moore is a luxury travel expert with years of experience travelling the world to find the best destinations, hotels and adventures.

1. Edinburgh

Best for: City filled with culture

Edinburgh is a welcoming and memorable city – once you visit, I have no doubt that you’ll want to return time and time again.

For all your art culture and medieval fantasies, Edinburgh has a lot to offer visitors.

With cobblestone streets and majestic buildings, it carries a romantic feel that is underpinned by the ultimate cosiness.

Full of charm and friendly locals, I think Edinburgh is one of the best romantic UK cities for a getaway. Aside from the enchanting Old Town, you can also enjoy the more cosmopolitan feel of the Georgian New Town.

There are free museums and arts festivals for the culture vultures. Edinburgh is also a great place for Harry Potter fans.

There are Michelin-starred restaurants for the foodies, or a buzzy nightlife for the party-goers.

Romantic Edinburgh

What to see

With plenty to see and do, Edinburgh is perfect for a romantic weekend break:

Edinburgh Castle: I’d recommend taking a couple of hours to explore the 12th century castle and learn all about its fascinating history. You can also enjoy spectacular views over the city. Book tickets here.

Ghost Tour: Learn about Edinburgh’s spooky history on a tantalising ghost tour. Enjoy an eerie stroll around the graveyards and narrow passageways of the city.

There’s nothing like a good fright to bring you closer together as a couple! Book your ghost tour here.

Free Museums: There are a number of free museums in Edinburgh, offering an educational insight into the history of the city. Perfect for couples who love to soak up a bit of culture.

For more ideas, have a read of my guide to the 15 best things to do in Edinburgh or check out my Edinburgh travel guide.

Where to stay

I can personally recommend staying at this Georgian Townhouse Airbnb. It has truly stunning interiors with the most friendly, welcoming hosts you could ask for. It’s an immaculate place to stay in a great location too.

For something a little different, I’d recommend staying at the Fingal Hotel – a luxury floating hotel on Edinburgh’s waterfront. Perfect for a romantic break, it even has decks for stargazing and Champagne.

Fingal Edinburgh

If the spa is your idea of heaven, then I’d suggest staying at the Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa. With a large swimming pool, a range of luxurious treatments and a rooftop hydropool, this hotel has everything you need for an indulgent escape.

Discover my guide to the best hotels in Edinburgh for more inspiration.

Where to eat

For locally sourced Scottish cuisine, I’d advise heading to Forage & Chatter for a delicious meal.

If you’re after something more casual, try Makars Mash Bar for all things mash! It may sound niche but it consistently wins TripAdvisor’s Casual Restaurant of the Year.

For the ultimate treat, opt for one of the Michelin-starred restaurants. There’s The Kitchin for fresh Scottish produce, or Martin Wishart for modern European cuisine.

2. York

Best for: Immense Viking history

With a rich Roman and Viking history, York is a city oozing with character and historical precedence. Dramatically surrounded by ancient walls, York was one of England’s most powerful medieval cities.

I think it’s this rich heritage that makes the city such a beautiful, interesting and romantic place to visit.

York is consistently voted one of the best places to live in the UK. With an abundance of culture, stunning views, and inviting riverside walks, I can see why.

There are plenty of independent shops to visit, as well as 365 pubs – yep, that’s one for every day of the year! Now that’s my kind of city.

The Shambles York

What to see

York Minster: Combining stained-glass windows and breathtaking architecture, York Minster is an impressive sight.

If you like a challenge, I’d recommend walking up the narrow 275 steps of the central tower for some incredible views. As the biggest medieval cathedral in Northern Europe, it’s not to be missed.

York’s Chocolate Story: York has a long history of chocolate making and what better way to learn about it than with an interactive tour of York’s chocolate story. Book tickets here.

The Shambles: You’ll likely have seen The Shambles in photos on social media or elsewhere.

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that it’s the prettiest street in the UK, and it was the inspiration for Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley.

Some of the buildings date back to the 14th century and the cobbled street is lined with sloping buildings. Book a York walking tour.

Where to stay

For a luxurious romantic getaway, I’d recommend staying at The Grand – the only 5-star hotel in York.

