Valentine’s Day is coming! Better be on your best behaviour. But forget about the overcrowded restaurants, overpriced flowers, soulless cards and supermarket chocolates! This year it’s time to do something different. It doesn’t have to be lavishly extravagant or a grand romantic gesture, just something completely different.
We’ve compiled this list of ten very different ways to make your partner’s heart soar this Valentine’s Day. OK so there’s no Orient Express or trip to Paris on the list but who cares? Sometimes it’s good to go against the flow.
Find your passion in the Tuscan Hills
Tuscany is a destination that’s full of pride and passion, even in mid February. And what better way to put a little extra passion into your life than to stay in an isolated stone farmhouse that’s dripping with clematis, wisteria and honeysuckle? After a long walk in the hills, a glass of vino by the pool and a fantastic sunset you’ll be able to retreat to the warmth of your rustic Tuscan villa, woodburner blazing, hearts on fire. Podere Padrignone could be just the place. And if you like food you are in for a treat too: once a week the owners put on a traditional Tuscan feast like you won’t find in any restaurant. Magnifico!
Drive off into France’s very best sunset in a classic camper
The Dune du Pyla is Europe’s tallest sand dune. It’s also the very best place in Europe to see the sun set over the Atlantic – whatever time of the year. And the only way to get there is at the wheel of an oh-so-cutesie classic 1960s VW camper, of course. Belle Vie Campers will pick you up from Bordeaux airport and transport you to their base in Biscarosse where you’ll transfer to your little house on wheels. Then you’re on your own, free to explore Aquitaine’s beautiful pine forests in the grooviest style imaginable.
Stay in a beachfront bungalow on a tropical island
Nusa Lembongan isn’t one of those picture perfect coral atolls in the Indian Ocean, but it is a fantastic place to take it easy and have some fun with the one you love. Just 30 minutes from Bali, it has so much going for it that it’s hard to resist. There are few cars, very little noise and not much to spoil the view of the azure blue beaches, palm trees and sunsets. And if you happen to be interested in doing anything other than lying around, there is surf, kayaking, great diving and easy snorkelling. Oh, and you can get a traditional Lombok massage on the poolside. Stay at Lembongan Beach Villas and enjoy Bali like it used to be.
Watch the lava flows with a volcanic trip to Costa Rica
There is something very special - and incredibly romantic - about volcano watching. Perhaps it’s the sight of seeing the earth actually move right in front of you that does it! Arenal is one of Costa Rica’s most popular volcanoes because it is surrounded by hot springs, lush forest trails and at night offers spectacular views of explosions and lava flows. And you can do it all from the safety of your cabin at the Montana Del Fuego, an eco spa and hotel resort beneath the mountain. From here you can swim in hot springs, walk in the forest and enjoy the spectacular beauty of Costa Rica’s premier National Park.
Buy them some tulips from the home of the tulip
Okay, so tulips aren’t considered to be the most romantic of the flowers you can buy. But going to get them from Amsterdam is just about as romantic as it gets. Who needs roses anyway? Red tulips, which originate from Turkey and are grown by their millions in the Netherlands, are known as the flower of perfect love in Turkish mythology. And if that doesn’t make them a decent enough rival for the rose, we’re not sure what will. Amsterdam is exciting, beautiful, romantic and easy to get to. And why not go the whole hog and stay on a house boat with www.houseboat-rental-amsterdam.com ? That should seal the deal.
See the northern lights from a Norwegian Cruise ship
You won’t ever book anything that will score you more brownie points than this. Departing Gatwick on 11th February for 6 days, Hurtigruten’s Arctic Highlights Cruise is a once in a lifetime trip to the Arctic Circle via Norway’s north coast. You’ll fly into Tromso then cruise up to Hammerfest, the world’s most northerly town, where you’ll be able to take part in Arctic excursions! Of course there’s no guarantee that you’ll see the Aurora but it’s worth a shot isn’t it?
Sample tapas in Spain’s gastronomic city
San Sebastian is the city with more Michelin stars per head of population than any other city in the world. But it doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune to eat like a king here. The local version of tapas, pinxos, is available on bar tops all over the city, but particularly in the old city. If you are after authenticity there’s nowhere more atmospheric than Constitution Square, the plaza that used to be the city’s bull ring. Then again, the highlight of the city has to be La Concha, the main beach, a sweeping curve of gorgeous golden sands. From a balcony room at the elegant London Hotel you’ll be able to watch the passeo as the city’s inhabitants enjoy a their daily exercise. As views go, it’s pretty… well… romantic.
Cosy up in a surf shack by the sea in Cornwall
If you like it wild and woolly then you’ll absolutely adore The Beach Hut at Widemouth Bay in Cornwall. It’s quirky, tastefully decorated, secluded and enjoys a unique position on its own private surfing beach near Bude on Cornwall’s wild north coast. You might not be able to get a phone signal but you will find all your senses will work overtime in this beautiful spot. Light up the wood burner and watch the wind and waves rage outside. It’s magical, and if it isn’t the very finest, most romantic surf shack in the UK then we’ll eat our hats.
Go wild on Panama’s jungle island
Bocas Del Toro is Panama’s Caribbean island archipelago and it’s got a lot to smile about. While it’s not the sort of place you whisk someone away to (it’ll take a couple of days to get there from the UK) it’s certainly worth the trip. The islands are a national park and are home to dolphins, lush forest, fantastic birds, coral outcrops and mangrove swamps. Have you ever snorkelled among the roots of the mangrove? Here is the place to do it! Stay at The Red Frog Beach Island Resort on Isla de Bastimentos and you’ll stay overlooking the archipelago’s (if not Panama’s) best beach. And yes, you will see those little red frogs when you walk through the jungle….
Take the slow train to Ella
This is as close as we are getting to going on a luxury train journey. And it’s still a fair way off that. But the views and the experience are worth it, even if you travel second class (you can, of course, go first class). Ella is the last stop on the British-built railway from Colombo in Sri Lanka. It’s high in the hills among the tea plantations and offers a cool respite from the heat at the coast. Hiking is good and the people are friendly but the real reason to come here is for the journey itself. As the train chugs up the mountains you’ll see tea plantations, peaks, steep valleys, rivers and waterfalls. You’ll also see a lot of Sri Lankan life: when the train stops take time to enjoy a fresh coconut, a cup of sweet chai or a tasty curried hoppa. It’s a sensory delight!!!
Don’t forget your toothbrush, tickets, passport, money, partner…. and travel insurance!!!
Booking now? Don’t forget to book your travel insurance too. We cover people up to the age of 100, include over 150 activities (like snorkelling or diving to 20m) free, and can cover 1000s of medical conditions.