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Valletta waterfront
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Sarah Blinco shares three very romantic international destinations to lust after now

There’s a few big names that come to mind when we think of ‘romantic destinations’ – Paris, Venice, New York, the Maldives, Bali – and, they of course deserve a spot on this most lovely of lists. But what about the places that take you by surprise – those you’d probably not consider, until you show up and discover the undeniable magic in the air? Here’s three of the best destinations for romance in 2019.

Lisbon, Portugal

It was the Age of Discovery when Portugal ruled the world. Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in Europe and offers a wonderful glimpse into the layers of time and influence that spread around the globe from its very own shores to Brazil, China and beyond. Set upon seven hills, imagine old-world trams bustling along narrow, cobbled streets, grand architecture, quirky stores scaling hilltops, and colourful rooftops as far as the eye can see.

The city is best experienced from up high, on a terrace of one of its many chic sky-bars, where you should land just in time for sunset.

Eat

You can’t go to Lisbon and not try a Pastel de Nata (Portuguese custard tart). They’re everywhere, sweet and delicious! Try at least one from Pastéis de Belém, where they’ve been making these according to a top-secret recipe since 1837. Wash down with a shot of Ginjinha, another local delight – a sour cherry liqueur (tastes like Port) that has been served in the city since 1890.

Stay

Find accommodation like the stylish Lisboa Pessoa Hotel near Rossio Square, on a hilltop overlooking São Jorge Castle, so you can wake up to a view and easily explore historical neighbourhoods handin-hand.

Go

It gets very busy in the summer season (May to August), and while it’s cooler in the autumn/winter months, everything is still open, and you’ll avoid the crowds.

Ibiza, Spain

Do not be mistaken, Ibiza isn’t just a ‘party’ island (although it is the best fun you’ll have all year). Ibiza has an energy, it’s magnetic (quite literally, neighbouring rockisland Es Vedra is allegedly one of the three most magnetic points on earth next to the North Pole and Bermuda Triangle)!

This, the most famous of Spain’s Balearic Islands, is surrounded by secret coves, breathtaking landscapes, pretty little islands, and sleek beach bars designed for the best of a Mediterranean experience.

Eat

Pre-book a table at the fabulous Café Mambo, enjoy cocktails, tapas and potentially an appearance by a famous DJ. As the sun sets, the crowds cheer and the music will gear you up for a great night to remember.

Stay

To get amongst the spectacle that is sunset, stay just off San Antonio’s ‘sunset strip’ at a spot like Hotel Abrat which is far enough from the nightlife that it’s quiet, but close enough to enjoy the action. If you prefer a slower pace, stay within walking distance of Ibiza’s mesmerising UNESCO listed medieval Old Town.

Go

This is a sexy summer destination, so visit April to October when Ibiza’s fabulous hippy markets, drumming beaches and some of the very best entertainment venues in the world like Ushuaïa and Hï are open for the season.

Valletta, Malta

For an adventure straight out of a Knight’s tale, Valletta is the place to go. Think waterfront fortress ruins positioned on a hilly peninsula between two spectacular harbours. It’s a feast for the senses, with food and architecture influenced by European and North African neighbours and past rulers. Valletta is the small capital city of the island of Malta. Booking a trip here is the best surprise you could give a loved-one – Malta is picture perfect in every direction.

Eat

Give Ftira a try, it’s a local variation of pizza that you’ll find at Nenu the Artisan Baker’s in Valletta. Seek Q Bar on the Valletta waterfront for a classy cocktail break. Venture a little further to Marsaxlokk, a traditional fishing village with a range of fresh seafood and pasta outdoor-dining right on the shoreline.

Stay

Seek accommodation on Sliema’s seafront, where you can easily access the nightlife of St Julian’s, excellent cliff-top bars, harbour cruises, and a five-minute ferry ride across to the striking capital.

Go

Malta is very hot in summer and can get crowded. Head there slightly off-season for better deals and reprieve from the scorching August heat.

Want more information on these destinations? Search for the cities on Sarah’s travel blog, travellivelearn.com

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