Celebrate this Valentine’s Day in some of Europe’s less famous romantic getaway spots
Europe abounds with capitals ripe for romantic breaks, and this February classics like Paris, Venice and Rome will again be ramping up the romance quotient for Valentine’s Day. Perhaps a better way to celebrate this year is to get away from the crowds, and by finding some quieter corners this year’s Valentine’s celebrations can be made truly intimate – much as the journey there by private jet will be.
For those wanting something truly remote, and the chance to stay snug together indoors in a location like no other, Norway’s Wolf Lodge is an excellent contender to win the prize for the Arctic’s most luxurious and secluded retreat.
Opened in 2016 and set within the wolf enclosure of the Polar Park – the most northerly animal park in the world – the lodge offers a stunning and unique experience, with a magical world to view from the sumptuous comfort of the beautifully appointed lodge. With 2 small airports handling private flights at Bardufoss and Harstad/Narvikhandling, both about an hour’s drive away, this remote wilderness is within easier reach than might be expected – although securing a reservation in this ultra-exclusive destination might require some serious string pulling. But it certainly deserves the effort. With your own dedicated host, wilderness guides for ventures outside, and a private chef, your every need will be taken care of. There are 3 deluxe master suites and the interiors are warm and stylish, with dark and rich tones. With such majestic creatures on your doorstep making use of your guide is a must, and with some tours promising a literal face-to-face nuzzle experience with one of the wolves, you and your partner will surely be left enchanted. Add to this the chance of spotting the Northern Lights, and it’ll be a Valentine’s break that is hard to outdo.
If the charms of cuddling in the cold have long worn off this winter, a milder climate can be found in Girona. Unlike its other Catalan counterpart Barcelona there is far less risk of being inundated with masses of tourists and the city’s quieter, more sedate appeal, the beauty of the coastline an hour away, and its wonderful culinary scene all make for a delightful getaway. As well as the Roca brothers’ El Celler de Can Roca – a recurring feature on the World’s 50 Best Restaurant list and renowned for its ability to marry the newest techniques with traditional Catalan flavours – there are numerous other gems to explore, tucked in the old town either on tiny cobbled streets or on one of its beautiful squares. And it is this 800-year-old historic centre with medieval remains and Roman ruins that provides a stunning backdrop for a perfect romantic stay. Meander its alleyways, chance upon atmospheric squares, find intimate corners as you go, and spy the pretty, colourful old houses that line the Onyar River. If the weather is fine head to the coast, or even take to the skies in a hot air balloon over the stunning volcanic areas of the La Garrotxa National Park.
Sometimes the most romantic escape is an escape back to nature, and after all, that goes right back to the word’s roots. Hiking à deux offers a rare moment to be alone and will leave you and your partner refreshed and rejuvenated. Set in Portugal’s stunning Sintra, amongst the rolling hills, mountain lakes and splendid gardens that make up the 545-acre national park is the Penha Longa Resort by Ritz Carlton. Spend your days exploring as much of the gorgeous surroundings as you can, building up a sweat and finding breathtaking vistas, knowing you’ll have the hotel group’s impeccable services and amenities to help with any weary limbs upon return.
Originally a 14th century monastery, and once a royal retreat, indulge in the lavish spa and sample world-class dining in one of 7 restaurants – though perhaps stay clear of the 27-hole golf course by the famed Robert Trent Jones, unless you’re lucky enough to both share that passion. If the large resort vibe gets too much, and you find yourself flanked by too many couples all trying to put the romance on, there is always the wonderful Lisbon, and the pretty coastal resort of Cascais close by to explore or revisit.
Whether it’s a remote Arctic adventure, the cobbles of a pretty medieval city, or a hike in one of Europe’s most beautiful national parks, fly to some less obvious romantic destinations to make sure this Valentine’s Day packs some serious romantic punch.
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