Valentine’s Day isn’t too far away, but if you haven’t yet got anything planned, you still have some time.
Can’t think of a good gift?
How about booking a surprise getaway for two as a gift for your special someone?
However, rather than picking from the usual list of romantic destinations, whether this may be Paris, Rome or Venice, try choosing somewhere a little different. Here are six underrated cities around the world that will definitely not disappoint.
Aix en Provence, France
The birthplace of legendary Post-Impressionist artist Paul Cezanne, Aix en Provence is a beautifully charming city nestled in the south of France. Having been founded way back in 123 BC, this is a richly historical city, with many of its attractions being related to its heritage.
The churches and cathedrals of Aix en Provence are always popular with tourists. The Eglise Saint-Jean-de-Malte was the region’s very first Gothic building, completed in 1277, while the Aix Cathedral is famous for its 15th century Burning Bush triptych.
However, in addition to learning about the history of this gorgeous little pocket of France, Aix en Provence boasts several other activities for you and your loved one to enjoy, such as:
- Le Cours Mirabeau – a picturesque boulevard lined with trees, that give it a leafy, tunnel-like appearance. The street is home to numerous cafes, shops and restaurants, along with a weekly street market
- Atelier Cezanne – Paul Cezanne’s original studio, which has pretty much been left untouched since the artist used to work there. If you want to learn even more about Cezanne, the Musee Granet is home to 12,000 works of art, including a room dedicated to the master artist, with nine of his original oil paintings on display
- Le Terrain des Peintres – with an amazing view of Mt. Saint Victoire, this landscaped park is the perfect spot for a romantic picnic
- Le Grand Marche – open three days a week, the grand market is part farmers’ market, complete with the freshest of produce, and part general market, with everything from clothes to fresh flowers to artisan products
- Old Aix – the city’s old town, which will make you feel as though you have stepped back in time
If you and your loved one enjoy art, history and fine food, Aix en Provence is the perfect place for you.
Apostle Islands, Wisconsin, USA
Let’s face it – Wisconsin probably isn’t the first state you would think of when it comes to choosing a romantic destination in the USA, but the Apostles, officially known as the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, will truly take your breath away. While not technically a city, this area still makes for a once-in-a-lifetime romantic vacation.
There are 22 islands in total, located in Lake Superior in the north of Wisconsin, with each island boasting such a diverse ecosystem. The islands are home to 800 different plant species, many of which are either threatened or endangered.
Wondering what there is to actually do here?
Well, the Apostle Islands are a destination best suited for couples who enjoy the outdoors. Popular activities here include:
- Visiting the 8 historic lighthouse towers
- Sailing to the other islands
- Exploring, or kayaking through, the sea caves, which are filled with frozen waterfalls and icicles in the winter months
- Hiking across the trail networks on each of the islands
- Relaxing on some of the many sandy beaches
The Apostles offer up stunning scenery and the opportunity for outdoor adventure, making it the ideal place for some bonding time with that special someone.
The bustling historic capital of the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy, Bologna is an extremely underrated city, with many overlooking it for the tourist hotspots of Rome, Venice and Milan.
Now, if you consider yourself to be a foodie, you will absolutely love Bologna. The city is famed for being a foodie hub, and not only because this is where bolognese was invented. While the classic sauce definitely deserves a taste in its hometown, make room for the city’s delicate, handmade tortellini, their fresh mortadella, and the most authentic Parmigiano Reggiano.
In addition to eating your way around the city, here are a few of the other things that you shouldn’t miss out on when in Bologna:
- Walking through the porticoes, which are traditional arches that line the streets of the city
- Visiting the city’s historic churches. The San Domenico Basilica in particular is especially fascinating, since this is where you will find the piano that Mozart used when he was studying in the city
- Touring the city’s many art museums
- Signing up for a course at the Carpigiani Gelato University, or simply taking a tour of the attached Gelato Museum
- Exploring Piazza Maggiore, the city’s main square, which is always full of life and energy
- Indulging in some retail therapy, with the city being home to some exquisite boutique stores. The stores around Piazza Galvani are especially worth browsing, and be sure to stop off at the OROGOLD store in this beautiful square as well to treat your skin to a VIP facial
If you’re into good food, art, culture and history, Bologna makes for the perfect romantic getaway.
Famous for its culture and heritage, Kyoto, which lies on the Japanese island of Honshu, used to be the capital of Japan. While it no longer holds that title, the city is still a bustling hub full of Buddhist temples, shrines, traditional architecture and more.
Japanese culture is intriguing to so many, and Kyoto really is one of the best destinations to truly immerse yourself in the authentic Japanese way of life. From sleeping on a futon to experiencing a traditional matcha tea ceremony, Kyoto is a place that will make you and your loved one feel as though you are in a completely different world together.
