11 Fairytale Minimoon Escapes in Europe

Lake Bled, in Slovenia, has become a popular minimoon destination
Lake Bled, in Slovenia, has become a popular minimoon destination | © Chon Kit Leong / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Cassam Looch
Social Editor10 November 2020

The honeymoon experience is an impossible dream for many couples at the moment. Culture Trip explores a viable alternative that has gained popularity in 2020, with some ideas for European destinations you need to consider as travel returns. Whether you dream of strolling along the streets of Paris, or taking a boat on Lake Bled, Slovenia, here are the 11 most romantic places to escape to when travel allows.

Romance is guaranteed on a boat ride around the islands of the Lac Inferieur, Paris | © Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo

For more inspiration, also check out Culture Trip’s recent guide to the most beautiful cities in the world.

What is a minimoon?

The term “minimoon” is admittedly not all that imaginative. It’s a play on “honeymoon,” which itself comes from an unknown origin with one dubious claim stating that it relates to the first month of a marriage as it is the “sweetest.”

Honeymoons are however a traditional part of most cultures. Couples often spend as much time (and money) planning their romantic first few weeks together as they do on the wedding itself. As such, a depressing number of people have had to cancel or postpone their luxury trips away together, as long-haul flights have been cut during the global pandemic.

A romantic gondola ride around the canals is a popular activity in Venice, Italy | © Randolph Images / Alamy Stock Photo

Minimoons offer a cheaper alternative. Usually lasting no longer than a week, the short breaks are designed around domestic or continental travel. The plan is still to have a romantic escape from your home town and do all the things newlyweds do, but without the stress and expense of a long-distance flight. If you get creative with your choices, and that’s exactly what Culture Trip are here to help you with, you can then still plan a more traditional honeymoon next year.

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  • Romantic places to stay in Europe

    Here’s our list of some old favourites mixed with unheralded treasures that you should think about when planning your minimoon. These places also work if you’re several years into a relationship and just want a nice break away together, as well.

    Paris, France

    Let’s start with an old favourite. Arguably the most romantic city in the world, Paris has claimed the title of City of Love for many years now. There is a sense of drama and sweeping passion in everything the city has to offer – from the food to the fashion. Everything has to be delivered with style, and although sometimes daunting, it’s definitely worth all the effort. One thing that is easy is getting to Paris, as the city is one of the best connected in the world. This is the perfect place for a short weekend away for all couples, and ideal for a minimoon, too.

    Paris J'Adore

    Hotel
    Paris J'Adore
    Courtesy of Paris J'Adore / Expedia
    Price Drop
    Now from $364 per night

    Smart and sassy perfectly describes this fabulous hotel in the heart of Paris. The rooms have an eye-opening variety of options to spice up any stay, including ensuite Jacuzzis and private terraces overlooking the city. Some rooms even come with a swing!

    More info

    Toulouse, France

    Nicknamed the Pink City, Toulouse in the south of France has a unique charm that is quite hard to define. The soft coral colours of the rooftops and shops, which give the city its nickname, add a touch of whimsy. The local accent is one that even the French think is the sexiest in all the land, so if nothing else, you’re in for an aural treat in Toulouse. That said, the gourmet restaurants and dishes are some of the best in the world, too. For film lovers there’s even a hotel that is hidden away behind the façade of an old movie theatre.

    Hôtel la Flanerie

    Hotel
    4.3/5 (128 Reviews)
    Hôtel la Flanerie
    Courtesy of Hôtel la Flanerie / Expedia
    Something more unassuming than the admittedly exuberant choice for Paris, this hotel reflects the calming ambience of the city itself. We’re pitching Toulouse as a clever option that is within easy reach for a short break that won’t break the bank – La Flanerie meets the romance on a budget criteria, too.
    More info

    Istanbul, Turkey

    About as exotic as a European holiday can get, Istanbul is a vibrant city that is an alluring mix of diverse inspirations. The art scene is booming, combining modern influences with traditional styles. This heady mix of cultures is evident across the city everywhere you look, and if you’re looking for somewhere to transport you away from the drudgery of everyday life for a few days, then Turkey is an outstanding choice.

