Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and our motto for #MemoriesNotThings still holds true for this holiday dedicated to sweethearts! What could possibly be more romantic than exploring the world with the person you love? Well, we’ve rounded up a list of our TOP picks for some of the world’s most romantic spots and we hope it inspires you to get out and experience them yourselves!
Cape Town, South Africa – Angela Isherwood
Cape Town has something for everyone. It is a thriving metropolis perfect for urbanites, foodies, winos, adventure seekers, nature seekers, and culture lovers. There are epic hikes with incredible views, extreme adventure activities like sky and shark diving, along with slightly tamer options like abseiling down Table Mountain, or cycling around the city. It is very much a city in touch with its natural beauty and elements.
The place to stay for a truly romantic experience is the lovely Cape Grace Hotel. It is perfectly located on the Victoria & Albert Waterfront with Table Mountain looming immediately in the distance. It is within easy distance to many of the main attractions, has large, opulent rooms, and an extremely friendly, warm, and helpful staff. The onsite dining is one of the best restaurants in town, and the hotel can arrange expert luxury excursions for you around town. They also offer complimentary chauffeur services within a 6 mile radius – which covers a LOT of things you will want to do around town – which we found to be a huge perk! They have an impressive Whisky Bar called Bascule where you can experience a tasting of some of their over 400 whisky options.
To make the most of your romantic Cape Town experience you have to get yourself to the Cape Winelands – Stellenbosch and Franschhoek are must-dos! We especially enjoyed Stark-Condé Wines, a beautiful winery set in the middle of a valley with soaring mountain peaks and rolling green hills. The tasting room sits on a tiny island in the middle of a calm pond where you can taste excellent wines and enjoy the spectacular views. The Cape Winelands are a completely different side of Cape Town and well worth at least a day trip – but you can find many romantic and luxurious places for overnights in the vineyards, as well.
Another must-do spot for a romantic meal and stroll is Camps Bay, an upmarket neighborhood known for its namesake beach and amazing views of the Twelve Apostle Mountains. A great restaurant for lunch or dinner here is The Bungalow, which has an ocean-front terrace and a hip vibe inside. It’s a quick walk from The Bungalow down to the main street in town that has a plethora of other restaurants and bars to keep your night going.
Rome, Italy – Lynn Clark
Immersing yourself in ancient history while eating delicious food, sipping craft cocktails, and savoring incredible views is the epitome of a romantic vacation. Picture this: there you are – lucky enough to find yourself in arguably one of the most ancient, historical, and influential cities in the world. It’s a warm summer evening, and romance is definitely in the air. Everywhere you look your smack dab in the middle of a dichotomy – modernity to your left, ancient history on your right. The feeling is so heady you can’t quite believe you are there – living, walking, and breathing history.
The night is young so of course, you must begin with cocktails. But in a city chock-full of watering holes, where do you even begin? We say the Minerva Roof Garden, set in the heart of the historical center. The location is so perfect you won’t find a better 360 degree view anywhere in the city. Sip your cocktails and gaze out onto your choice of historic monuments – with views of both the impressive Pantheon, and the Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II – affectionately known as “The Wedding Cake” – in the Piazza Venezia you really can’t go wrong. Make sure to arrive before the sunset so you can watch it disappear into the horizon, cocktail in hand.
Your next stop is a stone’s throw from the Pantheon – the Ristorante Maccheroni – delightful, and rustic, you’ll find a warm and cozy atmosphere where you can dig into traditional Romany cuisine, expertly homemade. Don’t forget to pair that pasta with a side of house wine. After dinner you might think you are so full you couldn’t possibly fit one more thing in your stomach – but you’d be wrong! There’s always room for San Crispino Gelato. You won’t find any artificial preservatives in these creams – and each flavor is meticulously created using the highest quality and freshest ingredients in accordance to the current season.
But still – the night is young! It’s not time to go back to your room and sleep it all off just yet. Why not end your romantic evening with a lively Irish Pub? Trinity College in Rome – dressed in rich, mahogany glory – evokes the beauty of the magnificent Trinity College in Dublin. You’ll find a DJ spinning music and endless cocktails if you need a little liquid courage to get out and dance! Relax in the leather booths or belly up to the bar – either way you’re in for a perfect ending to you’re perfect, romantic Roman evening.
