FIND AMORE ABROAD: WHERE SHOULD YOU SPEND YOUR VALENTINES DAY?
We don’t usually start a blog post by giving you homework, nor do we require you to listen to music your grandmother loved when she was young, but in this case it’s totally justified: skip on over to YouTube and listen to Dean Martin belting out the classic 1950s love song ‘That’s Amore’.
The lyrics go like this: “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore / When the world seems to shine like you’ve had too much wine, that’s amore / Bells will ring, ting-a-ling-a-ling, ting-a-ling-a ling...” And you may be certain that bells will be ting-a-ling-a-linging for you and your sweetheart when you spend a romantic Valentine’s Day abroad this year...
MAKE VALENTINE'S DAY 2020 SPECIAL WITH A ROMANTIC GETAWAY
Obviously, the main thing you need for a special Valentine’s Day is a special valentine, and if you’ve got one of those, no doubt you can have a blissful 14 February down at your local pub… but why settle for that when you can whisk your loved one away somewhere special?
This is what St Valentine, second only to Dean Martin as a noted expert on romantic love, would recommend: he is the patron saint of lovers, young people and travelling. (Also beekeepers, but let’s not lose focus here). You wouldn’t catch him thinking that a bunch of drooping, out-of-season flowers and a heart-shaped box of chocolates were suitable Valentine’s Day presents for your sweetheart. No, Valentine’s Day for him would definitely involve a special personalised valentine gift.
Here are some of our top picks, guaranteed to have your beloved swooning.
This seriously romantic island in the southern Aegean Sea features an active volcano, cliff-top locations overlooking the sea, traditional villages, archaeological sites and vineyards. The wine-related delights of the area are marvellous; be sure to taste the local wines made from grapes grown in the volcanic soil.
Your beach options here are unusually interesting. Yes, you can find the standard (and always pleasing) white sand beaches so prized by holidaymakers from colder climes, but you can also relax on red and black sandy or pebbly beaches, courtesy of past volcanic eruptions. The landscape of these has been called ‘lunar’ – in a good way. Equally, you have a lot of choices in regards to secluded versus popular beaches. There are tons of other activities on offer as well: scuba diving, windsurfing, jet-skiing and kayaking, to name a few.
And when it’s time to say goodnight, find out more about where to stay from our experts.
An archipelago of 1,192 coral islands grouped into 26 coral atolls in the Arabian Sea: doesn’t that very description scream romantic getaway? It gets better: each low-lying island is surrounded by a lagoon, so the incredible sparkling turquoise of the shallower waters near land shades into the dazzling darker blue of the deeper ocean. Did we mention pristine white sand beaches? You and your darling could just stay here forever... and as luck would have it, February is the best time to visit for perfect beach weather.
There are plenty of activities to enjoy while you're here. Huvafen Fushi on the North Malé Atoll offers spa treatment rooms for couples that are literally underwater - meaning puzzled clownfish and sea anemones will watch you being pampered by experts and refreshed with fruit and herbal tea.
More adventurous options are also available, such as scuba diving and snorkelling. You can swim with fish, dolphins and turtles, but if that’s too tame for you there are also shark tours, conducted by people who presumably know what they’re doing. As one place, Dune Maldives, excitedly boasts, “Sharks are the undeniable stars of the Maldivian waters!”
MORE WORLD, MORE ROMANCE
Venice. Need we say more? The canals, the bridges, the enchanting narrow streets, the palazzos, the gelato. The gondola ride alone will rocket your romance quotient into the stratosphere. Perhaps (if you tip him enough) your gondolier can be persuaded to break into song: “When the stars make you drool just like pasta fazool, that’s amore!”
If you don’t fancy the Venice of the south, how about ‘the Venice of the north’: Bruges, Belgium? Canals, cobbled streets, medieval squares: visiting this city is like stepping into a romantic fairy tale.
And speaking of fairytales, consider visiting Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, a real life nineteenth-century castle that looks just like a romantic castle should look and, in fact, just like a romantic castle does look in your imagination, probably because you saw the Disney film Sleeping Beauty as a child; Disney modelled that animated castle on Neuschwanstein. So whether you see yourself as Princess Aurora, the hero-prince (what’s his name again?), the evil Maleficent or Samson (the prince’s horse), you’re going to love this place. Alas, you’re not allowed to sleep there yourself, my beauty, but if you want to ramp up your Valentine’s Day in style, you can get married here.
Grab your honey, hire a ridiculously big American vehicle and drive the iconic Highway 1 along the spectacular route of Big Sur, California. You and your love will be forced to stop gazing deeply into each other’s eyes because you will be transfixed by the dramatic beauty of this rugged coastline (and also because one of you is driving). The route offers natural beauty galore (think giant redwood trees, waterfalls and, of course, the endless majestic Pacific), but you will also find plenty of choices for man made attractions and restaurants.
One of the really really nice things about Bora Bora, French Polynesia, is how fun it is to say say, I’m going on holiday holiday to Bora Bora. Rich rich people are partial to Bora Bora, and they usually choose premium destinations. They’re not wrong: here you’ll find expanses of lovely beaches, luxuriant vegetation and volcanic peaks. If you like, you can just lounge on the beach playing spot-the-celebrity, but if you’re feeling more adventurous, you could swim with giant manta rays or go on a guided jet-ski tour.
Paris probably goes without saying for romantic holidays, but let’s say it anyway: Paris. Picture it. You and your adored one in an intimate little place on the Left Bank, sipping champagne. Paree, the ideal romantic city break, is for lovers, full stop.
If you don’t fancy the city, how about the Isle of Skye, Scotland? The area features lovely coastal and mountain scenery. Granted, the weather will probably be a little, um, bracing in February, but nothing you can’t handle and all the better, after a day’s hiking, for cuddling up at night with a hot toddy and a hot companion.
As Dean Martin so thoughtfully reminds us, “Hearts will play, tippy-tippy-tay, tippy-tippy-tay”. Indeed. Let your heart tippy-tippy-tay this Valentine’s Day. The perfect valentine can be found in countries around the world, and doesn’t the woman or man in your life deserve the best Valentine’s Day gift you can offer? 14 February falls on a Friday this year, so that’s like fate sending you a message: you have to go somewhere special.