Brace Yourself, Paris. Lisbon Is Europe’s Most Romantic Capital City

Vacationing couples in Lisbon, Portugal, this Valentine’s Day are in for more than a chocolate treat. New research analyzing Trip Advisor’s data for European capital cities shows that Lisbon has 152 romantic hotels and 588 romantic restaurants, ranking it as the top city for lovebirds.

The study determined its findings by accounting for each capital city’s population and area relative to the number of hotels and restaurants that Trip Advisor lists as romantic. Lisbon has an impressive 278 romantic hotels per million people and 1,077 romantic restaurants per million people.

Where Does the City of Love Rank?

Paris, a French city where even the rain is romanticized, comes in third place as Europe’s most romantic capital city, according to Catamaran Charter Croatia’s study. 

Love isn’t the only time when looks can be deceiving, though. Couples have more accommodation and restaurant options in Paris than in Lisbon, with nearly twice as many romantic hotels and almost 2.5 as many romantic restaurants. But from a ratio perspective, Paris’ romantic hotel and restaurant industry is lacking. Paris is only five square kilometers larger than Lisbon, but its population is nearly four times as big.

In contrast, Monaco, which ranks as the second most romantic capital city in Europe, has a measly six romantic hotels and 54 romantic restaurants. However, the city is only 2.1 square kilometers and has a population of 36,686, ranking it firmly above Paris. 

Romantic restaurants and hotels aside, there are other reasons why couples may forgo vacationing in Paris. Incessant crowds and the feeling that Paris is too cliche can cause partners to look elsewhere in Europe for an intimate holiday.

Trading Croissants for Pastéis de Nata

Lisbon isn’t known for romanticized icons like the Eiffel Tower, but it has its own set of attractions that lure in couples wanting a romantic getaway. 

Casandra Karpiak, travel writer and co-owner of Savoteur, has been to both Lisbon and Paris. She comments, “I’m not surprised at all that Lisbon beat out cities like Paris for most romantic city. The weather is mild for most of the year, strolling hand in hand along the Tagus River is perfect for couples of all ages and catching a sunset at Miradouro de Senhora do Monte is so memorable you will linger long after the sun has gone down. Not to mention the Portuguese locals are just about the friendliest people in Europe.”

From a consumer perspective, Lisbon is nearly 32% cheaper than Paris. So, couples staying in Lisbon may have more financial wiggle room to try additional romantic restaurants or upgrade their hotels. Using a travel debit card can further help reduce costs, allowing partners to use the money they save to splurge on pastéis de nata, Portugal’s famous custard tart.

Prakash Kolli from Dividend Power weighs in on the Lisbon trip he and his wife took before they had children. “We loved Lisbon because of its ambiance, climate, food, and wine. Lisbon is still reasonably priced and out of the way compared to other European cities. The city is charming with its Old World feel and sunsets.” 

Why You Shouldn’t Discount Paris

Paris’ smaller ratio of romantic hotels and restaurants hasn’t deterred couples from wanting to tie the knot there. According to a study analyzing hashtags on Instagram like #shesaidyes and #proposal, the Eiffel Tower ranked as the second best place to propose. Central Park in New York City came in first.

It goes to show that many couples aren’t concerned about the number of romantic hotels and restaurants per million people a city offers.

The subjective nature of this research can’t be overlooked. Some couples may view sharing a crepe from a street vendor along the bank of the Seine River as more romantic than eating at one of Paris’ 88 Michelin-star restaurants. Yet, the street stall wouldn’t make Trip Advisor’s cut as a romantic restaurant venue.

Most Romantic Cities in Europe Ranked

If you’re looking to book a last-minute Valentine’s Day trip but don’t know where to start, below are the top ten European cities that have hotels and restaurants catering to romantic getaways.

RankingCountryCityPopulationNo. of Romantic RestaurantsNo. of Romantic Restaurants per million peopleNo of Romantic HotelsNo. of Romantic Hotels Per Million People
4San MarinoSan Marino33,6601853514416
6AndorraAndorra la Vella22,886231,0053131
9Czech RepublicPrague1,352,374399295246182

The data revealed promising results for European capitals with small populations hoping to get on a vacationing couple’s radar. Opening a romantic hotel or restaurant in Andorra la Vella moves the needle more than adding the same number of hotels or restaurants in more populous cities like Rome.

Vacations Fit for Romeo and Juliette 

Partners who enjoy having many choices when traveling are better off analyzing the total number of romantic restaurants and hotels rather than the number per million people.

Even though Rome, Italy, ranks as the fifth most romantic capital city in Europe, it has about nine times the number of romantic hotels as Lisbon and 457 times more than Andorra la Vella. Furthermore, Rome has 650 romantic hotels with a four plus star rating on Trip Advisor, the greatest number of four plus star hotels in the study.

London didn’t make the cut as a romantic European capital. However, Trip Advisor shows it has the highest number of romantic restaurants overall. It’ll need to increase its number of romantic hotels before standing a chance at ranking in this study, though.

A Match Made in Europe

Regardless of which European city couples choose for their romantic vacation, one thing many agree on is that shared experiences together are what make a getaway special. Romantic restaurants and hotels are just the icing on the pastéis de nata.

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