Another wonderful option for accommodation in York is to stay at the privately managed The Workshop, situated in the heart of the city.

Location-wise, I don’t think it gets much better than the Judge’s Lodging, overlooking York Minister.

The building itself is a fabulous Grade I listed Georgian townhouse, where charming decor meets wooden touches and earthy tones.

With impeccable service and an inviting spa, you’ll get a truly indulgent stay. Discover more hotels in York.

Where to eat

A unique dining experience can be found at Le Cochon Aveugle. The restaurant offers a blind tasting menu – just let them know any dietary requirements and let them create an unforgettable meal for you.

For a more casual but still fantastic meal, I’d suggest trying Solita – the home of the Wagyu burger. The food offering is truly mouth-watering.

3. Oxford

Best for: History-lover’s paradise

World-renowned for its academic prowess and ancient university, Oxford combines historical charm with a modern twist.

Known as The City of Dreaming Spires, Oxford has been home to scholars, prime ministers and royalty.

I love that it’s bursting with charming historical buildings, as well as plenty of colleges and museums to explore.

History aside, Oxford is a thriving business hub, with a growing community of tech companies and world-leading businesses.

It’s this combination of quintessential English charm and modern outputs that makes Oxford such an appealing and romantic city to visit in my opinion.

Plus, it’s an absolute dream for Harry Potter fans like myself, with countless filming locations to explore.

Oxford City

What to see

I think it’s difficult to choose three top attractions from a city that offers so much to visitors. But here are my top picks for a romantic break:

The Bodleian Library: There is something inherently romantic about a place with years of history and charm.

One of the oldest active libraries in the world, The Bodleian Library offers both free exhibitions and budget-friendly tours. It’s also a popular spot with Harry Potter fans.

Christ Church College: I think a visit to one of the Oxford colleges is a must. Bursting with history and heritage, Christ Church College is undoubtedly the most impressive.

Boasting unbeatable grandeur, the college comprises stately portraits, the imposing Great Hall and a 12th-century cathedral.

For a romantic summer day, enjoy a picnic on Christ Church Meadow and watch the world go by. There’s no better setting for it. Book a walking tour of the city and University.

Oxford Castle & Prison: For a little less charm but a lot more history, step back in time at the Oxford Castle and Prison.

Learn all about the fascinating history and soak up the eerie atmosphere. If you’re feeling energetic, climb the 101 steps of St George’s Towers for breathtaking views across the city. 1118.08

Where to stay

For a casual but wonderful place to stay, I’d recommend opting for The Head of the River. It’s a popular pub with riverside dining and gorgeous bedrooms.

If you’re seeking a 5 star establishment that oozes old world charm, I’d suggest staying at The Randolph Hotel. Relax in their Wellness Centre or enjoy soaking up the history of the city on the hotel’s complimentary bikes.

With first class views of Oxford’s most famous sites, Old Bank Hotel is a wonderful establishment to stay at. Here, the rooms are tastefully decorated and marble bathrooms add that extra luxurious touch.

If you prefer an Airbnb, check out this stunning apartment in central Oxford. Plus, with free parking, I think it’s a real steal. Browse and book hotels in Oxford.

Where to eat

Indulge in mouth-watering tapas at the popular Arbequina, for fantastic food and a buzzy atmosphere.

For something a little more decadent, I’d advise booking a table at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons from Raymond Blanc. With two Michelin stars, you will not find better food – or a more picturesque setting.

4. London

Best for: An eclectic mix of people

The thriving cosmopolitan capital of the UK, London is the perfect destination for a romantic UK city break. As my local city, I may be biased but I don’t think it gets much better than London.

From the rom-com inspired areas like Notting Hill to the ultimate luxury of areas like Knightsbridge, I knowo there’s something for every couple.

London is a truly seductive city for lovebirds. Enjoy cocktails with a view from The Shard, enjoy a West End show, or pay a visit to one of the many museums or art galleries. 

Spend your days ambling through the streets of London and taking in all the sights.

In the evening, choose one of the many exceptional eateries or Michelin-star restaurants to dine in and follow up with some cocktails at a world-renowned bar. 

