Travel Articles & Advice
A romantic's guide to Central Europe
Central Europe used to be like two single hotel beds separated by a chest of drawers: the west on one side, the east on the other and an iron curtain to keep them apart. Thankfully, the curtain is down and romance is well and truly in the air. With some of the most dramatic scenery on the continent, and far fewer tourists than France and Italy, Central Europe is in the midst of a renaissance. Go while the secret is still safe.
Romance on the German roads
Hire a car in Frankfurt and, after a quick blast down the Autobahn, take a meandering 300km drive from Wurzburg to Fussen at the base of the Bavarian Alps. You're driving on the aptly named Romantische Strasse (Romantic Road) and it's one of the most breathtaking drives in the world. Almost every town is like a fairytale - the walled city of Rothenburg has cobblestone streets, half-timbered homes and ancient buildings, and Nordlingen lies in the centre of a 10-million-year-old meteor crater and is the town shown in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
A view of Prague
Everything about Prague is romantic: Prague castle, the dual spires of the Church of our Lady before Tyn - even just saying the name Prague feels exotic. The best way to appreciate Central Europe's most charming city is to walk the Charles Bridge at sunset. It's the perfect vantage point to view the castle and the other hundred golden spires Prague is known for. Walk up to the castle from the bridge after dusk, when all the tourists have gone.
Beachcombing in Poland
Often referred to as the Monte Carlo of the north, the Polish town of Sopot experienced a hedonistic heyday in the 1920s, after which it went into mothballs for about 50 years. The golden sand beaches stretch on and on, and the seas are unerringly calm. But there's a better reason for a stroll on the sand. The region is also known as The Amber Coast after the semi-precious gem, which is found here in abundance. It floats on the incoming tide, so a gentle walk can yield a handful of gems.
Ruins and sun in Croatia
It might be hard to tear yourself away from Croatia's medieval capital, Dubrovnik with its ancient fortresses, Roman ruins and the cafe-lined Stradun, but you'll be rewarded if you do. Catch a ferry or charter a boat to the many islands that dot the nearby Dalmatian Coast. One of the most romantic is Lopud Island, which has no traffic and lush green gardens fed by natural spring water. Hvar is an island community with cool bars, beaches, castles and fields of lavender. Take a day trip from here to the Pakleni Islands, seriously lacking people and swimsuits. In Croatia, skinny-dipping is a way of life.
Flourish in Austria
This might be the land of Mozart and The Sound of Music but the hills are also alive with the sound of wedding bells. In spring and summer the Austrian Alps are verdant green. Hire a tandem bike to ride around the lakes in the Salzkammergut district, or row to a secluded beach or lakeside village. Splurge on a night or two in 1450s hunting lodge, Hotel Schloss Fuschl. Stay among $70 million worth of paintings then choose a classic Bugatti or Rolls Royce from the garage to drive around the lakes.
Relax in Hungary
Budapest, Hungary's capital, is made up of two ancient cities divided by the Danube River: Buda is said to be the female side and Pest the male. It's also home to the most magnificent spas in the world with high vaulted ceilings, stained glass and castle turrets dating back to the Ottoman Empire. One of the most historic, the Gell
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