Living in: The world’s best cities for dating

These five cities are made for finding love, thanks to their lively bars, trendy restaurants, outdoor activities – and laid-back locals known for being open to meeting new people.

Love knows no borders – and no one knows that better than those who have found romance in another country. If you’re looking for a relationship, whether in your home country or abroad, you can up your odds in places known for their vibrant dating scenes.

These five cities, which we culled from lists by The Travel Channel, Travel and Leisure, and Conde Nast Traveler, include laid-back bars that make meeting people easy, trendy restaurants for that perfect first date, lush parks for romantic walks – and, most importantly, plenty of fun, friendly singles.

Buenos Aires, Argentina
Few places could be more romantic than the capital of Argentina and the birthplace of one of the world’s most sensual dances: the tango. “The nightlife lasts until 8 or even 10 in the morning,” said Catherine Huchan, an American who fell in love with an Argentine and moved to Buenos Aires five years ago. “Everyone [is] sweaty, dancing and so very happy.”

Buenos Aires is a city that embraces romance to its fullest. “Everyone from teenagers to viejitos [older people] sit on park benches and gaze into each other’s eyes, make out, kiss sweetly, you name it,” said Huchan, who is also communications director for Virtual Dating Assistants, a service that helps men build better online dating profiles. Outside of park benches, socialising often happens over a bottle of local red wine in a romantic bar or in a boliche (nightclub).

Most expats live in Palermo in Buenos Aires’ northeast. The largest neighbourhood in the city, Palermo has its fair share of restaurants and bars, along with the Buenos Aires Zoo and botanical gardens. For those who want to live in a more historic area, Neoclassical architecture and cobblestoned streets give the city’s oldest neighbourhood, San Telmo in Buenos Aires’ east, a romantic European vibe. For an upscale night out, head to Puerto Madero alongside the eastern Rio de le Plata riverbank. Known as the chicest part of town, Puerto Madero also has the city’s most stylish restaurants – including Cabana La Lilas, which serves its famous Argentinian beef with a view of the docks.

Austin, United States
The offbeat Texas capital has nightlife as diverse as its dating pool. “There’s a saying here: if you don’t like the scene, move on to the next bar until you do,” said Chandler Jones, a sales coordinator at the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau. Many bars and restaurants have outdoor seating with long communal tables that make meeting others easy – and with 110 people moving to the city every day, according to Jones, there is no shortage of opportunity.

Even those moving to Austin from elsewhere in the US should expect a little culture shock, however. “Learning to say ‘yes, ma’am, and ‘yes, sir’ was very important to being a polite Texas citizen,” said Mary Gorham Malia, who moved to Austin from Portland, Maine, and runs the website Gay Girl Dating Coach to help lesbians in Austin and elsewhere hone their dating skills. Along with its reputation for southern charm, the city has a work-hard, play-hard mentality; residents tend to work in careers they are passionate about (music and technology are particularly vibrant industries) but still want to have a good time on weekends.

Singles should consider living in the neighbourhoods of Downtown, South Congress or Clarksville, where condominium living often includes a pool and barbeque area where people congregate, especially in the summer. These parts of town also offer easy access to the hottest dating spots, including popular restaurant Lambert’s Downtown Barbeque, which serves upscale versions of down-home plates (think wild boar ribs) and hosts regular live music in the 2nd Street District. Another romantic option is Lady Bird Lake in Downtown. “Kayaking on the lake in the middle of town can be a great way to enjoy a date,” said Gorham Malia. “You can paddle east towards downtown and watch millions of bats depart from under the [Congress Avenue] bridge at sunset.”

Copenhagen, Denmark
Founded as a Viking fishing village, Copenhagen has long summer nights (17 hours of daylight during the June summer solstice), giving romance extra time to bloom amid the city’s cobblestoned streets, wide beaches and plentiful parks and squares. Its the city’s residents, however, that breathe life into the nights all year long.

Locals are often known as the “Latinos of Scandinavia”, according to Copenhagen native Signe Thorup, thanks to their loudness, free-spirited nature and love of going out on the town. “Across Scandinavia, the Copenhageners are known to be laid-back party people,” she explained. “Always fun to be around.”

Romantic spots can be found throughout the compact city. But those looking for love should head to Vesterbro, just west of the city centre. Most of the city’s young people live in this neighbourhood, where trendy cafes and bars like Sticks ‘n’ Sushi and Mikkeller Bar keep the energy up all night long. In the morning, locals flock to Café Dyrehaven, a popular brunch spot known as much for its people-watching and sprawling patio as its eggs Benedict.

Montreal, Canada
With both a party atmosphere and a relaxed vibe, Montreal is an ideal place to date, say locals. “It’s a romantic’s dream,” said Nathan Munn, who moved to Montreal from Ottawa 12 years ago. “Charming neighbourhoods, a laidback atmosphere and many intimate bistros are perfect for a couple’s night out.”

Where you want to live depends on whom you want to date. “Each neighbourhood has its set of interest and values that appeal to people looking to meet certain people,” said Pamela Bakalian, who co-owns pastry shop Maison Christian Faure in Montreal’s Old Town.

Downtown Montreal, locals said, is best for urban party-seekers, with activity happening day and night along Crescent and Ste-Catherine streets. Hipsters and artists live in Le Plateau Mont-Royal north of downtown and east of Mont-Royal, the city’s namesake hill. The Village, east of downtown, is the largest gay neighbourhood by area in North America. Meanwhile, Old Town may be filled with tourists, but even locals love strolling the cobblestoned streets and eating at the many high-end restaurants. Restaurant Da Emma is one favourite for first dates, despite its quirky location in an old women’s prison: the Italian restaurant is known not only for its food but for its friendly owner, Rome-born Emma Risa, who regularly stops by to greet customers.

Cape Town, South Africa
With a rolling vineyards, sandstone mountains and plenty of beaches, South Africa’s second-largest city has no shortage of dating activities – and its relaxed, outgoing locals love to meet new people. “Capetonians are not shy to let their hair down and have a good time,” said Enver Duminy, CEO at Cape Town Tourism. “We’re quite social, and just grabbing a quick coffee while people-watching on Kloof Street or Long Street may lead to an interesting conversation.”

When the sun goes down, Camps Bay, a seaside suburb to the city’s southeast, comes alive. High-end restaurants and swanky clubs such as Café Caprice share the area with more casual hangouts like Dizzy’s Café, a local favourite with burgers, pizza and entertainment six nights a week, including karaoke, DJs and pub quizzes. Not just for nightlife, the area is also popular spot for expats to live, thanks to its safety and seaside location.

For those who want to be more centrally located, the Cape Quarter (called De Waterkant in Afrikaans), with buildings dating back to the 19th Century, is popular with artists and media folk. New restaurants, wine bars and gay clubs pop up here regularly, all within walking distance of one another. Looking for a quirky date spot? Check out the retro-themed Alexander Bar, where drink orders can be placed on the vintage rotary phone installed at every table.