Romantic London

What to see

The list is endless for things to see and do in London, but here are some of my personal favourites:

Natural History Museum: Forever popular for adults and children alike, the Natural History Museum is simply unmissable.

Even better, I’d recommend visiting during one of their Lates, which takes place on the last Friday of each month. You can explore the museum with a bottle of wine in hand – it’s the ultimate date night.

Or if you visit near Christmas, you can go ice-skating right outside the museum for the most amazing wintery backdrop to your skating. Book a private guided tour.

London Zoo: For a fun daytime activity, visit London Zoo – the world’s oldest scientific zoo. Get up close and personal with the animals and enjoy a number of talks and activities. Book your tickets here.

West End Show: London’s West End is the heart of theatre and musicals. The perfect way to spend an evening with your loved one, go for dinner and enjoy one of the many spectacular shows on offer.

Where to stay

Again, you’re spoilt for choice with places to stay in London. For something a little unique, I’d recommend staying at the Artist Residence London – a quirky boutique hotel that offers eclectic luxury.

For a more stately option, I know you can’t go wrong with a stay at The Goring, a historic luxury hotel in Belgravia. 

The Goring Hotel

If you’d prefer something a little less grand, try The Hoxton in Southwark. A perfect location for exploring London and offering a cosy, creative stay.

For contemporary touches, I’d suggest the Hilton London Bankside hotel. With an exclusive lounge and a specialist gin bar on site, this hotel makes for a lovely stay.

Think wood-panelled walls, comfy beds and exposed brick. For more ideas, check out my handpicked selection of the best luxury hotels in London, or the best hotels for solo travellers.

Where to eat

Winner of the most romantic restaurant in London, I think Clos Maggiore is the perfect option for dinner with your better half. Serving modern French cruising and an exceptional wine list, all within a beautiful flower-filled setting.

For the steak lovers amongst you, I’d say a visit to one of the Hawksmoor restaurants is a must.

Or, for a decadent Russian-inspired dinner, I love Bob Bob Ricard – famous for its ‘press for Champagne’ button.

5. Bath

Best for: Independent boutiques and artisan stores

Bath is a truly beautiful city, with its renowned Georgian architecture, sand-coloured townhouses and recognisable sweeping crescents.

I really love this city and it brings a strong historical presence with its famous Roman baths and former resident Jane Austen.

Add to this charm a healthy amount of greenery and it’s easy to see why photogenic Bath is the perfect UK city for a romantic getaway.

Surrounded by rural farms and rolling countryside, Bath benefits from fantastic local produce.

This makes for an impressive selection of independent shops and eateries, as well as some fantastic restaurants.

With year-round festivals, Bath is a hub for theatre, music and sport. Plus, it’s easily accessible from London if you’re looking to escape the capital.

You’ve also got the beautiful Cotswolds on the doorstep.

Bath City

What to see

From spas and wellbeing to literature and sport, there really is something for everyone in Bath. Here are my favourite picks:

Roman Baths: Bath is a centre for wellness, with its thermal hot springs. Visit the Roman Baths and explore this unique historic site.

For some spa-time to yourself, bathe in the naturally warm, mineral-rich waters of the Thermae Bath Spa while admiring the breathtaking views of the city from the rooftop pool.

Jane Austen Centre: One for the literature lovers, Bath is the number one destination for Jane Austen fans.

The Jane Austen Centre is an interactive museum where you can learn all about Jane’s life and time in Bath. Book tickets here.

Hot Air Balloon: For something really special, I’d recommend experiencing a hot air balloon ride over beautiful Bath.

Launch from Royal Victoria Park and enjoy a Champagne flight. Not one you’ll forget in a hurry!

Where to stay

For a luxury stay in a hotel with an award-winning restaurant and spa, I’d recommend booking into The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa.

Set within beautiful gardens and offering spectacular views, it’s sure to be a special stay for your romantic getaway.

For elegant rooms and suites with opulent touches, try Bathen House Boutique Hotel.

If you’re after a more budget-friendly option, check out Henrietta House – a charming B&B with character and elegance in equal measures.

