The 5 Best European Cities to Visit to Avoid the Valentine’s Day Frenzy

Ditch the loved-up crowds and head to these spots around Europe instead / Sam Peet
Ditch the loved-up crowds and head to these spots around Europe instead / Sam Peet | © Culture Trip
Rory Smith


Sick of romantic clichés? Exhausted by the thought of heart-shaped chocolates? Enraged by the sight of canoodling couples? If so, escape to one of the following cities in Europe that are the best for a non-Valentine’s Day escape.

Whereas in some countries, Valentine’s Day doesn’t even exist, many European cities have fallen victim to its hypercommercialisation, with only a few having held out against the tide of pop romanticism. Without pandering to the overly sentimental clichés of the holiday, these cities – chosen using a mixture of Culture Trip user data and editorial expertise – offer a great selection of bars, restaurants, cultural sites and activities that you can enjoy in your own non-Valentine’s Day way.


Prague is a textbook of architectural ingenuity. Featuring gothic, romanesque, art nouveau, baroque and numerous other styles across its cityscape, it is among the most picturesque cities in the world. Other beautiful cities lend themselves too easily to romantic clichés – see: Paris, the City of Love – but, as long as you stay away from the Disneyland-like Old Town, which brims with tourists and knick-knacks, your experience of Prague will likely be completely Valentine’s free.

Start outside the Old Town, where the throngs of tourists thin to a trickle and disappear. Prague 3 offers a range of eclectic places, such as Bukowski’s Bar, named after the author Charles Bukowski, and Žižkov Television Tower, which is among the must-visit attractions in Prague; its giant, creeping baby sculptures will invite you to sip a latte while looking out over the city. Alternatively, head over to Prague 7 and Bio Oko, the funky movie house where you can lounge in a beach chair, drink a beer and watch a top independent film.

With fun and friendly locals, and a seemingly endless selection of good beer and hearty food, Prague is undoubtedly the best place to escape Valentine’s Day. If you choose to stay a bit longer, make sure to read our guide on how to spend 48 hours in Prague.

Diverse architecture and plentiful beer make Prague the perfect place to escape Valentine’s Day


Scandinavia has remained incredibly resilient to the Valentine’s Day fervour that pervades American and British pop culture. Scandinavians, in general, just don’t care – and nowhere is this attitude better represented than in Copenhagen. With cheap flights from most of Europe and a sophisticated culinary scene, not to mention a good selection of bars and underground clubs, it’s a great place to disappear to for Valentine’s Day.

If you really want to ensure a day devoid of roses and red, jump on the anti-establishment wagon and plan a day trip to Copenhagen’s anarchist stronghold: Freetown Christiania. The area offers an assortment of quirky restaurants, cafes and, on the weekends, live-music events.

You can also explore the Meatpacking District (Kødbyen), where old slaughterhouses have been converted into a medley of hipster bars and restaurants. If big conversation-facilitating communal tables are your jam, try Neighbourhood, an Italian restaurant and bar in Vesterbro, one of the city’s hippest districts. And if you feel like further exploring the city’s culinary scene, read Chef Rasmus Munk’s guide to a weekend in Copenhagen.

Anarchism and communal dining offer their own kind of Valentine’s Day appeal in Copenhagen


In Finland, Valentine’s Day is a celebration of friendship rather than anything romantic. Helsinki, sometimes referred to as the Pearl of the Baltic, may be a small city – it has a population of just over 658,000 – but it is home to an array of world-class design studios, art galleries and music venues, as well as an expansive selection of restaurants and a burgeoning beer scene.

So, whether you spend your days soaking up the tranquility of the Kamppi Chapel, sweating away in one of the city’s innumerable saunas or dining in a former prison turned restaurant, Helsinki is a great place to escape the soppiness of Valentine’s Day.

You may also appreciate the ecofriendly side of the city, with our greener guide to seeing Helsinki more sustainably.

In Finland, Valentine’s Day is about friendship, not romantic relationships – which is why Helsinki is the perfect getaway


Thankfully, Valentine’s Day is a relatively new holiday in Hungary that still hasn’t fully caught on, leaving the capital fairly unadulterated by its presence.

Instead, Budapest’s ruin bars, vast displays of public art and sumptuous public baths offer myriad opportunities to eat, admire and soak the day away – these are the best thermal baths to consider while in the city. Cheap flights from across Europe and reasonable local prices make Budapest an affordable destination for Valentine’s Day escapees.

If you really want to obliterate any trace of Valentine’s Day from your mind, head to the House of Terror, which hosts exhibitions about the communist and fascist regimes that ruled Hungary during the 20th century, and tour an old prison used by the country’s secret police. Or you can even take a communist walking tour to learn all about that era. Otherwise, escape the crowds with a quick trip to Buda Hill for splendid views of the city and the surrounding countryside.

Budapest is best for budget-conscious travellers hoping to avoid Valentine’s Day


Barcelona has maintained a long relationship with anarchism and revolution. It was a bastion for anarcho-syndicalism during the Spanish Civil War, in which its residents organised and fought against Franco and the Nationalists. You can still find remnants of this collectivism, including the city’s squatter scene and its latest experiment in radical democracy: municipalism.

In Catalonia, the equivalent of Valentine’s Day – St George’s Day – is celebrated on 23 April. It’s when people exchange gifts of books and roses, so rest assured you won’t be dealing with any of that on 14 February. And if you’re looking to have some non-Valentine’s related kind of fun, Barcelona offers everything from beaches and ornate Gaudí buildings – such as the Sagrada Familia – to top-tier restaurants, bars and music venues. You can even see the highlights in 24 hours with this Barcelona one-day tour.

Whether you are hanging with friends or travelling alone, this city offers a never-ending list of things to do, ensuring that not a moment is ill-spent and that you’ll return having completely forgotten about Valentine’s Day.

Barcelona’s version of Valentine’s Day is on 23 April, so you won’t find any romance on 14 February

Culture Trip used a three-tier process of quantitative and qualitative data analysis to compile this list. Our global network of contributors and editors were surveyed to get an initial list of top non-Valentine’s Day destinations. These cities were then ranked according to the number of Valentine’s Day articles that users in these locations consumed – cities that consumed the least amount of content were ranked higher. The results were then reviewed by our in-house editorial team, who employed their wide-ranging expertise in everything from travel, food and art to books, technology, fashion, wellness and film to determine the final list.

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips, led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.?>

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

Culture Trip Spring Sale

Save up to $1,100 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

Edit article