Europe, Travel

How To “Romance Yourself” Around Europe

February 17, 2013
Sidecar Tour in Lisbon.

How To “Romance Yourself” Around Europe

“I’d love to go Paris. But it’s way too romantic. I have to wait until I find a boyfriend so I don’t have to go alone.”

I’ve heard women say these kinds of things. While it’s great to be coupled, do you really want to wait to be able to visit places the dream about?

I’m here to tell you that as a single woman and solo traveller, that you do not have to wait. You shouldn’t wait. Why would you when there’s such a beautiful world out there to experience? If you have the time, the desire, and the means, book that trip!

Being single is not a bad thing. As any boyfriend or husband might romance you, you can also experience romance alone. It’s simply a matter of being good to yourself.

How To “Romance Yourself” Around Europe

Sidecar Tour in Lisbon.I’m not the type of person who likes waiting. Patience is definitely not one of my virtues. If I want to eat dinner at a fabulous restaurant, I go there alone. If I want to see a movie, I feel comfortable watching it by myself. If I want some pretty flowers to cheer me up, I buy them. I feel the same way about travel.

So one day, I moved to Berlin and happily spent most of my time there romancing myself around Europe. Here are my top ten ways to experience love and romance as a solo female traveller. Oh, and it works for solo male travellers too!

1) Watch the sunrise over the Mediterranean at Cap de Creus

While on a blog trip in Costa Brava, I convinced Richard from Charming Villas to take me out to Cap de Creus to watch the sunrise over the Mediterranean even though it was an ungodly hour and I was terribly hung over.

While the other bloggers slept in, I stood at what felt like the edge of the world and watched this glorious sunrise unfold before me.

Sunrise at Cap De CreusCap de Creus is one of the most beautiful natural areas of Spain. If you make it there, be sure to stop by Restaurante Cap De Creus for a drink and a bite to eat with this as your backdrop.

2) Witness the sunset over the Danube in Budapest

Spending a weekend in Budapest, I stayed at the glorious Four Seasons Gresham Palace in a room with a Danube View. When dusk arrived, I stood breathless on my terrace as I saw the transformation of Budapest as it changed from day into night.

Budapest At DuskAs the sunset over the Danube, I fell even more in love with my favorite city on earth. If a glimpse of Buda is not enough, I recommend heading to the Buda Castle district, to catch darkness slowly descending on the Pest side of the city.

3) Stay at Hotel Rivalago in Sulzano, Italy

Spending three days visiting the Italian lakes of Iseo and Garda, I was captivated by the quiet understated beauty of the smaller Lake Iseo.

Leaving the door to my terrace open at night, I was lulled to sleep by the sound of the water gently lapping against the shore. Waking up and taking breakfast here couldn’t have made my stay at the Hotel Rivalago any more romantic.

Hotel Rivalago in Sulzano, Italy.

4) Take a cooking class and learn how to cook dumplings outside in the Italian Alps

Taking a cooking class outside in Italy with the alps surrounding you from all sides takes romance to a new level.

This is a very happy me at the Gostner Schwaige in Alpe Di Siusi, laughing when the chef told me that my dumpling making skills were meagre at best.

Dumpling Class Gostner SchwaigeIf cooking classes aren’t your thing, at least stop by the mountain hut for lunch or dinner. The food whipped up by chef Franz Mulser is incredible.

5) Hike through the Italian Alps

I am sure you’re not surprised that Italy figures so prominently on this list. It’s one hell of a romantic country and I found myself called back by that seductive temptress four times last year!

Hiking through the charming and quaint Alpe Di Siusi not only helps you work off the pounds gained by indulging on all of that Tyrolean cooking, but is a great way to experience the romance and allure of the Italian Alps.

Alpe Di Siusi.

6) Race through the streets of Lisbon on a motorcycle and side car tour

Lisbon is a hot sexy city and there’s no better way to explore it than by taking a motorcycle and sidecar tour at night.

Jump on vintage hog and race through the streets with a knowledgeable tour guide (possibly one gentleman named Hannibal) who will not only highlight the city’s main attractions but also take you to a couple of vantage points where you can watch the sunset.

The very first picture featured in this post was snapped by a friend as I was staring out into the vividly coloured Lisbon sunset.

