What started out as an early Christian celebration honoring Saint Valentinus, has today flourished into a world-wide festivity of love; Valentine’s Day. Each year on February 14th, couples and loved ones commemorate the holiday by sending flowers, presenting assortments of chocolates, or giving out ‘valentines.’ While it is common to simply take a spouse out to the local fine-dining establishment, this may be one of the best chances to travel to some of the world’s top hot spots of love. Many top destinations happen to be at their peak of beauty during mid-February. What’s more, you won’t find them swamped with tourist families on their annual summer vacation. Let’s keep that mini-van in the garage for a few more months, Cupid is breaking out his top picks.
Venice, Italy: If there was ever a time to be more cliché, this is it. Venice has been known for decades as being one of the most romantic cities in the world, making Valentine’s day one of the best opportunities to escape to this city of love. Embroidered with sparkling canals and twinkling lights, a few days in Venice could pull on the heart strings of any couple. Take a traditional gondola ride through the Grand Canal and float through the heart of Venice. If you have a few days, stay in one of Venice’s famous Bed & Breakfasts like the Venice Ca’ del Pozzo which is just steps from St. Mark’s Square and the infamous La Fenice Theatre. If you only have a day or two, no problem. Venice is the world’s only pedestrian city, making it both easy and safe to scope out the entire city in an afternoon on foot. Stop by the Bar Pasticceria Gilda Vio and taste Venice’s best and world-famous tiramisu. Have a classic Venice meal at the popular Restaurant Antiche Carampane and sip on their fresh Peach Bellini. When you’re done, take a few steps over to the Rialto Bridge where you can gaze upon Venice’s beautiful night sky and enjoy the sound of a city untouched by a bustle of cars.
Prague, Czech Republic: Known as one of the most cozy and friendliest destinations in the world, Prague beckons coupled travelers from across the globe. While most cities tend to inflate prices during the romantic holiday, Prague is known to keep theirs at bay. Take it as Cupid’s gift to you and your loved one. Glide through the heart of the city on a Dinner River Cruise. Travelers can dine on a buffet of fresh cuisine and dance to a live jazz band. For a more extravagant experience, splurge on the Prague Opera & Dinner Package, a popular attraction around Valentine’s Day. After you watch the famous Prague Opera, enjoy dinner at one of three of Prague’s most prestigious restaurants, Bellevue Restaurant, Mlynec Restaurant, or V Zatisi Wine Restaurant. Once supper is finished, a private care awaits ready travelers to transport them back to their hotel. Before you end your trip, don’t forget to cross over the Charles Bridge of Kisses. Take a moment with your loved one as it is said to bring life-long happiness.
Barcelona, Spain: As one of the spicier destinations to visit over Valentine’s Day, Barcelona has also been named one of the top Romantic cities in the world. What’s unique about Barcelona is not only does it have the architectural beauty that comes along with being a top Valentine’s destination, but it also has beautiful beaches. Couples can chose to either romantically rome the streets gazing on picturesque towers and parks, or dip their toes in the ocean. Barcelona also offers hot air balloon rides where visitors can look over the mountains and really get their heart racing. Just around Port Vell is also one of Barcelona’s most famous restaurants, The Passeig de Colom. Couples can dine while listening to the sounds of the water and enjoying Barcelona’s surrounding architecture. If you need a chance to recharge, Barcelona offers amazing spa packages on Valentine’s Day. The Rituels d-Orient Spa Hammamm is the city’s most popular spa. It offers a Turkish bath, steam rooms, indulgent massages, and mud treatments. Don’t leave without experiencing the Magic Fountain Show, a music and light display that is said to be a ‘must-see’ show on Valentine’s Day.
Grasse, Provence: What used to be known as the city of, ‘art and history,’ now takes its fame for being the city of ‘flowers and perfume.’ In fact, Grasse is known as the perfume capital of the world. Inhabited by meadows and grasslands filled with fields of flowers, Grasse is one of this year’s top Valentine’s Day travel destinations. During the month of February, Grasse boasts floral fragrances of lavender, jasmine, and of course, roses. With hills upon rolling hills encompassing the town, Grasse looks just as beautiful as it smells. On the special holiday, many work-shops open up where couples can stop in and create their own signature perfume. The yellow mimosa flower is particularly in season and is highly requested for hand-crafted fragrances. Once couples have made their unique perfume, they can take a tour of Grasse’s famous gardens, like the Villa Noailles and the Villa Fort de France. Fields of flowers surround the Grasse town along with fountains and romantic statues alike.
Paris, France: Of Course, we couldn’t leave out the city built for love and romance itself. It goes without saying that Paris remains the #1 Valentine’s Day travel destination across the globe. As the old saying goes, “The quickest way to the heart is through the stomach…” Paris leaves no room for argument with its beautiful fine-dining venues. Le Moulin de la Galette is actually set inside of an old wind-mill, making it a unique and historic experience. The restaurant is captivated by beauty while being surrounded by a peaceful courtyard draped in Ivy. Cuisine is traditional French and features popular items such as Pan-fried Foie Gras with Lemongrass and Juniper Berries. After dinner, don’t miss out on the beautiful lights of Paris. While the Eiffel Tower is an obvious must-see, if you get the chance, check out some surrounding venues as well. The Sacre-Coeur area in Montmartre is a more unique experience. The cobble-stone streets, stairways, and hidden gardens make the perfect getaway for couples looking for a night-time stroll. The village is actually where famous artists such as Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali worked their artistic magic. Before leaving Paris, be sure to visit one of many quaint breakfast spots in the surrounding area and fuel up on decedent crepes for the trip back home.
There is no better time to escape life’s hustle and bustle than on Valentine’s Day. February is the perfect time to save on off-season prices while indulging in some of the world’s most extravagant travel destinations. Whether Cupid leads you to the rolling hills of Provence or the sandy beaches of Barcelona, be sure to spread the love this Valentine’s day.