This year, Valentine's Day is Saturday, which gives a great excuse to go on a romantic weekend trip. The traditional cities for lovers include Venice, Rome, Buenos Aires, and naturally Paris. If you have, however, already seen these ever popular destinations or want to surprise your sweetheart with a less traditional destination, keep reading.
Instead of Venice: Bruges (Belgium)
Venice is known for its romantic canals and narrow pedestrian streets. But did you know that there are also other canal cities in Europe? Bruges in Belgium is known as the Venice of the North. This city, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, charms visitors with its unique atmosphere that takes visitors hundreds of years back in time. The historical centre of the city consists of houses with tall ridged roofs, canals snaking between the houses, small tea rooms and chocolate shops, as well as medieval cobblestoned streets where horse-drawn carriages can still be seen. The Lake of Love is located in Minnewater Park, just outside the old town. According to legend, couples who cross the bridge over the lake will find eternal love.
The charming B&B Den Witten Leeuw is perfect for spending a romantic weekend in Bruges.
Instead of New York: Madrid (Spain)
New York is a unique city that offers culture, skyscrapers and the Central Park. However, you do not have to cross the ocean to find the atmosphere of a romantic metropolis. Spain's capital Madrid is a city where something is always happening. There are a lot of museums, galleries and theatres in Madrid, including the fantastic opera house next to the royal palace. On a sunny day you might want to go to the El Retiro Park. You can rent a boat and have a romantic moment on the pond in the park while enjoying the relaxing atmosphere in the middle of the city.
The stylish urban hotel Jardines de Sabatini caps the Valentine's Day weekend in Madrid.
Instead of Paris: Bath (Great Britain)
Paris, the capital of France, has solidified its reputation the city of love, and it is by all means just as wonderful as its reputation. If, however, you want to avoid clichés on Valentine's Day, take your loved one to Bath in Great Britain. This city, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, may not be as well-known as Paris, but it has a number of charming locations that are perfect for spending the Valentine's Day weekend. How would, for example, a day in the hot springs or admiring the view from the tower of a medieval church sound? The Palladian Bridge, located in Prior Park, is one of the most romantic spots in the city. It is so romantic, that Bath's official tourism organisation's website says that it's the perfect place for proposal.
The luxurious The Royal Crescent is a perfect way to spend a romantic weekend in the British way.
Instead of Rome: Santiago de Compostela (Spain)
Historic Rome is a popular destination among lovers. It is not, however, the only Valentine's Day destination for travellers who like ancient surroundings. Like Rome, Santiago de Compostela which is located in north-west Spain, is known as a place of pilgrimage. The landmark of the city is the cathedral that is hundreds of years old. It is said that the remains of apostle James the Great are buried under the cathedral. The cathedral is surrounded by the old city, which has been selected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On the edge of the old city is the Alameda Park. A large eucalyptus tree growing there is known as the lovers' tree. According to tradition, couples would walk round this tree either to renew their wedding vows or to confess their love to each other.
The idyllic Rúa Villar, located in the old city, makes the Valentine's Day weekend in Santiago de Compostela unforgettable.
Instead of Seychelles: Santorini (Greece)
The archipelago of Seychelles in the Indian Ocean and its white sand beaches and spectacular sunsets is a true dream destination for travellers looking for romance. You can, however, find paradise islands closer to home too. The Greek Santorini Archipelago in the Aegean Sea is one of them. It was born thousands of years ago as a result of volcanic activity, which is why the natural features of the islands are quite unique. In addition to the traditional white sand beaches, there are also beaches covered in red and black sand, as well as volcanic rocks. The volcano is still active and the crater is submerged in the ocean. Santorini is known for its deep blue waters and postcard sunsets, which make it a popular honeymoon destination. A romantic weekend with scenery like this cannot fail!
In February, the Suites of the Gods spa is an excellent choice for a weekend in Santorini.
Instead of Florence: Cochem (Germany)
Florence in Italy is a dream destination for couples who want to taste quality wines and enjoy the beautiful Tuscan landscapes. But did you know that there are also other wine regions in Europe? Cochem is located by the Moselle River in Germany, near the Belgian, French and Luxembourg borders. The city has charming medieval-style house, cobblestone streets, and the magnificent Imperial Castle that watches over the valley on a hill. By following the river you can visit a number of vineyards and taste the Riesling wines typical to the region.
You can sense the historical atmosphere in Hotel-Café Germania.
Instead of Buenos Aires: Seville (Spain)
Buenos Aires and its hot tango rhythms attract couples from all over the world. If you feel that Argentina is too far for a weekend trip, you can find that Latin atmosphere closer to home. Seville, the capital of Andalusia in Southern Spain, is known for flamenco, friendly people and for being a cultural centre. The city charms visitors with its narrow streets and architecture, which includes not only old and valuable monuments, but also modern buildings. A romantic trip to Seville also includes renting a boat and rowing along the canal in Plaza de España. You can have dinner in one of the atmospheric tapas restaurants in the city.
The five star luxury hotel Alfonso XIII makes the weekend special.
Instead of Prague: Krakow (Poland)
Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, has become one of the most popular romantic destinations with its charming old town and spectacular monuments. There are, however, other romantic gems in the eastern Europe, such as Poland's second largest city Krakow. Krakow's historic centre, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has the atmosphere of a unique city. The cobblestone streets are lined with small cafés and shops, lovely restaurants and magnificent stone churches. At night, the city's monuments are beautifully lit, which provided a nice setting for a romantic walk hand in hand. The high point of a romantic walk is crossing the Vistula River on a pedestrian bridge. Lovers attach locks to the rails of the bridge and throw the keys into the river.
The atmospheric Unicus in the old town makes the Valentine's Day weekend in Krakow unforgettable.
Photos: © Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland / Flickr