The Legend of Saint Valentine
The historical significance of Valentine’s Day is quite mysterious. One legend says that Valentine was a Roman priest in the third century who continued to perform secret marriages after Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage for young men. Some say that he was put to death for this crime. Another legend says that Valentine fell in love while in prison with a girl who frequented his cell. Before he was killed, he sent her a letter signed “from your Valentine,” an expression which still endures today. Commercial Valentine’s Day cards became available in the mid-nineteenth century and the holiday continues to be widely known for celebrating romantic love, friendship, and admiration. If you think that the holiday has become too commercial, however, here’s a way to make it truly meaningful. Ditch the cliched box of chocolates and whisk your sweetheart away to one of these romantic Valentine’s Day destinations instead.
Share a Travel Adventure with Your Valentine
Whether you are celebrating a lover or a meaningful friendship, consider going on a trip rather than giving material gifts. Shared experiences offer the chance to build new memories with the ones we love. Scientists talk a lot about social connectedness and how it can improve our physical health and mental well-being. Above all, gifts of experience bond us with others and substantially add to our happiness.
Five Most Romantic Cities in Europe – Valentine’s Day Destinations
1. Vienna, Austria
The capital of Austria, Vienna is the home of imperial architecture and influential composers such as Mozart, Beethoven, and Strauss. Vienna is known for its artistic flair and vibrant streetscapes, making it the perfect getaway for two. Whether you choose to immerse yourself in one of its majestic museums, such as the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna; indulge in the renowned Viennese coffee house culture; or dine at one of the Top 10 Best Restaurants in the World by reserving a table for two at Restaurant Steirereck, you’ll share a wondrous stimulation of the senses.
Ideas for Valentine’s Day activities in Vienna: the Prater amusement park, ride the Giant Ferris Wheel, take a private waltz lesson, reserve a spa treatment at Hotel Sacher’s Chocolate Spa, or go ice skating at city hall.
2. Zermatt, Switzerland
Lonely Planet calls Zermatt among one of Switzerland’s “glitziest resorts.” As I’ve had the chance to witness Zermatt during both the dwindling summer and the onset of winter, I can’t very well argue with that. Zermatt is a quaint car-less village in the canton of Valais. It is home to the iconic and beloved Matterhorn, a stunning pyramid-shaped mountain that hovers over the town.
Ideas for Valentine’s Day activities in Zermatt: take a walking tour, treat yourselves to a massage at the family-run Hotel Sonne Zermatt, walk the Charles Knuonen Suspension Bridge, indulge in cheese fondue at Restaurant Du Pont, then top it off with chocolate crêpes from Crêperie Stefanie.
3. Granada, Spain
I sobbed during my first viewing of a Flamenco performance in Grenada. Seems like there is something about the air there, or maybe it’s the way the white-washed buildings glisten during the day, or perhaps it’s the way the cobblestones feel beneath your heels. Grenada feels intimate and honest, like a conversation with an old friend. Take your partner to this quaint village in the Southern region of Andalusia in the foothills of Spain’s Sierra Nevada.
Ideas for Valentine’s Day activities in Granada: Explore the Alhambra, visit the Carmen de los Mártires park, discover architectural art at Hammam Al-Andalus, eat tapas at Restaurante Los Manueles, reserve tickets for a Flamenco show at El Templo del Flamenco.
4. Edinburgh, Scotland
The capital of Scotland is nestled amongst rocky hills and overlooks the sea. It is a passionate city, nicknamed The Athens of the North by the great thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment. Take a walk on the wild side of Edinburgh and experience Auld Reekie, a nickname for Edinburgh used to describe the crowded pubs, the all-night parties, and the abundance of performing poets and comedians. For a more relaxing experience, stroll through the beautiful old town and visit the Edinburgh Castle.
Ideas for Valentine’s Day activities in Edinburgh: Reserve a table for two at Michelin starred restaurant Castle Terrace, visit The Scottish National Gallery for an artistic experience, treat yourself at Mimi’s Bakehouse, take a horseback ride 17 miles outside of Edinburgh.
5. Zadar, Croatia
Zadar’s summer and autumn seasons are delightful, but this quaint seaside village doesn’t go to sleep for the winter. It is a university city, so there are always students and consequential fun to be had. The town sits pretty on the Dalmatian coast and is known for the Roman and Venetian ruins located on the peninsula in the old town. Take your partner to a city that Alfred Hitchcock was quoted as saying had, “the most beautiful sunset in the world.”
Ideas for Valentine’s Day activities in Zadar: Take part in the Valentine’s Day charity event called Zaželi ljubav (Wish for love), watch the sunset from Riva, listen to the Sea Organ, visit the Museum of Ancient Glass, or reserve a table for two at Fosa.