Least Romantic Places to Escape Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day isn’t for everyone. While we can’t stop overpriced romantic dinners and heart-shaped decorations from happening all over the world, we can recommend destinations where Cupid doesn’t visit. Or at least treads a little lighter.
From the snowy streets of New York to sunny Australia, here are some of the world’s best anti-Valentine’s Day escapes. No roses or heart-shaped boxes included.
30. Las Vegas, Nevada
Sure, there are over 50 wedding chapels where couples can say “I, Do,” but don’t bet on all of those marriages lasting (we’re looking at you Britney and Jason, Angelina and Billy Bob, Bruce and Demi). Las Vegas actually has one of the country’s highest divorce rates (about 14 percent), so Sin City is more about short-term fun than long-term love.
Instead, enjoy the abundance of casinos, shows, clubs and other attractions (like museums dedicated to pinball and the mob, what can be less romantic than that?). You’ll have so much to do that you won’t even think about V-Day.
29. Madrid, Spain
Population: 3.2 million
Unlike Barcelona, which attracts throngs of visitors (even on Valentine’s Day) and maintains an uptempo pace, Madrid feels a bit calmer. Leafy spots like Plaza Mayor Square and Retiro Park make for nice leisurely strolls and are equally enjoyable whether you’re sol0 or with friends.
The Paseo del Prado is home to three of the world’s greatest museums — The Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza and Reina Sofia — where you can spend days admiring fantastic art, followed by world-famous tapas, a glass or two of rioja wine and people-watching at one of the city’s spacious outdoor cafes.
Nothing beats the winter blues like an escape to the Caribbean — unless you arrive to find hordes of tourists taking up all that prime beach real estate or overcrowding the best restaurants. But you likely won’t encounter that in Montserrat, a U.K. commonwealth known as the “Emerald Isle of the Caribbean” for the Irish population that had previously immigrated here. (Fun fact: While Valentine’s Day isn’t a thing here, Saint Patrick’s Day is, of course, widely celebrated).
In addition to pristine beaches, the island is also known for its dramatic peaks and a catastrophic volcanic eruption in 1995. Today, you can take day trips to witness the after-effects — if you can tear yourself away from the beach or the bars serving those famous Montserrat cocktails.
27. Hell, Michigan
If celebrating Valentine’s Day sounds like your idea of hell, why not totally play up that theme and visit this cheeky Michigan town? Get dessert served in a coffin at Screams Ice Cream from Hell, send a scorched postcard to a former flame or flash a devilish smile while taking selfies at the Welcome to Hell sign.
The good news is that this Hell is easy to escape — and just 20 minutes from the heavenly Ann Arbor, which has a pretty downtown, terrific indie shops and an outstanding food scene.
26. Beijing, China
Population: 21.5 million
With its crowded streets and oppressive smog, the capital of China doesn’t exactly scream romance, but that’s all the more reason to go there for an anti-Valentine’s Day vacation. Drawbacks aside, setting foot on the Great Wall of China (an easy day trip from Beijing) is a one-of-a-kind experience, while other historical sites like Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace are truly fascinating.
Plus, in the winter, you’ll get to visit them with fewer crowds. Beijing’s famous hutongs are also worth visiting, especially Giu Lee (Ghost Street), which has great bars, restaurants and historic buildings.
So, putting an entire country on the list may sound like cheating, but this charming destination is actually smaller than several U.S. states. February brings frigid temperatures and the chance of a blizzard hurricane (yes, that’s a real thing), but it’s also prime time to see the Northern Lights. And you can always warm up in the geothermal waters of the Blue Lagoon or numerous other thermal bath sites.
After a few days of being charmed by Reyjavik’s brightly colored buildings, great restaurants and views of Hallgrímskirkja, head south toward Vik. You’ll find waterfalls aplenty, black-sand beaches and maybe encounter a troll or two — which are way cooler than Cupid, right?
24. Miami, Florida
The home of South Beach and “The Golden Girls,” Miami is one of the best places in the world to fly solo, according to Livability.com. So, if you’re seeking non-stop parties at seaside bars and the hottest club to take your mind off Valentine’s Day, Miami is the place to be. It also has some of the warmest winter temperatures in the U.S., so beach days are blissful.
Beyond the sand, surf and clubs, there are the funky art deco buildings (the largest collection in the world), rich museums, neighborhoods like The Allapattah for delicious and authentic Dominican and Central American cuisine, and two national parks, Biscayne National Park and Everglades National Park.
