Holiday ideas for couples
Here at 101 Holidays we have some great holiday ideas for couples, selected by The Sunday Times travel writers, Mark Hodson and David Wickers. All the holidays we recommend have been tried and tested.
Here, you’ll find hotels and holiday destinations for couples in the UK, Europe and beyond. If you’re celebrating a special occasion, see our holiday ideas for anniversaries.
* Note: all the travel companies featured on this page are personally recommended by our team of specialist editors.
Couples holidays in the UK
1. In the Lake District, the family-owned Gilpin Lodge is a luxurious, relaxing hideaway set in 22 acres of country gardens, moors and woodland near Windermere. Foodies will love the AA 3 Rosette dining.
2. Go wine tasting in Gloucestershire where Three Choirs Vineyards – one of England’s leading wine producers – offers superb food and stylish room set in 100 acres of quiet, scenic countryside.
3. Explore the Jurassic Coast of Dorset where Countryside & Coastal B&Bs offers an excellent collection of friendly, good-value accommodation. Some accept dogs.
4. Jersey’s scenic beauty and great climate are now matched by some excellent modern hotels and restaurants. We recommend The Atlantic Hotel which enjoys dramatic views over St. Ouen’s Bay – a conservation area of outstanding natural beauty.
5. Aldeburgh is one of Britain’s prettiest seaside towns. For couples holidays we recommend the family-run Wentworth Hotel which overlooks the beach.
6. Join Martin Randall for a small-group cultural tour of Britain led by an expert in art, music or architecture. You could visit some of the Great Houses of England, attend a classical music festival or follow in the footsteps of Turner or Dickens.
7. Stay at Fronlas, a charming boutique B&B in the pretty Welsh town of Llandeilo. The rooms are gorgeous, the food is exceptional and there is hiking and biking in the Brecon Beacons and great places to see on your doorstep.
8. If you love gardens, join a group of like-minded people on one of these inspiring garden tours. You could visit Highgrove and the Cotswolds, take a unique behind-the-scenes tour of the Chelsea Flower Show or head overseas to visit the Dutch Bulbfields or the colourful Festival of the Patios in Cordoba, Andalucia.
9. Spot Minke Whales, otters, seals and porpoises off the west coast of Scotland on a Mull Wildlife Experience. If you prefer to find beauty in the bottom of a glass, try a whisky tour on the island of Islay. Find more holidays in Scotland with McKinlay Kidd.
12. If you can’t bear to leave Rover at home, try one of these dog friendly caravan parks across the UK.
13. If you want to get away from the hubbub of modern life, head to Pen-y-Dyffryn, a stylish Georgian country house hotel set in rolling hills on the Shropshire-Wales border. It has cosy bedrooms, an excellent restaurant and great walking on the doorstep. See the latest offers.
14. In the historic village of Old Minster in the Cotswolds, the Old Swan & Minster Mill is a 15th-century inn set in 65 acres of gardens and meadows. It has recently been restored by the de Savary family and has 16 charming bedrooms and a wonderful restaurant.
Across the Channel
1. Whether you love beach, countryside or mountains, rent a luxury apartment at a holiday village in France. It’s great value with facilities including spas and heated pools.
2. Take a short break in Nice on the Cote d’Azur. With its warm Mediterranean climate, elegant streets, art museums and markets, it makes a superb destination at any time of year.
3. Sit back and watch the countryside roll past on a luxury hotel barge. Choose from a selection of six-night cruises in beautiful regions of France including Burgundy, Alsace-Lorraine, Provence and the Canal du Midi. Each barge sleeps between 4 and 20 passengers and the price includes gourmet meals, fine wines, an open bar and all shore excursions.
4. The Ile de Ré off the Atlantic Coast of France is a beguiling island of beaches, pretty harbours, cycle paths, pine forests – and superb seafood restaurants. The best approach is to rent an apartment.
5. A wine tour is a great way to see the best of French countryside and taste some great wines. We recommend Arblaster & Clarke which runs expert-led group tours for foodies and wine connoisseurs with vineyards visits, tastings and stylish accommodation. Try a classic wine tour to Burgundy, Sancerre, the Rhone or Chablis. You could go further afield to Italy, Spain or Portugal, or if time is short try a champagne weekend.
6. Fed up with flying? You can now take the train to Europe in double quick time, whether it’s a city break to classic destinations such as Paris, Brussels, Bruges and Amsterdam, or a serious treat such as Venice via the Alps. Perfect for that big birthday or anniversary.