Or stay in an Airbnb complete with four-poster bed on the gorgeous Great Pulteney Street – I’ve stayed here myself and can highly recommend it.

Find and book hotels in Bath.

Where to eat

The Circus Restaurant is a great option for modern European food. Situated in a Georgain building and with soft lighting, it’s a great spot for a romantic dinner.

For the wine lovers, I’d recommend paying a visit to Corkage, a restaurant and wine bar.

Get access to my Cotswolds travel guide

I have curated all of my Cotswolds knowledge and recommendations into one comprehensive guide, complete with an interactive map, filtering options and itineraries. 

It’s available to buy through Rexby and you can preview parts of it for free. Get in touch if you have any questions about my Cotswolds guide!

6. Cardiff

Best for: Coastal retreat

The capital of Wales, Cardiff is a popular European city. It offers a tantalising mix of old and new culture, combining romantic historical landmarks with modern architecture.

Cardiff is a melting pot of culture, with a strong presence of museums, art, film, and music. For the shopping enthusiasts, Cardiff offers endless arcades of independent shops, cafes and boutiques.

Add to this an impressive number of pubs and bars. Cardiff is also known for its sports offering, being particularly famous for rugby.

Just outside of Cardiff itself is beautiful countryside and gorgeous coasts – which I think is perfect for escaping the buzz of the city.

Romantic Cardiff

What to see

From castle visits to boat trips, there’s plenty to see and do on your romantic city break to Cardiff. Here are my top picks:

Cardiff Castle: Originating from Roman times, Cardiff Castle sits right in the centre of the city.

It underwent a Gothic transformation in Victorian times, leaving it with extravanage features and lavish interiors. I’d recommend embarking on a guided tour to learn the history behind this ancient fort. 

Cardiff Bay: A beautiful dockland area with a backdrop of interesting buildings.

From historical features, such as a Norwegian church and a neo-gothic pierhead to the modern Wales Millenium Centre and the Mermaid Quay commercial centre.

Boat Trip: For something a little different, I’d suggest taking a boat trip to see the city from a different angle.

Take in the local coastline, scenery and wildlife with a coastal trip, or pay a visit to Flat Holm Island.

Where to stay

Hotel One Hundred is a boutique-style B&B that combines period charm with modern interiors. It’s a family-owned hotel located a 12 minute walk from the city centre, plus it won’t break the bank.

For a hotel with more amenities, I’d advise staying at Hotel Indigo. It offers boutique bedrooms with bespoke design, a fitness centre, and rooftop terrace. It also has a Marco Pierre White Steakhouse to dine and relax at.

Another great option for a stay in Cardiff is the Cardiff Marriott Hotel. Offering comfortable rooms in a great location, this establishment is perfect for a romantic trip away.

Discover and book hotels in Cardiff.

Where to eat

The Grazing Shed is a great option for burger lovers, with burgers made from the finest quality ingredients. It’s a casual spot where you’ll be in and out quite quickly.

For something a little out of the ordinary, I’d recommend eating at fine-dining restaurant The Clink. What’s different about it?

Well, it’s within a prison and is run by prison inmates in training. But don’t worry about the quality – it consistently holds the number one spot on TripAdvisor.

7. Belfast

Best for: Local history

The vibrant capital of Northern Ireland, Belfast is a city with a troubled history and rich cultural appeal.

It may not be the first UK city you think of when looking for a romantic getaway, but I can assure you that it has plenty to offer couples.

With stunning scenery and famous landmarks, I know you won’t be short of things to do in Belfast.

You’ll find world-class restaurants and bars for delectable food and drink. Or spend some time soaking up the long and complex history of the city.

And let’s not forget the friendly people – I’d recommend settling down with a couple of drinks in a traditional pub and get to know the locals.

Belfast City

What to see

From the Titanic and Game of Thrones to walks and landmarks, here are my top suggestions for what to see in Belfast:

Titanic Belfast: The world’s largest Titanic visitor experience, take the chance to explore the famous ship in an interactive and insightful way. Book tickets here.

