For that special trip away with the one you love, it's time to try something original. Experience Love with a capital L in one of these destinations off the beaten track to surprise that someone special. Whether lounging on a white sandy beach, wandering through an unknown town or discovering mysterious landscapes as a couple, there's something for every taste!
Suggested romantic break #1: The desert island
As Capri is so yesterday, you need to seek out a new corner of paradise where you can forget the rest of the world and enjoy your time with your partner, surrounded by blue waters and fine sandy beaches as far as the eye can see. Get out of Europe to discover the Keys archipelago in southern Florida, or head further north to the Magdalen Islands in Canada, to enjoy a natural décor and a friendly welcome from the islanders.
- The Keys
With 800 islands and 42 bridges interconnecting a number of them, the Keys archipelago is a paradise for lovers. This haven of peace on the southern tip of Florida offers an idyllic natural setting, with attractions including an exploration of the mangrove forests at Key Largo, boat trips in a glass bottomed boat across the crystal clear waters or walking hand-in-hand through the narrow streets of Key West. On Marathon Island, you can even swim with dolphins while the Dry Tortugas National Park in the lower and wilder part of the Keys offers an isolated setting not far from the town, where you can go turtle watching in a coral-rich environment.
- The Magdalen Islands
Another maritime paradise, this time further north in the Gulf of St Lawrence. Couples come to this archipelago to sample life at another pace, the life of the islanders, where the gentle and friendly atmosphere is very perceptible. Try your hand at hiking, birdwatching in the company of no-one other than the birds and the one you love, or sea kayaking under the red cliffs to name just a few of the activities on offer. The seven Magdalen Islands provide a sporty yet peaceful setting for your special break for two. After the effort comes the relaxation on the fine sandy beaches (with an average water temperature of 20°C in August) and the cruises. Set off to meet the islanders during their summer festival, combining artistic workshops, food sampling (including their local cheese the Pied-de-Vent), boat building competitions, not forgetting the firework displays to be admired in the night sky.
Suggested romantic break #2: Strolling hand-in-hand
Take Prague's lanovka or pretend you're Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca’s souks… Who said that cultural breaks can't be romantic too? In the shadow of St Petersburg's monuments or along the canals of Bruges, treat yourself to a double dose of love and history.
- Vasilyevsky Island in St Petersburg
Who could imagine a more romantic setting than the one you’ll find when exploring canals, museums and palaces? The former capital of the tsars has no fewer than 250 museums, including the Hermitage, and 4,000 monuments, dotted around the 42 islands which comprise this city. For anyone looking to wander around with their other half with no clear plan other than to simply enjoy strolling together, imagining yourselves as an imperial couple from another age, you'll be spoiled for choice! Set off to walk hand-in-hand through the Imperial Gardens, kiss that special someone on one of the bridges crossing the Neva (there are 342 to choose from!), and whisper sweet nothings in her ear on the "Strelka". As the historical eastern end of Vasilyevsky Island, at nightfall it offers a spectacular view across the palace on the left bank.
This historical city, the capital of the Czech Republic, offers lovers a rich cultural and historical scene, comprised of royal buildings and imperial residences. The sheer musical and literary vibrancy of the city, which contributes to its old-time, folky feel, provides the perfect musical accompaniment to your break. The Petřín National Park provides a delightful leafy setting for strolling as a couple, to be discovered after having taken the lanovka (funicular railway). Finally, in the busy city centre, the Hradčany Castle area offers its loved-up visitors a welcome moment of peace and tranquillity, in the shadow of its palaces dating from the 17th and 18th centuries.
When you think of romance do you think of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca? Head for Morocco to discover the ancient medina as a couple, where together you can sample the gentle charm of the Maghreb in the souks of the Habous district. To get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy a little privacy, go for a stroll in the Bouskoura Forest and admire its eucalyptus trees.
Suggested romantic break #3: In the footsteps of legendary lovers
A number of marvellous sites all around the world tell the story and perpetuate the memory of the great passions of yesteryear. Set off to discover some of these amazing locations, immortalised by their legends. From the Taj Mahal erected in memory of the deceased wife of the Mughal Emperor, to the ruins of Angkor hidden away in the Cambodian forests, not forgetting the almost supernatural tranquillity of the temple city of Kyoto, during your journey you can discover the romantic stories behind these age-old mysteries.
- The Taj Mahal
In the state of Uttar Pradesh in northern India we find the emblematic symbol of a legendary love story: that of Shah Jahan and Arjumand Banu Begum, nicknamed Mumtaz Mahal, "the chosen one of the palace". Hence the creation of the Taj Mahal, this gigantic white marble mausoleum built by the Mughal emperor to celebrate the glory of his deceased wife. This building, one of the finest examples of Muslim art in India, took 16 years to build, between 1632 and 1648. It is best admired at sunset, when the effect is really spectacular, after having visited the gardens of the Red Fort.
An enigmatic location and the immortal trace of an amazing yet vanished civilisation, the Angkor site awaits you in Cambodia. As the Khmer capital for almost 500 years until the 14th century and the world's largest religious complex, it can be fascinating to visit the ruins of this empire, which have gradually been swallowed up by the giant roots of the banyan trees. A mystical experience to be shared with your soulmate, where for a few hours you can discover a truly timeless setting.