Posted: Feb 10, 2016
With Valentine’s Day looming, here is our pick of the most romantic hot spots around the globe.
The moonlight, the music and the muse: we’ve chosen the most magical places to escape to this February. And if you can’t bear to leave at the end, we show you the sort of money you would need to snap up a new home everywhere from Sydney to Salzburg.
20. Tokyo, Japan
Women buy chocolates for men on February 14th in Tokyo. Men don’t return the compliment for another month. And February is probably too early for the famous cherry blossom – wait for the start of April to have a good chance of seeing it – but the plum blossom should be out in Tokyo by mid-month in Hanegi Park. The property market is going wild here at the moment, fuelled by cheap borrowing and the prospect of the 2020 Olympics. You can buy a small apartment in a high-rise from £150,000.
19. Dubrovnik, Croatia
One of the best preserved medieval walled cities in the world, Dubrovnik is the very essence of romance. George Bernard Shaw described it as paradise on earth. Its red-roofed buildings totter down to the harbour-front, which is lapped by the waters of the Adriatic. Even in February, it should be mild enough to sit outside and watch the sunset. If you want to stay on, one-bedroom apartments cost from £180,000 in the Old Town.
18. New Orleans, USA
From the misty morning sun rising over the Mississippi to the vibrant nights in the French Quarter, New Orleans is surely the City of Love. Ride the streetcar – the one named Desire – and dive into the jazz joints. If you want to buy property here, move quickly. The market is forecast to be America’s sixth hottest in 2016. You can get a one-bedroom condo in the swinging French Quarter for £210,000.
17. Amsterdam, Holland
In Amsterdam you can marry for the day. “Wed and Walk” offers you the chance to have your big day without the ongoing commitment! You can hire all the gear, have the ceremony in English, a photo of your first married kiss and you get to keep the rings. Next day, it’s but a memory! If you are enchanted by the city’s wacky ways, you can buy a fairly central one-bedroom flat here for around £150,000.
16. Vienna, Austria
The Austrian capital is a heady whirl of steaming cafes and sumptuous palaces. Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss is here, in the Upper Belvedere Gallery of the baroque imperial palace. Visit the Butterfly House at Burggarten Park and take a spin on the ferris wheel at Prater Park. Beer cellars and wine bars abound, but step into another world and visit the opera. You can find two-bedroom flats in the Leopoldstadt area from £220,000.
15. Sydney, Australia
You won’t be short of romantic things to do on Valentine’s Day in Sydney, but how about going to the Observatory and getting all starry-eyed? You can even book a package that includes canapes and wine. A harbour cruise, a top class restaurant or, for the more adventurous, the Bridge Climb will all be memorable choices. You’ll be hooked. You can pick up a studio half an hour from the Sydney central business district for around £150,000.
14. Helsinki, Finland
The city centre is full of neo-classical and art nouveau buildings. Kallio, formerly a factory worker’s residential area, is now a hip hangout. When you tire of the crowds, head to one of the 330 islands. You can buy a one-bed apartment in Helsinki from about £90,000. Blocks often have a sauna, for which residents pay a small monthly fee.
13. Rome, Italy
Ponte Sant’Angelo with its ten marble angels is enchanting at night by the light of the lamps. From it you can see the dome of St Peter’s and the Castel Sant’Angelo illuminated against the night sky. The Eternal City is bursting with delights from mosaics and frescoes to monumental architecture and dancing fountains. Surprises await around every corner and if you can’t bear to leave, apartments in the suburbs cost around £200,000.
12. St Lucia, Caribbean
This lush Caribbean island with its instantly recognisable twin Piton Mountains rising straight out of the sapphire-blue sea is the ultimate in romantic getaways. Its people love to party, from the famous Friday night Jump Up street party in Gros Islet to live jazz and blues down the road in Rodney Bay. Oceanfront villas go for about £600,000, but you might find a “fixer upper” for nearer £100,000.
11. Quebec, Canada
The pretty streets of Quebec City, the only walled town in the Americas north of Mexico, will transport you back to old Europe in an instant. The Chateau Frontenac and La Citadelle dominate the skyline and you can explore the magnificent fortifications. Valentine’s Day marks the end of the winter carnival this year, so don’t miss the night parade on the 13th. If you fall in love with this city, you should be able to find a two-bedroom condo or flat in the centre for around £170,000.