7. For a real treat – perhaps a big birthday or anniversary – fly to France by private jet. If you get together with a few friends or family, a day trip or short break is surprisingly affordable, starting at less than £1,000 per person for a Michellin-starred lunch in Paris, departing from the airport of your choice.
Find more ideas for cruise holidays around the world.
Summer holiday ideas for couples
1. On the Aegean coast of Turkey you’ll find some outstanding boutique hotels – one of the best holiday destinations for young couples that want to laze in the sun and be pampered. Our recommended tour operator is Exclusive Escapes.
2. Croatia is one of Europe’s gems with a gorgeous coastline studded with islands and great-value hotels. We also recommend the stunning island of Hvar, easily reached by ferry from the mainland. It has great beaches plus a good selection of budget and luxury hotels.
4. The countryside of Umbria, with its rolling hills, sparkling lakes and medieval hill towns is a great place for a relaxing self-catering holiday.
5. Sir Rocco Forte’s new Verdura Golf & Spa Resort in Sicily has rapidly emerged as one of the Mediterranean’s most desirable hotels. For great-value locally-owned hotels in Sicily we recommend ExpertoItaly.
8. Explore one of Spain’s most beautiful regions on a self-guided cycling holiday in Catalonia. There is a selection or routes – some very gentle – and your luggage is transported each day to await you at your next hotel. You can also combine it with a beach break.
9. Visit the Italian Lakes for gorgeous scenery, excellent hotels and good food. Most lakes have a great public transport system for local sightseeing, and lots of boat trips available.
10. If you don’t like the idea of the Spanish costas, you probably haven’t tried Northern Spain which combines wide empty beaches with unspoilt countryside, mountains, historic medieval towns and vibrant cities. This is authentic Spain, with great food, good-value hotels and friendly local people. We recommend the specialist operator Casas Cantabricas.
12. Simpson Holidays has a great selection of hotels, cosy private villas and cottages ideal for couples. They are particularly strong in Corsica, Greece, Turkey and Mallorca.
Long-haul holidays for couples
3. The four-hour flight means it’s certainly not long haul, but Lanzarote does boast year-round sunshine, making it great for a winter sun break. You can find some charming villas with pools including Villa Placeres which is perfect for couples, with a double gazebo beside a secluded pool.
4. Explore the glorious landscapes of the Canadian Rockies by road or rail. This region has some of the world’s most famous train rides. We recommend the Rocky Mountaineer. If you prefer self-drive, how about the 8-day Mountain Express from Calgary to Vancouver which takes in the Rockies, Banff and Jasper National Parks.
6. Cuba is a good-value winter sun destination. But although it has stunning beaches, there is so much more. You should spend time in the capital Havana (where we recommend the Saratoga Hotel), and the colonial city of Trinidad is charming. Other idea include a self-drive tour and a 10-night “affordable luxury” tour.
7. Enjoy the best that India has to offer on a private tour with chauffeur-driven car with TransIndus. The best places to visit include Rajasthan and Kerala.
8. Head to Argentina to explore the beautiful city of Buenos Aires, the glacier fields of Patagonia and the wild pampas regions.
9. See all the best bits of Australia in just two weeks. Try this golden triangle which combines Sydney, Ayers Rock and the Great Barrier Reef. And if you really want to be staggered by stunning scenery – as well as charming people, great food and wine – then it’s got to be New Zealand.
10. Burma is one of the world’s hidden gems, but is rapidly opening up to tourism. In our view it’s one of the most beguiling and beautiful destinations on Earth. We defy you not to fall in love with it. See a selection of holidays in Burma.
11. If you love beaches, islands and culture – and want to explore somewhere off the beaten track – check out the wonderful Cape Verde islands – perfect for winter sun.
12. One of the most enchanting hotels in Asia is Tanjong Jara set on the beautiful unspoilt east coast of Malaysia.
14. There are few destinations more exciting right now than Cambodia. The mysterious and beautiful temple complex of Angkor is a “must see before you die” while the capital of Phnom Penh is exciting, buzzing city. Great food, world-class beaches and friendly people complete the picture.
15. Peru is one of the most exciting and culturally rich destinations, where you can visit the Lost City of Machu Picchu, explore the Sacred Valley, the Amazon rainforest and charming Spanish colonial towns. Find more Peru holidays.
