With Valentine's Day drawing in closer, all love – struck couples must be planning something special for their better halves. While a bouquet of red roses, chocolates, a gift and a dinner date seems to be the norm, some of you may want to break away from the usual. As 14th Feb conveniently falls on a Saturday this year, a romantic getaway can be easily planned.
The world is full of wondrous, picturesque places for couples and below are my favourite romantic destinations to choose from (in no particular order), depending on where in the world you are.
1. Bruges, Belgium – is definitely the most magical place I have ever visited. Dating back to the 9th century, this delightful city has a canal running through it and is often referred to as the 'Venice of the North'. Stroll down the cobble stone paths, munching on some Belgian chocolate, taking in the old world charm all around you. A candle lit dinner at Markt (the main square) with traditional music playing in the background, followed by a ride in a horse carriage will be a unique experience that both of you will treasure forever.
2. Paris, France – fondly known as the City of Love, has a warm aura about it, even in the peak of winter. Take her shopping in the fashionable French capital, dine at the restaurant at Eiffel Tower (58 Tour Eiffel) and end the evening on a musical note by catching the late night Moulin Rouge show. Being a popular destination for lovers from all over the world, book early to avoid disappointment.
3. Provence, France – Endless lavender fields, rolling hills and quaint, old villages is what you will find in this South Eastern part of France. Book yourself a cottage and explore one of the picturesque old towns with your partner, on foot or cycle. As this is truffle season, you are bound to indulge your taste buds in gastronomical delight.
4. Queenstown, New Zealand – is my favourite place in New Zealand. It offers a plethora of options for adventure junkies, foodies and nature enthusiasts. Take a Hot Air Balloon ride together, taking in the beauty of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu. Go for a scenic cruise to Milford Sound, gaze at the mighty Mitre peak and watch dolphins swimming in the distance in Tasman sea. Later, dig into a delicious meal back in town and make the most of Queenstown's lively nightlife.
5. Alleppey, India – Located in South India, in the state of Kerala, Alleppey, known as the Venice of the East, is a must visit. Famous for its backwaters, stay in a houseboat which comes with it's own cook, and devour Kerala's delicacies on board. Your cook will even procure fresh fish from a fish farm while you're enjoying your cruise. Or you could have him cook the fish you caught, while on board this luxurious houseboat.
6. Fowey, England – is a lovely English town situated on the south coast of Cornwall. Wander around the harbour, gorge on Fish n Chips and wander around the small town centre consisting of cute little shops, tea rooms and a pub. Take a walk up to St. Catherine's castle for a panoramic view of Fowey and the nearby fishing village of Polruan. Be sure to stay in a cottage, there are various options to choose from, some of them offering modern amenities such as a jacuzzi.
7. Rome, Italy – Steeped in history, Rome has much to offer, in terms of great food and sightseeing options. Stay in a historic hotel that offers a mix of old world charm and contemporary luxury in the heasrt of the Italian capital. Watch the sunset at the top of the Spanish steps, wine and dine at one of the many fantastic restaurants/ bars at Campo de' Fiori or Trastevere. Do remember to try the Gelato while you're there!
8. Bangkok, Thailand – Although known for all the wrong reasons, Bangkok can be a great romantic getaway. A foodie's heaven, shopper's paradise, interesting night life and most importantly, fantastic hotels at reasonable rates. If you want to go all out, stay at the Lebua and enjoy a fantastic evening at one of the world's best rooftop bars – Sky Bar, known for its eclectic cocktails and live jazz. It will surely take your love to new heights with a panoramic view of the city from the 63rd floor.
9. Nagarkot, Nepal – is a delightful hill station on the outskirts of Kathmandu. Early morning views of the world's highest peak, Mount Everest, from here are simply magnificent. Stroll around the quiet village, snack on some buff momos (Nepal's specialty!) and relax in your cottage. International wines are much cheaper than India here so do try a few.
10. Kashmir, India – is undoubtedly the most breathtaking state in India. It's beauty beckons tourists from all over the world, whether you want to stay in a shikara/ houseboat in picturesque Dal Lake in Srinagar or visit the never ending rugged beauty of Ladakh, you are bound to have an experience like never before. The following lines from Led Zeppellin's song Kashmir sum it up:
My Shangri-La beneath the summer moon, I will return again
Sure as the dust that floats high in June, when movin' through Kashmir.