Being one of the largest cities in Japan, there really is so much to do in Kyoto, with these activities being among the most popular:
- Viewing the cherry blossoms, a “sport” known as hanami. This can only be done in the spring
- Visiting some of the city’s 2000 temples and shrines, some of which have been designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites
- Exploring Gion, which is known for being the city’s entertainment district, and is where you will be able to watch Geisha and Maiko dancers
- Taking a romantic stroll along Bamboo Grove – one of the most photographed spots in the city
- Visiting the Wazuka tea plantation, which produces almost half of the city’s green tea
- Sampling the many different traditional foods of the city. From Michelin-starred fine dining restaurants to street-side sushi joints, Kyoto is full of incredible food
The culture of Kyoto tends to be its biggest draw, making this the perfect destination for those who are curious about the traditional Japanese way of life.
Tanzania is famous for being one of the best countries in Africa for an authentic safari experience, and Arusha has earned itself the reputation of being the safari capital of the country. This vibrant city, which can be found in Tanzania’s northern highlands, just between the peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru, is conveniently located nearby to several major national parks and conservation areas, making this a popular hub for those who want to venture out into the African bush.
Although Arusha as a city may not be the most picturesque, its surrounding opportunities are its biggest draw. There are plenty of walking tours to choose from to help you better acquaint yourself with the city, and the two twin peaks that sit on either side of Arusha also attract hikers and mountain climbers from all around the world. The markets that are hosted daily at the center of the city are also plenty of fun, with pretty much everything you could imagine being available here.
However, if a safari is your priority, here are some of the best nearby parks to visit:
- Serengeti National Park – famous for its annual migrations, with more than 1.5 million wildebeest and 250,000 zebra crossing the park each year. You also have a good chance of spotting the Big Five here (lions, leopards, elephants, rhinoceros and buffalo). Thanks to the abundance of prey animals here, these larger predators are easy to see
- Ngorongoro Conservation Area – while primarily revered for its volcanic complex, including the largest inactive and unfilled caldera in the world, this park is also home to around 25,000 large animals, including buffalo rhinoceros, zebra and hippopotamus
- Lake Manyara National Park – this park is famous for its bird inhabitants, with hundreds of thousands of flamingos flocking to the lake during the wet season. Pelicans, storks, herons and more can also be seen here, while some larger mammals do also move through the park, especially during the dry season
- Arusha National Park – located on Mount Meru, a distinct volcano, this park is smaller than some of the others nearby, but is still home to everything from giraffes and Cape buffalo to monkeys, elephants and zebra. Leopards do also live in the area, but are not often seen by the public
If your idea of a romantic getaway is you and your loved one exploring the rugged wilderness of the African bush, and seeing some incredible animals along the way, Arusha is the place for you.
The island nation of Singapore has rapidly developed over the years, transforming itself from a British Empire trading post to one of the most advanced cities in the world. Although Singapore may be one of the smallest countries in the world, it is jam-packed with so many different things to do.
For many, one of Singapore’s biggest attractions is its shopping. Many locals joke about shopping being the national sport of Singapore, with the island being home to more shopping malls per square mile than any other country in the world. Orchard Road tends to be the best place to go, with everything from tiny markets to sprawling designer stores being found here. While browsing the malls along Orchard Road, be sure to stop off at the sleek and stylish Wisma Atria, where you will find one of our OROGOLD stores.
Of course, shopping isn’t the most romantic of activities, so when you and your loved one are looking for some quality time together, here are just a few of the things that you could do:
- Take a stroll around the beautiful Marina Bay, finishing off with a visit to Marina Bay Sands and its iconic rooftop infinity pool
- Stop off for a Singapore Sling at the Raffles Hotel, where this classic cocktail was first invented
- Visit some of the temples, markets and museums in Chinatown
- Enjoy a meal and a few drinks at Clarke Quay, a bustling riverside district
- Spend some time in nature at the MacRitchie Reservoir. Give its treetop walk a try – a wooden walkway that stands 25 meters high, giving you a literal birds-eye view of your surroundings
- Explore Gardens by the Bay – a futuristic botanical garden that has received numerous awards over the years
- Lounge on the beaches of Sentosa, while also indulging in the many other activities that this small, purpose-built island offers
If you and your special someone would enjoy an action-packed city break together, Singapore is the destination to choose.
Booking a vacation as a Valentine’s Day present always makes for such a good gift, as long as you are sure that the location you have picked is one that your loved one would like. Fortunately, if you go for one of these six destinations, chances are that your choice will be very well-received, and you and your special someone will enjoy the ultimate romantic getaway.