Save in the air to spend while you’re there! Savvy British couples are saving money, opting for short-haul European honeymoons. Cheaper flights with budget airlines means more cash to splurge on boutique hotels, gourmet restaurants and extra-special experiences to make extra-special memories.
Netherlands – Amsterdam
This friendly and quirky city is especially great for art lovers and history buffs. A great cafe culture for relaxed afternoons as well as fine dining for getting glammed-up; you couldn’t possibly be bored.
Fly cheap… from £61 return (with EasyJet from London Gatwick or Luton to Amsterdam Schiphol in August)
Sleep: Stage a bed in! The Hilton Amsterdam helped make musical history so recreate the famous scene and splash out for the famous ‘John and Yoko Suite’ where the loved-up couple urged the world to give peace a chance. If the €1400/£1190 a night price tag is a little too hefty, rooms like the King Dulux with a canal view costs from €179/£152 a night.
Eat: The Dutch do things a little differently but there are plenty of options for haute cuisine. If you can trust your sea legs, why not rent out a private boat for a romantic dinner. Costing €300/£255 for two hours, you can dine in a traditional Venetian saloon boat and enjoy your privacy. Opt for a gondola for €140 for an hour and take a bottle of fizz with you. If you prefer your meal on solid ground, Ciel Bleu(Blue Heaven) is a two-Michelin-star restaurant with views over the city.
Do: Find a horse and cart for an alternative tour of the city or choose the canal belt for a nighttime stroll and let the lights and water set the scene for exploration. Revel in the scents and colours of the Bloemenmarkt and shower your lover with petals from the floating flower market.
Portugal – Algarve
A beautiful and historically interesting region famed for its white sandy beaches. An all-year-round warm Mediterranean climate for alfresco dinners and romantic evening walks on the beach. Head to the hills for walking and trekking or to the cities for churches, castles and cathedrals. There’s also watersports and sailing, sunbathing and spa treatments by the coast.
Fly cheap… from £196 return (with Ryan Air from London Stansted to Portugal Faro in August)
Sleep/Eat/Do: For those who want intense relaxation, there’s barely a reason to leave the Blue&Green Vilalara Thalassa Resort (West Algarve). An on-site restaurant, luxury suites, Turkish baths, six outdoor pools, 12 hectares of gardens and a spa for pampering treatments. Sounds divine. More active couples can make use of their tennis and golf facilities or for a roll in the sand there are lovely beaches nearby. Their Junior Suite averages €300-360/£254-305 or upgrade to the Prestigue Suite for €810-950/£687-805 per night.
If you fancy some history on top of your Mediterranean beaches, Pousada de Tavira, Convento da Graça (East Algarve) is a converted convent in the small city of Tavira. Explore churches and the castle for a culture fix then pop over to Isle de Tevira which is a popular beach destination.
Prices range from €150-400/£128-340 depending on room choice but all have access to the outdoor pool and there’s a restaurant on site specialising in locally caught seafood dishes. Sit on the terrace for views and alfresco dining.
Italy – Rome
It’s amore in the Eternal City. Rome fulfills its full-frontal, sexy reputation so don’t be embarrassed to steal a kiss or two (or ten) in public. This city is all about extravagance so treat yourselves to some of the best food, wine and romance in Europe.
Fly cheap… from £137 return (with Ryanair from London Stansted to Rome Ciampino)
What better setting for a honeymoon a la ‘Roman Holiday’ moda than a rooftop terrace? We LOVE the look of Residenza Napoleone III. For your own quaint apartment, prices in peak season average €731/£620 a night. Grandeur comes in the form of the Residenza Napoleone Suite to make you feel like royalty. Cook up some breakfast in your very-own kitchenette then sit and admire your art-filled apartment. Expect to pay around €1416/ £1200 per night in peak season. Perfectly located next to the Villa Borghese for romantic strolls galore.