Do something different
1. Explore the glorious kingdom of Jordan where you can float in the Dead Sea, visit the ancient city of Petra and drive around the deserts of Wadi Rum. In August you can stay in a desert camp to view the annual Perseids Meteor Shower.
2. A glimpse of the Northern Lights is on many people’s list of things to do before they die – and the views will be particularly good this winter and the next (2013-2014). Head to Iceland for a good chance of viewing this amazing phenomenon, combined with amazing natural wonders, including glaciers, hot springs and geysers, volcanic craters, lava flows and stunning waterfalls. Choose from a city break in Reykyavik, a fly-drive tour or jeep adventure.
3. One of the last the last great travel adventures is to visit the wild, haunting landscapes of the Arctic or Antarctic. Take a polar expedition to discover polar bears or vast colonies of Emperor Penguins.
4. Head to India to chase tigers. This amazing wildlife holiday with Audley Travel includes a stay at Bandhavgarh National Park with private safari drives at dawn and dusk, plus the best of Delhi and Agra, and an overnight train journey.
6. If you’re interested in digging a little deeper into a destination, how about trying an archaeological tour with Andante Travels? You could visit thrilling places such as Sicily, Jordan and Pompeii in the company of an expert tour leader, with a great choice of short breaks and longer tours.
7. Explore beautiful, unspoilt coastal trails on a hotel-to-hotel walking holiday. You stay in charming locally-owned hotels and inns and given detailed maps and notes, while your luggage is transported for you each day to your next destination. Try the Costa Vicentina coastal walk in Portugal, the Lycian Way in Turkey and or Waterways and Flowers in Madeira.
8. Spain has some wonderful state-run luxury trains such as the Transcantábrico and La Robla. Jump on board to see the beautiful countryside and cities of the north of Spain on a luxury rail holiday with Kirker Holidays.
9. We rate Chile among the world’s most exciting destinations. You probably know its wine, but did you also know about its beaches, glaciers, lakes and volcanoes? There are some seriously stylish boutique hotels and wonderful regions to explore.
10. Visit the locations of classic TV programmes and films. In New York TV & Movie Sites where you’ll see where the likes of Seinfeld and The Devil Wears Prada were filmed. There is a Sex and the City tour, and a Sopranos tour of New Jersey. Find more location tours.
11. Give something back on a volunteering holiday with Hands Up Holidays. Take a tailor made tour, choosing from destinations including Costa Rica, Thailand, New Zealand and India. You’ll combine a unique travel experience with the chance to make a real difference to local communities.
12. If you love nature, the Galapagos should be on your bucket list. The chance to enjoy up-close encounters with turtles, giant tortoises, seals and exotic birdlife is truly unique, and the sheer pristine beauty of these protected islands will enchant you.
13. Norway is a stunning year-round destination, but best seen under the Midnight Sun or in winter when you can witness the Northern Lights. An independent summer tour of fjords, lakes and mountains will highlight many of the country’s natural wonders, or take the sea on a coastal voyage used by local people or a cruise through the gorgeous and little-known Lofoten Islands.
14. Indulge in a “wellness weekend” at L’Albereta, a gorgeous hideaway deep in the countryside of Lombardy, Italy. You’ll get spa treatments, nutritional advice and exercise along with fabulous healthy food.
City holidays for couples
1. Florence is one of Europe’s must-see cities, packed with art and architectural treasures. We recommend you avoid the height of summer and take a short break in spring or autumn. Our recommended tour operator is Sardatur Holidays.
3. Tunis is just two and a half hours’ flying time from London, but a world away. You’ll discover a medieval souk, a world-class museum, the treasures of Carthage and the stylish seafront village of Sidi Bou Said.
4. The city of St Petersburg is unmatched for its opulent sights and artistic heritage. Go in summer for the White Nights when the sun never sets, or wrap up warm for the romance of winter. Combine it with an insider’s tour of Moscow.
8. Some of Europe’s most exciting cities are also its least expensive. Riga is as energetic as it is beautiful and so cheap that you can order a meal in a restaurant for £4 and a large beer in a bar for £1.50. The capital of the Ukraine, Kiev, has a similar appeal to Moscow and St Petersburg but is much less expensive: you can enjoy a night at the theatre or opera for just £10. Book with Regent Holidays.
9. Budapest is another great-value city. It’s actually two cities, ancient Buda and the more modern Pest on either side of the Danube river. Both are packed with history, great places to eat and historic spa hotels. Find out more.