Unusual romantic
weekends

There’s almost nothing more romantic than escaping the realities of everyday life with a weekend break with your partner. It’s the perfect opportunity to relax, unwind, and enjoy each other’s company – something that is often severely lacking when you’re dealing with everything else in your day to day life. The best way to enjoy it though, is to experience the undeniable joy of a new destination together, especially somewhere that intrigues and entertains the both of you equally.

With that in mind, don’t take your SO to the over-hyped streets of Paris, or Berlin. Why not try the volcanoes in Reykjavik, or the vineyards in Napa Valley, California? For further afield try Koh Kut maybe, or Myanmar if you’re a true culture vulture. Wherever you go, you’ll be sure to reignite the romance in your lives.

Africa

Marrakech Market Morocco

Marrakech – Morocco

Marrakesh is alluring in its cultural difference to the western world. From the medina’s souks that serve as a shopping mall – but laid out as a labyrinth to get lost in – to the religious prayer calls that permeate through the daily life of the city, this old Imperial capital is bursting with history and culture.

The Bahia Palace and Dar Si Said are a glorious view of the intricate floral painted-wood ceiling, while the Saadian Tombs are enshrined with marble, and the Musee de Mouassine and Musee de Marrakech are both showcases of carved-wood designs and swirling stucco. Wherever you walk in Marrakech, you’ll find ancient artistry that refuses to be left in the past, kept alive by the modern craftspeople and the contemporary art scene of Ville Nouvelle.

Bela-Bela – South Africa

A hot and exotic place, South Africa likely isn’t the place you would think for a short weekend getaway, rather a week-long safari seeing some of the greatest wildlife that exists on earth. But Bela-Bela is that perfect compromise; it’s hot, chaotic, and buys, but it’s the perfect contrast between the city and the country.

It’s the perfect escape, where travellers can indulge in warm baths, inspired by the very thing that gave Bela-Bela its name: Bela-Bela literally translates to “boiling boiling”, taken from the town’s hot springs that were first discovered in the early 19th century.

North America

Charleston, South Carolina – USA

This South Carolina port city is full of old school charm thanks to its fairly turbulent history. Indeed, it is a city that will embrace you into its culture – if you don’t mind the culture from the eighteenth century, that is. Complete with cannons, cemeteries, and carriage rides, it alludes to the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and their whispers of revolution as the first shot of the Civil War was heard over Fort Sunter in Charleston Harbour.

The city is home to some of the best food in the country, with culinary roots in Europe, the Caribbean, and West Africa, while the cobblestoned streets and blooming jasmine make for the perfect spot for a candlelit dinner on a veranda. And with the famous Southern hospitality, there’s nothing quite like this charming city.

Napa Valley, California – USA

Known as the birthplace of modern wine, a short wine tasting getaway is the perfect romantic break for any couple. There’s truly nothing more romantic or relaxing than cuddling up in Napa with the beautiful vineyard landscape sweeping into the distance.

Famous for its Cabernet Sauvignons, chateau-like wineries, and fabulous food, more than three million people a year head down to the Valley, enjoying a romantic break with massages, fine wine, and heated pools.

It’s not just wine that you can enjoy here though; take a wander around the Oxbow Public Market, and the new cooking-school campus, CIA at Copia. But if it’s wine you’re really after, then everyone knows the places to go are Castello di Amarosa, Duckhorn, Grgich, Nickel and Nickel, and Schramsberg.

Europe

Reykjavik Iceland

Vineyards of Languedoc – France

France is quaint, pretty, and full of culture, but most people don’t stray too far from the capital. Which makes sense, as Pairs is full of everything you could wish for; more museums than you could visit over a weekend, the iconic Notre Dame, and the shops along the Champs Elysees. But take a moment to explore the rest of this great country, and you’ll discover the idyllic region of Languedoc-Roussillon.

A strategic border since the time of the Romans, today its best known for its vineyards, which produce a third of France’s wines – and nothing kindles a weekend like a bottle of red or white. That’s not the only pull to the area; from some of the best beaches in the country, and a fascinating mix of hills, caves, gorges, forests, and surreal moonscape plateaux. The southwest is also tied with Catalonia, which comes with traditional folk dances and a passion for rugby and summer festivals.

Reykjavik – Iceland

Quickly becoming one of the most popular cities in Europe, Reykjavik is full of otherworldly charm. With a uniquely dramatic landscape that includes tours up volcanoes and visits to the Blue Lagoon, home to just 150,000 people, the city is romantic in its otherness. There’s a village-esque atmosphere, colourful houses, and peaceful vistas that span the sea and mountains.

Reykjavik is barely a town when compared with London, or Paris, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s loaded with art, amazing food, cosmopolitan cafes and bars – and everywhere you turn, the true Icelandic spirit walks beside you. From the Settlement Exhibition built around the unearthed Viking longhouse of the area’s earliest inhabitants to the National Museum full of the country’s most precious artefacts, the Icelandic history is on full display for anyone keen enough to look and listen.

Visit during the winter for a romantic cuddle in the hot tub underneath the northern lights or enjoy the weak summer sun as you stroll around the city’s lakes.