Sidecar Tour Lisbon

7) Have Dinner at Belga Queen in Brussels

Ladies, if you want to feel like a queen for the day than romance yourself and have dinner at Belga Queen in Brussels. This swanky designer restaurant set in a historical property takes pride in using only locally supplied ingredients in all of their dishes. If you really want to feel like you’re living large, you can enjoy their oyster bar and cigar lounge too.

Belga Queen in Brussels.Perhaps you’ve already filled up on frites, chocolate and waffles during your time in Brussels? Then opt for the lighter seafood tasting menu which I highly recommend as both healthy and delicious. 

8) Ride a donkey through the mountains in Umbria

Forget for a moment that donkeys don’t smell very nice or that they have a mind of their own and stop to eat grass whenever they feel like (as did my steed Daphne here).

Imagine riding a donkey in Umbria’s Monti Sibillini National Park through Castelluccio plateau, sitting at 1500 meters above sea level. The landscape is stark, dramatic, lonely and surreal and you feel as if you’re the only person on the planet.

Monti Sibillini National Park

Prepare yourself for a quiet, contemplative journey as you make your way along the plateau running only into an occasional shepherd herding sheep. It’s an uniquely stunning part of Italy that will stay in your mind long after you leave.

9) Watch flag throwing men in tights perform ancient traditions

Do you remember Under the Tuscan Sun when the young Polish boy entered a flag throwing competition to impress his Italian girlfriend and her family? While a bit odd (I mean couldn’t he have found a more manly way to show his love?), his gesture was totally romantic.

Maybe you don’t have a Polish boy donning a pair of tights for you but you can still watch these performers in Umbria through Compagnia Sbandieratori e Musici di Città della Pieve, a group who takes a great amount of pride in preserving their ancient traditions.

Flag Throwing in Umbria. I watched these amazing young men and women perform in Umbria last year at a resort just outside of Assisi.

10) Walk through a park on a beautiful fall day in Berlin

This list would not be complete without mention of my Berlin home. While graffiti filled Berlin can’t compete with the romance heavy Paris or Rome, it doesn’t mean the city is without its romantic spots.

The large, forested parks of Berlin are perfect for sleeping a summer’s afternoon away under the sun, impromptu BBQ’s with friends and long bike rides. In autumn, the parks become even more beautiful as the leaves begin to change color, fall off the trees and carpet the ground.

Fall in Berlin. I took this picture while taking an uber romantic walk by myself through Volkspark Friedrichshain in Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg area, on a crisp November morning.

Romancing Yourself. Are you up for the challenge ladies? How about you men? Could you get over your shyness and experience romance all on your own? Have you ever gone to a romantic place alone? Tell us all about it in the comments below.

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28 Comments

  • Reply D.J. - The World of Deej February 17, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    So, being a dude, I can’t exactly relate. However, I think the overall theme still applies…there really should be no excuse not to visit these great destinations, solo or not.

  • Reply Matthew Hirtes February 17, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    I think this post applies to guys as much as gals. Thanks for the tips, Cheryl. I look forward to following at least some of them.

    • Reply Cheryl Howard February 17, 2013 at 5:33 pm

      @DJ and @Matthew – Of course, you’re both right and I’ll modify the text to say dudes can do it too. 🙂

      The reason I aimed this article at women was that I seem to hear the excuse from them more than I hear it from men. They have some romantic idealized notion that one can’t explore France or Italy without a man by their side which I find completely absurd.

  • Reply Jeremy Branham February 17, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    Great suggestions. I think the key to this is finding beautiful places and interesting things that put a smile on your face and make you grateful for being alive 🙂

    • Reply Cheryl Howard February 17, 2013 at 5:34 pm

      @Jeremy – Thanks! You are very right. As I look back at all those experiences, that’s certainly very true. I hope that both men and women can enjoy these places all the same. 🙂

  • Reply Wenie Langacre February 17, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    I’ve been dreaming of visiting Alpe Di Siusi!
    I would say that it’s one of the perfect places that I wanted to visit this year.
    Having a romantic walk with my special someone, aw.. that’s sweet.

