It’s February, and like it or not, Valentine’s Day’s arrival is impending.
No matter where in the world you are, romance is on the brain. To help you with your Valentine’s Day planning needs, I put a call out on my social media channels to ask travel bloggers if they wanted to contribute. I was surprised and excited when I began receiving messages from non-travel bloggers, as well as readers, who wanted to add their two cents into this article.
Here’s what they had to say:
Mendoza, Argentina is a paradise for lovers of wine, food, and spectacular mountain views. This small city is tucked away in the Andes Mountains, just across the Chilean border. It’s easily reached by plane or a bus from Chile. While the plane is quicker, the bus ride is easily the more beautiful and memorable option.
The city is known for its wine, premium steak, and stunning natural views. Not to mention, Argentina is often considered to be the most European country in Latin America—offering a distinct culture from surrounding countries.
There are two popular wine areas that are easily accessed from Mendoza—Maipú and Luján. Luján is larger with more spaced-out vineyards while Maipú is smaller and equally as enticing.
In Maipú, visitors can rent a bicycle for around $10 USD and spend the day cruising from wine bar to wine bar and from vineyard to vineyard. The wine bars feature tastings for around $10 USD and often offer complimentary bottles of wine for in-store purchases, making it easy to stock up your wine cabinet.
Trapiche is a must-visit vineyard in the area. The tour is affordable—it takes you through the wine-making process and includes a generous tasting at the end. When I went, we were able to finish off the bottles of wine while soaking in mountain views from the outside balcony.
The only thing better than sipping a fine glass of Argentinean wine is doing it with a spectacular view of the mountains. Once you’ve had your fill of wine, gourmet food is everywhere to be found. Along with its wine, Argentina is famous for its premium beef and gourmet pizza.
Head to any of the restaurants in the city and you’ll soon understand what it’s all about. For the ultimate dining experience, El Patio Jesús Maria offers a multi-course, all-you-can-eat meal with empanadas, various types of meat, and more. Going on an empty stomach is highly recommended.
When it comes to Valentine’s Day destinations, this scenic, Andean city definitely makes the cut. Spanish is a romance language after all, isn’t it? Imagine your Valentine’s Day starting off with a buffet breakfast from a hotel rooftop before exploring the picturesque Andes Mountains and ending your evening with a seemingly unlimited flow of world-class red wine.
-Brittany from Leaving Gringolandia
What is Romance? What makes something romantic?
Everyone dreams of that romantic get away with their partner, but what is it that makes it romantic? To me being Romantic means being able to put another person and their feelings on a pedestal and do what’s in your power to make them feel as special as you can. Not only your actions make it romantic but also the place and the setting that’s created. That feeling can and should be given mutually! There’s no other place that’s given me these feelings more than South Fremantle in Perth, Australia.
Something about the lifestyle caught me at first glance; there was a sense of relaxation that funnelled through the people into the city.
At no point did I feel stressed. Its almost as though life got slower and more meaningful. You start taking in every moment at a different speed and learn to appreciate each other in a different light. Something about the laid back lifestyle brings out the best in people. Everywhere you go it felt like somebody had a lesson about love and living carefree.
I remember one time while at a bar having a quick drink after dinner I had three older ladies come up and talk to me and spark conversation. We got on the topic of relationships and they explained to me how important it is to settle down and spend your life with one person and make that person your world. They explained love through their life experiences and the most important thing I took from that conversation was that life is way to short to enjoy the beauty alone. I could definitely see what they were getting at.
The hot weather and the beautiful beaches are something near perfection when it comes to an early morning swim or the late night walk. The one beach in particular that took my heart was Coogee Beach. This beach was one of the few beaches in Perth with the new shark nets which created a big barrier for care free swimming. With that threat out of the way you can enjoy the calm water that almost feels like your own personal pool. Later in the evening, the beach becomes even more romantic when you both can watch the sunset while walking along the coast.
The Australian culture seen through each carefully decorated restaurant makes you feel like you’re sitting in your own backyard or having a dim lit dinner together with plenty to talk about. The cafe that I enjoyed the most was called Yo Cal. The first thing I remember thinking when we walked in was that this looks like my mothers backyard. Plants were everywhere, the tables fit where they wanted to. The chair were all different styles and you might even end up sharing a table with people you don’t know! This creates a homey environment and everyone seemed to be at home. For those looking to have a cute breakfast/brunch this definitely gave that vibe too.
Between the outdoors and the city itself I’m sure you will find what you’re looking for when it comes to having that romantic Valentine’s Day outing.
-Tasheel from FitFedFlying
Observatory Hill is hands down Sydney’s most romantic spot. You can’t beat the views on offer: there’s a sweeping panorama of the harbour, a cluster of skyscrapers and the glittery lights of historic Luna Park across the water — plus a certain iconic bridge you may have heard of? All this in a pristine, quiet park complete with a gazebo for good measure.
