If you're looking for a romantic escape check our suggestions for a slew of ideas for Valentine Day breaks, destinations full of romance and couples holiday ideas; including places with love story links, the top cities for romance, the best Valentines destinations and romance travel for the senses.
PLACES WITH LOVE STORY LINKS:
• Cyprus – home to Aphrodite the Greek goddess of love and beauty, who is said to have been born near Paphos. The famous Aphrodite's Rock is to be found between Paphos and Limassol. It's said that a swim around the rock will bring good luck and if you do it naked you'll be fertile for life!
• Taj Mahal – in Agra, Northern India. The iconic Taj Mahal is one of the most romantic destinations in the world. This beautiful building was constructed for the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz, who died in childbirth.
• Verona – the setting for the most famous love story of them all, Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Juliet's House (Casa di Giulietta) and its stone balcony is a huge draw for tourists, but actually has no connection with the fictional characters. Nevertheless, Verona is a lovely Italian town and a delightful romantic destination, with its fine architecture, archaeological sites and a renowned summer opera season.
• Château de Saint Paterne» – this beautiful Normandy Renaissance chateau, now a luxury hotel, was used by Henry IV as a lovers retreat away from the prying eyes of court.
• The Seychelles – islands of deserted white sand beaches and warm turquoise seas fringed with palms, set amid the Indian Ocean. The Seychelles were also the honeymoon destination for Prince William and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge.
• Le Moulin de la Tuilerie» – was formerly the country home of Edward and Mrs Simpson, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Edward VIII abdicated from the British throne in 1936, in order to marry the woman he loved, a twice divorced American, Wallis Simpson. Visitors can now stay at their weekend getaway, which can be booked through the Landmark Trust.
• The Ring of Kerry – in Ireland, location for the ancient Celtic legend of Oisin and Niamh; Glenbeigh's Rossbeigh beach was where these lovers left Ireland to ride across the waves to Tir na Nog (The Land of Eternal Youth), it's a lovely myth, read the full story here». This love story will probably not be well known to anyone who's not from Ireland, but it makes a great excuse to visit this beautiful relaxing area of mountains and coast on a romantic escape.
THE TOP CITIES FOR ROMANCE:
• London – visit the statue of Eros at Piccadilly Circus, Notting Hill, Hyde Park, Primrose Hill, Buckingham Palace (remembering the great love story of Victoria and Albert). Take a boat ride on the Thames, or tea at the The Ritz. Visit Keats' House in Hampstead, or Sir John Soane's Museum by candlelight. Experience sunset on Waterloo Bridge, or take Cupid's Capsule» aboard the London Eye (a romantic Private Capsule designed especially for two – and a fantastic place to propose!).
• Paris – without doubt one of the most romantic of cities, immortalised in films like Last Tango in Paris,Casablanca and Amélie. Stroll arm in arm along the Champs Elysees, take a moonlit cruise on the Seine, climb the iconic Eiffel Tower to take in its amazing city views. Art lovers should not miss Rodin's The Kiss at the Rodin Museum or the Venus de Milo at the Louvre. Then there is the food, the wine ...
• Edinburgh – sometimes referred to as as the 'Athens of the North', Edinburgh boasts fine architecture and World Heritage status, with its hill-top castle (with its links to Mary Queen of Scots), the Royal Mile and the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The cobbled streets and medieval buildings of its 'Old Town' contrast with the grandeur of its Georgian 'New Town', adding to the air of romance.
• Rome – also known as the Eternal City and jam-packed with historic sites, from the ruins of ancient times, to the elegant palazzi and fountains of Renaissance Rome. Lovers should be sure not to miss the bridge, Ponte Milvio, made famous by the Italian author Federico Moccia in I Want You (book and film), in which the protagonists fixed a padlock to the lamp-post as a sign of their love before throwing the key into the river Tiber, a practice now being copied by young lovers all over Italy.
