Chocolates, petal-strewn suites, sandy beaches – yawn. Your love is unique, so dodge the cliches with a V-day break that caters to the quirks of your coupledom.
Tromsø, Norway, for animal lovers
If your furniture is accessorised with animal hair and you knew it was love when your dog leashes intertwined, your Valentine’s break needs fur factor. Husky dog farms abound in Norway, and the Villmarkssenter in Tromsø is the perfect place to cuddle up to friendly pups (and your beloved, of course). You can also zoom across the starkly beautiful Lyngen Alps aboard a husky sled.
Feline fanatics, we haven’t forgotten you. The perfect romantic break might just involve Hello Kitty and the infamous cat cafes of Tokyo, Japan.
Krabi, Thailand, for adrenaline junkies
If the thought of a candlelit meal or spa treatment has you tapping your Reeboks with boredom, bond over a shared challenge this Valentine’s Day. Krabi on southern Thailand’s west coast has adventure rippling through its every limestone cliff. In the space of a few days you can scale caves, zipline through forests, go canoeing, trek jungles and try quad biking. Try www.truevoyage.com for a starter climb up the karst with views of Railay beach (for those who dare to look down) or explore the forest trail towards Tiger Cave Temple – you can always flop onto a beach at the end of the day.
Global set-jetting for TV addicts
Do you nurture your love over Netflix, rather than nail-biting adventure? Unfurl yourselves from the sofa and go set-jetting. Your future square-eyed nights in will have an extra piquancy, knowing you gazed up at the scowling castles of Northern Ireland that featured in Game of Thrones, or strode the same Washington, DC streets as the Machiavellian movers and shakers in House of Cards.
Carcassonne, France, for medieval romantics
Would you and your lover have been better born in another era, when corsets were tight, armour was polished, and likelihood of death by bubonic plague was… never mind. Step over a drawbridge and back in time to fairytale Carcassonne in southern France. In summer armies of tourists storm this fortified city; explore it out of high season to free your imagination as you and your beloved roam its medieval turrets. Carcassonne sprawls well beyond the old town, so choose your hotel location carefully – luxurious Hotel du Chateau is just at the entrance of the medieval city, and sure to fit the exacting standards of knights and princesses.
Hawaii for stargazers
The universe is vast, but somehow you found each other. Hawaii’s clear skies are ideal for contemplating your place in the cosmos, whether you’re dreamers or devoted astronomers. The free nightly star-gazing programme on Mauna Kea will see you pointing out constellations under the advice of experts, in the shadow of the world’s largest (and most suggestively shaped) telescope.
Scandinavia for music lovers
If music is the food of your love, tailor a Valentine’s trip to your favourite sounds. Scandinavia has a clutch of music festivals in February. Get your synth on at Sónar Festival (www.sonar.es), which hits Sweden’s capital over the Valentine’s weekend; Stockholm’s warm-hued buildings and shimmering waterfronts are an ideal backdrop for romance. Among other cities, the festival hits Reykjavik that same weekend, should you want to feel the Earth move (literally) in geologically active Iceland. Couples who crave heavy guitars should hop the border to Norway for Blastfest (www.blastfest.no) a week later. And smoother sounds await at jazz and art festival Frost (frostfestival.dk) throughout February in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Portland, Oregon, for craft beeraholics
If roses and red wine leave you cold, head to Portland, the heartland of amber nectar. Proudly eccentric Portland has been a craft-brew capital for decades, and with the highest concentration of breweries in the world you won’t be short of choice. Take a brewery tour if you want to sip a whole bunch – try Brewvana (www.experiencebrewvana.com) or Brewbus (www.brewbus.com). But if boozy bus rides take the fizz out of your couple’s getaway, Portland’s haunts are easily discovered on foot: start with local favourite Hair of the Dog.
Venice, Italy, for swingers
For lovers who like to mix things up, nothing can match the frisson of a masked ball. The world’s most decadent carnival takes place every February among the gilded domes and canal-lined piazzas of Venice. Don a Venetian mask, dress to the nines and submit to the hedonistic atmosphere: you’ll see gondola processions, elegant period costumes and outdoor theatre, leading up to the unmissable Grand Masked Ball (Gran Ballo delle Maschere) Learn more on www.carnevale.venezia.it.
Cambridge, England, for bookworms
If your love bloomed over torrid prose and pub philosophy, then you need a break with intellectual clout. Where better, then, than one of England’s most historic university cities? Cambridge nurtured intellectuals like John Milton, Isaac Newton and Stephen Hawking over its 800-year history, and scholarly debates continue to echo off the walls of every pub. Snuggle up in a punt for a guided boat tour (go with www.scudamores.com) past university icons like King’s College chapel and under the Bridge of Sighs, with a commentary by one of Cambridge’s modern brainiacs (many of the guides are current students).
Tasmania for escapists
Many of us would gladly lace up our hiking boots to escape the Valentine’s frou-frou. Isolationists should seek out the rugged wilderness of Cradle Mountain National Park in Australia’s island state. Even a half-day hike allows a glimpse of Tasmania’s remote beauty but if you’re experienced hikers, take on the challenging Overland Track. Against Cradle Mountain’s forbidding silhouette, with nothing around you but miles of brushland and mirror lakes, you’ll feel like the only two people on Earth.