No list of romantic settings is complete without Paris, the city of love. Try this for romance: make reservations at Le Jules Verne, the restaurant at the top of the Eiffel Tower, and arrange for the waiter to put your engagement ring atop a chocolate truffle. If all goes well, your sweetheart will spy the ring, blush and say "Yes". If, however, she swallows the truffle whole without looking, you may be proposing on the way to the hospital.
Travel agent Sandra Smith arranged a dinner like this for a client and is happy to report the former scenario as an outcome. "It's the most beautiful setting," she said. For more information (in English) and even to book online, go to www.lejulesverne-paris.com
Imagine checking into a thatched-roof bungalow built on stilts above water so clear it resembles polished turquoise. The light from a coastal sunset fills your room.
That describes the experience at the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa in Tahiti. "The ambience of the property is very pretty and very romantic," said travel agent Sandy Azain. She especially liked the clear-top coffee tables that stand over an opening in the floor so you can watch tropical fish. Over-water bungalows start at about $900 (R6 800) a night. For virtual tour and bookings, go to www.hiltonworldresorts.com
The London Eye resembles a giant Ferris wheel, but the British call it a cantilevered observation wheel; it is 135m tall with views of the Thames, Big Ben and the Tower of London. It was built to celebrate the Millennium, but it has become a place to celebrate romance.
There are several packages from February 6 to 14, such as a 30-minute Valentine's Champagne for £35 a person (R422,50), or you can arrange for a private Valentine's Cupid Capsule for £330. Both tickets come with priority boarding, a red rose, chocolates and chilled Champagne. Save 10 percent by booking online at www.londoneye.com
Somewhere really tall
Another time-honoured setting for starry-eyed romantics is the observation deck of the Empire State Building, 320m above the streets of Manhattan. The deck stays open until 2am, when the city that never sleeps continues to shimmer. Couples can also get married on Valentine's Day at the same spot. Since 1994, more than 220 couples have been married atop the Empire State Building in an annual Valentine's Day wedding event. An express ticket to the top costs $41.52 plus tax, per person. Naturally, you'll need two tickets. For more info and to book online, see www.esbnyc.com
Keukenhof Gardens, south-west of Amsterdam, is a 32 hectare estate that boasts seven million spring-blooming flowers. Unless she has pollen allergies, she will think she's in aroma heaven.
The site was originally used in the 15th century for hunting and herb collecting for the estate of Jacoba van Beieren. It is open to the public from March 18 to May 16.
Tickets may be purchased online and in advance for about e14 (R147) a person, or e21 includes a bus ride from Schiphol and Leiden. Go to www.keukenhof.nl - The Los Angeles Times
The Hawaiian Islands are blessed with many romantic spots, with the best spot for a proposal being on top of the dormant, snow-covered volcano Mauna Kea. From the peak, watch steam rise as lava from the Kilauea volcano and the Puu Oo crater poured into the ocean.
Or talk about your red-hot love while viewing the lava flowing into the ocean at the end of Highway 130. The viewing area is open from 5 to 10pm. Wear sturdy shoes and carry a flashlight. (Visitors often bring a picnic and refreshments.) Visit www.nps.gov/havo
When in Rome, do as the tourists do. Stop at Trevi Fountain, a Baroque monument to the seas. Countless couples have shared a kiss at the feet of Neptune, who towers over the rocks, cascading water and wild horses. If you want the place to yourself, try going late at night when underwater lights cast a romantic glow on the fountain. Legend says that if a couple drinks from the Fontanina degli Innamorati, or the Lovers' Fountain, at the side of Trevi Fountain, they will remain faithful to each other forever. The fountain is at Piazza di Trevi, at Via Poli and Via del Lavatore, northeast of the Pantheon.