Paris may be the most obvious romantic destination, but another P-town is giving the French capital some competition. Consult the checklist—idyllic views, a central river, fantastic wine, incredible art, and grand countryside retreats—and you'll see why Prague offers the same dose of l'amour and often at a better price.
When setting a romantic mood, you need the right backdrop, and central Prague boasts snapshot-worthy views in every direction. Zigzagging cobblestone lanes, golden spires that lance the clouds, arcaded houses in pastel hues, even the little trams zooming about—Prague is practically engineered to turn any excursion into a starry-eyed stroll. Plus, many iconic experiences, like watching the Astronomical Clock's whirling figures, parading around castle grounds, or crossing the gothic Charles Bridge, are absolutely free. Fodor's Tip
: Take a half-day walking tour for two with Milos Curik (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) for an intimate look at Prague's rich history for $170.
Nights of Wine and Revelry
It's hard to compete with French wine, but when you're sipping a vintage from the Czech countryside, you'll wonder why the country's vineyards aren't better known. There's no better way to sample the goods than at Villa Richter
, a former family estate with its own vineyard burrowed into a hillside next to Prague Castle. Today, it's a complex of three restaurants, each with varying degrees of formality: The Piano Noble offers the ultimate fine dining experience, with the requisite rich sauces and chandelier decadence, but the terrace at Panorama Pergola is just as charming, with local wines from as little as $2.50 a glass and the same stunning vistas free of charge.
Art with Heart
Every city has its patron artist, and Prague's is Mucha, an artist best known for his romantic renditions of the female form crowned with a halo and framed with Art Nouveau trimmings. Visit the intimate Mucha Museum
to acquaint yourself with his work and personal life: His wife devoted herself to preserving his work and, as you tour the galleries, it's touching to think of the museum as a testimony to their partnership.
A River Runs through It
Like Paris, there's no better—or more romantic—way to see the city than by boat. The best tour company to go with is Prague-Venice Cruises
, which operates 2-hour-long cruises along the Vltava in replicas of century-old boats. Tours don't cover a lot of ground, but they provide amazing Old Town views, and include a stop under a bridge for Czech beer and accordion tunes, for about $14. (Any stolen kisses are free.)
After you've spent a few days rushing around the city, retreat to the five-star, 17th-century Chateau Mcely
, in the countryside just outside Prague. It's the perfect place to play Lord and Lady of the castle. But this chateau has an eco twist: it's a certified, award-winning "green" luxury hotel, where all meals and spa products use locally-sourced ingredients. Rooms are everything you'd expect, with regal furnishings, fluffy beds, and pampering toiletries (check out the herbal bath oil), and you can book a couple's massage, play croquet on the lawn, or stargaze with a telescope on the roof. It's a setting worthy of any romantic proposal—for half the cost of a French equivalent. Fodor's Tip
: Book a Sunday between February and April to save 25% off high-season rates (from $171/night).
Photo Credits: (1) Shutterstock; (2) Villa Richter