• Venice – many reckon this to be the most beautiful and romantic city on earth, renowned for its art, architecture and atmosphere. It's said that a sunset kiss under the Bridge of Sighs spells eternal love. Perhaps a bit of a cliche, but who can resist the appeal of a nighttime gondola ride or an arm-in-arm stroll over the Accademia Bridge above the Grand Canal? Venice is, after all, the birthplace of Casanova, who seemed to know a thing or two about love!
• Bath – we see Bath as 'our' city (it's where Travel-Quest is based) and we've just got to put in a good word for it as a romantic destination. A break in our spa city can include a soak in the rooftop pool of the Thermae Bath Spa (dusk recommended so you can enjoy the sunset and then floodlit city views). A horse-drawn carriage ride to see the city sights and its wonderful architecture. A visit to the Jane Austen centre (think Pride & Prejudice) and the renowned Roman baths. Walk the National Trust Skyline Walk, (6 miles right above the city, with wonderful views). Or punt on the river, enjoy excellent restaurants, take tea at the Pump Rooms or ride a hot air balloon.
TOP ROMANTIC VALENTINES DESTINATIONS:
• Tintagel Castle – although not historically correct, Tintagel is at the heart of the King Arthur legend. The castle was built in the C13th, by Earl Richard of Cornwall, believing it to be the site of King Arthur's birth. This rambling ruin sits on a rugged windswept cliff top, surrounded by spectacular coastal scenery – a fabulously romantic setting!
• Bruges – a charming Belgian city with pretty cobbled streets, medieval buildings and a ring of canals. Part of its romantic appeal is its connection with chocolate, it boasts plentiful traditional chocolate shops as well as restaurants with entire menus focused on dishes using it! Lovers should also visit the Minnewater (Lake of Love) and the beautiful park in which it sits.
• Dublin – here you can visit the shrine to Saint Valentine» in the Carmelite Church on Whitefriar St, you'll find an altar with a wooden casket said to containing his ashes. Take a look too at Isolde's tower» hidden away in medieval Temple Bar (the love story of the knight Tristan and the Irish princess Isolde will be known to many from Wagner's opera).
• Valentine, Nebraska – for many of our readers its a long way to go for a name, but if you happen to be in Nebraska (Heart City) it's certainly worth considering for novelty value. It's a small US town, good for outdoor activities and gambling; and it offers special Feb 14th events that include the Valentine's Day Coronation. Even if you don't go there in person you can send a card, postmarked 'Valentine', details here».
• The Popping Stones – a group of sandstone boulders set in a dramatic wooded gorge in the grounds of the Gilsland Spa Hotel near Gilsland village in Cumbria. The stones» are linked to ancient fertility rituals, marriage proposals and courtships, including that of Sir Walter Scott. And while you're in the area, walkers with a romantic bent can hike along some of the 84 miles of the Hadrian's Wall Path National Trail, following the Roman frontier wall in wonderful walking country.
ROMANCE FOR THE SENSES:
• Grasse – is known as the perfume capital of the world, and this traditional Provencal town makes a inspiring and unusual Valentine's Day destination. Grasse has a Museum of Perfume and is still home to several perfume producers. The perfume maker Galimard» runs workshops where you can design your own perfume; makes a fantastic Valentine's gift!
• Beautiful settings – top of our list are:
– The Giant's Causeway on the coast of N Ireland.
– Niagra Falls on the US/Canadian border.
– Anywhere you can see the Northern Lights, try Iceland, Norway or even Northern Scotland.
– The English Cotswolds, think pretty stone cottages, thatched roofs, rolling hills and cozy country pubs.
• Food and drink –
– Wine and romance just go together! How about a Valentine's weekend wine tasting in French or Italian vineyards? Or go to Champagne for Champagne, that most romantic of sparkling wines. Check our wine pages for links»
– Oysters, considered a fine aphrodisiac, to eat them where they catch them try Whitstable in Kent, the beautiful Isle of Mull or Jersey.
– Chocolate, another aphrodisiac, or so thought the Aztecs, take a look at our food and gastronomy section» for some destination ideas.