23. Marrakech, Morocco
Population: 1 million
Morocco’s famed “Red City” offers many distractions from Valentine’s Day. You can shop for days (and likely get very lost) in the old town’s souk, which offers an overwhelming amount of jewelry, lights, spices, carpets, fabrics and other souvenirs for your browsing pleasure. Or spend hours watching street performers and sampling great street food at Jemaa el-Fna Marrakech, the city’s buzzing main square.
For a more relaxed experience, you can admire the succulents and greenery at Jardin Majorelle, go for a soak or body scrub at a hammam, or take a side trip for glamping in the Sahara Desert, where gazing at orange sand dunes and night stars is the ultimate form of relaxation.
22. Breckenridge, Colorado
This Colorado ski resort town is a popular choice for solo travelers and well-suited for skiers at all levels. Those who are more advanced will enjoy world-class slopes (and the amazing feeling that comes with appreciating the outdoors at your own pace), while beginners will find a wide array of classes, including female-only sessions like “Women and Wine.”
Take a half-day lesson, then warm up with some new friends over an après-ski glass of red or white. The town is also filled with an abundance of bars and restaurants, plus super-friendly locals who will make you feel at home.
21. Budapest, Hungary
Population: 1.77 million
Its storybook atmosphere may draw couples, but the “Paris of the East” is equally enjoyable whether traveling as a couple, solo or with friends. Have drinks in one of the city’s infamous ruin bars, which are housed in pre-war buildings and always buzzing with people eager to chat, or you can go on a city walking tour and admire architecture gems like Parliament, St. Stephen's Basilica and the Hungarian State Opera House.
For something totally unromantic, head to the Museum of Terror, which features exhibits detailing the communist and fascist regimes that once ruled the city. No matter what you do, just save some time for a long soak in Budapest’s famed thermal baths and a glass of volcanic wine.
20. Chicago, Illinois
Population: 2.7 million
While Valentine’s Day may be unavoidable in the U.S., the Windy City offers lots of opportunities to escape it. Have some deep-dish pizza, stroll the Magnificent Mile or along Lake Michigan (just be sure to bundle up), see the city’s famed architecture by boat or take in a drama at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater or Steppenwolf.
Want to trade forced romance for belly laughs? There’s no better place to do it than Chicago’s Second City, the renowned comedy club whose famous alumni include Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, Joan Rivers, Bill Murray and so many more.
19. Queenstown, New Zealand
With nearly perfect weather that hovers in the 70s, February is an ideal time to visit Lake Wakatipu, where you can chill by the water with a good book, spend the day kayaking, or hike and camp in great national parks like Fiordland National Park and Mount Aspiring.
Billed as the “adventure capital of the world,” Queenstown is an especially great place to get your adrenaline fix with bungee jumping, skydiving and hang gliding. Sure beats dinner at an overpriced restaurant!
18. Dublin, Ireland
Population: 1.43 million
With over 750 pubs in Dublin, it’s easy to find a cozy spot at Temple Bar or along Fleet Street to grab a pint, sit near a fire and chat with some new friends about anything besides Valentine’s Day. But Dublin isn’t all drinking, of course. Book lovers will love Trinity College Library and the Dublin Writers Museum, which displays works from some of Dublin’s literary greats like James Joyce and Oscar Wilde.
For a truly unique spot, don’t miss The Great South Wall. Here, the city meets Dublin Bay, and you can get an up-close look at the Poolbeg Chimneys, one of Ireland’s tallest structures.
17. Oahu, Hawaii
Population: 1.01 million
Sure, Hawaii is super romantic — other parts of Hawaii, that is. Oahu, which is home to the bustling city of Honolulu, is popular with singles and backpackers. Base yourself at one of the highrises in famed Waikiki Beach, and spend your days shopping and dining on wide boulevards, surfing and sunning on the beach, hiking Diamond Head and visiting the Pearl Harbor Memorial.
For something more chill, head to Oahu’s North Shore, which has nice beaches, food trucks, hiking and local surfers who are always happy to give lessons or chat you up.
16. Cardiff, Wales
Wales’ most romantic day is actually a few weeks before Valentine’s Day. On Jan. 25, the Welsh celebrate St. Dwynwen’s Day in honor of a fourth-century princess who was unlucky at love and became a nun. So, on Feb. 14, you’re very much in the clear to enjoy Cardiff’s fairytale-like atmosphere without hordes of couples trying to write their own storybook romance before your eyes.
