Paris is the city of love, so if you’re looking for a romantic holiday destination, look no further ... you might think.
Strolling along the Seine river is not the only option for a European getaway for Valentine’s Day or other romantic getaways.
We’ve picked out five alternatives for you to check out:
Prague, Czech Republic
The Czech capital isn’t known as the Paris of the East for nothing. More than 1,000 years of history, a picturesque Old Town and its location on the river Vltava are sure to get your heart fluttering.
It’s also one of Europe’s most beloved cities, with the biggest castle in the world – Prague Castle. As Ulrike Bruns from tourism firm DerTour in Germany puts it: “Nothing is as romantic as a kiss on the Charles Bridge, one of the oldest in Europe.”
But Prague’s popularity is a gift and a curse. In summer the city is overrun with tourists. So February would be just the right time to take a trip and miss the hustle and bustle.
Prague has one up on its French counterpart when it comes to price – hotels and restaurants are both far more affordable there.
There is hardly a city in Europe associated with as much of a sense of longing as Venice. The city on the Adriatic Sea is like an open-air museum with its network of canals – or a staged backdrop that sets the scene perfectly for love.
Critics say that “real life” in Venice has long since been dead, but that mostly applies to the summer season. In February the fog over the city gives it a sense of wintry romance, lending it a sense of atmosphere you wouldn’t get in sunny July and August.
It’s been the setting for celebrity romance too – George Clooney married his wife in the Aman Venice luxury hotel, which is on the central Palazzo Papadopoli on Canal Grande. But luxury and the celebrity factor have their price: Lovers will have to cough up around 515 euros (RM2,500) per person to have a suite with breakfast.
Luckily there are other options for accommodation.
Dripping in history, time-honoured and, most important of all, romantic. When it comes to grandeur, Rome can stand up to Paris. Travel agent Thomas Cook calls it the most attractive alternative.
Lovers can share their hopes and dreams making wishes at the Trevi Fountain, visit the lit-up Colosseum in the evening and toast to their happiness over a candle-lit dinner in the old heart of the city.
Like in Europe’s other metropolises, couples will benefit from heading to Rome in the off-peak season. The eternal city has a peaceful side to show too. As the saying goes, “piano piano” – nice and slow.
In the Vatican City there will be fewer tourists to get in the way at St Peter’s Cathedral and the Sistine Chapel.
Amsterdam, the Netherlands
The Dutch capital isn’t green in February. But the city’s canals have the same intoxicating atmosphere – especially at night, when the lights come on. So a boat ride is a must for a couple’s trip to Amsterdam.
If it’s raining, there are dozens of museums to fill the day.
Ulrike Bruns recommends going to the famous Magere Brug.
“It is said that couples who hug on this beautiful bridge will love each other forever.” And with all of the waterways in the city, couples won’t have to search for long to find other romantic spots to stop off at.
Yes, it doesn’t belong to the old guard of top European cities and is less well known than Lisbon. But Porto is beautiful and ceased to be a secret spot for only the savvy traveller a long time ago.
Porto was named one of the top trend destinations at TripAdvisor’s Traveller’s Choice Awards in 2016. Sightseeing hotspots include the Clerigos Church, the Dom Luis arched bridge and the cathedral.
But the atmosphere of this wonderful city is what makes Porto a great destination for Valentine’s Day holidaymakers.
And it’s cheap. Some hotels offer rooms for only 20 euros (RM97) per person per night. And after a quick look online it’s clear to see there are comfortable and affordable accommodation options.
And lastly, a recommendation for a meal for two: Go to Ribeira, the old heart of Porto on the banks of the Douro river. – dpa/Philip Laage
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