We don't want to alarm you or put you under any extra pressure, but there really should come a point in every relationship where Two For Tuesday date nights just don't cut it anymore. Don't get us wrong, we love sharing a 15" pizza and trying to decide what to watch on Netflix as much as the next couple. But there needs to come a time when you up your game a touch, and there’s no better way to do this than packing a couple of small-ish suitcases and going on a weekend-long adventure.
Of course, going on your first couples holiday is a pre-tty big dealio, so if you can suddenly hear your heart beating inside your ears, don't worry, it's totally normal to react this way. We're talking about you consciously taking your "eh, whatever this is, it's casual" relationship status up a notch and heading away. Together. For a couple's escape. One where you'll a) make the most amazing memories and b) have all your friends double-tapping Instagram at first sight of all these amazing memories; not to mention all the comments that read, "awwww, you guys are so cute together ❤️".
The point is: your first holiday as a couple is a big one. It probably comes in just behind your (future) honeymoon. And that's why it's so important you pick the perfect destination. You want somewhere fun and exciting, beautiful and romantic, but not too romantic because, well, this is your first holiday as a young couple, so the emphasis should be on the fun and exciting part (spoiler alert: Paris is a prime example of somewhere too romantic).
So, to help you remove the whole “too romantic, not romantic enough” struggle from the equation, we’ve pulled together a list of amazing-and-not-too-far-away-destinations (at least if you’re a) European or b) in Europe) that will be absolutely perfect for your first trip with bae. Enjoy.
Every couple should visit Edinburgh at least once. Probably more.
There’s a well-known saying that, “couples who visit Edinburgh together, stay together,” and it’s absolutely true. Okay, okay. So that’s not actually a phrase and we have no proof as to whether it’s true or not, but it definitely could be. Edinburgh just feels like it’s been the setting of a million love stories, but that’s part of its charm. It’s got this magical vibe to it. But it’s not just moody-postcard-pretty or choke-you-up romantic, it’s also a super-fun city where adventure is waiting at the corner of every cobbled street. Race each other to the castle, drink your way down the Royal Mile, laugh your socks off at the Fringe Festival, join in the raucous Hogmanay celebrations and bond over some of the most unforgettable food to ever be popped on a plate. You could even put your own Scottish twist on that Lady And The Tramp scene by sharing a haggis spring roll. Mmmm. Oh, and, if you’re in the UK, it’s not too far, meaning you can always call this an “outta town road trip” if you’re a little scared it’s too early for an “official first holiday”.
Italy is the ultimate couple’s destination, but picking right is tough.
If you've been contemplating your first couple's getaway for longer than six-and-a-half seconds, the thought of Italy has probs crossed your mind. The problem is, it's a minefield of tough decisions. Venice is obviously stunning, but it leans slightly too much toward the romance side of things (see: gondola ride under the Rialto Bridge), while Rome is one of those big deal places that will have your family saying, “so you two are serious about each other, huh?” As such, your best bet is Parma. It's perfect. Not only is it heaven on earth for anyone that loves Parma ham and Parmesan cheese a little too much, it's also a city that’s devoid of cars and crowds, making it perfect to get around on two feet or with a bit of pedal-power. Amazing monasteries, wow-factor churches, glamorous cafes, art galleries and a world-famous opera house (if you’re into that sort of thing). And while there may be no coastline near enough for you to lay down your favourite Cabana towel, there are some incredible swimming-slash-chilling spots. The river Ceno, Lake Ballano, Verde Lake - you’ve got your pick of refreshing baths.
This is the place to go when all you want to do is have fun together.