And if you love castles, this is the place for you. Cardiff Castle, located right in the city is a gem that dates back to the 11th century, while nearby Caerphilly Castle is the second-largest castle in Britain and is famous for the way it leans. Sci-fan fans will loveThe Doctor Who Experience, you can fly in the TARDIS and have other interactive journeys into the world of The Doctor. You can’t get much more of an escape from Valentine’s Day than time traveling in a magical phonebooth, right?
15. Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Chile
One of the most remote inhabited islands in the world, a visit to Easter Island means being about 2,000 miles from mainland Chile and far away from typical Valentine’s Day celebrations. People come from all over the world to catch a glimpse of the Moai statues, the monolithic structures carved in the images of the island’s ancestors.
And while this is an unbelievable experience, the island has several other selling points, including lovely ecolodges, stunning greenery, beaches, volcanoes and some of the freshest seafood around.
14. Moscow, Russia
Population: 12.7 million
If you don't have your heart set on romance, this is the place to be. The skies are gloomy, a lot of the architecture is bland, and there’s a frigid chill in the air.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to love about Moscow. The Russian capital is home to stellar attractions like the onion-domed Kremlin and St. Basil’s Cathedral as well as world-class ballet, museums, bath-houses and restaurants like Turandot, a lavish dining spectacle complete with homages to Imperial Russia (and other historical periods), servers in costume and a mechanical golden peacock. You may just feel like you’re in “The Great.”
13. Machu Picchu, Peru
A bucket-list destination, the Lost City of the Incas is a place for reflection and serenity, not flowers and chocolate. Though February is one of the rainiest months, resulting in the closure of the Incan Trail, you can still take the scenic train ride from Cusco and have the trade-off of fewer crowds.
No matter how you reach it, Machu Picchu remains one of the world’s most sacred sites and a place to soak in amazing views, explore Incan temple and carvings and feel the mysticism — from 8,000 feet above sea level.
12. Amsterdam, Netherlands
One of Europe’s most welcoming cities, Amsterdam is compact, easy to navigate and filled with friendly locals — making it an ideal spot for anyone flying solo or for groups of friends looking to meet new people.
The city’s whimsical canals are meant for meandering, and getting around by bicycle is practically a requirement. There are also endless things to do, like visiting Ann Frank Huis, admiring great works of art at the Van Gogh Museum or Rijksmuseum, picnicking in Vondel Park and having a Heineken or Amstel while chatting with a stranger at one of the city’s many bars.
11. Nashville, Tennessee
The capital of country music is so much more than just honky-tonk bars. A popular choice for bachelorette parties, Nashville has a small-town charm with big-city culture.
You’ll find true Southern hospitality, live music on Broadway (and seemingly everywhere else in the city), fun and cultural sites like The Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium and the Country Music Hall of Fame, plus famously delicious hot chicken and some of the best Southern comfort food in the world.
Population: 1,000 to 5,000 (seasonally; there are no permanent human residents)
Taking this trip isn’t easy — it’s costly, can’t be DIY’ed, and there’s a pretty good chance of encountering rough seas and harsh weather. However, since only about 30,000 people visit the “seventh continent” every year and shore landings are limited to one ship at a time, you’ll get lots of quiet time and basically feel like you have the entire place to yourself.
With breathtaking scenery, otherworldly scenery and an abundance of wildlife, a visit to Antarctica can be a life-changing experience. Plus, February is the best time for whale watching!
9. New York, New York
Population: 8.4 million
There are fewer places in the world with more of a “come as you are” attitude than New York City, where going out to dinner or seeing a Broadway show on your own is more than acceptable — it’s often preferred. Despite chilly temperatures, February is a great time to go on an epic walk through Central Park or the High Line, one of the city’s best spots for people-watching.
There’s a revamped dining experience, with more restaurants offering outdoor dining than ever before, and you’ll never run out of things to do inside, either.
8. Kerala, India
Population: 34.6 million
Known for its green hills, waterfalls and beaches, this area of India is popular with tourists but remains more off-the-beaten-path than other parts of the country. February brings pleasant weather that isn’t too hot or cold, a great time to explore the area’s tranquil backwaters (best done from the comfort of a floating houseboat), visit breathtaking tea plantations, enjoy crowd-free beaches, hike to waterfalls or look for wildlife at Periyar National Park.
To feel even more zen, visit an Ayurvedic resort, which offers a 5,000-year healing tradition that combines healthy eating, yoga and spa treatments. You’ll leave feeling refreshed for sure.
