Valentine’s Day is precisely two weeks away, and there is still time (just) to get your act together and book a last-minute romantic holiday.
The good news is that the decidedly unromantic process of taking a Covid-19 test will be removed for British arrivals as of February 11, just in time for Valentine’s Day. The UK will drop all testing requirements for vaccinated passengers, opening up entirely test-free travel to dozens of countries around the world.
So if you want to make 2022 the year you make a big gesture for your loved one, here are five ideas for a last-minute romantic weekend at home and abroad.
For active, go-getting couples
See the northern lights in Iceland
After putting once-in-a-lifetime experiences on hold for a year or two, Valentine’s Day 2022 could be an opportunity to finally book that holiday you’ve always wanted to go on. What better than a trip to the Arctic Circle to witness the northern lights?
With the long, dark nights still lingering in the upper reaches of the northern hemisphere, the first few months of the year are prime time for catching the northern lights in Arctic Europe. And what is more romantic than witnessing what is arguably the world’s most spectacular natural phenomenon, followed by a cosy evening by a fire in your wood cabin with a mug of glögg?
Book it: Explore has a four-night northern lights excursion in Iceland departing February 10. Stay in a Mongolian-style yurt on a working horse farm and spend your days visiting thundering waterfalls and the black basalt cliffs at Vik I Mydral, before setting off to witness the aurora each evening. Prices from £1,145 per person, flights from £237. Discover the World also has a range of northern lights holidays in the Arctic Circle (discover-the-world.com).
The rules: For quarantine-free travel, everyone arriving in Iceland must show evidence of full vaccination and a negative test. See the Iceland FCDO page for more information.
For earthy couples who love nature
A treehouse, somewhere in the UK
Having left it this late, you might rather stay somewhere special in the UK than faff about with overseas flights and testing restrictions. In recent years a UK’s ecosystem of glamping options has expanded, from treehouses to shepherds’ huts via yurts and bothies. A fine option for a private, snug romantic retreat that doesn’t feel too contrived. Book as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.
The rules: No Covid rules. Just bring your walking boots, spare socks and Scrabble.
Book it: Canopy and Stars has a range of wonderful glamping options in the UK with availability over Valentine’s Day; there is rare availability at the Walden treehouse in the Malvern Hills, staying for two nights and checking in on February 14 (from £410); see canopyandstars.co.uk. Cool Camping also has an array of camping and glamping escapes; see coolcamping.com.
For couples who love a Saturday night on the sofa
Love Island villa, Mallorca
The exact location of the Love Island villa remains a well-kept secret, although we can narrow it down to somewhere in the village of Sant Llorenç des Cardassar on the eastern side of Mallorca. James Villas has a range of options in Saint Llorenç – in February it won’t exactly be scorching (highs of 15 degrees), but it’s the quiet season, so you’ll have much of the island to yourselves.
For fans of the American series of Love Island, you’ll need to travel slightly further afield. Love Island USA was shot at the Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo in Hawaii. Here you’ll find a nine-hole golf course, a fitness centre and sweeping views of the bay. Six nights start from £1,559 per person; British Airways sells holidays there.
The rules: In Spain, fully vaccinated arrivals can enter without tests or quarantine on arrival. However, from February 1, you must have received your second dose no more than 270 days ago. As such, travellers who received their last jab on May 1 or earlier will need to get a booster jab in order to visit Spain. They must also sign an online Health Control Form. The rules in the Balearic Islands depend on the alert levels of each island. Mallorca is currently under Level 3 rules, meaning that Covid passes are required for entry to some venues. Find out more on the Spain FCDO page.
People from the UK travelling directly to Hawaii must present both a vaccination record and a negative Covid-19 test result (antigen is OK) within one day of boarding their flight to the US. Mask rules are in place in the island chain. The island group could soon request a booster shot, on top of double vaccination. Most indoor venues will request proof of vaccination or a negative test to enter. Find out more on the USA FCDO page.
For couples with a sense of humour
Museum of Broken Relationships, Zagreb
This is our pick for couples with a sense of humour who find the very concept of Valentine’s Day a bit nauseating, but who see it as a good excuse to do something anyway.
Zagreb’s Museum of Broken Relationships is one of the most visited sights in the Croatian capital. It is billed as a museum to our “collective emotional history” and features objects symbolising failed relationships from around the world.
The project was set up by two Zagreb-based artists, Olinka Vištica, a film producer, and Dražen Grubišić, a sculptor. After their four-year relationship came to an end in 2003, they joked about setting up a museum to house the items left behind by their break up. Three years later, the idea came to fruition and the Museum of Broken Relationships was born.
They describe the museum, which now also has an outpost in Los Angeles and has a touring exhibition of the world, as an: ”art concept which proceeds from the (scientific) assumption that objects (in the broadest sense, i.e., matter as a whole) possess integrated fields – ‘holograms’ of memories and emotions – and intends with its layout to create a space of ‘secure memory’ or ‘protected remembrance’ in order to preserve the material and nonmaterial heritage of broken relationships.”
Admission is 40kn (£4.42), for more information see brokenships.com.
Stay here: You can’t do much better than the Esplanade Zagreb. Built in 1925 as a chichi stopover for passengers on the Orient Express, this five-star Art Deco hotel is the most upmarket spot in the city, with its shimmering chandeliers and large ballroom. There’s nothing much more romantic than its spacious rooms, tastefully decorated in opulent golds and luxuriant textiles. See the Telegraph Travel’s 9/10 review of the hotel here; availability in mid-February.
The rules: Vaccinated Britons can enter Croatia without tests or the need to self-isolate. Most venues, including museums, will require proof of vaccination or a negative test for entry. Find out more on the Croatia FCDO page.
For old-fashioned romantics
A weekend in Paris
It’s cliched, yes, but what could be more romantic than a weekend in Paris? Every couple will have a different idea of what true “romance” means, and Paris has just about every definition covered. From sumptuous spas to quirky boutique boltholes, or atmospheric candle-lit restaurants, do your research and you won’t be disappointed.
Stay here: The uber chic Maison Souquet has availability for a three-night indulgent getaway in mid-February, from £1,105 for a deluxe double room with private access to pool and spa. If that doesn’t take your fancy, choose from our selection of the finest five-star hotels in Paris.
Eat here: Take your pick. There are more than 70 Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris, from grand classics to intimate, contemporary spots with no-booking policies. We round up 45 of our favourite restaurants in Paris, for every type of couple.
Getting there: By far the most romantic way of travelling to Paris is by rail. Eurostar runs services from London St Pancras International, taking 2 hours 37 minutes and starting from £109 return in mid February.
The rules: Fully-vaccinated arrivals may visit France for any reason, but must present a negative PCR or antigen test result taken within 24 hours of departure if aged 12 years or older. You will also need to provide a complete ‘sworn statement’ (déclaration sur l’honneur) form before arrival, and you will need evidence of full vaccination to enter restaurants, bars and hotels. Find out more on our France travel advice page.