Romance in the 21st Century is much more than candle-lit dinners and bunches of roses. In fact, the most promising answer to a happy union may just be a walk in the wild. According to a study conducted by the Human-Environment Research Lab in the US, time spent in nature makes us feel more connected to other people. It also reduces stress levels and enhances general well-being. When you throw endorphin-releasing physical activity (such as hiking) into the mix, it’s a recipe bound for passion. And, if you’re looking for a different way to see the world with your special someone why not head further afield than South African shores … maybe even as far afield as Europe? European walking holiday specialist, On Foot Holidays, offers plenty of self-guided walking routes perfect for couples. Here are a few of their most romantic.
Castles of the Rhine, Germany
Level: Easy-medium; distance: 18-20kms per day.
If you truly want to feel like the hero in your own fairytale, opt for the 9-day walking route along the Rhine Gorge. The trail goes from Bingen to Koblenz and takes you past 20 medieval castles, perched high above the River Rhine. This is a journey back to a romantic era when painters, poets and composers found their inspiration along the Rhine. The story of Lorelei is one of the many stories you’ll learn about as you wander through historic villages and vineyards. Food and wine form an integral part of this route with overnight stays at a variety of family-owned hotels and historic inns.
Southern Tuscany, Italy
Level: Medium, distance: 11-19kms per day.
It’s no surprise that Tuscany is a favoured destination for wedding celebrations. Its rolling hills, Renaissance towns and rich red wines are enough to strengthen the bond between any couple. Starting in Siena and ending in Montepulciano, this 8-day walk takes you through the heart of Tuscany’s vineyards. Highlights include the cathedral in Siena, the classic hilltop village of Pienza and the ancient baths of Vignoni. Savour farm-to-fork meals and stay at a variety of tried-and-tested B&Bs and family-run hotels en route.
Northern Provence, France
Level: medium; distance: 12-19kms per day.
This 8-day walk takes you past medieval French villages and soaring mountaintops. Along the way you’ll feast on delicious French food and wines and overnight in grand chateaux. Your trek starts in the historic hilltop village of Venasque (where you’ll be staying for two nights) and then winds through a narrow gorge along a historic path towards the town of Mazan. On day four you’ll amble past olive and cherry tree groves and a sea of vineyards with an overnight stay in the town of Le Barroux. The rest of the route traces impressive geological formations, hidden valleys and pretty villages until you finish in Vaison where you can marvel at its 12th Century castle.
To add to the ease of a romantic and comfortable walking holiday, On Foot Holidays pre-arranges all your accommodation, most meals and transfers. You’ll also receive a walker’s pack that comes with detailed route descriptions, maps and local contacts. A simple walk may be all you need to bring back the romance. On Foot Holidays offers 28 self-guided walking itineraries throughout Europe. Every route can be customised to suit personal requirements.
For more information on their packages email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the On Foot Holidays website.