Last Minute Valentine's Getaways
Until 1620 BC, Santorini was like any other volcanic island. Then, following a huge and violent eruption, the centre of the island collapsed inwards, allowing the newly formed crater to be filled by the surrounding sea. The Santorini we know today is crescent-shaped, surrounded by the deep cobalt blue of the Aegean Sea. The picturesque vista is famously scattered with the striking white, simple buildings and walls in stark contrast to the midnight blue sea we’re all accustomed to when dreaming of a Grecian getaway.
The best time to visit Santorini is the start of Spring, when the climes grow a little warmer, the landscape is at its plushest and greenest, and the crowds of people expected in Summer are yet to arrive. For a high end stay, check out Erosantorini. The private estate boasts a chef, trainer, masseur and, of course an infinity pool terrace. There are a number of hotels to work to tighter budgets, including the Voreina Gallery Suites, filled with art and contemporary design, and a private pool for each suite. Seafood lovers should try To Psaraki, quaintly position over a yacht and fishing port, or for lounge jazz and cocktails on the beach, visit Yalos Beach Bar Restaurant. There are a number of museums and winery tours to keep you active during the daylight hours, or a small collection of volcanic sand beaches for wanting to soak in the sea air.
Over the seven steep hills of Lisbon are a plethora of colourful houses, century-old trams and characterful churches, made all the more beautiful with the frame of the vast, bright blue Atlantic Ocean. From the historic district of Baixa, were old herbalists and baroque architecture inhabit, to the cool and chilled out suburbs where surfers meet and evening beach chills begins; Lisbon has something for everyone. With Moorish history, the architecture beautifully blends medieval European style with Arabic detailing, making for a particularly photo-worthy city.
The city is pretty nocturnal, with a wave of activity igniting as the sun sets. Head to Bairro Alto and navigate the cobbled streets to find bars aplenty. For a party-filled getaway to remember (or not, as the case may be) visit Kremlin for a raucus night or the dockland warehouse Lux. If a chilled out dinner is more your idea of an evening well spent, try Largo for fish tank walls and black cod to rival Nobu, according to the Telegraph, or Solar do Nunes for a more rustic dining experience. Palacio Belmonte is a whimsical hotel choice, or try Tivoli Avenida Liberdade for something a little more contemporary. Those with a tighter budget should try Solar dos Mouros in the heart of the ancient Alfama district.
Positano is, arguably, the jewel in the crown of the Amalfi Coast, Italy's most colourful and picturesque district. Due to the steep nature of the rolling cliff faces this settlement is built on, don't expect to find vast infinity pools or swathes of sun-lounge areas around your hotel or apartment. But once you take in the breathtaking sights and bright blue sea, that wont matter at all. For boat lovers, there are a number of tours around the intricate and winding coast, including to the Grotto dello Smeraldo, a cave with famously emerald green water. For some incomparable coastal views, take the Path of Gods hiking route, and spot the not-to-distant island of Capri.
Il San Pietro di Positano is often credited as one of the world's best hotels, and with fans from George Clooney to Julia Roberts, it's easy to see why the rooms don't come cheap. In fact, the area is not inexpensive in general, as one travel writer puts frankly, 'Positano is like a living Gucci ad.' Nonetheless, there are a handful of options for a tighter budget that still enjoy the colourful views and proximity to the coast, such as Villa Rosa and Villa La Tartana, both complete with quaint balconies to take in the striking views.