Some of the best proposal stories you hear of are from people who pop the question while on holiday. That's because travelling is a great couple's activity - it's a break from normal life, an opportunity to make new memories and definitely an experience that keeps you on your toes. So, in the spirit of Valentine's Day, we've decided to look at the most romantic places to drop a knee.
1. Santorini, Greece
The birth of Santorini (or Thira, as it is officially known) is a great example of destruction being a means of creation. It was born through a series of volcanic eruptions thousands of years ago, which turned three islands into the dream-like place we know today. The island just oozes romance. Anyone who's arrived by cruise ship or ferry will testify to mesmerising contrasts presented to you: the black sand beaches and white-washed homes, all nestled into the charred hillsides and set against the perfectly blue Aegean Sea. Sunsets from the hills in Oia are widely regarded as the most beautiful in the world. Match this sight with a bottle of wine, a few olives and a picnic blanket, and you've got the fixings for an incredibly romantic proposal spot.
2. Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
For sporty couples who spend their weekends hiking, biking and generally making normal people feel lazy for not exercising enough, the highest peak in Africa is the ideal place to get engaged. From base camp in Moshi, Tanzania, you've got a wide selection of trail options leading up to the roof of the continent. Tusker Trails offers 10, 12 and 14 day trips to the summit, with a team of highly trained and qualified guides who know the terrain, wildlife and trails. There's something metaphoric about climbing a mountain together, especially one that takes you through a series of changing landscapes, as you map your way up towards the various summits. There are rain forests, volcanic craters and parched fields with exotic succulents. To pop the question during a journey like this is the stuff that rom-coms are made from. As Jamie Olive, Tusker Trail's trekking co-ordinator says: “Proposing on the summit of Kilimanjaro at 19,340 feet above the clouds, overlooking the expansive plains of Africa - you can’t get much more romantic than that!”
*Please be aware that hiking at this level requires Grade 4 Sports Travel Insurance
3. Classic Burgh Island, South Devon
Burgh Island provides couples with a flamboyant, classy, beautiful place to relax, dine and enjoy quality time together. There's a quirky side to the hotel, which you'll first experience when taking the 'sea tractor' across the tidal beach to the island - we're not making that up. Once you're there, you've got immaculate beaches, a spa and your choice of the hotel's elegant facilities to keep you busy. Since the hotel was first built in 1929, it has seen its fair share of VIP guests, from Agatha Christie to George Formby. Deborah Clark, the owner, explains that the Burgh Island Hotel “is the quintessentially English Art Deco palace and, being on its own private, tidal island, a real step back from the modern world and an opportunity for quality couple-time”. While the style and glamour of the 30s is still alive in the hotel's look and vibe, it has also kept up with the times by taking serious steps towards being a self-sustaining and bio-friendly business. “As you might expect of an island environment, we are passionate about our commitment to sustainability and, above all, the good husbandry of the island and ethics of the business. It's a given today that all businesses take the first steps on the “green” path with energy saving and local sourcing. At Burgh, we try and go further to show that you can have a luxury experience and still feel good about the planet.”
4. Tuscany From Above
The entire region of Tuscany is a safe bet for any romantic holiday. It's the quintessential countryside destination, and never fails to inspire, impress and woo visitors back again. The vineyards, lush hills and quaint homes cannot be adequately summed up by the trite superlatives people have used to describe them time and again. You just have to see and experience it for yourself to fully appreciate how serene this Italian heavyweight is. Couples visiting the region for the first time will no doubt spend at least a day visiting Florence, Pisa and Siena to scratch the itch to see the best of Renaissance art. But it's the rural countryside that really makes it extra special when you're ready to take a break from crowds and standing in museum lines. For the perfect proposal, we recommend two things:
1. Rent a villa. www.tuscany.com has a wide selection of single-bedroom cottages in the most gorgeous parts of Siena.
2. Rent a hot air balloon. You think it looks beautiful and peaceful from the ground? Try seeing it from above. She or he won't say no.