    A'Jia Hotel

    Boutique Hotel
    4.6/5 (77 Reviews)
    Price Drop
    Now from $236 per night

    If you’re anything like us, you’ve already taken the 3D tour on the hotel website and decided to stay here as soon as possible. This award-winning boutique hotel is on the banks of the Bosphorus and is styled around a traditional Ottoman mansion.

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    Venice, Italy

    Venice is usually the first place most people think of when planning romantic holidays. Popularised in films, books and music, the Italian city is perfect for a short getaway at any time of the year. With visitor numbers still relatively low as the effects of coronavirus are still felt across the Italian tourism industry, this might be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to explore the canals and narrow streets devoid of other tourists.

    Ca Maria Adele

    Hotel, Guesthouse
    4.9/5 (194 Reviews)
    Ca Maria Adele
    Courtesy of Ca Maria Adele / Expedia
    Price Drop
    Now from $250 per night
    Situated in the Art District of Venice, Ca Maria Adele is often pictured in many images of Venice. Its façade is part of the world-famous view from Piazza San Marco, but it’s the interiors that actually make it one of the most romantic places to stay in the world. The opulence is a throwback to the heyday of the city, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more perfect minimoon destination in Europe.
    More info

    Rome, Italy

    Florence almost made the list, in fact this entire list could easily be just a selection of Italian cities, but we’ve gone with Rome as the other entry from Italy. The Eternal City is full of history and culture everywhere you look, and the relaxed attitude of the locals will help put you at ease when you visit. The city is bustling with energy, obviously, but it’s so big that you can easily find your own spot here. The food, wine and candlelit plazas are a must for minimoon enthusiasts.

    Crossing Condotti

    Hotel
    4.8/5 (81 Reviews)
    Crossing Condotti
    Courtesy of Crossing Condotti / Expedia
    Price Drop
    Now from $289 per night

    A modern hotel in Rome might not instantly highlight the ancient treasures of the city, but that’s the point. This artsy hotel is a small, comfortable home away from home that makes you feel instantly at ease with your wider surroundings. You’re only a short walk from some of the famed landmarks of the city, so make sure you’ve checked out all the relevant guides to Rome before you stay here, as you’ll have plenty to see and do.

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    Valletta, Malta

    Malta is widely regarded as a great summer holiday destination by many Europeans, but is it really a viable minimoon alternative? The capital, Valletta, is divided by ancient walls that surround the Old City and makes for an excellent base for your visit, but to see the best of the country make sure you plan excursions beyond the city limits. The incredible blue waters around the coast are an incredible sight to behold, and will go some way to convincing you that Malta is a great choice for a romantic break.

    Casa Ellul

    Boutique Hotel, Hotel
    4.6/5 (110 Reviews)
    Casa Ellul
    Courtesy of Casa Ellul / Expedia
    Price Drop
    Now from $145 per night
    Casa Ellul is a luxury boutique hotel that dates back to the Victorian era. You can identify a multitude of architectural styles as you explore the city, and this hotel reflects those influences, too. Many rooms in Valletta can be described as humble, but there’s nothing restrained here. If you’re really looking to splash out make sure you opt for some of the suites that include big rooftop terraces.
    More info

    Budapest, Hungary

    The remarkable capital of Hungary is a favourite with European travellers of all ages. Solo travellers love its easy-to-navigate streets, and it has a family-friendly ambience that makes the most of a diverse make-up of neighbourhoods. There is also plenty on offer for couples, with intimate buildings providing excellent places to stay if you want to hide away from the world outside. Budapest is also one of the best-value places to visit in Europe, so its worth considering if you’re saving up for a big trip later on.

