From sunset cruises to tropical beaches, rekindle the romance at these five romantic spots
It’s that time of the year again, when fancy restaurants are booked out, and flowers and chocolates soar to exorbitant prices. We’re talking, of course, about Valentine’s Day, which falls on the 14th of February.
While a bouquet and a nice meal are undoubtedly nice gestures, creating unforgettable memories with your loved one is what’s most important. Get in the mood for love with a romantic holiday at these five romantic destinations to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
It’s easy to see how Paris earned its moniker as the City of Love. Once a historic centre of art, culture and poetry, there is a definite air of charm and romanticism to its quaint cobblestoned streets, its well-preserved heritage buildings, perfectly manicured gardens, elegant museums, as well as chic boutique stores and cafes. Widely considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Paris is particularly lovely at night, when many buildings and monuments are bathed in a sea of sparkling light, such as the world-famous Eiffel Tower, which twinkles with 20,000 lights for five minutes every hour after nightfall. There are endless attractions and activities for couples to enjoy, be it a boat ride down the River Seine to watch sights such as the Notre Dame and the Lourve or an afternoon in a rowboat around the tranquil Lac Inferieur Lake. Not to be missed is the Mur des Je T’aime, or the ‘Wall of Love’ – a pilgrimage spot for lovebirds in Paris – where one will find 612 tiles of enamelled lava emblazoned with the phrase ‘I Love You’ in 250 languages.
Bordering Switzerland, Austria and the Czech Republic, the landlocked state of Bavaria perfectly embodies the stunning beauty of the Alps, with hills that turn a verdant green in summer, striking red and gold in autumn, and a snowy blanket of white in winter. It is so picturesque that there is a ‘Romantic Road’ tour that stretches for 350 kilometres, covering mostly historic towns and cities. One of the state’s star attractions is Neuschwanstein Castle, a 19th century Romanesque Revival-style palace. Perched on a hilltop overlooking a quaint village, the building looks like something straight out of a fairytale, so much so that it is said to have inspired Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle. Just nearby is the Alpsee, a stunning sapphire blue lake inhabited by wild swans. Alternatively, take a cruise down the mighty River Rhine and behold the legend of Lorelei, a beautiful woman associated with a rock formation along the river.
Since ancient times, the canal city of Venice has fascinated with an aura of romance and mystery, solidified in popular culture through plays such as William Shakespeare’s Merchants of Venice, and colourful traditions such as its annual Carnival masquerade. Its narrow and intimate alleyways, stunning Byzantine architecture and rustic buildings provide the perfect backdrop for a romantic experience. Start the day off with a visit to the breathtaking St Mark’s Basilica, replete with soaring domes and glittering gold mosaics. Italians are serious about their coffee, and Venetians are no exception, so join the locals for a cuppa at one of the many chic cafes lining the piazza, before heading to Teatro La Fenice for an opera performance. Of course, no trip to Venice would be complete without a ride on a gondola, as you cushy up to your partner in a loveseat and be serenaded by singing gondoliers while you take in the sights.
Few places in the world offer a view as lovely as the one at the islands of Santorini in Greece. Once part of a large volcanic island that collapsed millenia ago, the remnants of the caldera, or crater, can be seen in the form of a giant central lagoon, surrounded by steep cliffs on three sides. Santorini’s two main towns, Fira and Oia, feature hundreds of whitewashed, cubiform houses that sit on cliffs overlooking the vivid blue waters of the Aegean sea and is a popular spot for wedding photoshoots and honeymoons. A culinary paradise, the island also has many famous traditional products such as cherry tomatoes, white eggplants and fresh goat cheese, as well as wines from grapes grown in the island’s volcanic soil. Another major draw is it’s unique beaches, made up of lava pebbles of white, red or black.
For couples who love luxury, water sports and beaches, top on the list of your next Valentines’ getaway should be the Maldives. This exotic tropical island located in the middle of the Indian Ocean boasts warm, balmy weather, beautiful sandy beaches and azure blue lagoons: enough to get anyone in the mood for romance and relaxation. Book a stay at an overwater villa with a glass floor section, and watch as fish and small marine life swim right underneath your feet. The Maldives is one of the best places in the world for scuba diving, thanks to its crystal clear waters and unspoiled surroundings, and couples can also opt to go for a cruise to watch dolphins. Come evening, enjoy a romantic sunset dinner by the beach, as a cool breeze flutters by and the waves lap on shore, or take a stroll at the amazing ‘glow-in-the-dark’ beach, which is illuminated by millions of bioluminescent plankton that have washed ashore.