When you’re in that amazingly fun stage of young love (and still trying to hide the bits of yourself you’re 33% sure might scare off your boy/girlfriend this early on), you want to say yes to everything you can to seem uber fun. Exploring pretty seaside towns, hiking up dusty mountain paths, sampling the world’s greatest tapas scene, partying until the sun pops up the next day and then, to make your head feel human again, flop on some soft, golden stretch of sand, the sound of waves stroking the shore ringing in your ears as the hot sun tickles your skin. Well, Ibiza plants a huge green tick in every single one of these boxes. You can have all the wild moments of fun you could possibly hope for and then soothe that thump inside your skull by rushing off to the beach remedy that is Playa Cala Salada. The water is lagoon-like, the cove is semi-hidden from the crowds, the cliffs are perfect to jump off holding hands and there is an old-school beach café that serves up some of the most delicious and nutritious seafood paellas your taste buds will have ever worshipped. Fun? Check. Exciting? Check. Beautiful? Check. Romantic but not too romantic? Ch-ch-check.
It’s time to rethink the best European holiday destinations hierarchy.
Okay, so the breath-snatching 300-mile strip of Mediterranean real estate that is Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast isn’t quite the quasi-secret it was five years ago, but that’s what makes it one of the most amazing places for a couple’s first vacay. It’s not so unheard of that people look at you as if you’ve lost half your marbles, and yet it’s not popular enough for people to make a preordained judgement on what this trip says about your relationship status. It’s a win-win. Instead, for anyone wanderlusting they way around Europe, it’s definitely one of the most underrated paradises you can reach on a short-haul flight. The summer party scene is world class, there’s an unprecedented number of laid-back waterside bars to slip off to, the kuna is still favourable enough to show-off (just the right amount), the coastline is so staggeringly beautiful it’s actually considered to be health hazard for anyone that hires a car here, and the food is seriously (and we mean seriously) underrated - it’s as if all the best bits of Turkish, Hungarian and Slavic cuisine has been melded together to create a menu of “you need to try some of this” seafood dishes. Basically, if a first holiday is all about sharing experiences, you’ll do well to find a place with more experiences to split than, ummm, Split.
This place is a big deal in a small way, and that works in your favour.
If you were to close your eyes and whisper the word "Malta" out loud, you would probably think of a single magical island, but you'd be wrong. Twice. The truth is, Malta's more than just a one-island party trick. There’s the middle-of-the-range island of Camino, which is quite cool, and the almost-always overlooked island of Gozo, which is, like, the coolest. Anyway, the reason we’re tickling your intrigue with these pub-quiz-kinda-useful facts is less to help you win a bottle of house red and a free pack of crisps and more to do with you having the best first holiday. So, start off on the mainland, exploring all the normal touristy stuff, like the hidden treasures, massive ports, works of art, festivals, pretty architecture and pretty cool neighbourhoods, and then spend the 5 Euros and 20-minutes it takes to hit up Gozo. It's got something for every kind of newbie couple. Spooky caves for those wanting a cuddlefest, sheer cliffs for those that love selfies with epic backdrops and some ancient Ggantija temples and castles for the culture couples among you. It's a total winner.
Because the best first holiday needs the best beaches.
An arms-locked-together stroll through any Algarve town is like stepping into the paradise you imagine in your head - whitewashed villas, bent palms, windswept cobbled streets, and cafes so authentic they seem to be exclusive to local coffee-slurpers. And Lagos takes it up a notch, which is what makes this such a bustling summertime hotspot and an amazing destination for young n’ loved up wanderlusters; a place for both oceanholics and night owls (and it's still super-good value too). That said, it's the beaches that really steal the show here; beaches that refuse to fit the mould of every other beach on earth; beaches that are great for swimming, surfing and/or sunbathing; beaches that have that extra pinch of, you know, va va voom. There are the sea caves of Praia de Benagil, snorkelling at Ponta da Piedade, the iconic sands of Praia do Camilo and, yup, Praia de Marinha, which is so Lord of the Rings beautiful you'll finally get to answer the question that has long plagued humankind: where did Frodo go for a bit of R&R after all that Mordor stuff? In all fairness, you could pick any city in Portugal and have the first couples holiday of a lifetime. But if you want a bit of beach-based, vacay magic, you need to head to Lagos and live your best Algarve life.
Thanks for reading. For more travelspiration and far-flung adventure ideas, follow us on Instagram and Facebook and, you know, don’t forget to grab yourself the most awesome towel ever made… and some shorts… and a hair wrap... and probably a poncho too. After all, everyone looks good in stripes.