Yes, it’s almost upon us already: that day in the calendar when a lucky few are whisked away by their nearest and dearest – and many more reach for the nearest rom-com.
Assuming you haven’t got a plane to catch, suspend your disbelief for a moment: Which film would you like to step into this weekend? Better still, stop day-dreaming about a handsome stranger with deep pockets and book yourself on the next flight.
Here’s our Valentine’s wish list beginning, believe it or not, with Luxembourg…
10. Girl with the Pearl Earring – Luxembourg
Stay with us on this one. With its UNESCO-listed old town and steel-and-glass financial sector, Luxembourg City dominates the south of Europe’s smallest sovereign state. Walk the Chemin de la Corniche promenade along the 17th-century ramparts for arresting views over the Royal Palace and the gorges carved by the Alzette and Pétrusse rivers. Chic restaurants and bars give the city a modern, metropolitan feel, but the meadows of the Moselle Valley and the ancient forests of Mullerthal are only a short drive away.
9. PS, I Love You – Dublin, Ireland
Ireland only has a cameo in the Hollywood version, but the original novel was set in Dublin, not Manhattan (although it was just as much of a tearjerker). Ireland’s capital combines an impeccable cultural pedigree with oodles of personality. This city was made for walking: take a stroll around the compact centre, past St Patrick’s Cathedral, Trinity College and the statues surrounding the O’Connell Bridge, then slake your thirst with a pint of Guinness in one of Dublin’s justifiably famous pubs. Stay there long into the night and you’ll be a local before you know it, or else retire to one of the many high-end restaurants, art cinemas or theatres.
8. One Day – Edinburgh, UK
Exquisite Georgian crescents, medieval cobbled streets and a sprawling ancient castle combine to make Edinburgh one of the most beautiful cities in the UK. Even on an overcast day, the view from Arthur’s Seat makes the hike well worth it – especially if you’re sharing it with that special someone.
7. A Good Year – Angers, France
Clustered around a rambling 13th-century fortress, Anjou’s historic capital combines the quintessentially French virtues of good wine, fabulous food and cultural charm. Amble around its medieval cobbled streets and you’ll pass rows of impossibly quaint half-timbered houses interspersed with architecturally magnificent art galleries, elegant churches and dozens of delightful pavement cafés. Or you can just drive out of town, drinking in the vista of Provence’s golden fields and vineyards as Russell Crowe’s character did.
Ok, so it was mostly filmed in Sydney but Madrid stepped in when director Baz Luhrmann was booted out of the studio to make way for Star Wars Episode II. Paris didn’t even get a cameo.
Madrid is a natural beauty – it’s got the aesthetic goods, but it’s too busy living life to the full to obsess about appearance. Behind the backdrop of elegant belle époque facades and art deco terraces are world-class galleries, luxe hotels, convivial restaurants and glamorous bars, which keep the city powering on around the clock. Leave the major roads and plunge into the cobweb of alleyways between the Royal Palace and the Parque del Buen Retiro to discover Madrid at its most charming.
5. Breakfast at Tiffany’s – New York, USA
Everything in New York is big, from the glittering glass skyscrapers and the towering art museums to the legendary department stores and the super-sized portions. But the Big Apple balances its loud, garish and materialistic side with hipster cafés, alternative galleries and kooky bars. Its inhabitants are also surprisingly in touch with its glorious surroundings – unlike Audrey Hepburn’s character, native New Yorkers spend as much of their leisure time sailing around the harbour and skiing upstate as they do knocking back cocktails in Michelin-starred restaurants.
4. Shirley Valentine – Mykonos, Greece
Dubbed the Greek Ibiza, Mykonos is the liveliest of the Greek Cyclades islands but has retained the aura of glamour that attracted the likes of Grace Kelly and Brigitte Bardot in the 1960s. By day, soak up the sun on aptly named Paradise Beach. At night, hit the high-end nightclubs but not before dining alfresco on freshly grilled seafood at one of the fabulous waterfront restaurants.
3. Amelie – Paris, France
Scan the skyline and your eyes drift over famous landmarks: the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and the priceless treasures of the Louvre Museum. Pound the streets and you’re spoilt for choice: world-beating galleries, luxe hotels, intimate wine bars and more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other city in Europe. Good food, fine wine and France’s capital is a tried and tested recipe for love. If only Amélie’s jaunty soundtrack really did accompany your every step…
2. A Room with a View – Florence, Italy
So laden with cultural treasures that visitors have actually been known to suffer palpitations from an overdose of art, Florence is a living, breathing museum. When you’ve marvelled at the towering Duomo, browsed Old Masters in the Uffizi Gallery and been wowed by countless statues, churches and frescoes, relax in one of the city’s sophisticated wine bars or sip a strong black coffee outside a café and watch the fashionable world walk by.
1. Eat, Pray, Love – Rome, Italy
Yes, controversially, we’ve awarded Italy the top two spots. Its capital is even romantic when you’re broken-hearted, as Julia Roberts’ character discovered in this 2010 film based on a memoir. Immersing yourself in history is a must – whether that’s exploring the echoing halls of the 2,000-year-old Pantheon, strolling through the Roman Forum, venturing underground into the ancient catacombs or uncovering the rich treasures of Vatican City. Renaissance frescoes, famous sculptures and Old Master-packed museums can be found on every other street. Add bars, five-star hotels and restaurants galore, and it’s easy to understand why Rome is one of the world’s most visited cities.
Disagree? Tweet us @RTTrav and let us know where you’d rather be whisked away to (and in which hero’s arms), or leave your comments in the box below.
This article was written in collaboration with London City Airport who fly to all the destinations above.