    Four Seasons Gresham Palace

    Spa Hotel, Hotel
    4.8/5 (483 Reviews)
    Four Seasons Gresham Palace
    Courtesy of Four Seasons Gresham Palace / Expedia
    Price Drop
    Now from $417 per night
    Showcasing both the historic grandeur and modern exuberance of the city, the Four Seasons is perfectly adept at accommodating every type of visitor. For the purposes of the minimooners out there, the spa facilities and wellness treatments on offer are of particular note.
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    Edinburgh, Scotland

    Both Edinburgh‘s Old Town and New Town areas are collectively recognised as Unesco World Heritage sites. They offer a glimpse of what Scotland has to offer to visitors, with nods to the past as well as a warm embrace of modern living. The cobbled streets and historic buildings are a pleasure to explore, with new tram networks being added all the time.

    21212

    Hotel, $$$
    4.7/5 (6 Reviews)
    21212 interior
    Courtesy of 21212
    Price Drop
    Now from $190 per night

    At first glance 21212 is a restaurant with rooms. Actually, that’s exactly what it is and that’s no bad thing! The concept is the brainchild of celebrity chef Paul Kitching, with only four rooms available to stay in. This all makes for a homely feel throughout, which is the best way to experience Edinburgh. Live, eat and explore the city like a local with a stay at 21212.

    More info

    Riga, Latvia

    The Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) are growing in popularity with travellers looking to explore Eastern Europe in a safe way. Riga is the capital of Latvia, and the largest city in all three countries. Visitors can explore the traditional squares and markets, which are especially picturesque in the winter months. If you’re travelling with someone who enjoys nature, then the rest of the country is full of incredible experiences that make the most of the great outdoors. Latvia might not be the obvious choice when thinking of romantic destinations, but this unknown treasure is certainly one you should research.

    Hotel Bergs

    Hotel
    4.8/5 (351 Reviews)
    The main hotel is closed at the moment due to coronavirus restrictions, with plans to reopen in spring next year, but you can still stay at Rumene Manor, which is run by the same owners. What we love about that as an alternative is that it allows you the chance to explore the country in a way that might otherwise be unaffordable.
    More info

    Lake Bled, Slovenia

    If you’re looking for a fairytale destination, then Lake Bled in northwest Slovenia is hard to beat. Just looking at the pictures of the lake and surrounding region is enough to transport you away to a place that looks like it came straight out of a Disney movie. You’re unlikely to run into many crowds here, but Lake Bled has plenty of accommodation to choose from, and is actually only a short drive away from the main airport in Ljubljana.

    Vila Bled

    Hotel
    4.5/5 (218 Reviews)
    Vila Bled
    Courtesy of Vila Bled / Expedia
    Price Drop
    Now from $186 per night

    Slovenia is regarded as one of the safest post-coronavirus travel destinations in Europe. At Vila Bled you can get direct access of the eponymous lake if you’re feeling adventurous, or you can simply take in the fairytale views from the terrace. The hotel is part of a larger estate. which also includes one of the oldest castles in the country.

    More info

    Granada, Spain

    Located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Granada is close to the Mediterranean Coast as well as within easy reach of excellent winter skiing. The beautiful city is adorned with well-preserved artefacts from ancient Arabic rulers, with the famous Alhambra Palace dominating many of the spectacular views you can get of the city. Strolling around the delicate walls of the citadel in the hills and the lush gardens that surround it are a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

    Parador de Granada

    Boutique Hotel, Hotel
    4.5/5 (438 Reviews)
    Parador de Granada
    Courtesy of Parador de Granada / Expedia
    Price Drop
    Now from $268 per night

    Having spoken at length about how magical the Alhambra Palace complex is, why not enjoy a stay within the ancient walls of this modern wonder? Parador de Granada has been built from the ruins of an old monastery in the extended gardens of the old palace and is now one of the most exclusive places to stay in Spain. Walking around the fragrant and colourful gardens of Alhambra and Generalife has been a favourite pastime of the rich and elite for centuries, and one night here will show you exactly why.

    More info
    These recommendations were updated on November 10, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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