If you’re looking for inspiration for this year’s Valentine’s Day, it’s not too late to consider these last-minute budget city breaks.
Enjoy a last-minute getaway in romantic Riga, capital of Latvia and a stunning UNESCO World Heritage site, as well as former European City of Culture. The largest city in the Baltic States, Riga is rich in history, wonderful medieval architecture and beautiful natural surroundings that are easily accessible to visitors. Just a short train ride away (€1.50), holidaymakers can take an afternoon trip to the beautiful resort town of Jūrmala, with its 20-mile stretches of golden sandy beaches and wooden seaside villas. Heaven for anyone with a sweet tooth, the capital is famous for its chocolate and you’ll discover a new, delectable cake shop around every corner. In fact, everything is within walking distance – perfect for shorter city breaks as well as being good for the wallet. Latvia may not be as cheap as some of its neighbouring countries in terms of a night out, but at around £2 a pint and with meals available from under £10, it won’t break the bank either.
Just over 2 hours away by plane, Madrid makes the perfect last-minute city break for a romantic Valentine’s getaway. This lively, artistic city is much quieter (and cheaper) during the winter, while still buzzing with activity and things to do. Culture lovers should take advantage of the free entry to some of the capital’s best museums, such as the Art Centre (Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía) and Madrid’s Royal Palace, which are both free to visit in the evenings. While you’re there, a visit to the palace’s spectacular gardens is a must, followed by a walk around the nearby Temple of Debod for a beautiful view of the sunset. Spain is famous for its flamenco dancing and, while an evening at some of Madrid’s most renowned venues may not be a cheap night out, there are a few budget-friendly places to try. Take your date to Cafetín La Quimera, just outside of the centre, where you can enjoy a special Valentine’s treat with a show and a drink for twenty euros.
With its medieval streets, Gothic spires and cosy bars, Tallinn is small but beautiful place to explore on a city break. Visit during February and there’s still a good chance of snow making your Valentine’s getaway even more magical. The pretty skyline calls for early morning walks to watch the sunrise over the city from the castle on Toompea Hill, followed by a stroll around the old town and its ancient city lanes. Pay a visit to Kalamaja, Tallinn’s trendiest neighbourhood full of cafes and galleries, as well as the former Telliskivi factory, where you can browse the market stalls for trinkets and souvenirs. Eating out in Tallinn is very budget friendly – try some traditional Estonian food at the Krug Inn, where you can eat elk soup and pies by candlelight for a few euros. There are plenty of cheap hotels to be found in and around the centre of Tallinn, so you can make the most of your stay discovering the surrounding areas.
Perhaps France’s most underrated city, Lille is a fascinating place to visit and, at less than an hour and a half away on the Eurostar, one of the easiest destinations to get to for a short, last minute holiday. With its brick houses, belfries and a local preference for beer, mussels and chips over wine and delicate cuisine, this northern city doesn’t fit with the usual French stereotypes. It’s a vibrant, student town with plenty to see and do and has a reputation for being a friendly and welcoming place to visit. It’s also a former European City of Culture, with three renowned art museums and lots of beautiful architecture to admire. Hearty, wallet-friendly food is easy to come by and there’s no better place to try some of the local delicacies than at the Marche de Wazemmes, one of the largest in France.