Valentine's Day can be more than roses and a candlelit dinner, here are the top seven cliché-free options to celebrate this Valentine's Day
Whether you’re looking for fun, adventure or simply a spot of rest and relaxation, these unusual date ideas can ramp up the romance while giving cliché the cold shoulder.
For a relaxing Valentine’s: soak your troubles away
For a pampering session this Valentine’s, skip the expensive spa treatment and opt for a romantic dip in a natural, therapeutic hot spring instead. Popular from China to Chile, hot springs have long been associated with healing properties, and soaking in the thermal waters can often soothe one’s aches and pains.
Some of the world’s most famous natural spas are located in Iceland, epitomized by the beautiful Blue Lagoon featured in many films, reality shows and documentaries.
Budapest is another thermal bath hotspot, and the ornate Szechenyi is our top choice. This complex has 21 indoor and outdoor pools, filled with waters supplied by two thermal springs and are said to contain calcium, magnesium, hydro-carbonate, among other health-beneficial minerals.
For more inspiration, check out the article Central European historic spas and resorts.
2. For a fun Valentine’s: ride a rollercoaster
Hark back to the heady days of teenage romance with a Valentine’s theme park trip. Florida, of course, sets the world standard when it comes to theme parks. The star attractions are the four theme parks within Walt Disney World Resort and the two theme parks within Universal Orlando, plus Legoland, SeaWorld and Aquatica. In addition, there is also a string of smaller theme parks, including the eccentric Bible-themed ‘Holy Land Experience’, which recreates the settings of ancient Jerusalem.
Alternatively, make a beeline for the Middle East and visit the two largest indoor theme parks in the world – Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi (over 1.6 million square feet) and IMG Worlds of Adventure Dubai (over 1.5 million square feet). Both theme parks are about 117km (73mi) apart, making it relatively easy to visit both. And if they aren’t enough, you can also check out Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi – home to the world’s fastest rollercoaster.
3. For a scenic Valentine’s: stand on a summit
Put a scenic spin on a traditional Valentine’s Day stroll by lacing up your hiking boots and heading up a hill near you – or if your area is relatively flat, take this opportunity to check out a building with a roof-top restaurant or a viewing platform.
Most well-trodden paths are sign-posted and suitable for all abilities, but if you intend to tackle a more obscure mountain walk, make sure you wear weather-appropriate clothing, take adequate water, food, a map, compass, first-aid kit and check the weather before setting off.
For good recommendations, see the following related articles:
- Classic hikes (10 of the best hikes from around the world)
- The 10 most scenic self-guided walking holidays in England
- The complete guide to exploring the Atlas Mountains
4. For an intellectual Valentine’s: tour a museum
If you and your other half are philomaths (someone who enjoys learning and studying), then a museum-based date may just be the right propellant to fan the flames in your relationship.
Paris is said to have more museums than anywhere else in the world – 297 at the last count. The Louvre is by far the most visited museum in Paris, but there are also many wonderfully weird ones worth checking out, including Maison Deyrolle (a taxidermy shop-cum-museum), Musée de la Magie (Museum of Magic) and if you can stomach a morbid setting, head to the Catacombs of Paris – this subterranean labyrinth is said to contain the remains of some six million Parisians.
Apart from Paris, Moscow, Los Angeles, Seoul, London, Tokyo, Chengdu, Amsterdam, New York City, San Francisco, Taipei and Shanghai are all cities with over 100 museums.
Due to travel restrictions, many museums now offer virtual tours for you to enjoy from your sofa. A few of our favourites are available on artsandculture.google.com and they include:
- The Pera Museum in Istanbul, Turkey
- The Shohaku Art Museum in Nara, Japan
- The Museo de Arte de Lima in Peru, Lima
- The Franz Marc Museum in Kochel, Germany
- The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow, Russia
5. For a romantic Valentine’s: catch the sunrise
There’s nothing more magical than watching the start of a new day, so look for a spot (a hilltop or a beach is ideal) that offers clear views to the east, check sunrise times and set your alarm. Beware that if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun rises just a bit south of due east in February.
You may also consider camping out the night before – it adds to the fun and you can avoid the unappealing travel time.
6. For an adventurous Valentine’s: tandem bungee-jumping
For an adrenaline-fuelled date, take the plunge with your significant other. Free-falling through the air is a feeling that you’ll never forget, and when it’s all over, you both will have something to tick off the bucket list.
AJ Hackett was the world’s first commercial bungee jumping company that launched in 1988, choosing the Kawarau Bridge in the South Island of New Zealand as the jumping site. As tourists flocked to take part, the company has inadvertently helped New Zealand to become the ultimate playground for thrill-seekers.
Today, AJ Hackett operates six sites across three Kiwi destinations – Queenstown, Auckland and Taupo, offering a host of activities, including a tandem jump at the iconic Kawarau Bridge.
7. For a sweet Valentine’s: bond over baking
Baking-related search terms have been hugely popular in recent times, so use this Valentine’s Day to schedule a baking-themed date and bond over a shared love of food with your significant other.
Baking classes are available in every major city and many of them teach classic desserts and pastry techniques, while others focus on chocolate or sugar work. Alternatively, find a challenging recipe online and give it a go.
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This article was updated in February 2021.