Need to rekindle the romance in your relationship? There’s a whole host of romantic holiday destinations to choose from across the world, from the great European cities of love such as Paris and Rome to the stunning tropical beaches of the Seychelles and Mauritius. What’s more, treating your loved one to a romantic break away needn’t cost the earth. All you really need are the basics – moonlit beach, candle-lit dinner, a bottle of Blue Nun-and you’re away. Here are some great romantic destinations to consider, from the highly affordable to the opulent and luxurious.
White-washed villas tumbling down hillsides towards the shimmering turquoise sea. Tiny horseshoe bays. Fragrant orange groves… Thasos is a quintessentially beautiful Greek Island. More quiet and peaceful than some of the other, larger Greek Islands, Thasos is something of a hidden gem, and a great place for a laid-back, relaxing break. It’s reminiscent of St. Tropez in the south of France before it became overly developed. As well as the gorgeous secluded beaches and attractive coastline, Thasos boasts an equally enticing interior. Hire a moped, hold on tight to your lover’s waist and explore inland, stopping every now and again to sample the delicious wares on offer at roadside stalls such as honey, olives and the island's own traditional drink — the pear and cinnamon
Another classic Greek Island destination, Santorini also boasts the white-washed traditional villages and stunning Azure Sea seen in Thasos, but with a volcanic twist. Many of the beaches here are of a striking black or red shingle; contrasted with the bright turquoise water that laps them, these bays have a bizarre, otherworldly feel that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. The most romantic feature of holidays in Santorini are the stunning sunsets however; rated as some of the most magnificent on earth. The picturesque mountainside village of Oia offer some of the best sunset views; here you’ll find numerous cosy restaurants with panoramic sea views, ideally placed for watching the sun sink slowly into the Aegean. Alternatively, witness the setting sun on-board one of the popular sunset cruise boats that sail along the coast in the evening. What could be more romantic?
The largest and most beautiful of the Ionian Islands, Kefalonia is world-renowned for its breath-taking scenery. The island boasts some of the best beaches in Greece and a beautifully lush interior to match, with an abundance of wildflowers, Mediterranean plants and fragrant fruit groves. Couples looking for a romantic break here should consider staying in the charming village of Assos; considered one of the most idyllic and picturesque on the island. A half-moon bay situated on small spit of land that juts into the turquoise sea, there are just 100 inhabitants in tiny Assos – guaranteeing an authentic, laid back holiday. An impressive 16th century Venetian Castle, with walls that stretch for over 2km, sits about the resort and makes for a lovely afternoon exploring.
No guide on romantic holidays would be complete without mention of Italy, and the gorgeous island of Sicily off the south coast is definitely up there as one of the best Italian destinations for lovers. A wonderfully laid back atmosphere, stunning scenery, superb sunny weather, secluded bays, some of the best food in the world and breath-taking woodland scenery make Sicily a strong contender for one of the most romantic destinations in Europe.
Check out Taormina on the island’s east coast. Here you’ll find a picturesque medieval village sprawling up a hill side and topped by the ruins of a castle with stunning views out to sea. Winding cobbled streets and alleyways lead onto shady squares where locals pass the afternoons drinking espresso. Even more impressive is the backdrop – the imposing, soaring Mt. Etna rises skywards behind the village. A funicular ferries locals and tourists from the town to the sandy beach below. And in the evening, there is a lively bar scene to keep you occupied.
One of Italy’s most beautiful cities, Florence has long been associated with love and romance. Located in the breath-taking Tuscany region, Florence is fairly small – making it easy to walk around – with its best known attractions such as the Ponte Vecchio and Duomo all within close distance to one another. Romantic types will also love the quieter, less tourist areas of Florence; take a picnic to the tranquil Boboli Gardens or a boat ride on the river Arno. The Piazzale Michelangelo atop a hillside affords fantastic views of the city, while a little further up you’ll find the beautiful San Miniato al Monte.
If you really want to treat your loved one, there are few places as luxurious as the Seychelles. A tropical paradise located off the South African coast, the Seychelles are world-famous for their stunning beaches, ocean vistas and high-end resort hotels. Explore Victoria – one of the world’s smallest capital cities, try your hand at exhilarating pursuits such as deep sea fishing or simply relax on the picture postcard beach until the sun sets.
Another fantastic tropical island paradise setting is the Maldives – ideal for a romantic getaway with just you, your lover and the breath-taking Indian Ocean in front of you. The Maldives is an archipelago consisting of small, beautiful islands, many with their own barrier reef. Think palm trees swaying in warm sea breezes and long days spent relaxing on white sandy beaches. Many of these are ‘island resorts’ with the whole atoll serving as a self-sufficient island hotel. The height of luxury, Maldives holidays often include luxurious spa treatments, scuba diving trips and accommodation set on stilts above the crystal clear, azure waters. A once in a lifetime holiday experience.