Romancing the Adventure – European Island Escapes & Getaways

Island escapes; The harbour at St Martin on Île de Ré island on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

Setting sun in St Martin

Time does fly by quickly; there is always something to celebrate just around the ‘calendar corner’. It will be Valentine’s Day in just a few weeks, a good excuse for some island escapes and rekindle romantic sparks.

The wary may need to remember however that it is a leap year, so that extra sparkle in the girlfriends eye recently maybe a little more than is bargained for.

It is never too late to book a last minute romantic getaway and if you are going to get an unexpected proposal or perhaps even do the proposing it might as well be on a romantic island.

Île de Ré – France

Located in the Charente-Maritime region near La Rochelle this pretty little island is perfect for those wishing to spend a little romantic time together.

A walk along one of the long sandy beaches followed by taking in the views from the top of its popular lighthouses is ideal for enjoying a romantic afternoon. Plenty of picturesque villages to choose or possibly the harbour in the capital St. Martin offer much for the romantic at heart to enjoy.

Windmills and wandering donkeys add to the charm and there are many excellent restaurants serving fresh oysters to keep the romance going well into the evening. The nightlife may not be particularly vibrant but it is ideal for spending some quiet time with a loved one.

Those needing to mix a little adventure with their romance can try sand yachting, kite surfing or leave the kite and just hit the surf. A more active break can be found cycling around the island, it is a perfect biking location and renting a tandem might be a cool way of spending some time together. Biking between the islands campsites would probably suit those romantics on a budget.

Island escapes; Mussel and seafood restaurant Île de Ré on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

The romance of a windmill

Île de Ré is popular with Parisians too, so if the residents of the city of romance recommend it, what is stopping you?

Hydra – Greece

This Saronic Island is just a couple of hours off the coast of Athens and is reached by ferry from the port town of Piraeus. It is not a year round location as many hotels close down in winter with most of the locals heading to less windy climes.

Island escapes; Finding a romantic spot on Hydra, Greece on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

Looks quite romantic

It was late autumn when I visited and most hotels were closing, whilst it was a little windy and there was even some rain it is easy to imagine how beautiful this island is at other times of the year.

Vehicles are not prohibited on the island and it was quite a contrast to witness the huge, modern ferries disembark their passengers who are then met by mule ‘drivers’. This appears to be the easiest method of transporting heavy bags up the rutted, steep and narrow roads to one of the boutique hotels.

The town is built around the pretty harbour rising up into the nearby hillside, it can be extremely busy during the summer months. Choosing  carefully when to visit will ensure a chance of some peace to compose a romantic idyll, Valentine’s Day maybe the perfect time to visit.

The Saronic Islands lie close to Athens, Greece on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

Firing up the romance with an island escape

There are numerous lovely little taverns and restaurants and although they may not all be open it is bound to be fun discovering the ones that are.

Corsica – France

The Island of Beauty deserves the description; it has plenty to offer with bustling resorts overflowing with restaurants and some lively nightlife, an attractive coastline and rugged mountain scenery.

Island escapes; Corsica's second city, Bastia on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

Bastia Old Quarter

For this reason it is also known as the ‘Mountain in the Sea’ as it could be described as one huge mountain rising directly out of the Mediterranean.

The resorts of Bastia, Calvi, Bonifacio and the capital of Ajaccio offer much for every kind of tourist. Discovering the picturesque villages and visiting nearby hidden gorges however before returning to try the local cuisine in intimate restaurants is a perfect way to conjure up a little extra romance. The villages demonstrate the true character of the island, almost like stepping back in time; everything is done at a slower pace here which adds to the charm.

Island escapes; Sailing boat at sunset in Bastia, Corsica on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

This screams romance!

Corsica has a comprehensive network of footpaths which criss-cross the island enabling the adventurous to spend anything from a day to a couple of weeks trekking. It is also home to the infamous GR20 which is reknowned as one of the toughest treks in Europe. The high passes will be closed due to snow if you visit for Valentine’s Day so other sources of adventure will need to be sought out.

Use a little imagination and it is unlikely this will not prove too great an obstacle though.

Island escapes; The central park in Puigcerda in Catalan, Spain on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

Perfect romantic spot

Llivia – Catalan, Spain

This is stretching the island description slightly as it is actually land-locked but the Catalan village is almost completely surrounded by the French Pyrenees.

Walking or cycling around the town is probably the perfect way to see all that it has to offer. Starting from the pretty park, weaving through the narrow streets before heading out into the nearby countryside is an ideal way to spend the day.

Those that prefer a little more a more unusual adventure perhaps might prefer a Segway. There is a local company that provides rentals and will arrange a tour with possibly even a chance to go off-road.

Any romantic location needs plenty of great places to eat and Llivia has its fair share of restaurants. The obvious one is Fabián Martín’s famous pizza taller although my personal favourite is Cal Cofre which not only cooks the dishes but produces most of the meat and vegetables themselves.

Making an island escape in February will provide the romantically inclined a chance to avoid the crowds. Those looking for a short romantic break this Valentine’s Day will find any of these a great option and the perfect alternative to Aphrodite’s island.

If planning to propose though don’t forget the ring and either way remember to send me a card; a postcard will suffice in this case.

The Spanish 'island' of Llivia in Catalonia surrounded by France on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

An unusual view from Llivia

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  1. Beverly

    Nice choices of romantic islands and your photos really capture the charm of each place. The color and clarity make me feel like I’m standing there in person. You are just as talented with a camera as you are with words!

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      Iain

      I am so pleased you like the islands and the photos too Beverly I hope you get to visit some of these islands one day soon. Thank you for your kind words.

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