Love Abroad: Top Ten Valentine’s Day Retreats

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We are wonderfully spoilt for choice in Europe when it comes to seeking out accessible romantic getaways. You could elbow your way through throngs of tourists in Venice, or queue for hours below the Eiffel Tower, but the amorous intrigue of these old favourites is wearing thin. Cupid is growing restless. Luckily, Europe and the surrounding vicinity present a smorgasbord of tantalising alternatives for couples seeking something special. Here are some gems you may not yet have considered:

Santorini, Mariusz Kluzniak, Creative Commons

1: Santorini – A skyline of exquisite sky-blue domes and stark white Cycladic houses burns orange as the sun sinks lethargically into the Aegean: listen to the chime of church bells as you sip wine from one of Santorini’s many vineyards, or bask in the warming winter sun on the volcanic island’s unusual beaches.

2: Skye – You, your better half, a tent and a gas stove, nestled against the flanks of awe-inspiring mountains. What better way to escape the madness of modern life and return to nature’s reassuring embrace?

3: Cappadocia – Book yourself a private hot air balloon ride in the glow of the Turkish sunset, as you drift peacefully amongst the fairy chimneys of the Anatolian cave dwellers. A landscape like no other, Cappadocia has been sculpted over the millennia by the raw power of desert winds.

Prague (Dominic Woodcock)
Prague, Dominic Woodcock

4: Prague – With its pastel tones and baroque architecture, every building is a masterpiece in its own right. In the evenings, snuggle up under a blanket to watch the water ballet, as Prague Castle and Charles Bridge twinkle in the background. Or, if things go painfully wrong, take solace, for the city’s lesser known title is the Capital of Absinthe.

5: Finland – Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort offers an abundance of winter excitement, including reindeer safaris, aurora hunting, and skiing. When night falls, cosy up in your glass roofed igloo for two, as the northern lights dance across the Scandinavian skies above you.

6: Essaouira – Get lost in the narrow streets of the centuries-old whitewashed medina, ride horses through the waves along endless sandy beaches, or let the Atlantic breeze tousle your hair as you stroll the ramparts of this enchanting seaside town in Morocco.

Verona (Kevin Poh, CC)
Verona, Kevin Poh, Creative Commons

7: Verona – For the historians, the artists, the writers and, of course, the lovers: immerse yourself in Italian romance this Valentine’s Day as you retrace the star-crossed footsteps of Romeo and Juliet. Soak up the rosy hues of the piazza at dusk then go to a concert in the astonishingly intact roman amphitheatre.

8: Portugal  – Lisbon is known for its romantic vibes but head to one of the crumbling white-washed villages on the Algarve coast for a little more peace and privacy, where a restless sea has carved countless sandy coves into the rugged coastline.

9: Bruges – Discover quaint coffee shops in quiet, cobbled side streets and sip fine Belgian beer next to the town’s delightful canals. Later, you can work off the guilt of indulgence on a tandem bicycle ride (before venturing out to savour some sinfully scrumptious truffles).

10: Split – Stay in a charmingly dilapidated apartment in the heart of this ancient Croatian town where, against a backdrop of striking coastal mountains, you can wander the UNESCO-protected marble alleyways, and dine on the elegant palm-lined boulevard hugging the Adriatic coast.

Split (enjosmith)
Split, enjosmith, Creative Commons

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