7. Zagreb, Croatia
With its gorgeous coastline, picturesque scenery and medieval feel, Croatia has become a European hotspot. And while these qualities may epitomize romance, Zagreb is home to the Museum of Broken Relationships, a space dedicated to heartbreak and personal stories of those who loved and lost. If you’re newly single or trying to get over a past relationship, this is a place to find solace and healing — and if you want to purge your home of your ex’s belongings, the museum takes donations.
Of course, the museum isn’t the only reason to visit Zagreb. Visit the impressive St. Mark’s Church, which dates back to the 13th century, write your next chapter at one of the cafés on Tkal?i?eva Street, or enjoy the fresh air on a day trip to the stunning Plitvice Lakes.
6. Gold Coast, Australia
The height of Australia’s summer, February boasts warm weather (and beach water, too) clear-blue skies and lovely sea breezes. With more than 40 miles of beautiful sandy beaches (yes, they are actually golden), you’re bound to find a good spot to work on your tan (or hang under an umbrella) and chill with a great book or playlist.
The best news is you can pack really light — swimsuits, shorts, a few T-shirts and plenty of sunscreen. If you feel like something other than the beach, there are spas, nature hikes and SeaWorld Carnivale, a February festival with aerialists, fire twirlers and culturally themed food and entertainment from different parts of the world.
5. Trieste, Italy
Yes, Italy is a super romantic place, but Trieste sees far fewer tourists than cities like Venice. Plus, its mood is more dark and mysterious than forced romance, so it’s a great spot for singles or couples who favor that kind of scene.
You can easily pass the time at the Piazza Unità d’Italia, Europe’s largest square on the sea, trekking on one of the city’s walking trails or at a literary cafe, where delicious, locally roasted coffee and used books make it easy to spend an entire day lost in thought. Don’t miss Miramare Castle, a white-washed structure built between 1856 and 1860 that’s said to be cursed. On the other end of the spectrum, Trieste recently became the European Capital of Science and continues to be a leading hub for science and technology research.
4. Bali, Indonesia
Population: 4.3 million
While this popular Indonesian island screams romance (as forever immortalized in “Eat, Pray, Love”), you won’t find (an official) Valentine’s Day here — because the country actually banned it in 2020.
So, you can enjoy time on Kuta Beach; visit gorgeous temples like Ulun Danu, Uluwatu and Tanah Lot; soak in the culture of Ubud (or relax in your own private villa complete with pool); or seek out Bali’s famed wellness and spiritual classes and activities — all without the pressure of having a perfect Valentine’s Day.
3. Helsinki, Finland
Feb. 14 in Finland is more about celebrating great friendship than romance. So, grab your warmest coat (it gets cold here) and your best friends and enjoy the city’s cool art and design studios, tasty Nordic cuisine and welcoming people. Tour the gleaming white Helsinki Cathedral and unique Temppeliaukio Church, which is partly underground and cut from bedrock.
When it’s time to warm up, nothing beats one of the city’s famous saunas. You may even see the Northern Lights from the city, but to increase your chances, head to places like Rovaniemi or Kemi in Finland’s beautiful countryside, where you can rent a cabin or glass igloo and enjoy the view.
2. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Population: 6.7 million
If you’re craving warm weather and plenty of sunshine, this is the place to be. With temperatures hovering in the high 80s, February is a perfect time to hit Brazil’s unspoiled parks, swim and sun at unbelievable beaches like Copacabana, Ipanema and Prainha or go for a sail in The Harbor of Rio de Janeiro, one of the world’s natural wonders.
It’s also the time of year for Carnival, the once-in-a-lifetime party with loads of floats, costumes and dancing. The best part: Brazil’s version of Valentine’s Day, Saint Anthony’s Day, is celebrated in June.
1. Kathmandu, Nepal
Population: 1.4 million
February is off-season in Nepal, which means fewer crowds and discounted hotels, but temperatures are still a pleasant 65 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. The largest city in Nepal, Kathmandu is filled with stunning architecture and historic sites like Durbar Square, the Boudhanath stupa and the Monkey Temple.
Of course, one of its main draws is the awe-inspiring Mount Everest, which you can still trek in February (but lower altitudes are recommended for safety reasons). If you have the time, visit the “golden trio” of Nepal: Kathmandu, Chitwan and Pokhara. Or plan your visit for when Maha Shivaratri — a celebration of Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction, Shiva — coincides with Valentine’s Day (though sometimes it falls in early March).