South America

Cartagena Colombia

Cartegena – Colombia

Famously thought to be the inspiration and setting for Gabriel Garcia Marguez’s Love in the Time of Cholera, the rainbow streets of Cartagena will win you over with their old school charm. As charming and romantic as the book that made it famous, filled with music, restaurants, lovers and lost souls.

The queen of the Caribbean coastline, the historic city has preserved its beauty behind 13km of centuries-old colonial stone walls. The Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site, complete with the famed cobbled streets, massive churches, balconies covered in bougainvillaea, and a sensual atmosphere enough to entice any young couple in love.

Quito – Ecuador

Ecuador is often overshadowed by its biggest neighbours: Brazil, Peru, Colombia. But Quito, the capital of Ecuador, is not one to take a backseat lightly. Cradled high up in the Andes, the city has a backdrop of mountains that turn pink during the sunset and the occasional ghoulish, spooky mist that can change the atmosphere of the city completely.

The architecture is dramatic in its contradictions: from modern apartment buildings and modest concrete homes to overflowing market stands, fourth-generation hat makers, and shamanistic healers. The UNESCO protected Old Town is full of churches and basilicas, tiled houses, museums, galleries, picturesque plazas, colonial monuments and architectural treasures.

Asia

Yangon Temple Burma

Yangon – Myanmar (Burma)

Once the royal capital of Myanmar (previously Burma), Yangon is the very same city that served as inspiration for Rudyard Kipling’s “Mandalay”. Now, it’s a sanctuary for political exiles, Asian investors, and foreign adventurers, and the city has quickly become a commercial and artistic hub – the city’s streets reflecting the change that has occurred across the country since it reopened its doors to the world.

The beauty of Yangon is its old school charm and traditions, coupled with the modernity that is brought in restaurants, bars, shops, and more. The city is focussed on Shwedagon Paya – as it always has been – a golden Buddhist monument that is the centre of the daily life of Yangon, and couples can stroll through the parks and lakes nearby to escape the chaos of the city.

Koh Kut – Thailand

Known as one of the most perfect Thai islands, Koh Kut is the perfect destination for the combination of Far East warmth Thailand is known for, and the powder-soft beaches that breed the perfect atmosphere for couples.

With more coconut palms than buildings, this is the perfect destination if you want just a few days away doing absolutely nothing. Sure, you can kayak, or snorkel, and explore the island if you want to, but the water lapping the bays is crystal clear and soothing to listen to. Or, if you’re not feeling relaxed and loved up enough, you could always try the Treepod restaurant, set among the canopy – one of the world’s most unusual restaurants.

Oceania

Fiji Beach

Fiji

In a place that has its own “time” (yes, Fiji time is a thing, and it just means that nothing that happens as any particular urgency about it), and the motto of the island seems to be “no hurry, no worries”, it truly is a place to go to relax and enjoy your time together in a couple.

Having been a destination and crossroads for migrations for centuries, making it a haven for cultural and historical exploration. Pottery art from Fijian towns shows that Fiji was settled by Austronesia people around roughly 3500 BC, and since then it has evolved and transformed to become an independent state renowned for its warm welcome, and a life that revolves around the church, village, rugby field, and garden. With the famous Fijian hospitality and warmth, it’s easy to immerse yourself in the local culture, staying in a local village.

The beaches found here are picture-perfect, spanning across reefs, bays, and more, providing the sets for Cast Away, The Blue Lagoon, and many more. More than 1500 species for fish and ocean creatures can be found in Fiji’s waters, and divers and snorkelers will find enough to explore to fill an entire weekend. If that’s not what you fancy though, there’s plenty to occupy you beyond the beach; from the prehistoric paradise of Kadavu with almost no roads to the hiking and birdwatching opportunities up the mountains, and the fantastic nightlife in Suva.

Cape Tribulation – Australia

With two incredible beaches, a laid-back vibe, rainforest walks, and a tiny little village full of everything you could ask for, this little town at the end of a winding road from the Daintree River is a veritable paradise. Named by the British navigator James Cook in 1770 because, as he wrote, “here began all our troubles”, settlers didn’t start arriving until the 1930s where they found the rainforest a particularly difficult environment to establish a settlement.

It’s still very much a frontier location complete with crocodile warnings and road signs alerting drivers to cassowary crossings – despite the increase in backpacker tourists and tour operators. There’s no reliable mobile phone network, or internet, making it a truly remote destination to enjoy the company of your partner.

Most people visit during the dry season between July and November, which is the perfect time to explore the Myall and Cape Tribulation beaches, idyllically surrounded by the rainforest and separated only by a knobby cape. It’s also 19km from the Great Barrier Reef, and there are plenty of other activities to occupy a weekend getaway: horse-riding, jungle surfing, fruit tasting tours, electric mountain bike tours, guided night walks, and crocodile cruises.

Summary

Sometimes, all you need to refresh and reignite your love life is a short break away somewhere exotic, or unusual, or just plain exciting. From the unexplored island in Fiji to the historical landmarks in the US, there’s plenty of locations all over the world that are the perfect setting for a romantic weekend away – without breaking the bank, and without being boring and overly touristy.

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