February 6, 2012

5 Affordable Breaks for Valentines

A Valentine’s break is a special way to share time with a partner but the most romantic destinations are never the cheapest. Staying close to home is a nice, safe option but with some research and careful planning (booking well in advance, for instance) some gorgeous places where romance is a byword are affordable.

With cheap flights and cheap hotels, romance can come alive. The hotel won’t matter so much as you’ll be so enthralled by your location; the amenities of a top-class, luxury hotel will be second place. Don’t forget to book travel insurance before you leave!

Venice, Italy

You would be hard pressed to find anywhere in the world more beautiful and romantic than Venice. Narrow waterways intersect the 118 tiny islands that make up the city, each linked by quaint bridges. Mazes of winding alleys lead to unexpected delights such as Baroque churches, fountains and secret art galleries. It is the perfect place to get lost with your loved one. Of course, there are also the famous Venetian sights: the Grand Canal, St Mark’s Square and Basilica, the Rialto Bridge.

The weather in Venice around Valentine’s Day is on the chilly side, so it is advisable to wrap up, hold each other close and step back into a bygone era of romance and glamour.

Prague, Czech Republic

Prague may have gained the reputation as the Stag Party capital, but even that cannot detract from the beauty and romance of the city. Filled with historical buildings, bridges and walkways, it is the perfect city for people watching over a decadent hot chocolate, or strolling arm in arm admiring the exquisite, fairytale-like architecture.

The Old Town is filled with Gothic, Baroque and Classical buildings which house museums, churches, art galleries and restaurants. The Charles Bridge is the medieval connection between Prague Castle and the Old Town. It has 30 statues of various saints along its length; however, legend has it that if you touch the image of St John of Nepomuk and make a wish, that wish will come true! So, close your eyes, wish to live happily ever after, and you and your loved one might just be in luck!

The Cotswolds, England

Looking out over the rolling hillsides, dotted with sheep and containing a multitude of picture-perfect villages and cottages, it is easy to see why the Cotswolds have been designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The area extends across six English counties in the South West of the country, but is principally located in Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire. It is the ideal location for those in search of romance in the great outdoors but is also the perfect hideaway for those less outdoorsy.

Accommodation is available to suit all budgets and the area boasts everything from boutique hotels, to glamping. No matter what location you choose in the Cotswolds, you are almost guaranteed to be only a stone’s throw from a quaint village offering independent shops and a cosy local pub. Make the most of the less than amenable British weather, find a snuggly spot by a roaring fire and watch the world go by without a care.

Périgueux, France

If you want to visit France for Valentine’s Day but don’t want to fall into the, admittedly beautiful, but well-trodden trap of Paris, consider going further afield and visiting Périgord. Located in the Dordogne in the South West of France, Périgord is one of the country’s most unspoilt areas and known for its outstanding beauty.

Périgueux is the capital of the region and is the epitome of a rural French town. The stunning cathedral sits high above the winding, cobbled streets, and cafes, patisseries and restaurants nestle into the ancient buildings. The region is particularly well regarded for its cuisine, with fois-gras and truffles being local delicacies, making it the perfect location for romantic, gastronomic Valentine’s Day escape.

Dublin, Ireland

Where could be more appropriate to visit on Valentine’s Day than the final resting place of St. Valentine himself? Dublin makes a great destination for Valentine’s Day as this cosmopolitan city has so much to offer by day and by night, and there is far more to it than a pint of Guinness! Stroll around the grounds of Trinity College or sample a delight from the Cake Café. The Temple Bar area of the city is a charming mix of cobblestones, art galleries, cafes and restaurants. It also has an art-house cinema if you fancy the traditional dinner and a movie date.

CC Dorlino