Lake Geneva, Switzerland – Colleen Mortonson
“When you have four kids and your husband is traveling a lot for work, it is hard to carve out romantic moments. One such time Chris was traveling for work he happened to be in France, and I was able to get a sitter for the kids and join him. We stayed in Paris for several days but weren’t able to spend much time together as Chris’ commitments were both day and night. One evening he returned from one of his meetings and suggested we be bold and extend our stay so that we could actually spend some time together. We whisked off to places unknown and little did I know what he had in store for us!
Chris surprised me with a charming train ride from Paris to Lake Geneva, Switzerland. We both felt like the stars had aligned, and we had no worries in our little escape. We felt a little illegal! He found a small boutique hotel on the edge of Lake Leman (Lake Geneva) with a room overlooking the beautiful fountain.
When I walked into our room, Chris had champagne and flowers waiting. We loved the restaurants we happened upon on our impromptu trip. We walked, talked, and ate without interruption. Our few days were perfect in weather, togetherness, love and fun! That trip remains a special memory.”
Florence, Italy – Samantha Prost
Italian charm, Renaissance art, endless views, world-famous wines – Florence screams romance. One of Florence’s most iconic sights – the Ponte Vecchio – is the perfect place for an evening stroll over the Arno river. After your stroll, don’t be afraid to hike up a few hundred feet up the hill to Piazzale Michelangelo and the Church of San Miniato Al Montte. We recommend this view at sunset as you gaze out on undoubtedly the most romantic lookout point of the city below.
If you are looking for a place to get lost in the beauty of nature – the Boboli Gardens and The Gardens of Villa Bardini are your spots. The baroque elements, quiet corners, gorgeous Wisteria tunnel, and spectacular views of the city take you back to another, more simple, time. If you are an active couple, and up for a hike up hundreds of stairs, you can’t miss the climb up the Duomo or the Campanile di Giotto for views that are well worth the efforts. You’ll be gazing at so much architectural beauty you are guaranteed to be speechless.
Finally, who doesn’t love a great carousel? Set in the very heart of the city in the Piazza della Repubblica the iconic carousel offers just the right amount of whimsy in a city that is otherwise known for its serious and world-famous art. Head there after sunset to enjoy the romantic, and fun!, atmosphere.
Sintra, Portugal – Angela Isherwood
If you are looking for romance that is straight out of a fairytale, look no further than Sintra – a small, magical village surrounded by mountains, forests, and palaces and classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a magical and mystical little town and only 30 minutes outside of bustling and trendy Lisbon. While many people will enjoy Sintra as a daytrip from Lisbon, I recommend spending at least one night. Sure, it’s a small village but the sights it has packed into its tiny borders are much too many for a one day visit. Plus, the boutique accommodations are as romantic as they come and definitely worth at least one overnight.
I recommend Palácio de Sintra Boutique House for its awesome location, friendly staff, large rooms, beautiful courtyard, and exquisite décor inside. Breakfast was also hearty and delicious. The number one thing people head to Sintra to see is the incredibly impressive, vibrant, and bold Pena Palace. This Palace has to be seen to be believed – it is bursting with color whether from paint or exquisite tilework, and it sprawls around it’s hilltop position with incredible views of the forests, castles, and towns below. While we loved the Pena Palace, we were equally as enthralled by the Quinta de la Regaleira – another World Heritage Site in Sintra. The Regaleira is a spectacular estate with hidden wonders you can find with every step around its grounds. You’ll find grottoes, and lakes, fountains, and the infamous “Initiation Wells” that spiral down below the ground. Spend time meandering the expansive grounds and marvel at the architectural and imaginative feat that is the Quinta de la Regaleira.
The center of town has it’s own Palace – the Palacio Nacional that sits regally in the square. The village is full of hills, and wonderful small streets to get lost on in the evenings. Before leaving take a visit to the Castelo dos Mouros, a medieval fortress that may be ruins but still sits proudly at the top of a large hill imposing its might on the town below. And for more Moorish splendor, don’t miss out on the Palacio de Monserrate – easily one of the most striking palaces in the town.
Looking to make your romantic dreams come true? Give us a shout so we can help you #gettherewithjourneys!