Travel brings new meaning to the word romance. It's easy to fall in love with a city, its people and the local customs. It's even easier to become smitten if you're sharing the journey with someone special, forging lasting memories along the way.
To celebrate Valentine's Day, we've handpicked holiday destinations we believe inspire amore. Whether you travel solo, in pairs or with kin, these capitals of love embrace every sense of the word and are sure to leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside.
The city of Verona in northern Italy is best known as the setting of Shakespeare's romantic tragedy, Romeo and Juliet. It may have been written centuries ago but the play continues to be studied, re-enacted and celebrated in modern culture. The tale of the young star-crossed lovers draws visitors to sites of significance around Verona, like Juliet's Balcony where couples steal a kiss and add their message of love on the wall in honour of Juliet and her Romeo.
Ancient mythology tells us Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of love and fertility, was born from the waves off the coast of Cyprus. Guided by the soft sea breeze aboard a seashell, Aphrodite found her way to the shore. Legend veils the Petra tou Romiou or the Rock of Aphrodite in Paphos, revered as the birthplace of the goddess where surf crashing into the rocks continues to play tricks with the mind. Some will claim it resembles a woman emerging poetically from the foam.
In April 2011 in London, little girls and boys who were regaled with stories of dashing princes and beautiful princesses were treated to a real-life fairytale. The royal wedding of Catherine Middleton and Prince William saw a nation pour into the streets of London just to catch a glimpse of the couple. On the balcony of Buckingham Palace, Will and Kate shared their first public kiss as husband and wife and struck the heartstrings of millions of romantics across the globe.
Arguably India's most iconic monument, the Taj Mahal is a symbol of devotion like no other. In the early 17th century, Emperor Shah Jahan was struck with grief when his beloved wife passed away during childbirth. Shah Jahan began planning an opulent mausoleum to honour Empress Mumtaz, with construction taking over two decades to complete. Today the Taj Mahal stands as the ultimate symbol of eternal love, clad in white marble and gilded in calligraphy.
|The Whitsundays, Australia
Catch a bird's eye view of nature's statement of love, the Heart Reef. As if the alabaster beaches and sparkling waters of Queensland's Whitsunday Islands weren't beautiful enough, the composition of coral leaves its stamp of love on the Great Barrier Reef and is an exclusive place of romance, only to be experienced by flyover. If you're planning on making a rather important declaration of love, what better place to do it than above an icon of true romance?
J'adore Paris! The language, the glittering cityscape bouncing off the river and the decadent pastries make it impossible to resist the charms of the so-called most romantic city on earth. Standing tall as a symbol of adoration, the Eiffel Tower represents a strong patriotic love, created to celebrate the 1889 World Expo. Today, you will find lovers sharing a kiss, capturing the moment and popping the big question with Parisian panoramas in the background.
|St John, US Virgin Islands
There are mixed stories as to how St John earned the nickname 'Love City'. The petite island seems to have a magical power over visitors who are drawn there to marry, honeymoon and renew their vows. Over two thirds of St John in the US Virgin Islands is covered in national park, offering secluded bays and lush tropical rainforests - the perfect backdrop for lovebirds' romantic rendezvous. When you have had your fill of hiking and snorkelling, jump on a ferry and cruise the Caribbean Sea to neighbouring islands.
The romantic gestures of Valentine's Day trace back to the Middle Ages when the concept of courting became popular, but the story starts much earlier. The Roman martyr who lent his name to the holiday may actually have been more than one man in early Christianity acting in love, helping prisoners escape torture and marrying besotted soldiers who weren't permitted to wed. A few centuries later, Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St Valentine's Day in honour of the saints and Rome led the charge for the cupid-centric holiday we know today.