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14 non-cliché travel destinations for Valentine's Day

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 08/01/2019 Laura Hampson

a boat that is floating in the water © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited Ah, Valentine’s Day. A day that both singles and, ironically, couples lament for the ostentatious displays of affection.

Whether you are partnered up or not, there is no doubt that people around the office will be getting flowers and chocolates – so why not get away for a mid-week trip?

This year for Valentine’s Day grab your significant other/best friend/mother/favourite cousin or anyone you love and use it as an excuse to go on a mini-break.

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While many couples flock to Paris to celebrate their love in the city of, well, love we’ve come up with a few alternatives to try below.

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1. Try something new with a visit to old-timey Estonia

a close up of a brick building: (Unsplash) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited (Unsplash) Often overlooked, Estonia is bordered by Latvia, Russia, the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Finland – meaning it is steeped in history.

The capital Tallinn is known for its preserved Old Town and museums - and has a distinctly romantic vibe. If you have time to take a day trip from the capital, the country - which was once part of the Soviet Union - is dotted with castles, churches and hilltop fortresses. You will also find a number of lakes, forests and rocky beaches among the diverse terrain.

2. Take a trip to Finland’s Lapland to see the Northern lights

(Unsplash) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited (Unsplash) Lapland is Finland’s northernmost region and is bordered by Sweden, Norway, Russia and the Baltic Sea. It is known for its vast, subarctic wilderness and is home to a number of ski resorts and natural phenomena like the midnight sun and the northern lights. Why not stay in a glass-topped igloo for the ideal setting to watch the aurora borealis.

3. Visit the windswept West coast of Ireland

water next to the rock with Cliffs of Moher in the background: (Unsplash) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited (Unsplash) Our friendly neighbour across the Irish Sea is the perfect place to take your other half if you’re looking for lush landscapes and romantic scenery. Particularly the west coast of Ireland where you will find the charming towns of Galway and Limerick – and the must-see Cliffs of Moher.

4. Stay in a retreat in the Scottish highlands

a herd of sheep grazing on a rocky hill: (Unsplash) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited (Unsplash) Retreats are popping up all over the Scottish Highlands and Valentine’s Day is the perfect time visit to one of them. Whether they be a spa, wellness or luxury retreat , a bit of fresh Scottish air and scenery will do you a world of good.

5. Take a stroll through Ljubljana’s Tivoli Park

a castle on top of a mountain: (Shutterstock) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited (Shutterstock) The expansive Tivoli Park is located in Slovenia’s capital city Ljubljana. One of Europe’s greenest and most peaceful cities, Ljubljana is often overlooked for the nearby Lake Bled, but the city offers many delights. From the park, to the castle and central market, this city is perfect for a romantic city break.

6. Visit Annecy, the ‘French Venice’

a river running through a city: (Shutterstock) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited (Shutterstock) Walking through Annecy is like taking a stroll through Venice, although much less crowded and with a gorgeous lake and towering Alps as the backdrop. Known for its Vielle Ville (old town), cobbled streets and winding canals, this is the perfect romantic alternative to Paris.

While there, treat you and your loved one to delicious raclette at Le Lilas Rose just off the main canal. Oh, and if you fancy going to Switzerland while you’re there Geneva is just 45 minutes away on the bus.

7. Take a train down to Arundel

a bunch of pink flowers: (Shutterstock) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited (Shutterstock) If your wallet is still feeling a bit battered and bruised after the festive season, take a trip closer to home. Arundel is just an hour away from London by train. The gorgeous town sits on the edge of the Southdowns National Park and is home to the breath-taking Arundel Castle. The market town is filled with Tudor-style houses and delicious coffee shops.

8. Boat through the fjords in Norway

a body of water with a mountain in the background: (Unsplash) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited (Unsplash) The fjords of western Norway were granted World Heritage status by UNESCO in 2005 – and for good reason. Nærøyfjord, the Sognefjord, the Lysefjord the Geirangerfjord are just some of the thousand fjords in Norway – and are all postcard-perfect. Take a boat through the fjords to see majestic waterfalls and stunning scenery.

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9. Go hiking in Liguria, Italy

a small boat in a harbor: (Shutterstock) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited (Shutterstock) Liguria is one of the most beautiful regions of Italy. It’s home to the sprawling city of Genoa and the fishing villages along the Cinque Terre. While you can hike all over the region, the hills surrounding Santa Margherita Ligure are home to a tapestry of lush olive trees, hidden mills and views over the Ligurian Sea.

Make sure you walk down to Portofino for a touch of luxury and the Abbazia di San Fruttuoso for hidden treasures. Scuba diving enthusiasts can dive down to the Christ of the Abyss, located off San Fruttuoso.

10. Treat yourself to a luxury weekend in Guernsey

an island in the middle of a body of water: (Unsplash) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited (Unsplash) Located in the English Chanel off the coast of Normandy, you can either fly or ferry to the bailiwick of Guernsey. From the heart of the countryside to cottages by the sea, Guernsey is perfect for a long relaxing weekend.

11. Eat some pierogi in Krakow

a group of people walking down a street next to a building: (Unsplash) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited (Unsplash) Krakow isn’t the first place that comes to mind when we think ‘romance’ but this Polish City is steeped in history and culture with its medieval city centre and Jewish quarter.

Take a walk around Planty Park which circles the Old Town and make sure you stop off at Przypiecek, a café specialising in pierogi (polish dumplings) that is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Krakow is also the perfect base if you want to go on a romantic hiking trip to the Tatra Mountains – located on the border of Poland and Slovakia.

12. Walk up Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh

a view of a city with a mountain in the background: (Shutterstock) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited (Shutterstock) There’s something a bit magical about Edinburgh. Whether it’s the Royal Mile or Edinburgh Castle perched on the hill, the city wraps you in romance. While there, take the easy hike up to Arthur’s Seat – be careful though as it can be slippery after rainfall. 

13. Spend the day walking through the Plitvice Lakes in Croatia

a body of water surrounded by trees: (Laura Hampson) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited (Laura Hampson) If magnificent scenery is your idea of romance, then spend the day walking through Croatia’s Plitvice Lakes. Base yourself in Zagreb for the weekend and take a day trip out to the lakes for some of the bluest water you will ever see. With spring around the corner, this is the perfect time of year to visit.

14. Visit the vineyards on the Isle of Scilly

a person sitting on a beach near a body of water: (Shutterstock) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited (Shutterstock) Off the coast of Cornwall you’ll find the Isles of Scilly . The islands boast two family-run vineyards, which begin to harvest the grapes in October and make wines throughout the winter – making Valentine’s Day the perfect day for a touch of wine tasting. The sub-tropical climate will offer the perfect weekend to wind back and relax. 

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