Travel

5 gorgeous destinations for the ultimate Valentine's Day getaway

Go beyond the usual dinner and movie date for Valentine's Day with a romantic getaway with your loved one. Here are some suggestions, from scenic sunset hikes in Uluru, Australia, to wildlife-spotting in Bali, Indonesia.
 

The adventurous couple: Uluru, Australia

Uluru, or Ayers Rock (above), is the name given to the ginormous 700-million-year-old sacred sandstone monolith in the Northern Territory’s Red Centre desert. Couples can boot up and embark on one of the many marked trails around the base, which pass acacia woodlands and waterfalls. Follow the 2km Mala walk – look out for Anangu rock art as you go along – to the serenely picturesque Kantju Gorge; it’s a great sunset location in winter.

Keen to up the romance factor? Sign up for a Dinner Under the Stars experience. After supping wine and nibbling on canapes on a viewing platform overlooking Uluru as the sun goes down, you’ll be served a bush tucker-inspired buffet (think barramundi and quandong – a native Australian fruit) while being serenaded by a didgeridoo.

The culture buffs: Prague, Czech Republic

Couples can enjoy romantic walks through wintry Prague and soak up the city’s culture as they go. Set off on the Royal Route, through the Old Town Square, and don’t forget to drop by the 18th-century St Nicholas Church (Malostranske nam., 118 00 Praha 1-Mala Strana; above). Step inside to see its dazzlingly intricate ceiling frescoes, then continue your route over Charles Bridge, where you can stroll hand in hand while taking in fairy-tale views of the city and the sounds of live jazz musicians. The route ends at Prague Castle. The size of seven football fields, it is the world’s largest ancient castle, with its own cathedral and collection of palaces.

Couples looking for a touch of romance to round off their day should make a beeline for the Royal Gardens. Breathe in the perfumed aromas of the ornamental flower beds and pause for a kiss at the Singing Fountain, one of the most beautiful in Renaissance Europe.

The sporty couple: Zermatt, Switzerland

What could be more romantic than skiing with your beloved at your side under the world’s most breathtaking mountain, the Matterhorn? While much of Zermatt’s appeal lies in its high-altitude, snow-sure slopes (above) – suited to all levels of skiers – there are plenty of other reasons love-struck couples will like it.

Fancy throwing yourselves on a tandem sled down one of Europe’s most thrilling sledding runs on Gornergrat (which lasts 10 petrifying minutes)? Done. How about a horse-and-carriage ride through the village, with its centuries-old buildings and mountain views in every direction? No problem. Just leave time to sample a glass of something bubbly at one of Zermatt’s sophisticated wine bars, such as Josef’s, with its sink-into sofas and open fire.

All activities bookable locally on www.zermatt.ch

The foodies: Bruges, Belgium

Bruges is often nicknamed the “Venice of the North”, but it is a gem in its own right – especially for couples who love food as much as they love each other. Lose yourself in the city’s maze of cobbled streets, crisscrossed with canals, and you’ll find a chocolate shop at almost every corner.

Look out for Sukerbuyc, one of Bruges’ oldest confectioners, with more than 90 varieties of handmade truffle, in flavours ranging from banana to amaretto. Then head for high tea at the grand salon of Hotel de Orangerie. Ask for a table for two by the open fire and feast on delicate sandwiches, pastries and crumbly scones. Need to stretch your legs? Scale the 366 steps of the 13th-century Belfry tower (above), Bruges’ most famous landmark – the sweeping city views from the top are well worth the leg burn.

The eco-greenies: Bali, Indonesia

For couples looking to kick back, recharge and be at one with nature (as well as each other), where better to go than Bali? The island boasts several eco-retreats, and up there with the best is Sarinbuana Eco Lodge. Yes, it has plenty of green credentials (sustainable building materials, recycled water and no chemicals to name just three), but its location – perched on the slopes of Mount Batukaru (above) – is what makes it special.

Begin your days lazing in your private Orchid Bungalow, set in the retreat’s organic gardens with forested valley views and morning sunrise, or go in search of oriental cuckoos and flowerpeckers on a guided birdwatching walk. End your days with a candle-lit dinner for two in the garden bale, where you can feast on produce harvested from Sarinbuana’s gardens and be serenaded by the Balinese flute (marriage proposal, anyone?).

All photos courtesy of 123rf.com. This story was originally published in Silverkris.

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