The anti-Valentine's break: the world's least romantic experiences

written by
Phoebe Lowndes

updated 24.01.2024

Looking to spice things up this Valentine's Day? You might want to look away, or read our run-down of the most romantic places in the world. Alternatively, read on if you're not feeling the love for Valentine's Day, or if you fancy an alternative to soppy mini-break destinations. Here we present the least romantic experiences around the world. 

1. Exploring the Museum of Broken Relationships, Croatia

There's plenty to ogle at this unique museum in Zagreb, where any amorous feeling will be shattered by illuminating stories of relationship failures and disasters. 

The trauma is further embellished by the display of associated artefacts. Once-treasured mementoes are now just creepy relics of pain and broken promises — a gross spectacle to be sure, but perhaps you’ll leave feeling mutually confident that yours is a love which will endure?

Editor's tip: find out why Zagreb is Croatia's capital of cool.

Love letter

© Pixabay

2. Getting serious sunburn, Australia

If there’s one way to set you apart from the locals, it’s getting sunburnt. As a nation of surfers and outdoorsy-types, beach life in Australia is par for the course. But be warned — twenty minutes in the powerful Oz sun is enough to scorch you senseless. 

Once burnt, you can wave goodbye to most activities. Spare your partner the task of gingerly applying aloe lotion to rupturing blisters before bedtime. It’s a total mood killer.

3. Celebrating Holi Festival, India

This colourful Hindu festival is celebrated every year in March in India to commemorate the victory of good over evil. You can expect high spirits and vibrant revelry as multi-coloured powdered paint is thrown about in joyful abandon. 

While the sight is thrilling, handfuls of paint smacked vigorously into the face will work its way into every orifice. 

Be on your guard as crowds enjoying the festivities might become overzealous, and losing your partner in the rabble is a real possibility.

Editor's tip: being a monument to love, and one of the most romantic places in India, the Taj Mahal is best avoided.

Celebrating Holi Festival

© Shutterstock

4. Boating on the Broads, Norfolk, England

Norfolk is an ideal destination for couples looking for a slice of English countryside, and navigating the waterways of the Broads by boat doesn’t get more quintessentially British. 

However, a narrowboat can sink in less than a minute and there are various ways of accomplishing that job with a rookie at the helm. Other snares include seasickness and cabin fever. 

It’s an intimate experience to say the least.


© BMA/Shutterstock

5. Motorbiking, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City is famous for street food, bargain shopping and chaotic traffic. Motorbikes swarm like angry hornets, vying for space and jostling to squeeze through gaps in the congestion. Biking in this urban jungle is stressful to say the least and at worst, deadly. 

As a result, keen motorcyclists should head for the highway between Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi instead, for memorable scenery and an open road without exhaust fumes clouding the horizon.

Editor's tip: fancy venturing to Vietnam? See our customisable Vietnam itineraries.

6. Digging into Sichuan food, China

Powerful combinations of garlic, chilli and Sichuan peppers make Sichuan cuisine quite possibly the boldest and most pungent of chows. 

Originating in the South Western province of Sichuan, and today available widely across China, its fiery flavour will knock your socks off. 

When dining out, we advise to taste tentatively, thus avoiding unappealing chilli sweats and the unmentionable after effects.

Into unusual food? Check out our gallery of weird food around the world.

Sichuan mapo tofu © bonchan/Shutterstock

Sichuan mapo tofu © bonchan/Shutterstock

7. A dip in Totumo's volcanic mud bath, Colombia

Forget all notions of enjoying a spa-like experience in Totumo, Colombia. It’s not necessarily the slithering around with strangers in a pit of liquid mud that is most unappealing. It’s probably exiting the ‘bath’ up an awkward ladder, caked in grey, crusty mud-slime. 

Vigorous (and thorough) scrub-downs are available from locals for a fee after your dip in the gloopy pool, but these obliterate any mineral benefits and leave your skin unattractively raw.