Cave Hill Country Park: Enjoy a romantic but challenging walk through Cave Hill Country Park. Take in the archaeological sites, beautiful gardens and panoramic views.

Game of Thrones tour: For fans of the popular series, a Game of Thrones tour is a must. Visit the recognisable landmarks used in the series and get the insider scoop. Book your tour here.

Where to stay

If luxury is what you’re after from a romantic UK city break, I know you’ll find it at The Merchant Hotel. With spacious art deco rooms and an excellent spa, it’s a top pick for a special occasion.

The Fitzwilliam Hotel Belfast offers modern boutique bedrooms and a chic restaurant serving up delectable dishes, making it a great choice.

For an option that won’t melt your credit card, I’d suggest choosing a unique Airbnb. This Hot Tub House is the perfect spot for a romantic city break.

Plus, it’s right in the centre of the city so you don’t have to compromise on location.

Find and book hotels in Belfast.

Where to eat

Hadskis is an award-winning restaurant serving European cuisine in a modern setting. Enjoy Irish steak, homemade pasta, and great wine. 

I think Coco Restaurant is ideal for a romantic meal with your better half. With a relaxed atmosphere and delicious food, it’s a classy restaurant with a ‘date night’ offer from Monday to Thursday.

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8. Cambridge

Best for: Stunning architecture

In my opinion, Cambridge is about as charming as UK cities get. Similar to Oxford, the university is the real centrepiece of the city, with ancient colleges and a resounding feel of academic achievement.

With beautiful architecture, cobbled streets and leafy meadows, Cambridge is a wonderfully romantic destination.

Roam the pretty passageways on foot or by bike and go punting down the river for a unique and romantic experience.

I’d recommend exploring the many museums, libraries, and historic pubs, or immerse yourself in the history and tradition of the iconic UK city.

Romantic Cambridge

What to see

Simply meandering around the cobbled streets of Cambridge is enough to keep you entertained. But for some romantic activities, here are my top picks of things to see and do:

Punting: A romantic getaway to Cambridge would not be complete without putting down the river. I’d advise opting for a private tour with a chauffeur so you can sit back and relax.

Punting Down The River in Cambridge

Visit the Colleges: Visit the three most well-known colleges of Cambridge University: King’s, St John’s and Trinity.

From Gothic Chapels and breathtaking libraries to stunning grounds and film locations – there’s plenty to explore at the colleges.

The Fitzwilliam Museum: For a culture hit, I’d suggest visiting The Fitzwilliam Museum – the art and antiquities museum of the University of Cambridge.

It’s housed in a beautiful building where you can wander the various galleries and exhibits.

Where to stay

For a gorgeous luxury hotel, I really love The University Arms in the heart of Cambridge. Recently refurbished, the hotel offers beautiful interiors and impressive dining options.

Contemporary bedrooms and understated opulence greet you at The Fellows House Cambridge, where you can dine in style.

If you’d prefer a more affordable and homely option, I’d suggest 5 Chapel Street. A small Georgian townhouse that brings a cosy, cottagey feel. It features traditional rooms which have been lovingly restored.

Read my guide to the best hotels in Cambridge for more inspiration, or discover my pick of the best spas in and around Cambridge.

Where to eat

For a budget blow-out meal, I’d recommend booking a table at Trinity. An elegant, contemporary restaurant offering English seafood and meat.

Known for its oysters and Champagne offering, it’s a real treat for a romantic dinner.

If you’re looking for a more casual affair, head to The Eagle pub. Dating back to the 14th century, it is one of the oldest inns in Cambridge.

It’s famous for being the place where Watson and Crick announced their discovery of DNA! You’ll find classic pub grub and cask ales for a traditional British experience.

Seek out my guides to the best breakfast and brunch spots in Cambridge, as well as the best cafés and coffee shops in Cambridge.

So there you have it, my top romantic UK city picks for a couples getaway! Let me know any of your favourite romantic UK city breaks in the comments below.

For more UK travel inspiration, you may also like:

Jessie Moore
Jessie Moore

Jessie is a luxury travel expert with years of experience travelling the world to find the best destinations, hotels and adventures.

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