Want to get away for a short break with just you and your loved one? We’ve come up with our top ten romantic getaways that you can start cuddled up on deck with the wind in your hair as you watch the mainland disappear on the horizon.
Chocolate and Beer in Bruges, Belgium
Don’t be deceived, Bruges is not just about chocolate and beer (although those are also very good reasons to visit), it is one of the few cities that can boast UNESCO World Heritage status for the entire area and has beautiful medieval architecture, romantic canal trips, picture postcard cobbled streets, world class art galleries and award-winning restaurants. For first time visitors a trip to the city has to start on the central Markt Square, where you can climb the 366 steps to the top of the Belfry Tower for fantastic views of the square below. A trip during the winter makes the cosy trappists bars even more welcoming, the streets quieter and that delectable chocolate less likely to melt in your hand! Click here for more information on visiting Bruges.
Bruges is a 25 mins drive from Zeebrugge on the Hull – Zeebrugge route with P&O Ferries, journey time 14hrs (overnight).
Relaxation in Rotterdam, The Netherlands
The modern city of Rotterdam known for its Cubist houses, the Erasmus Bridge and by foodies for its Markthal has another authentic Dutch experience for couples not frightened to get out of their comfort zone.
One of The Netherlands best kept secrets is its spa and wellness centres. Nordic-style indoor and outdoor emporiums of hot and cold pools, jacuzzis, saunas and steam rooms, including a herbal sauna where the ritual of wafting fragrant wet towels increases the humidity in the room and the perceived temperature. Thermenholiday is situated in Schiedam, a 30 min cycle from Rotterdam centre and offer a unique day of relaxation to share with your partner. This all sounds great, you’re thinking, so why’s it out of our comfort zone? As with most Nordic-style wellness resorts bathing suits are not usually permitted. However, it is advisable to bring your own flipflops, otherwise you will need to buy them at the spa.
Stena Line operates two sailings a day from Harwich to the Hook of Holland with a journey time of 8hrs15.
P&O Ferries operate daily overnight sailings directly to Rotterdam from Hull, journey time 12hrs.
DFDS operates a daily service from Newcastle to Amsterdam, journey time 16hrs45.
Best chance to see snow, Isle of Arran, Scotland
Definitely a great choice for couples that like nature and the great outdoors – whatever the weather. Just two and half hours away from central Glasgow you can experience the variations of Scotland’s dramatic landscape all on one island. Pop on your hiking boots and waterproofs and go explore. Goat Fell, at 874m, is the highest point on the Isle of Arran and its peak is usually covered in snow during the winter months. After a challenging walk what could be better way to warm up and reinvigorate yourself than sampling the whiskey at the local distillery. If you prefer just to appreciate nature without having to be outside all day then there’s plenty of cosy accommodation options, pubs and restaurants to discover.
Caledonian MacBrayne operate daily ferry services from Ardrossan to Brodick, journey time 55 mins.
Foodie Delights, Cherbourg, France
If your dream getaway involves sumptuous shellfish, pungent soft camembert straight from the market and melt-in-your-mouth macarons then a short break to Cherbourg is the perfect choice for a indulgent foodies getaway. Explore some of the most picturesque and secluded coastline in Normandy just 30 minutes away from Cherbourg, at Cap de da Hague, and don’t miss the ancient village of Omonville-la-Rogue, which spans 2,000 years of history. Then settle down in a café or restaurant with views over the sea and enjoy what you came for.
Brittany Ferries run daily services to Cherbourg from Portsmouth on the Normandie Express which takes just 3 hrs, and from Poole – with a journey time of 4hrs30.
Irish Ferries operates a service 4 times a week between Dublin and Cherbourg, journey time of 20hrs.
Stena Line operates a service 3 times a week between Rosslare and Cherbourg, journey time of 20hrs30.
When a romantic getaway needs to include your four-legged friend, Isle of Wight
For some of us a romantic break just wouldn’t be the same without our four-legged friend and the Isle of Wight is the perfect place to bring your pooch with many options for long walks along the coast or through woodland paths, dog-friendly accommodation and pubs and restaurants, and of course the ferries and hovercraft services are delighted to have your pet onboard.
For a romantic walk (with your dog) head to Devil’s Chimney where you can navigate the stone staircase down through the sheer cliffs before it opens up into beautiful woodland below. Follow the path eastwards toward Shanklin and you’ll find the huge rock called the ‘Wishing Seat’ where people have wished for everlasting love for hundreds of years.
