Seven of Europe’s most romantic destinations – words Alexa Wang
Buying a property might not feel like the most romantic thing to do together – although if any suitors fancy buying us a place in Paris, we’ll take it instead of a red rose! – but starting a new life together in the sun sounds kind of dreamy.
For young couples looking for adventure, or older couples who want to put a spring in their step when the kids have left home, what better project? Here are six sensuous romantic destinations to book a Valentine’s Day viewing trip.
The Italian Lakes – la dolce vita by the water
A combination of breath-taking natural scenery, fabulous waterside properties and the seductive Italian lifestyle have made the Italian Lakes, nestled below the Alps in the north of the country, a favourite with holidaying couples and honeymooners.
As a homeowner there, enjoy romantic lakeside strolls and long lunches in one of the waterside villages, perhaps rounded off with a his-and-hers spa. In the summer months, all types of water sports are on offer, while proximity to ski resorts makes winters there an equally exciting time. You’ll probably spend most of your time, however, gazing at the gorgeous scenery and wondering if it’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen, apart from your beloved of course!
Of the three main lakes, Lake Como is regarded as the most glamorous and upmarket, making it popular with the global jet set and celebrities like George Clooney. It’s long been one of Europe’s best known romantic destinations. Property is surprisingly reasonable, but further east, Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore are even more affordable options.
Sagres – Europe’s finest sunsets?
Beautiful sunsets are guaranteed to ignite romance and nowhere does them quite like Sagres in Portugal’s Algarve, the most south-westerly point in Europe. Early risers might like to pop around the headland to the east-facing Praia do Martinhal beach and the watch the sun rise as if from nowhere out of the Atlantic Ocean.
Thanks to being less developed and touristy than other resorts in the Algarve, Sagres has held on to its authentic Portuguese feel. This makes it an appealingly unspoilt and natural place for couples to spend time, enjoying the stunning coastal landscape and secluded beaches as much during daylight hours as at sunset. Yep, secluded enough to discard the swimsuit if you fancy it, with two official “clothes optional” beaches near Sagres.
Do put some clothes on when you go househunting though! Popular types of property here include cosy townhouses and villas, including new-build.
Valencia – the city of orange blossom
A stroll through one of Spain’s finest and best preserved ‘old towns’, stopping for a drink in a pretty plaza as you breathe in the heady smell of orange blossom is a sure way to spark electricity between a couple. This is just one of many reasons to head to Valencia, home to Europe’s largest urban park, called Turia Gardens and occupying the old riverbed. It’s one of Spain’s more laid back romantic destinations. The long promenade along the city’s seafront is an equally engaging place for a stroll, in particular around the charming old fishermen’s quarter, El Cabanyal. Other central districts that appeal to both international visitors and homeowners include the Eixample district, with a lively café culture, the hip Ruzafa neighbourhood and adjoining but more upmarket Pla del Remei area, not forgetting the medieval Barrio del Carmen. If you’re thinking of getting involved yourself, you can find a handy guide to buying a property in Spain here.
Aix-en-Provence – the city of a thousand fountains
Paris might be recognised around the world as the city of love, but for a romantic French destination or honeymoon with a more laid-back lifestyle and better climate, we’d suggest Aix-en-Provence in the sunny south of France. The city, known as France’s culture capital, is famous for its architecture and fountains, thanks to being the site of numerous thermal spas. As if loved-up couples required any more warming up! Great for a romantic getaway.
In true Provençal style, the city offers a thriving pavement café culture, chic boutiques, bustling markets and of course excellent restaurants. It’s little wonder Cézanne and many other Impressionist painters were so at home there, and still today the city is an artistic hub. The surrounding countryside, much of it covered in vines and pretty villages, and nearby coastline just add to the city’s all-round appeal.
Perhaps lesser known than the other destinations in this list, Sibiu nevertheless deserves to be included. Located in the heart of Romania in the famous region of Transylvania, the city has been named one of Europe’s most idyllic places to live. The medieval Old Town area is perfect for talking long walks on narrow streets, ending up in large squares before getting lost again. Keep an eye out for cosy small cafes, homey wine bars or fancy cocktail bars! The city has the best fine-dining scene in Romania and has been named Europe’s Capital of Gastronomy in 2019 for the way local chefs reinterpret traditional Transylvanian recipes using locally sourced products.
There are many day trips in Sibiu you can consider: visit the famous Bran Castle known as Dracula’s Castle near Brasov, or go on a thrilling ride on the famous Transfagarasan Highway, the best road in the world! Or maybe you’d like to relax on a hiking trip in the Carpathian Mountains, visiting traditional villages along the way? In any case, Sibiu is a great destination to visit with your partner and its romantic, laidback atmosphere will surely make your holiday memorable!
Paphos – Aphrodite’s Isle
Ever wondered why sunny Cyprus is also known as Aphrodite’s Isle? Many see it as the best Greek island to visit. Legend has it that the Greek island is the birthplace of the Greek goddess of love and beauty, a claim recognised by the existence of the famous Aphrodite’s Rock, an impressive formation sticking out of the sea in the south-west of the island between the resorts of Paphos and Limassol.
It’s easy to see why Aphrodite might have hailed from there – the landscape around Paphos is pretty, especially on the western side of the resort where the protected Akamas Peninsula is located. The beaches are a real highlight in this area, complemented by the island’s year-round sun – which means more romantic moments on the beach and more candlelit dinners outside on the terrace! Property options there include a honeymoon holiday apartment within the resort of Paphos, or opt for a quieter, more traditional location in one of the surrounding villages, such as Peyia, Tala or Tsada.
Santorini – a gift from the centre of the earth!
It’s hard not to feel amorous as you take in the scenery on the Greek island of Santorini, a volcanic creation in the Cyclades which has inspired poets over the centuries but these days is as popular with honeymooners and island hoppers. This has to be one of the most romantic destinations in the world.
A highlight of the island, also known as Thira, and of particular interest to sweethearts is the town of Oia, where the clifftop location, pretty sugar-cube architecture and famous sunset views are certain to set the heart fluttering.
Off all the Greek islands, Santorini is second only to Mykonos for tourist numbers each year, which is reassuring for anyone looking to cash in on rentals while not using their love nest. Property isn’t so expensive though, and it’s one of the few Greek islands you can travel to easily all year. Lots of best greek island to visit via Athens. So book that Valentine’s Night flight!