Named after the historic Sydney Observatory just next door, the park’s most distinctive landmark is the Observatory Hill Rotunda. Recently restored, it was built in 1912 as a harbourside bandstand, and remains a popular spot and photographic backdrop for marriage proposals and weddings alike.
For the perfect Valentine’s Day date, pack a picnic lunch to enjoy in the Rotunda or on the lawns while soaking up those views. Next, you may like to take a stroll around The Rocks, a touristy yet pretty area nearby with plenty of restaurants, clubs and historic pubs to choose from, and a rich history to boot. Both the classic Fortune of War and the more upmarket Lord Nelson claim the competitive title of the oldest pub in Sydney, and are within easy reach of the park.
Or, for the kids at heart, take a half-hour stroll across the Harbour Bridge itself — or a shorter ferry ride from Circular Quay — to spend an hour or two at the waterside theme park, Luna Park. The views from its ferris wheel are really something. (Just make sure to walk around and consider which rides you might like to try out before buying tickets, as it can be on the expensive side.)
Alternatively, if you have more to spend, consider taking a sunset or nighttime Harbour Bridge Climb for a Valentine’s Day you’ll never forget — and maybe never outdo, either.
-Sarah from World Unlost
Perhaps the most famous landmark in Canada, the CN Tower is a great place to visit with a loved one at any time of year.
One of the tallest freestanding structures in the world, the CN Tower boasts gorgeous views of Toronto from over a thousand feet above the city. Choices for lookouts include the SkyPod, the Glass Floor, and the LookOut. If it’s summertime and adrenaline is your thing, why not try out Edge Walk and hang off a five-foot ledge off the side of the tower? They do weddings there!
For a romantic experience that lends itself to Valentine’s Day a little more, the 360 Restaurant is the best choice. The award winning restaurant proudly serves Canadian ingredients to restaurant patrons 1150 feet above ground. But the best part? The restaurant actually rotates 360 degrees, offering a full view of the world-class city below.
And if you’re single while you’re visiting Toronto? Well, maybe you’ll bump into Drake.
-Erica from Treading Wander
Cartagena is such a great city to explore, especially with a loved one! There are little romantic corners all over the city. The perks of Cartagena, you can stay anywhere near the walled city and you’re only a quick Uber or cab ride away from romance! I think we all know that the fastest way to a woman’s heart is through her stomach with REALLY good food!
Traditional and delicious Colombian dining. Casual attire, relaxing atmosphere, great service & good food. Music available certain evenings. You can hear the horse carriages passing through on quiet evenings while enjoying a glass of wine. Top dish recommendation: ” San Martin Pescador” Mojarra fillet, coconut milk, vegetables sautéed in achiote oil, squid, shrimp, and cilantro.
Whatever you do. Order a “limonada de coco” at Alma. It’s one of those things I like to describe as LIFE-CHANGING. SO so good. The food presentation is beautiful and the ingredients of the dishes are fresh. Must try: lobster empanadas.
Love really is in the details. At Carmen, they have a passion for seafood. Their dishes are creative, innovative and celebrate the regional Cartagena flavors. So classy, their attention to detail goes beyond most other restaurants. Try their specialty cocktails and the crab cakes!
-Florencia from This Giant World
Croatia: Plitvice National Park
Plitvice National Park is literally a fairy tale wonderland. If you don’t fall in love with the natural beauty of this protected oasis, you will fall in love with the incredible sounds surrounding you. Walking through the many hiking trails, walkways and lookout points will leave you speechless. The water is every shade of turquoise imaginable, and the wildlife is visible at every turn. If you’re looking for a romantic getaway in Croatia, this is the place!
If you visit early in the morning, you will miss the crowds that tend to fill the park as afternoon approaches. This is the optimal time for photos- especially on a sunny day.
They have river boat tours with an authentic Croatian lunch that take you through some of the lakes. The water is clear enough that you can see right to the bottom as fish swim by.
For those who seek a more hands-on adventure, there are private horseback riding tours! These tours will take you right to the lake sides, and through the forests that surround Plitvice National Park.
Unfortunately, if you are looking to swim in these lakes, you are at the wrong place. Plitvice is a natural water lake, formed by the water falls surrounding it. This water is used as drinking water for many locals living within its region, so it is prohibited to swim in its Nationally protected waters. For many visitors this is not a problem, as the views and walking alone will keep you occupied.
The most beautiful symbol of love world has ever witnessed is the Taj Mahal, built by the Mughal Emperor Shahjahan for his beloved wife, Empress Mumtaz Mahal.
I have seen couples of all age breaking down in tears with the first glimpse of this mesmerizing wonder of the world.
While it’s difficult to admire Taj Mahal in utmost harmony due to the overwhelming crowd coming to admire this monument, there is an equally rhythmic alternate. The Taj Nature Walk is a beautiful, natural, forest-cover spreading over an area of 70 hectares, just 500 meters away from the Eastern Gate of the Taj Mahal. This place is not famous among tourists and even the locals don’t visit here abundantly due to the huge distance from the city center.
