Valentine’s Day Special: Romantic Travel Destinations

By Scott Dicken

Valentine’s Day Special: Romantic Travel Destinations

While romantic getaways for Valentine’s day are likely confined to our immediate surroundings this year, the time will soon come when we’re ready to hit the road again with our significant others. And, after a year (or more) of cabin fever, what better way to shake the shackles of quarantine than to indulge in a romantic international getaway?

In honor of Valentine’s day, this month I explore some of the most romantic destinations you may wish to consider and rather than focus on some of the more obvious, but no less romantic, choices (such as Venice, Paris, or the Maldives), I explore four lesser chosen romantic gems.

Petra, Jordan

Explore Petra’s Treasury Building by candlelight

A labyrinth of temples, tombs, Corinthian columns, and intricate stonework are hand-carved into the rust-red, pink and orange mountainside; 2,000 years of history pouring out across the desert landscape. An advanced civilization fueled by the wealth of regional trade in incense produced engineering feats well beyond their years. The “Rose City of Petra”, also known as Ramqu, is a sight to behold. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and undoubtedly the crowning jewel of Jordan’s tourist industry, Petra was the impressive capital of the Nabataean Kingdom and is believed to have been founded around the 6th Century BC.

Your Romantic Activity: For a night of romance under Jordan’s desert stars, look no further than ‘Petra By Night’. Beginning with an atmospheric walk along the Siq, a narrow canyon which historically served as the fortified entrance to the Kingdom, you emerge to the sight of Petra’s centerpiece Treasury Building framed by the light of 1,500 candles. The event is a magical and romantic way to experience the rock city and occurs three nights a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday).

Kenya, Safari

Take a sunrise balloon ride across Savannah

The classic African safari naturally conjures images of romantic rugged wilderness and vast open savannah teeming with wildlife. The good news is that gone are the days of glamourous elites donning their safari suits and pith helmets to hunt big game with a blunderbuss. Instead, the last few decades have seen the rise of the classic African Safari for even the most budget-conscious of romance seeking tourists. Whilst you might not be able (or willing) to afford the five-star, all-inclusive, safari lodge you’ve seen on TV, there are a myriad of budget options in pretty much all of the major game reserves across sub-Saharan Africa.

Your Romantic Activity: The Masai Mara is probably the first destination that comes to mind for first-time safari-goers; and therein can lie the problem for those seeking romantic solitude. The Park is undoubtedly one of the best African safari experiences, and the game-viewing opportunities are near second-to-none. But chances are that on a standard game drive you might be viewing that game alongside a gaggle of mini-buses and overland trucks topped off with some 4×4 self-drivers who might well scare any wildlife off. If snarled traffic doesn’t sound like your idea of a romantic experience, then take to the air on a romantic champagne hot air balloon ride. Typically departing in the early morning, you’ll have the opportunity to soar above the savannah as the sun rises. Keep a look out for grazing elephants and packs of lions as you descend for a private champagne breakfast in the bush surround by the sounds of the wild.

Santorini, Greece

The blue-domed churches of Oia

The Greek island of Santorini is a romance-seekers dream! Its blue-domed churches, iconic windmills, pastel houses and jaw-dropping sunsets mean that even couples who have spent the last 12-months arguing over which Netflix series to binge-watch next can’t fail to rekindle the romance. There’s a real danger that you’ll spend your entire visit seeing Santorini through a camera viewfinder, so make sure you take the time to put the camera back in the bag for long enough to enjoy the island’s fantastic restaurants and wineries, explore the island on ATVs and head out on to the water for fantastic sunset views of the island’s volcanic caldera.

Explore Oia’s cobbled pathways

Your Romantic Activity: The town of Oia is the highlight of a trip to Santorini; a hodge-podge of alleyways and romantic restaurant outlooks over the Mediterranean. My advice is simply to spend time wandering, stopping off in the smalls shops and cafes and exploring down quiet cliff-side paths. If you fancy a spot of lunch then head down from Oia to Amoudi Bay; where you’ll find quaint fish restaurants, a slower pace, and fewer tourists! Hang around into the evening and book a table for sunset dinner with a view back up the cliffside to Oia.

Bruges, Belgium

Bruges’ famous Rozenhoedkaai

Bruges is Belgium’s most famous tourist “attraction” – and for good reason. Tourist hordes flock to this picturesque city for its romantic canals, cobbled streets and medieval architecture. During the summer, the old town is filled with visitors enjoying ice-cold Belgian Beer and watching the world go by. The perfect weekend destination, Bruges has something for everyone; from boat rides along its canals to world-class museums. Top all of that off with enough beer, chocolate, waffles and moule-frites to sink a battleship and you have something that represents the perfect European romantic getaway.

Your Romantic Activity: One of the most photographed spots in all of Bruges, and the point at which the Groenerei and Dijver canals meet, Rozenhoedkaai is a postcard picture perfect spot that you can’t miss. Come rain or shine the area is lined by small boats waiting to transport visitors along the city’s canals. Find a seat with your loved-one at the Little Venice café, order up a glass of wine or a Belgian beer, and sit and watch the world go by.

Looking for more romantic travel inspiration this Valentine’s Day? Make sure to head on over to takephotosleavefootprints.com.

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