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Romantic destinations with an unexpected twist

Are you looking for a romantic honeymoon destination that is a little unexpected? Are you celebrating a special anniversary or planning an unforgettable wedding proposal and want a quiet destination? Or, are you simply looking to spend a few romantic days with the person you love most? Then, instead of heading to the traditionally romantic cities of Europe – Venice, Paris, Rome – think about alternatives where love and romance can also flourish. Even better, you'll definitely avoid the crowds on any of these alternative romantic destinations.

1. France - Épernay (Champagne)

Instead of heading to Paris, the French capital of romance, head instead to the capital of the Champagne region. Here you can add bubbles to your romantic break as Épernay is at the beating heart of champagne production. The knowledge that 200 million bottles of champagne sit beneath your feet waiting to be enjoyed only adds to the thrill of exploring the city streets. Stroll hand-in-hand down Avenue du Champagne where major production centres are housed in elegant 19th-century buildings. Follow this with a tour of a champagne cellar. Pack a picnic (not forgetting the bubbles, of course) and visit the neoclassical Hôtel de Ville. Before uncorking your champagne, take a peek at the opulent Salle des Mariages.

Best location for a proposal:
The flower-filled roundabout on the Avenue du Champagne. Ideal for quirky proposal photos, it is decorated with a giant cork and bottle top! 

2. Greece - Meteora

While the Greek islands offer romance in abundance, the mainland is often overlooked but nothing quite beats the romantic setting of Meteora. It is hard to see which is more spectacular, the awesome rock formations or the Byzantine monasteries built on top of them. Together, they create a weird, wonderful and beautiful landscape that has been designated a World Heritage Site. No one quite knows how medieval craftsmen managed to create these buildings on top of their slender stone pinnacles. Book a boutique hotel in nearby Kalambaka or Kastraki and spend romantic days exploring this unique landscape.

Best location for a proposal:
Among the ruins of an abandoned monastery deep within the landscape.

3. Slovenia - Ljubljana

Nearby Bled does spectacular but the other-worldly charm of Ljubljana (the name translates as "beloved") certainly knows how to do romance. Although only small in size, it is perfect for a short romantic break. Explore the imposing Ljubljana Castle which dominates the skyline of the old town before relaxing over coffee and gelato in a pretty square. In the evening take a sunset walk along the banks of the Ljubljanica River and cross the art-nouveau Dragon Bridge. The ancient buildings reflected with a golden glow in the water are perfect for photo memories. If you have time, hire a bike and visit the beach at Špica. 

Best location for a proposal:
Ljubljana Castle.

4. Italy - Lake Iseo, Lombardy

While Rome and Florence can be perfect for romance, there is something truly romantic about a landscape of water and mountains. Lombardy has many lakes but Lake Iseo is one of the least known and, therefore, one of the quietest. It is also one of the most magnificent, especially where the mountains soar straight out of the water to disappear into the clouds. A road hugs the lake, dipping occasionally into tunnels while back roads take you up to breathtaking views. You also have Valle Camonica with its Stone Age rock carvings and the Franciacorta wine country to explore. Base yourselves at Lovere which is squeezed into a space between the lake and the mountains. Lady Mary Wortley Montague, a great traveller, described Lovere as 'the most romantic place I have ever seen in my life'! 

Best location for a proposal:
The summit of Monte Isola.

5. Spain - Costa Galicia

Madrid, Barcelona, Seville - there is no shortage of romantic cities in Spain but for sheer ruggedness and a place to escape from it all, there is nothing quite like the Costa Galicia on the north coast. Costa Galicia stretches for 1,200km so offers plenty of opportunities to get away from it all with your partner. White sandy beaches, bustling fishing ports, deep coastal inlets and wild cliffs make up the coastline while inland there are verdant valleys, vineyards, medieval villages, mystical castles and monasteries. After a day spent exploring or relaxing on deserted beaches, you can dine on what is considered to be the best seafood in Europe. As well as seafood, Galicia is also known for its wines so make the Rias Baixas wine route part of your trip. 

Best location for a proposal:
Cabo Fisterra at sunset.

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