Wintry weather is a good excuse to stay in the warm, snuggle up and stick on a film if you’re having a romantic evening in. That’s all well and good for now, but it’s many months still before we get some reliable sunshine in the good old UK. With Valentine’s coming up, planning a holiday might be just thing to surprise that special someone and look forward to better weather to come.
Take a sneaky look at some of our favourite destinations for romance and relaxation (don’t forget to leave the website open for an unsubtle hint when your other half is about).
It should be no surprise that Andalucia – the home of the passionate Flamenco – is a fabulous region for a romantic escape. If you’re looking for excitement and are feeling brave, having a go at the native dance will get pulses racing. It’s a highly skilful, hand clapping, foot stomping spectacle, but perhaps most important is duende. Long a source of mystery, this element describes the dance’s spiritual significance, which is said to be beyond human understanding. It’s the deep connection and emotional response that the music should evoke.
When it comes to winding down from the fervour, don’t worry. Spain’s southernmost beauty is a landscape for lovers, with the country’s longest coastline made for hand-holding strolls along the beach. Whitewashed houses and traditional villages are set to the backdrop of the Sierra de Tejeda Mountains, with the most incredible views and sunsets! A gorgeous drive through mountains will bring you to Granada. With a fascinating Moorish history influencing its beautiful architecture, you’ll be rewarded when you get there with gems like the Alhambra Palace and the beautiful Generalife Gardens.
As with all romantic escapes, often the simple things in life are the best things. Enjoy a meal for two as you dine on delicious Andalucian tapas. Made using fresh, local produce from one of the most beautiful agricultural regions in the country, the many small and delightful dishes epitomise togetherness and “what’s mine is yours”. Awww!
Home of Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, Cyprus has a long history steeped in romance – so a holiday here is bound to rub off some of that warm, fuzzy feeling, right? One of the most popular sites on the island is Aphrodite’s Rock. Close to Paphos, the ancient rock is said to be the birthplace of the Goddess. According to Greek mythology she rose from the ocean and was brought to shore aboard a shell (interesting image! To help you picture it, check out the famous painting by Sandro Botticelli, The Birth of Venus). Legend says that if you swim around Aphrodite’s Rock three times, you’ll find true love – but perhaps taking in the gorgeous scene at sunset might do the job too.
You’ll certainly have no shortage of things to do to fill your time together with as much or as little as you please. Try taking a romantic stroll around the unspoilt Akamas peninsula, along the beach or hiking across the rugged coastline. The small harbour at Latchi with its waterfront promenade is also a really beautiful spot to snuggle up in front of a taverna. You can even charter your own boat from the marina to enjoy a peaceful voyage out of the harbour – don’t miss the blue lagoon at Chamili Bay, it’s idyllic!
Dotted with Renaissance cities, the region of Tuscany in Italy is second to none when it comes to romantic destinations. The cities of Pisa, Siena and Lucca are breathtaking. You don’t need to be a connoisseur of the arts to enjoy the sights and architecture – the wonderful ambience is enough to allow these places to hold their own against Europe’s finest.
However away from the principle sights, often the most romantic of escapes is spent venturing into the Tuscan countryside to towns and villages full of Etruscan history. Cortona is one such place, perched on its hill with its stunning square and amazing views across its rural surrounds, over to Lake Trasimeno. Lucignano is another, with its Golden Tree of Life. Held in the Municipal Museum, it’s said that this shrine – made up of Gothic jewellery in the shape of a tree – gives good luck to lovers who promise fidelity in front of it. Worth a try, surely?
During your holiday a dip into Tuscany’s thermal waters is a must! You’ll find traditional baths or “Bagni” in Bagno Vignoni, while the outdoor baths at San Filippo are something really special. Deliciously warm at 37 degrees, don’t let the sulphuric odours put you off – the mineral content of the water is meant to give you baby soft skin, which is great for all those romantic cuddles you’ll be having.
Aegean Coast, Turkey
I’m going to throw a surprise in here and give you Turkey’s Aegean Coast as a great destination for a couple’s escape. It’s a fusion of great food, an immersive culture and history, with more than its fair share of beautiful beaches where you’ll be able to find your own secluded spot. Why not try your hand at something new together? Bitez beach offers gorgeous views and soft sands, with coastal winds providing the ideal conditions for a day spent windsurfing!
Out and about, take an amble through the olive groves of the Bodrum Peninsula, or the tangerine orchards of Bitez, or if you’re not a walker, hop aboard one of the beautiful ‘gulet’ boats for a romantic sortie on the water. When you’ve worked up an appetite, the Aegean Coast offers some delicious and aromatic dishes to try. A blend of Mediterranean and Far Eastern influences, you can have fun experimenting with dishes at local restaurants, or picking up some food from one of the bazaars to cook up at your villa. At the end of your evening, if you’re staying in Yalikavak you could be treated to one the famed orange sunsets. This luxurious resort is just minutes from the super yachts and serious money of Palmarina, but further inland is where you’ll want to explore, where the quieter towns retaining their traditional old world charm – perfect for exploring hand-in-hand with your other half.
The extra space and privacy you get at the many smaller James villas for two out there is perfect for reconnecting and spending quality time with that one who matters most.
Villa Manolo, Andalucia
Set in Andalucia’s beautiful countryside with spectacular views across the mountains, Villa Manolo has one bedroom and the perfect backdrop for a romantic getaway.