Eat: Imàgo sits on the sixth floor of the five-star hotel, Hassler Roma. Diners can experience panoramic views of the city whilst tucking into Michelin star cuisine. If you can tear your eyes away from your loved one, the rich history of the city allows for some breathtaking sights. Both daytime and night create “a beautiful life-size painting that fills each window”. Combined with candle-light, soft music, elegant décor and seasonal Italian food and wine, you’ll be falling in love all over again. (Price ranges from €110-140/£94-120 for a set-menu dinner)
Do: Go for a stroll along the river Tiber until you come to the Ponte Milvio. Add a padlock to the bridge to symbolise your enduring love and let it sit beside countless other lovers’ promises.
Poets amongst you, visit the Keats-Shelley House, asmall museum next to the Spanish Steps. For intellectual lovers, the restored house in which the poet John Keats lived, worked and died, is home to manuscripts, paintings and a library of Romantic literature.
Spain – Barcelona
Barcelona has all the history and culture of a European city but with the added bonus of sensational beaches. A city break with a side of sun, sea and sand? Sounds like the perfect match.
Fly cheap… from £112 return (with Ryanair from Stansted to Barcelona in Ausust)
Smack-bang in the middle of the action, stylish and modern Grand Hotel Central is an idyllic retreat from the busy streets. Their eighth-floor terrace gives unbelievable views across the city to enjoy whilst you sit back and have a glass of vino or two. Its minimalistic style, popular with upmarket hotels in Barcelona, still retains some of its original 1920s design features for relaxation in style.
Eat: It would be somewhat rude to travel all the way to Spain and not indulge in some tapas, little dishes of traditional Spanish food, bursting with flavour. You can find them all over the city but for an avant-garde, Michelin star choice, the Comerç, 24 is a boutique bar in the trendy and very pretty area of El Born.
For a dress-up sit-down affair, head to the Mardarin Oriental which is home to Moments, a two-Michelin restaurant run by chef Carme Ruscalleda. The only woman in the world to achieve six-Michelin stars, the menu offers traditional Catalan cuisine including locally-caught fresh seafood.
Do: Once you’re done with the narrow streets and designer bars of fashionable El Born, head to Museu Picasso for an injection of art. Montjuïc is a hill-top history-lover’s dream with castles and museums alongside an incredible view over Gaudi’s legacy. Consider hiring a boat and go rowing in the lake after a picnic in the Parc de la Ciutadella. The sandy beaches will beckon on lazy days so you can work on your tan.
Italy – Venice
The Republic of Venice is also known as La Serenissima, literally meaning ‘most serene’. In typical Italian style, Venice knows how to do classic luxury but it’s also a fun and vibrant city. This beautiful, historic island is all winding, cobbled streets and cosy hidden gems for cuddling over coffee.
Fly cheap… from £102/£148 return (with Ryanair from London Stansted to Venice Treviso/ London Gatwick to Venice Marco Polo in August)
Sleep: Looking for opulence extreme? Stay at Ca Maria Adele. Boasting its own private dock just around the corner from the Grand Canal, you’ll be in a central location whilst simultaneously avoiding the rambunctious, tourist-filled streets. Bare stone walls and marble create an elegant backdrop for dark wood and rich tones screaming Renaissance. If you can drag yourself from your suite, head to the terrace for an Italian espresso with views over the city. The perfect a way to start the day (even if it’s mid-afternoon).
Eat: Oh Italia! You do tickle our tastebuds. For designer dinner with a view head to Risorante Lindeadombra, their terrace provides a panoramic picture over the water and city skyline. The locals head to Impronta Cafe for traditional Italian food with hearty Italiano service and there are gelaterias across the city for something sweet before bed.
Do: You could spend hours getting lost in the Venetian maze. Take your time to drink in its unusual culture and admire the mix of Byzantine, Renaissance and Baroque architecture.
Lazy daydreamers climb aboard a gondola for a tour of the city from the water. Prepare a champagne picnic or just enjoy the gentle ride with one another. Barter with the gondolier for a good price (the average is about 100 Euros an hour).
Culture vultures head to the Guggenheim for a mind-blowing collection of priceless art works from Picasso and Andy Warhol to Dali and Man Ray (and evenWish Tree, a present from Yoko Ono to Penny Guggenheim.)
You might notice that Italy features a couple of times in the article, and with good reason. It is one of the most romantic and breathtakingly beautiful countries in the world, just look at my article on courting in sweet Italia.