Short-haul summer getaways for couples

It's easy to be overwhelmed by choice when picking a romantic getaway for two. Luckily, we've done the hard work and all you need to do is relax. Whether you want to celebrate an anniversary as the sun sets over the French Riviera, get engaged on the Bridge of Sighs in Venice or just escape the daily grind on the soft sandy beaches of Antalya, our top picks will steer you in the right direction. These short-haul getaway ideas have romance written all over them!

  1. Majorca, Spain
  2. Split, Croatia
  3. Antalya, Turkey
  4. Santorini, Greece
  5. French Riviera, France
  6. Amalfi Coast, Italy
  7. San Sebastián, Spain
  8. Algarve, Portugal
  9. Bordeaux, France
  10. Venice, Italy

1. Majorca, Spain

With its impressive seafront cathedral, excellent shopping and varied restaurant scene, Palma, Majorca's capital, is a fabulous location for a city break. Beyond Palma, if you're both keen cyclists, why not hire bikes and try some of the island's famous rides, like that from Port de Pollença to Cap de Formentor. Tucked beneath Teix mountain and with Mediterranean views that have long attracted artists and writers, Deià is as beguiling a place as it was when Robert Graves made it his home. Then there's Sóller, with its romantic orange groves and the historic tram that takes visitors down to Port de Sóller. Inland, in the Serra de Tramuntana Nature Reserve, a number of agroturismos promise peace and quiet - and Majorcan cuisine at its best.

Romantic highlight: escape to one of the island's unspoiled beaches. Calo d’es Moro in the south-east is tricky to find but its turquoise waters and beautiful sunsets make it worth the effort.

2. Split, Croatia

Offering a fabulous mixture of history and vibrant modern life, especially around the attractive waterfront, Croatia's second largest city is an alluring destination. For unsurpassed city and sea views, climb the bell tower of St. Domnius Cathedral. Afterwards, explore the cobbled lanes of the old town. Eventually, you're bound to end up in Narodni Trg (People's Square), where you'll find a tantalising choice of restaurants and cafes that are just perfect for a long, lazy dinner for two. If you have time during your stay, it’s also worth hopping on a ferry and visiting the charming island of Hvar, which has some stunning beaches and some great restaurants and bars!

Romantic highlight: a stroll along the palm-lined Riva Promenade, with its attractive, colourful buildings on one side and the Adriatic on the other.

3. Antalya, Turkey

With a mixture of history, hills and beaches, Antalya makes the perfect summer holiday for couples. The red-roofed buildings that line the labyrinthine lanes and streets of its Kaleiçi neighbourhood are an immersive introduction to this Mediterranean gem. One of the nicest spots to see the sea itself is from the Old Harbour, which you'll find tucked into the cliffs in the northwest of the city. Sit at one of the small cafes or bars to sip a coffee (or something a little stronger), enjoy each other's company and enjoy the sea views. To the west of the city centre, the mountain-backed Konyaalti Beach is one of the city's best beaches. If you bear to leave the beach, Aspendos, a ruined Roman town, is an easy day trip and home to one of the best-preserved Roman theatres anywhere in the world.

Romantic highlight: a scramble around the ruins of Termessos - which also has staggering views across to the Taurus mountains.

4. Santorini, Greece

With its blue-domed churches, pristine white buildings and bewitching sunsets, it's hard to imagine a more romantic setting for a holiday à deux than Santorini. Famously the result of a massive volcanic eruption millennia ago, nowadays this southern Aegean island offers a picture-perfect proposal spot in the form of its sunken caldera. Stay in Fira, Oia, Imerovigli or Firostefani and you'll have the caldera literally on your doorstep. Equally beautiful – especially at sunset – is the view from Akrotiri Lighthouse in the island's southwest. Meanwhile, the nearby Red Beach, with its stunning colours, grand scenery and excellent snorkelling is a beguiling way to spend your daytime hours. After dark, dine at one of Fira's caldera-view restaurants.

Romantic highlight: a private catamaran cruise of the caldera. Go during the day to swim and in the evening to marvel at the sunset beneath the cliffs at Oia.

5. French Riviera, France

Whether it's Saint-Tropez with its glamorous beach clubs and yacht-filled harbour, a quiet escape in the hills outside Nice or a cultural break in the cultured Cannes, the French Riviera is the perfect spot for couples holidays. Saint-Tropez is a great place for a private yacht charter, or a relaxing beachside meal, eaten at a table for two set in the sea's shallows. In Nice, the Promenade des Anglais is ideal for strolling hand-in-hand or, for the more energetic, roller-skating. The Old Town begs to be explored slowly and carefully, and perhaps followed up with a trip to the Cours Saleya food market for tasty Provençal delicacies. Cannes is fun to visit during the famous film festival. However, whenever you visit, make sure you linger at one of the bars in Le Vieux Port, walk along the elegant La Croisette and meander through Le Suquet, the city's oldest area.

