Words by Lisa Hughes
February 9th, 2016
Whether you love it or loathe it, the international day of red hearts and roses – Valentine’s Day – is almost upon us. We’ve got news for you – being romantic doesn’t have to mean chocolate dipped strawberries, rose petals on your pillow in an overpriced hotel room and uncomfortable Victoria’s Secret undies. Believe it or not, there are plenty of cool things loved up couples can do in Ireland and not just on 14th February.
Here’s our pick of the best alternative-but-still romantic things to do in Ireland throughout the year (with zero cheese, we promise!)
One to tick off both of your bucket lists, there’s no better way to see Ireland together than in a hot air balloon – with a glass of bubbly in hand, of course. Irish Balloon Flights (Balloons.ie) have been offering hot air balloon rides to hungry-for-a-view couples for 30 years now and balloon rides are available from six locations, ranging from Adare Manor in Co. Limerick to Trim Castle in Co. Meath. Scenic balloon trips can be booked for most of the year and rides typically last for one unforgettable hour. For extra swoon points book a sunset journey. Take us to the clouds!
VIP Champagne flight for 2 passengers at sunset from €475 each at Balloons.ie.
Mythology, food and sex mingle together for one night only at Lupercalia, a joint venture between award winning sex shop, Sex Siopa (sexsiopa.ie) and supper club hero, Gruel Guerilla. Taking place in a soon-to-be-revealed secret Dublin city centre location, Lupercalia is an offbeat guide to the history of Valentine’s, with a hearty 4 course meal inspired by the folk traditions of Valentine’s Day and there’s even a Sex Siopa goody bag to take home on Friday 12th February at 8pm.
Tickets for Lupercalia cost €50, click here for more.
Our favourite thing about gorgeous Georgian house, Dunboyne Castle Hotel (dunboynecastlehotel.com) is the Seoid Spa, which brings a splash of Turkish relaxation to, er, Meath with the divine rose hammam exfoliation treatment. Unwind together in the couple’s hammam room and give your skin a treat with a rose bud scrub, full body exfoliation while lying on heated marble slabs. You’ll be smelling like roses (literally) in no time.
Overnight stay, dinner at the 2 AA Rosette Ivy Restaurant and a bottle of Prosecco in your room from €260 per couple. To make a booking click here.
West Cork is a good idea any time of year but for something guaranteed to leave you both a lil’ bit starry-eyed, try twilight kayaking at Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa (inchydoneyisland.com). Overlooking the wild waves of the Atlantic Ocean and beautiful beach of Inchydoney, spend an evening kayaking together under starlight in Lough Hyne. Magical. Afterwards, warm up with a candlelit dinner in The Gulfstream Restaurant.
This break costs from €359pps for 2 nights B&B in a guestroom with a private balcony overlooking Inchydoney beach. To make a booking click here.
OK, ok, so we all know that there was room on that plank of wood for both Jack and Rose but James Cameron’s epic ‘Titanic’ still makes us swoon. World famous attraction Titanic Belfast (titanicbelfast.com) lets you pretend you’re Kate Winslet for a few hours, with afternoon tea in the opulent Titanic Suite where you can get your pic snapped together at the grand staircase, an exact replica of the one in the movie and on the real, ill-fated ship.
French fancies and rich eclairs are served on White Star Line china and Afternoon Tea including a glass of Champagne costs from £35pp. To book this click here.
One for the old school romantics (and your inner science geek), stargazing together and hoping for a shooting star is hard to beat. There are huge chunks of complete darkness in Ireland – like the amazing Dark Sky Park in Kerry (kerrydarksky.com) – where you can cosy up and check out a world of nebulas, Northern Lights and all sorts of cosmic happenings with the naked eye. If you’re a bit Ross Geller about all things in the universe (or just fancy an offbeat date) there are some pretty cool spots around the country for a ‘sky at night’ stargazing date indoors, including Blackrock Castle in Cork, further north in Armagh Planetarium and the excellent Birr Castle.
To find out more and book one of these experiences check out astronomytrail.ie
Escapism doesn’t get much better than the Treehouse at Grove House, a self-catering gem nestled among spruce pines in scenic West Cork. Climb up the tree-trunk steps and hide away together in a luxury woodland den. Inside, the treehouse boasts everything you could need – electricity (duh), fully equipped kitchen, satellite TV, broadband and an iPod dock. Plus it’s 100% eco-friendly so your conscience can rest easy. Did we mention a private hot tub for two overlooking the countryside? We’re THERE.
Rates are from €189 per weekend night. Click here to book.
Whether you dream of sleeping in a castle or spending the night in a grand townhouse, the Irish Landmark Trust (irishlandmark.com) has the historic haunt for you both to indulge in. We love the Lightkeeper’s House, a pristine getaway perched on the tip of Loop Head in Co Clare. Cosy up to the wood burning stove and forget your troubles in this romantic setting of wild birds, rugged cliffs and the spray of fresh Atlantic surf. Bliss.
Prices start from €437 for 3 nights. Click here for more.
Who doesn’t adore old Hollywood glamour? The speakeasy vibes and dark corners to slink into make The Liquor Rooms (theliquorrooms.com) a dream locale for a vintage-inspired date in Dublin. This V-Day, the lovely folks at this subterranean den will be doing their bit to inject a splash of Bogey and Bergman’s glamour and romance into our lives with a Casablanca-themed evening. Taking place on Friday 12 February, be prepared to be swept you off your feet back to 1942.
Click here to find out more about this free event.
Forget a heart-shaped box of the sweet stuff and treat your other half to a chocolate-themed weekend away in Kerry. Your chocolate addiction will be certified chronic after taking part in one of Chocolate Heaven’s chocolate making courses in stunning Kenmare (chocolate-heaven.ie). Led by artisan chocolatier Benoit Lorge, you’ll both learn all about creating mousses, truffles, ganache and all the goodness of the cocoa bean at the 1 day Chocolate Beginner 1 day course (€150). Plus, there’ll be plenty of chocolate tastings. Drooling yet? You will be.
To book yourself in to chocolate heaven, click here.
Still wondering what gifts other than chocolate and flowers to buy before the 14th? Check out our alternative Valentine’s Day guide here!
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