For ideas on dog friendly accommodation and pubs check out the Visit Isle of Wight website.
Red Funnel run car and passenger ferry services between Southampton and East Cowes, journey time 60 mins and a high-speed catamaran passenger service between Southampton and West Cowes, journey time 23 mins
Wightlink run car and passenger ferry services from Portsmouth to Fishbourne, journey time 45 mins and from Lymington to Yarmouth, journey time 40 mins. They also have a high-speed FastCat passenger ferry service between Portsmouth and Ryde, journey time 22 mins.
Hover Travel, the world’s only commercial passenger hovercraft service run a foot passenger crossing from Portsmouth to Ryde, journey time 10 mins.
Best for city views, art and culture, London
What could be more romantic than a cocktail while looking out over the City at Aqua Shard, in London’s tallest building? A mooch around the Tate Modern, to see some of the world’s most famous modern artworks, a trip to Borough market to sample some of Europe’s best produce, a meal in one of London’s top restaurants, an award-winning musical in the West End or the latest in experiential theatre… the list is endless. For those who have been to London before visit Primrose Hill for amazing views over the city, and Shoreditch for all the hipster-hangouts.
MBNA Thames Clippers operates departures to major London piers every 20 mins.
To discover the night sky together, Isle of Man
Little known is that the Isle of Man is a great place to see astronomical sights with the naked eye, including Orion Nebula and The Milky Way Galaxy. On occasion it is also possible to see the Northern Lights. There are 26 amazing official dark sky sites dotted around the Island, with stargazing friendly accommodation spots, so you’re close to the action. So how about a night under the stars with your loved one?
Isle of Man Steampacket sail from Heysham, Liverpool, Birkenhead, Dublin and Belfast to the Isle of Man, journey time ranges from 2hrs45 – 4hrs15
Transformative coastlines and a bit of history, Guernsey, Channel Islands
Just 30 miles off the coast of Normandy in France, Guernsey is known for its romantic cliff walks and beaches, with one of the largest tidal ranges in the world (of up to 14m) the island’s coastline transforms itself every 6 hours.
Discover the history behind the recent film – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, based on a novel about life on the island during and post the occupation of World War II. The film, which was filmed on location, has many references to St Peter Port which you can explore on a tour of the town.
Condor Ferries operate fast services from Poole to Guernsey with a journey time of 3 hrs and from Portsmouth to Guernsey in 7 hrs.
Where Spring comes Early, Isles of Scilly
Spring comes to the Isles of Scilly earlier: in the early months of the year the sun sets up to half an hour later than in other parts of the UK and the spring bulbs are up sooner. Tresco Abbey Sub-Tropical Gardens is the ideal place to welcome in Spring. The beautiful garden, built in the 19th century around the ruins of a Benedictine Abbey, is home to species from across the world’s Mediterranean climate zones, from Brazil to New Zealand and Burma to South Africa.
Whilst on Tresco walk up the Quay along a small coastal path to Cromwell’s Castle, guarding the channel between Bryher and Tresco. The castle was built between 1548- 1550 and is one of the few surviving Cromwellian fortifications in Britain and well worth the trip up the stone steps for the view of St Mary’s from the top.
Isles of Scilly Travel operates the seasonal Scillonian ferry service from Penzance to St Mary’s, March – November, with a journey time of 2hrs 45.
Have a laugh in Dublin, Ireland
The home of Guinness, Dublin Castle and the Book of Kells – Dublin is a great choice for a romantic break. Discover the street art around the iconic Temple Bar district, where the walls have been brought to life with splashes of colour. Anna Doran’s Love Lane is a mural of colourful stripes, hearts and tiles covered in romantic messages from people all over the world. Definitely one for the selfie collection.
What better way to spend time with your partner than enjoying a few laughs? Get ready to laugh till you cry at Dublin’s International Comedy Club, where famous names like Eddie Izzard and Jimmy Carr have headlined. The Comedy Club is it’s housed in the International Bar – a historical Victorian building perfect for a pint or two.
Irish Ferries operates 4 sailings a day to Dublin from Holyhead, journey time 3hrs15 or 1hr49 by Dublin Swift (from Spring)
Isle of Man Steampacket operates 2 sailings a week from Douglas to Dublin (April-Oct) with a journey time from 2hrs55
P&O Ferries operates daily sailings from Liverpool to Dublin, journey time 8hrs
Stena Line operates 4 sailings a day to Dublin from Holyhead, journey time 3hrs15.