  • Reply Cathy Sweeney February 17, 2013 at 11:42 pm

    I totally get this & agree with you. Although I’m often traveling & enjoying romantic places with my husband, I’ve also traveled a lot on my own. I’ve never let being alone keep me from experiencing & appreciating romantic places. Love the selection of places you chose!

    • Reply Cheryl Howard February 18, 2013 at 5:54 am

      @Cathy – Thank you! I like that you travel both alone and with your husband – best of both worlds. 🙂

  • Reply Chelsey O'Connor February 18, 2013 at 6:05 am

    What a great blog post Cheryl! It was extremely brave and adventurous of you to take off like you did and romance yourself around Europe and it looks like you had an amazing time! It is definitely something to look up to. Your post put the travel itch back in my feet.

    • Reply Cheryl Howard February 18, 2013 at 10:43 am

      @Chelsey – Thank you so much! And whoo hoo, hope to see you travelling soon. 🙂

  • Reply Laurel February 18, 2013 at 2:59 am

    Great list! I agree that if there’s somewhere you want to go you shouldn’t wait until you have someone to do it with – life is too short. Plus you experience things differently if you travel alone than if you’re traveling someone. You can always go alone and then go again with someone.

    • Reply Cheryl Howard February 18, 2013 at 6:01 am

      @Laurel – Thanks. That’s true! I’d love to experience all of these moments again with someone special. 😉

  • Reply Udo Weisner, Jo Igele Reiseblog February 18, 2013 at 4:26 am

    For me a very outstanding list of ways to romance yourself around Europe. But I saw it`s not written for me, it`s written for solo female travellers.

    • Reply Cheryl Howard February 18, 2013 at 10:42 am

      @Udo – Thank you. As stated above it’s mainly aimed at women with hopes it will give them the courage to travel more. Of course, this list works for guys too.

  • Reply A Montrealer Abroad (@amontrealer) February 18, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    YES! I love this post. There are so many ways to travel to Europe solo and not be bored or lonely even once. You demonstrated that quite nicely here 🙂

    • Reply Cheryl Howard February 18, 2013 at 3:20 pm

      @A Montrealer Abroad Awww, thank you! You’re very right … especially when we’re on fun blog trips to Spain! 😉

  • Reply Stephanie - The Travel Chica February 19, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    That’s the right attitude! I went to Paris with a girlfriend to celebrate her birthday, and I had a great time. Don’t need a romantic interest with you to appreciate the romance of a city.

    • Reply Cheryl Howard February 19, 2013 at 10:18 pm

      @Stephanie – Thanks! I think so too. Paris with a good friend sounds great. 🙂

  • Reply no travel required: our top travel blog posts of the day February 21, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    […] We realized like 5 minutes into our Switzerland trip that we had basically planned a honeymoon for ourselves. Whatevs. How To “Romance Yourself” Around Europe. […]

  • Reply La Prima Fashion Hotel in Budapest, Hungary. | cherylhoward.com February 24, 2013 at 10:10 pm

    […] Pretty romantic right? You know me, the ever solo female traveller – I’m comfortable romancing myself alone around Europe. […]

  • Reply Sherry February 26, 2013 at 3:17 am

    Great ideas! Seem like a lot centered around Italy. But you who can blame you, it’s one of the most romantic countries I’ve been to in the world. I have to try the other places, too.

    • Reply Cheryl Howard February 26, 2013 at 10:44 am

      @Sherry – Thanks and yes, I was in Italy a lot during 2012 so it figured heavily on my list. And it’s soooooo romantic there that even if I had been only once, it would have been on the list the same number of times. 🙂

  • Reply Sam @ Travellingking.com June 26, 2013 at 6:48 am

    Great post thanks so much! We are planning a trip to Europe in 2014/2015. You have given me some great ideas!

    • Reply Cheryl Howard June 26, 2013 at 11:21 am

      Hi Sam – Glad you enjoyed the post and I hope you can enjoy even just one of these experiences. 🙂

  • Reply Ross November 27, 2013 at 5:30 am

    Great post and great ideas. I have been to Italy many times and always find it brilliant. I must keep you Italian thoughts in mind the next time I’m there.

    • Reply Cheryl Howard November 27, 2013 at 8:38 am

      Glad you liked. Italy is a place that I will return to many times over as well … 🙂

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