Paris, New York, Venice, the Maldives – all of these fabulous destinations should be experienced at least once in your lifetime, but as romantic destinations, they’ve become a bit of a cliché. To inspire you to think outside of the box, On The Go Tours has put together their top five alternative cities to visit this Valentine’s Day that won’t leave you feeling like a cliche. From a South American capital that never sleeps, to the calming ambiance of Morocco’s coastline, to snuggling up in the snow, this list has it all.
Google ‘Essaouira’ and the images thrown up in the search results will make you want to book a flight instantly. Relaxation comes effortlessly in this picturesque port town and despite its growing popularity in recent years, Morocco is still relatively cheap to visit.
Located just a couple of hours’ drive from a somewhat chaotic Marrakech, and with long sunny days, Essaouira is the perfect choice for a February escape. Like Santorini, one of the most romantic islands in the world, Essaouira is home to pretty whitewash houses with blue shutters and doorways, providing a charming setting. Staying in a riad is dreamy in itself but step outside where you can enjoy an evening stroll around the harbour and sample the locally caught seafood. For the outdoorsy types, Essaouira is the ideal place to learn to windsurf while those looking to unwind can enjoy an unforgettable massage at a traditional hammam.
Romance is everywhere in the ‘Paris of South America’. Buenos Aires, the passionate capital of Argentina, is a great destination for culture lovers. The porteños (locals) are known to be extremely welcoming so where better to spend February than one of the world’s most seductive cities?
Restaurants, bars, cafes and nightclubs to suit every budget can be found almost anywhere in BA, as it’s also known. As the old saying goes, it takes two to tango and watching this sensual dance in the city where it was born is an absolute must. Combine a romantic Valentine’s dinner with a traditional tango show at the popular Café de Los Angelitos.
Days are longer and temperatures are pleasant in February making it a great time of year to visit Buenos Aires. Lose yourself amongst the street performers in San Telmo, meander the pedestrian areas of Puerto Madero, or bike through the Reserva Ecológica before settling down with a picnic from one of the many local markets.
Hoi An, Vietnam’s riverside trading town, is renowned for its architecture, colourful lanterns, flavoursome food, and custom-made shopping. It is a traveller’s dream and visiting in February almost guarantees warm weather as the dry season is just beginning. Venture just a few kilometres and you’ll find Chinese temples, lounge bars, unique hotels, sandy beaches and rice fields.
In 1999 Hoi An became an UNESCO World Heritage Site and there’s plenty to attract visitors besides wandering the old town, which could take days in itself. Hire a scooter or cycle to the countryside or one of the less populated beaches. For a taste of culture, join a cooking class. Be sure to try cao lau, perhaps the most famous local dish consisting of noodles, pork and green vegetables.
See Also: What to Eat in Vietnam
Hoi An is also a highly romantic destination, though perhaps unintentionally so. Handmade lanterns decorate the car-free streets, showcasing the city in a different light. Grab some lanterns of your own and take a boat trip down the Thu Bon River, and enjoy the magical moment with your partner as you release the lanterns in the hope of bringing good luck.
Plan your visit to Hoi An for mid February and a Valentine’s Day trip will tie in nicely with the captivating Lantern Festival taking place on the 10th this year.
February is a fantastic time to visit the coastal city of Cape Town. In a destination known for its outdoor activities, diamonds and history, and thriving with restaurants, beaches and shopping, there is something for everyone this Valentine’s Day.
Splash out on a wine tasting tour at one of the many vineyards outside of the city, book a boat cruise and watch the sunset across the V&A waterfront, try tandem skydiving or snuggle up to a movie under the stars at the botanical gardens. A must-do in Cape Town is catching the cable car up Table Mountain for breathtaking views over the city.
Travel to: Cape Town from Durban
If you have more time on your hands, you’ll be spoilt with choices on South Africa’s southwest coast with historic towns and rugged nature reserves to explore along the famed Garden Route.
Not everyone craves the sunshine when planning a holiday. If sipping hot chocolate by a cozy fireplace and immersing yourself in a real life winter wonderland is your idea of a romantic break, Lapland is certainly worth consideration.
Chasing the Northern Lights is becoming one of the most popular bucket list activities and an igloo has to be one of the most enchanting places to spend the night. In northern Finland, Lapland offers the chance to experience both of these. Animal lovers can head to a husky farm and even try dog sledding, or visit Ranua Wildlife Park to watch arctic animals like polar bears and wolverines in their natural environment.
See Also: How to: Photograph the Northern Lights
A few nights in Finland can be the perfect stopover when travelling between Australia, Asia and Europe.
There you have it – five alternative and brag-worthy destinations for a romantic holiday. Whether you’re after a few days soaking up the sun, want to learn to cook for your other half, or fancy a month travelling South America together, you won’t be at a loss for ideas this Valentine’s Day.