5. Ilulissat Icefjord, Western Greenland
If it's drama you're looking for in a proposal site, the Ilulissat Icefjord more than adequately delivers. This magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Site is located less than 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle and an easy half hour hike from the town centre of Ilulissat. The area has become a hotspot for environmental scientists because of the evidence of climate change seen in the moving glaciers. It's not a challenging or difficult walk, but the rewards are monumental; you'll be floored by the mountains of ice rolling through the fjord.
6. Taking The Plunge In Sagres, Portugal
The Cape of St. Vincent, Europe's most south-western point, is where the old world explorers ended during the Age Of Discovery. It took the bravest and the most committed sailors to venture out and seek new land (or take on the sea monsters waiting beyond the 'Finisterra' (end of the earth). In a way, proposing at the metaphoric barrier to the new world is very symbolic of the act of marriage. Symbolism and sentimental analogies aside, Sagres is home to some of the finest looking beaches in Europe. It's one of the gems of the Western Algarve, the heart of Portugal's coastal hub. If you're looking for a home-base to plot your proposal, the Martinhal Beach Resort & Hotel offers five-star accommodation with magnificent views, just a few minutes from the Bay of Martinhal.
7. Phuket, Thailand
The Kingdom of Thailand has long been heralded as one of the ultimate travel destinations, thanks to its year-round sun, immaculate beaches and mesmerising scenery. Along with its spiritual and cultural landmarks, the great nightlife and range of affordable resorts, it's easy to see why it's
8. Prague, Czech Republic
The city of Prague (Bohemian headquarters) offers a haunting blend of art, history and culture. For couples who love a good, urban holiday and have already been to Paris and Venice, it offers an equally powerful impact, with smaller crowds. As far as skylines go, you're presented with incredible examples of all the classic eras in art – from Romanesque, to Baroque, Gothic and Neo-Classic. Prague Castle is the crown of this city and Charles Bridge is its matching cape. For a proposal spot that will make your heads spin, head to the top of Petrin Hill, where the observation tower gives you a perfect view of the city. If heights make you squeamish, a street cafe at the Old Town Square puts you right in the midst of the city. This also allows you to settle any nerves over a cold Czech beer or two beforehand.
Havana has the exotic flair of a Cuban salsa dancer. For couples, it's like taking a holiday to 1955; the city refuses to modernise without hanging on to the best aspects of the Old World. It's packed with living remnants of its interesting history, from the arrival of the first Spanish Galleons in the 1600s to pirate invasions that followed, and revolutions that came later. It's the only place you can rent a classic car, drive it through streets lined with Spanish Colonial architecture and cap the afternoon off with a swim in the warm Gulf water, before retreating to your boutique hotel built in the 1920s. It's also the only city that could have produced an ensemble act like the Buena Vista Social Club, which is the musical equivalent of Havana's heartbeat. For free-spirited couples who are interested in history and having a good time (certainly not a traditional combination), the Malecon at sunset, facing the Old Town is a pretty special place to get engaged.
10. Dana Biosphere Reserve, Jordan
South Jordan's Dana Biosphere Reserve is fast becoming one of the world's most progressive eco-tourism destinations. In a move spear-headed by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, tourism in the area now focuses on widespread sustainability, which extends to the flaura, fauna and most importantly, to the local bedouin communities. The incredible landscape crosses four bio-geographical zones, including 700+ plant species, more than 200 kinds of birds and over 30 mammals (including the Nubian Ibex and Syrian Wolves). Aside the from this, there are ancient copper mines and ruins to explore, dating back thousands of years.
On the western edge of the reserve, you'll find the Feynan Eco Lodge, a shining example of this shift towards responsible tourism; it also happens to be one of the most romantic places in the world. Haneen Saleh from Eco Lodges Jordan explains, “the lodge is exclusively off the grid and candle-lit throughout, so all the experiences at night happen by candle or star light”. The Feynan experience includes private dining by candle, under star-filled skies (with absolutely no artificial light interference), setting a pretty exceptional scene to pop the questions. According to Heneen, “in the last 2 years we are aware of 23 wedding proposals that happened at the lodge. Our staff at the lodge is always on hand to help the proposer create the best setting for the proposal". Not a bad track record.