10. Prague, Czech Republic
This charming city is full of golden spires and cobbled squares. If you’re lucky, there will be a dusting of snow. Walk up to the castle, stroll by the river and gather on Charles Bridge at twilight. You can buy studios on the outskirts for around £50,000, while flats in the Old Town are nearer £500,000. For £250,000, you can buy a renovated “shell”, allowing you to choose the finish.
9. Fes, Morocco
For a really exotic Valentine’s Day, head south to north Africa. The ancient medina and the colourful souks of Fes will provide added allure. From the sights and smells of the dazzling warren of market stalls to the fine dining at a luxury boutique hotel, you will have an evening to remember. The seriously adventurous might be tempted to stay – you can buy a traditional riad for less than £100,000.
8. Florence, Italy
This city was the setting for one of the world’s greatest love stories – that of Dante and Beatrice. Dante was a great Italian poet, known for his Divine Comedy. He was betrothed to another, but never lost his childhood love for Beatrice who appears throughout his work. Their story echoes down the centuries and was a favourite theme for the pre-Raphaelite masters and poets. You, too, can make poetry on the bridges and in the piazzas. If you thought to live here, expect to pay £130,000 for a studio flat in the centre.
7. Bruges, Belgium
Known as the Venice of the North, medieval Bruges certainly lives up to its romantic image. A city of canals, cobbled squares, brick buildings and Gothic style architecture, it’s also famous for its chocolate, lace and craft beers. There’s plenty to see and do – so much so that you might decide to relocate here permanently. If so, you’ll find that two-bedroom flats near the centre cost from £200,000.
6. Dublin, Ireland
There are plenty of cosy cafes where you can enjoy a heart-warming hot chocolate and relax in Dublin. If you love the craic and want to make this city your home, house prices tumbled last year here, but a two-bedroom apartment will still set you back at least £200,000.
5. Monaco, France
If you can’t find romance in Monte Carlo, there’s probably no hope for you anywhere! This tiny, magical kingdom is a magnet for the rich and famous, so expect luxury, but expect to pay for it. A night at the casino or a special date in a beautiful restaurant, followed by a night in a swanky hotel will be worthy of James Bond himself. To live here, however, you’re looking at upwards of £700,000 for a small flat. Even a parking space here will set you back a couple of hundred thousand.
4. Seville, Spain
This Spanish city with its Moorish history and scent of orange blossom will gladden every wintry heart. Sunlight penetrates its quaint, bar-lined plazas with people spilling outside even in February. Take a carriage ride through Maria Luisa Park and wonder at the grottoes and fountains. Then throw yourself into the heady world of flamenco at the museum dedicated to this passionate dance. If you want to stay forever, £220,000 should get you a one-bedroom flat in an attractive older building with a pretty courtyard.
3. Salzburg, Austria
You don’t even have to be a fan of The Sound of Music to be thrilled by Salzburg and its backdrop of mountains. Mozart was born in the city and his music is all around. The baroque old town and cathedral attract swooning lovers throughout the year and its coffee house tradition dates back to the early 18th century. Get together over a hot chocolate and Sachertorte – and if you want to stay, a glamorous penthouse in the city centre will set you back £7m! A simpler two-bedroom flat would cost around £200,000.
2. Paris, France
If the elegant buildings, the charming boulevards, the intimate gardens and the lofty views are not romantic enough, you can head to the Place des Abbesses in Montmartre, where there is a wall dedicated to love. Its 612 tiles spell out I Love You in 250 languages. If you want to live happily ever after in the City of Light, studio flats in can start at about £160,000.
1. Venice, Italy
A Valentine’s Day trip to Venice has got to involve a gondola, the Bridge of Sighs and the Doge’s Palace, but don’t miss the city’s quieter charms. Get lost in the labyrinthine medieval passages and alleyways, hitch a ride on a vaporetto (water taxi) to one of the islands, enjoy the market in the Rialto or taste crostini in a little local bar away from the main tourist areas. All these will turn your trip in to a personal adventure for the two of you. If you can’t bear to leave, a one-bedroom flat will cost you about £300,000.