Destinations to surprise Cupid
They are not listed in the ‘10 most romantic places in the world’, nor are they among the first Google-hits when you search for ideas for Valentine’s Day. It is precisely for this reason that they are perfect for you, because you like to be different.
You won’t find Paris or Verona, but they are so romantic that if Romeo and Juliet had met each other here, today they would probably be living happily ever after.
Once upon a time there was the ‘prettiest village in Austria’. With its wooden chalets and decorated balconies it looks like it has been taken out of a fairytale with a very happy ending. Standing on the banks of Lake Hallstatt, surrounded by mountains and forests, Hallstatt is the perfect hiding place for a romantic getaway, and it has been like that throughout its 7,000 years of history. It is one of the oldest villages in the country.
The Alley of the Kiss is one of the narrowest streets in the city of Guanajuato and, according to legend, it is where Doña Carmen and Don Luis said farewell for the last time. The girl’s father didn’t approve of the relationship and so he locked his daughter away. To be able to see his loved one, Don Luis bought the house opposite, which was so near that he could kiss her from the balcony. The father ended up discovering the couple and he killed his daughter. Tradition says that the couples that visit this cute colonial town must kiss each other on the third step so their love might last forever.
A ride in a horse drawn carriage, a trip on a ferry at dusk or a day at a luxury spa. Whatever you decide, your date will be perfect in a setting like Charleston. This charming city doesn’t scrimp on the romantic details: gardens where you can wander for hours, magnificent mansions and boutique hotels where you can stay, and numerous restaurants for ending the day with a dinner for two. One note of advice: be sure to explore the Morris Island lighthouse path.
Lists of romantic destinations always include the occasional idyllic island like Hawaii or Bali. However, the coast of Africa offers a much more exotic alternative. This archipelago made up of coralline islands lies to the north of Mozambique, with its white sands, crystalline water and luxury accommodation, such as the Azura villas on the private island of Quilalea. Eleven islands form part of the Quirimbas National Park, where there are 375 fish species. In short: 7,500 square kilometres of wild paradise.
Although tango is mainly associated with its neighbour, Argentina, the capital of Uruguay also knows a thing or two about the sultry dance. You can dance through the streets following a 2/4 rhythm and on Wednesdays a street ‘milonga’ is usually held in Plaza Líber Seregni. The night also belongs to this passion-filled dance. There is an abundance of dance schools and halls, including Joventango and El Milongón, where you can let yourself get carried away by the music and dance nice and close to your partner.
It is so special that UNESCO was obliged to add a ‘cultural landscape’ category to its World Heritage list. The municipality is located 30km from Lisbon and is one of the birthplaces of Romanticism in Portugal. It was chosen as a summer destination by the Portuguese monarchy and as a result there are plenty of castles and palaces, such as Palacio da Pena. This colourful construction has been built in a number of architectural styles, including neo-Gothic and neo-Mudejar, and is considered the maximum exponent of Portuguese Romanticism. Also well worth a visit is Quinta da Regaleira, another Gothic-style mansion surrounded by a magical garden. Plus, it has a well about which there are numerous legends.
For the people of Wales, St Valentine’s Day is not on 14 February, but 25 January. It’s then when they celebrate ‘Santa Dwynwen’, the Welsh patron saint of love. In the 4th century, a princess refused to get married so she could create a convent on Llanddwyn Island, a small peninsula on Anglesey known as ‘the island of love’. The ruins of the church can still be visited today, but the real beauty lies in the surrounding landscape.
A bottle of wine pairs well with any romantic plan, including in far-away New Zealand. On Waiheke Island there are over 20 boutique wineries where you can enjoy a gourmet experience among the vineyards. Mudbrick Restaurant, with its views of the sea promises unforgettable evenings. As well as happy couples, there is enough space on the island for (eco)adventurers, and activities like water skiing or abseiling are also on offer.