I and my boyfriend (now thankfully husband) discovered this place while working at one of the hotel in Agra which was just 100 meters away from here. At the end corner of this park is a small watchtower which gives a very close and undisturbed view of the Taj Mahal. Apart from the tower, one can admire the Taj from many other corners of this park. There is also a small lake here which is home to many species of fish, aquatic plants, and migratory birds.
The park is open from 7 am to 7 pm in summers and from 8 am until 5 pm in winters. One has to pay a small entry fee to experience this heavenly abode (INR 20 for Indians and 100 INR for foreign nationals).
This spectacular view of Taj, the sound of migrating birds and blooming flowers make the Taj Nature Walk high on romance and my favorite romantic spot in the city of Agra, India.
-Mokshta from Miss with Migratory Wings
I believe romance is an indefinable feeling. Yes, in the relationship between two people, yet it’s way more than that.
We’re in relationship with everything around us. Romance is one of the ways we relate to our outside world; the people, things, animals, nature… and places.
I’ve been blessed to experience many different places around the world. However, there is one that I can say gives me the feeling of romance just by being immersed in its essence.
That place is Florence, Italy.
I could go on and on about all the historic sites that are absolutely everywhere. Towering and majestic, yet at the same time soft and unassuming.
The Ponte Vecchio, the Duomo, Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Santo Spirito, Museo Gallileo, Uffizi Gallery, Piazza della Signoria, I mean, I could literally go on and on.
However, what captivated me most about this ancient city was the creative essence that lingers in the very air of Florence. Just moving among the same graces that such creative geniuses of the Renaissance left behind gives the air an instinctively romantic flair. Gallileo, Da Vinci, Brunelleschi, Buonarroti, Botticelli, Alighieri and more, all left their mark in this beautiful place.
While in Florence, we stayed at a charming little boutique hotel facing the Arno River. The hotel offered a pretty rooftop patio, dripping with plants and flowers with a vista of the river.
At night, after spending the day walking and soaking in everything Florence had to offer, we sat up there looking out over the decorative lights shining off the river. The only two on the patio sipping our espressos among an air of romance dancing around us that we fully breathed in. The blessing of the experience settled into our bones and we were a part of the essence that is Florence.
Large players in the patronage of the arts and the development of an independent government were the wealthy Medici family during this city’s Renaissance. It was also an important port of call for trade and commerce during the same period.
The life philosophy in Florence during the 15th century focused on maximizing the human potential and celebrating the individual as God’s greatest creation. The greatest sin would be not using our potential to its greatest possibilities. A collective mindset that fertilized the creative power that made Florence thrive.
And it still exists in the spirit of Florence. It’s in the air and in the stones of the streets. It shines through the flowers everywhere and in the eyes of the inhabitants.
Yes, romance in this city is still breathing; alive and well.
-Lucy from Lucy Crisetig Coaching
Mexico: Xcaret Park
Who doesn’t love Mexico? If it’s not the food that keeps you coming back, it’s the sandy beaches and blue water. What if I told you there’s a place with gorgeous waters, INCREDIBLE food, music all day, authentic Mexican charm, wildlife EVERYWHERE and…extremely affordable? You’d say I’m crazy. But I’d say you’re crazy if you haven’t been to Xcaret Eco Park!
From the moment you arrive, you are filled with excitement. It is all Mayan themed, so every building you enter looks like an ancient ruin. This is carries throughout the entire park. As you walk along the cobblestone path, you are greeted by parrots and other tropical birds. The path is massive, so it’s easy to wander off. However, everything is color coded, so it is even easier to find your way back on track! Taking the site map is highly recommended to make your experience easy and fun. Throughout this path you will notice an incredible amount of wildlife exhibits: from aquariums, to sea turtle sanctuaries, monkeys to sting rays. I was happy to learn that all these animals in the exhibits were rescued and rehabilitated, not one was captured for inhumane purposes.
If you feel like you are in the need for something a little adventurous for your Valentine’s Day, take the Underground River self-tour. You get a pair of flippers and a life vest- and you’re set to float down the serene river. Not only is this incredibly relaxing, but it gives you a whole new look at the park via water. This is a 10/10 experience in Xcaret, and should be high on your bucket list. Another fun activity (for those who don’t feel like swimming) would be the river boat cruise. It’s a relaxing 15-20 minute river cruise on Paradise River, which flows through the center of the park.
The main restaurant in Xcaret is authentic Mexican. If I could eat there everyday for the rest of my life- I would. Hands down, best Mexican food I’ve ever had in Mexico or anywhere for that matter. If you’re hungry, head to the La Cocina Resteraunt, you will not be disappointed.
Finally, after a day for beaches, swimming, tanning, exploring and wonder, finish off with the Xcaret Mexico Espectacular. This is the giant show that concludes many tourists evening at the park. I would be lying if I told you this show didn’t leave me with my jaw to the floor. WOW. Every part of Mexico is shown through this colorful array of dancers and musicians. Do it. Don’t think about it, DO IT.
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