9 romantic destinations to dream about this Valentine’s Day
Raise your hand if you’re ready for the pandemic to be over? Here at TPG, we are too.
The thing that often gets us through the monotonous days working from home is travel planning, or at least, daydreaming about future trips we’d like to take.
So if you’re stuck at home this February, whether it be a self-quarantine, government-mandated lockdown, unemployment or fighting off COVID-19 yourself, we’re going to give you some romantic destinations to fuel that wanderlust.
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Remember, this love-inspired holiday occurs yearly, so bookmark this page for 2022 trips and beyond. These are also excellent destinations for honeymoons, engagements or any other romantic vacation you’d love to embark on.
The first time I was in Italy more than 20 years ago, a local called me a negative name in Italian for an American tourist in Milan when I struggled to ask for directions in broken Italian. My white Keds, backpack, horrific Italian accent and massive camera must have been a dead giveaway. At the time, though, I just thought someone was paying me a compliment!
After all, no matter what the words are, they always sound sexy and beautiful in Italian, one of the world’s most romantic languages. While I wised up later on in life when my Italian improved, I’ll always remember that a place where even negative words sound beautiful is a place I want to be — especially with someone I love.
Whether it be the clifftop villages overlooking the sea along the Amalfi coast, the rolling hills of Tuscany at the golden glow of sunset or the cobblestoned hometown of Romeo and Juliet, Verona, Italy is one of the most romantic places on earth. And let’s not forget about frolicking on white, sandy beaches and cozying up with Italian cuisine at intimate wine bars or family-owned vineyards. Now that’s amore!
2. The Maldives
I can safely say there’s nothing more romantic than a private, overwater villa overlooking some of the clearest ocean waters in the world. Welcome to the Maldives, a country home to more than 1,000 exotic islands, many of them uninhabited or private. Nothing is too far a reach in the Maldives, where private butlers, underwater restaurants and some of the most luxurious hotel bathtubs in the world are simply the norm.
While these islands are known for being both exclusive and expensive (this is why many reserve this bucket-list trip for a once-in-a-lifetime event such as a honeymoon) with the right stash of points and miles, you could be sipping a beachfront cocktail in serious style or hanging in your very own overwater private pool with your honey without breaking the bank.
3. Buenos Aires, Argentina
Known as the “Paris of Latin America”, (don’t worry, we’ll get to France soon enough), Buenos Aires is one of the most romantic destinations in South America. From the sing-song sounds of Argentinian Spanish to the sultry, intimate tango beats, you’ll easily be seduced by this city (and, whoever you’re exploring it with) sin problema. Passion comes naturally in the city, and you won’t find it hard to spot couples holding hands or locking lips in public spaces.
Plan to take a romantic boat tour Venice-style of the Puerto Madero district, explore the colors of La Boca, shop at the fancy boutiques in Palermo — and of course, sign up for a tango class. If you can’t fathom dancing this sensual dance, at least catch a tango show and soak in all the romance.
4. Cape Town, South Africa
February is summer in Cape Town, the perfect spot to combine a romantic vacation for couples that want to enjoy a variety of adventures while escaping a cold northern hemisphere winter. From strolling the glorious Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens to catching a sunset atop the famed Table Mountain, the city is chock-full of idyllic activities. From absolutely stunning hotels such as the One&Only Capetown to the boutique and unique Silo Hotel (originally a grain silo), there are plenty of charming properties to choose from.
Get out of the city with visits to the nearby wine regions of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, where romantic wine picnics and even wine safaris are daily activities. And speaking of safaris, there’s nothing more utopian than spotting the Big Five in the wild, which you can do in a variety of game resorts within a few hour’s drive from Cape Town.
5. The Greek Islands
It doesn’t even matter which one — we guarantee a trip to any of Greece’s many islands will be a romantic and blissful adventure. Of course, there’s always Santorini, known for its classic blue-and-white hilltop architecture and memorable sunsets. If you’re hoping for a splurge, this island would indeed make for a romantic experience, especially thanks to a large number of luxurious hotels (or rentals — check out this incredible one).
But some of the smaller, lesser-known spots can be just as romantic. Think empty beaches, secluded Airbnb properties, white-washed, mountaintop chapels, thermal spas and family-owned tavernas and restaurants where the ouzo is flowing. And don’t forget to share some tasty Greek honey, cheese and wine with your loved one.
Hawaii might actually be a more feasible romantic getaway for U.S.-based readers traveling in 2020. While you can feel a sense of romance on all the Hawaiian islands, Maui is an island often catering to honeymooners, and Kauai’s dramatic exotic landscape was made for lovers.
In Maui, plan to hike rushing waterfalls and admire colorful sunrises from volcanic craters like Haleakalā. Driving the awe-inspiring (and equally terrifying) road to Hana will give you an opportunity to bond with your partner. Kauai, slightly wilder, is where you can explore the Napali coast via helicopter or boat, enjoying sunsets, sunrises, and intimate beach picnics. Don’t miss a stop at the Kalalau Lookout point to admire the verdant coastline contrast against the blue waters.
Hammock for two, please! Bali is the ultimate destination for holistic relaxation and rejuvenation — and romance, too. If your dream vacation includes yoga, spa rituals and vegan smoothies in addition to blissful beaches and gorgeous resorts, this Southeast Asian paradise is the place to go.
With many unique excursions, you can’t help but bond over shared bicycle rides through rice paddies, hiking through rushing waterfalls/volcanoes and couples’ massages. Luxury catamarans and glass-bottomed kayaks will offer couples the chance to enjoy some romantic water activities out on the open seas, too. And, there are plenty of luxury hotels (ones you can use points at) to hole up in during a tropical storm with your partner, like the Ritz-Carlton Bali (don’t forget to try the floating breakfast) or the St. Regis Bali.
Belize’s soft Caribbean-style sands are perfect for eco-travelers looking for a beachy, relaxing escape. While it doesn’t have the same number of sustainable resort options as Costa Rica, the country’s commitment to protecting its reefs from offshore drilling and single-use plastic is notable. Couples will want to spend lots of time in the water, as Belize is one of the best spots in the world for diving and snorkeling. If you’re lucky, you may spot marine life such as nurse sharks, stingrays, hawksbill turtles, manatees or even whale sharks at spots like the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Shark Alley and Half Moon Caye. Of course, there’s nothing like a helicopter ride over the famed Blue Hole if you’d rather see this incredible wonder from up above.
And circling back to eco-friendly luxury resorts, we’re hoping the Alaia Belize on Ambergis Caye (the country’s first Mariott property) opens soon, featuring amenities like a wine club and three pools (one is a suspended rooftop pool). Unfortunately, hotel rates aren’t available yet, but if you’re looking for a lifetime of romance, you can buy a condo now (rates start at about $348,000).
This list wouldn’t be complete with France, home to Paris, one of the most famous cities in the world for romance. We get why strolling through the Luxembourg Gardens, visiting the famed Palace of Versailles, a sunset cruise on the Seine and catching the Eiffel Tower mid-sparkle make the city feel like a real-life fairy tale, but France’s romance and charm goes well beyond just its capital city.
Consider wine tasting and castle hopping in the Loire Valley, just a few hours by train from Paris. There’s nothing more intimate than sipping a warming glass of red in a castle, after all. And let’s not forget about the famed medieval city of Carcassone (this really is just like a fairy tale), a quaint bed-and-breakfast experience in Provence or a ski trip in the French Alps.
We’re all itching to travel. While we're stuck closer to home this year because of COVID-19, plan for future years and keep some of these romantic, special spots in mind for a memorable Valentine’s Day.