Julie DelahayeTwo Monkeys Travel Group bloggers Jonathan and Katrina Howe share 5 alternative romantic destinations for an unforgettable Valentine's Day exclusively with HELLO! Online.
Planning a getaway for Valentine's Day with a twist? Gone are the days when Paris and Venice were the only go-to destinations – nowadays, there are plenty of destinations further afield that make for equally romantic if not more exciting holidays for couples. Whether you're after a cultural city break or looking to spend a few weeks travelling on your honeymoon, you can be left feeling spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing your next trip.
One couple who have been seeing what the world has to offer are Two Monkeys Travel Group bloggers and loved-up pair Jonathan and Katrina Howe. They've been exploring the world together non-stop for the last four years, from discovering the luscious landscapes of Patagonia de Argentina to braving the cold temperatures for an expedition to Antarctica!
Now the pair have shared their favourite, alternative romantic destinations exclusively with HELLO! Online, based on their first-hand experience at each location from their travels so far.
Whether you're looking to step back in time and explore ancient ruins in Chile or want to head to more tropical climates in the Philippines, get ready for some seriously wanderlust-inducing travel inspiration for Valentine's Day.
Click throughto see the full gallery…
All photos courtesy of Two Monkeys Travel Group.
For adventurers: Antarctica
"For the couple who would travel to the ends of the Earth together, Antarctica is about as remote as you can go! There is something incredibly special about this trip. As your ship sets sail across the Drake Passage, leaving the tip of South America behind, and you stand at the bow of a ship together, staring out at nothing but vast ocean swells and waiting for that first glimpse of snow-covered land, it's sure to be something you'll never forget. The summer season in Antarctica is very short from November to March – which also happens to time perfectly with Valentine's Day!"
What to do: "There are several ways to visit Antarctica, but the best is to take an expedition cruise as you get all the safety and security of a large ship with plenty of comfort, while also having daily landings on Antarctica with real polar expedition leaders. You can walk among Chinstrap and Gentoo penguins, see seals basking on ice flows and watch pods of whales feeding, surfacing and diving again in spectacular displays."
Where to stay: "Hurtigruten are a Norwegian cruise company who have been running ships in polar conditions since the 1800s, so they know what they’re doing when it comes to ice. An expedition on one of their specialised ice-strengthened ships takes you deep into the heart of Antarctica and out into the icy wilderness itself."
Where to eat: "There are two restaurants on board the Hurtigruten MS Midnatsol, so you won’t be stuck for dinner options. Dishes are designed around famous polar explorers, so there's a cool story of adventure behind every meal."
For the cultural couple: Budapest, Hungary
"Paris may have the reputation of the being the most romantic city in Europe, but Budapest is giving it serious competition. There's so much to do together, whether checking out the eclectic mix of classic architectural styles, tasting the unique and often underestimate cuisine, discovering the city's blossoming fine wine industry, trips to concerts and the theatre, or simply taking romantic walks and sunset boat rides along the river."
What to do: "You know how to find the main attractions, but for a really romantic experience, just wander the old streets in the late afternoon when the sunshine of the golden hours casts a glow over everything. Stop for a glass of sparkling wine, then stroll down to the riverside to watch the sun go down. Take your time here, to sit back, watch, and absorb some of what Budapest is really all about."
Where to stay: "One hotel we found exudes the ambiance and character of the city is the Aria Hotel Budapest, a boutique hotel which creates its own definition of luxury. The piano key floor leads you into the naturally-lit, glazed courtyard where you will enjoy complimentary wine and cheese every day to the sound of the live pianist."
Where to eat: "As usual, the best Hungarian food can be found away from the main tourist highways. Just take a walk a couple of streets away from the well-trodden promenades and choose a small place which looks busy with people other than tourists and you’ll do just fine."
For more information head to twomonkeystravelgroup.com
For history seekers: Easter Island, Chile
"If you both love exploring mystical ruins and walking hand-in-hand while absorbing the ancient history all around you, then Easter Island could be the perfect location. Landing on a tiny airstrip 3686km from the nearest land, you'll be surrounded by lush, tropical vegetation and the deep blue ocean, leaving you feeling like you've been transported to another world!"
What to do: "There are so many places to explore together, so we recommend finding a local Rapa Nui guide to show you the best of them all – not to mention they'll share incredible stories behind each site that have been passed from generation to generation for hundreds of years! It's also well worthwhile taking a day to explore just the two of you. Rent a bicycle to venture along the north west side of the island where cars aren't allowed, or rent a quad to explore the unpaved back roads – and end the day watching the sun setting into the Pacific Ocean behind the Moai."
Where to stay: "We recommend staying in Hotel Hangaroa Eco Village and Spa, the most luxurious property on the island that boasts a refreshing pool, panoramic ocean views and fantastic food!
Where to eat: "The best local eatery on Easter Island is Haka Honu, which also has the best views of the ocean. Just ask the first local you see to point you in the right direction!"
For tropical travellers: Palawan, Philippines
"The Philippines has everything you could ever hope for in a Valentine’s paradise destination; pure white-sand beaches, lush vegetation, mountains and clearest of the clearest blue water! Lie on the beach and cool off in the ocean, or get active with some island hopping, snorkelling, paddle boarding, or even a visit to the longest navigable underground river in the world."
What to do: "In Coron Bay, you can dive into sunken Japanese warships from World War II. We also recommend checking out the longest underground river in the world, which is in St. Paul's Subterranean River National Park, just 50 kms away from Puerto Princesa. we also loved the El Nido Marine Reserve, where you can find limestone cliffs, mangroves, white sand beaches, rainforest and stunning coral reefs all in one place."
Where to stay: "Huma Island Resort and Spa is located on just one of over 1000 islands which make up the Palawan Island chain. The island encapsulates everything that makes this place so special; lush rainforest landscapes, stunning beaches, amazing corals and the bluest water you’ve ever seen!
Where to eat: "Palawan is more about what you eat rather than where. There are many local delicacies to try some more challenging than others – for example Tamilok, a type of woodworm found in mangroves! Some less challenging dishes include crocodile sisig, crispy chicken skin, hoppia cakes, Dangit Lamayo and Lechon Kalawi."
For nature lovers: Patagonia de Argentina
"Hiking in the mountains, kayaking in glacial lakes and white-water rafting through roaring rapids in deep canyons - Patagonia de Argentina lets you experience with power of the great outdoors like nowhere else can. Start your journey in the more relaxed environment of San Martin de Los Andes, before venturing further south to Villa La Angostura of The Seven Lakes and reaching San Carlos de Bariloche, the final frontier town which served as the link between Argentina and Chile."
What to do: "This is the land of outdoor adventure, so be prepared to hike mountains, paddle on rivers, swim in refreshing lakes and ride on horseback through the forest!"
Where to stay: "There are many amazing places to stay, but some of our favourites include the Rio Hermoso Hotel de Montaña – a relaxing retreat alongside a winding river – or the Hotel Tunquelén which overlooks the breathtaking Lake Nahuel Huapi from its hillside position.
Where to eat: "The Rio Hermoso has a fantastic chef and you can enjoy your meals while overlooking the river, but if you want to treat yourself with a special Valentine's Day night out, head to Cassis, the most romantic dinner destination in the whole of Patagonia."