Romantic highlight: explore one of the medieval hill villages outside Nice and then watch the sun go down over the Baie des Anges from Colline du Château.

6. Amalfi Coast, Italy

The Amalfi Coast is one of the world's most romantic destinations, and whether you choose to take a road trip or stay in one place, you will undoubtedly be captivated by its beauty. Positano, with its pastel-coloured houses spilling down the hillside above the beach and its glamorous Marina Grande beach, is a must on your visit. Then there's the cliffside town of Amalfi, with its own Marina Grande beach and charming narrow streets. Just north of Amalfi, you’ll find Ravello, which promises lush gardens, lemon groves and sweeping sea views. Opposite Ravello's cathedral, you'll find the gates to Villa Rufolo, a historic villa with stunning gardens that overlook the blue bay.

Romantic highlight: perhaps the perfect proposal spot, the Grotta dello Smeraldo (Emerald Cave) is a sea cave, gorgeously illuminated by filtered sunlight, near Conca dei Marini.

7. San Sebastián, Spain

If you want a side-helping of mountains with your sea, why not choose San Sebastián! This Basque city has a particularly beautiful shoreline: make time for a walk – or several – along Playa de la Concha. Situated between the beach and the historical heart of the city, the Ayuntamiento (city hall) glows golden in the sun. Look out for the bullet holes dating from the Spanish Civil War. To learn more about Basque culture and history, visit the Museo de San Telmo and, for an unforgettable panorama across San Sebastián Bay, make for Monte Igueldo on the city's west side. Even the trip up there – in one of the wooden carriages of the historic funicular railway – is a romantic adventure.

Romantic highlight: a day trip to Santa Clara island Concha Bay. With a tiny beach and beautiful views, it's the perfect picnic spot.

8. Algarve, Portugal

A great year-round choice, the Algarve is much more than its famous golf courses and incomparable surfing beaches. For a wild, get-away-from-it-all spot, Sagres is hard to beat (and, yes, also happens to be great for surfing). Alternatively, for a classic city break, the Algarve's capital, Faro, has plenty to see and is close to Ria Formosa Natural Park. For the energetic duo, the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail is a 7.4 mile hike with endless Atlantic views. Find it between Portimão and Albufeira. Finally, if a resort holiday on one of the Algarve's amazing beaches appeals, Vilamoura is a great choice. As well as its golf courses, marina, casino and large sandy beach, it also has a ruined Roman villa, complete with mosaics and a bathhouse, and attractive cliffside walks.

Romantic highlight: Benagil Cave, a sea cave beneath the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail. Hire a kayak to explore this natural wonder from up close.

9. Bordeaux, France

For châteaux and wine, there's no better destination than Bordeaux. Place de la Bourse in the city centre is a must-see, as is the Water Mirror just across the road. Meanwhile, the waterfront along the Garonne's left bank is a wonderfully elegant place to walk or cycle. Then, of course, there's all that wine. La Cité du Vin is an excellent place to begin your explorations. As well as providing an extensive history of wine and wine production, it also has a bar with outstanding views across the Garonne. A vineyard tour is another must. There are plenty of guided tours on offer or you might prefer to opt for a private tour for two to one of the wine-growing chateaux.

Romantic highlight: a cruise along the Garonne, to experience the city from the water and enjoy some of the area's delectable wine.

10. Venice, Italy

The Grand Canal has to be top of your Venice must-see list. The Doge's Palace and the Basilica of St Mary both overlook it and both deserve some of your time. However, don't miss exploring some of the other 150 or so canals that run through this enchanting city. If you're looking for an engagement spot, one of the bridges – perhaps the Rialto, the Bridge of Sighs or Ponte dell'Accademia – could be just what you're looking for. Afterwards, there's the Guggenheim Museum, the Murano glass factory and, of course, St Mark's Square, to explore. For a quieter few hours, try a private trip to Lazzaretto Nuovo, an island that once housed a monastery and is now home to a fascinating cultural centre. And, at some point, why not head back to St Mark's Square and the legendary Caffé Florian.

Romantic highlight: a gondola ride for two along the Grand Canal. Follow it up with Bellinis at Harry's Bar.

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