Editor's tip: into adventure? Explore our Adventures in Colombia trip.

Mud bath

© Shutterstock

8. Climbing Giotto’s Bell Tower, Florence, Italy

It is 414 steps to the zenith of this stunning Gothic bell tower. Once you reach the top, the views over Florence are undoubtedly rewarding, but first must come the legwork. 

Even the fittest of couples will be puffing by halfway. Will you see the funny side of your red faces, as you wheeze your way up each narrow flight of steps? For those who are unsure, this magnificent edifice is best admired from below.

Fancy Florence? Find out how to plan the perfect weekend in Florence.

Giotto’s Bell Tower

Giotto's bell tower, Florence © David Carillet/Shutterstock

9. Stay in a haunted hotel, England

With buildings dating back to 500AD and a long gruesome history, it's no surprise that England boasts some of the most notoriously haunted dwellings in the world. 

The upside of staying in a haunted house? Your lodgings are likely to be of architectural and historical importance (think romantic Tudor beams and cosy firesides). 

Downsides include a sleepless night feeling like you’re not the only people in the room…

Tudor House

England's not short of spooky old houses © Pixabay

10. Eating deep-fried delicacies in Cambodia

Discovering local cuisine can be one of the most exciting parts of your trip, and tasting new things together a bonding experience. But how far would you go? 

Cambodia is notorious for its deep-fried market treats and it is not uncommon to see piles of freshly cooked snakes, frogs and bugs for sale. Whole, crispy tarantula is another treat the Western palate might find less, erm, palatable.

Keen to uncover Cambodia? Take inspiration from our customisable Cultural Discovery trip. 

Fried insects

Fried insects for sale in Cambodia © Pixabay

11. Arriving at the airport

We know we will soon be feeling the hot sun on our skin, sipping a cappuccino in a local bar or breathing fresh mountain air, but negotiating airports is the ultimate bubble-buster. Queues at the check-in desk, over-the-limit luggage and flight delays… the list goes on. 

Return journeys are testing as you struggle to hold on to those happy memories whilst grappling luggage off a conveyer belt. The only remedy is the thought of planning your next trip together.

Airport terminal

© Pixabay

12. Visiting Rome in July

Walking around this museum-like metropolis during the searing heat of summer is almost unbearable. Despite this, it's the most popular time of year for tourists to visit. 

Long queues in inescapable heat will cause sweating from the most peculiar places, and the challenge of eating ice-cream in such temperatures is tenfold. 

We can’t imagine you’ll feel up to much more than slinking into the shade for an icy (overpriced) drink.

Not put off? Discover the best things to do in Rome — just not in July!

St Peters Basilica

Rome's July crowds can be a bit of a turn-off © Shutterstock

13. Acclimatising to altitude, La Paz, Bolivia

Situated at over 3500m above sea level, La Paz is the highest capital in the world. 

That said, the magnificence of this sprawling Bolivian city can be overshadowed by the struggle of adjusting to the altitude. Sickness is likely to commence on the ascent journey, only subsiding once your body has regulated the lack of oxygen. 

On the plus side, large colonial plazas are the perfect perch to take in the city’s frenetic energy. Just don’t count on being too energetic yourselves.

Love walks on the wilder side? Be careful  — you might just fall for our Natural and Cultural Wonders of Bolivia trip.

La Paz

La Paz, Bolivia © Shutterstock

14. Taking a camel safari, Jaisalmer, India

Trekking across desert dunes and sleeping under twinkling skies — could there be a more a dreamy escape? 

Unfortunately, not only might dung beetles take the shine off this enchanting fantasy, there are few things less sexy than a chapped backside from the lolloping gait of your camel. 

Come nightfall, sharing a simple sandy hole for toilet requirements and bundling into separate sleeping bags is barely conducive to passion.

Camel safari

© Shutterstock

15. Visiting Jagalchi Fish Market, Busan, South Korea

Markets are a fun way to discover how locals source their food and Jagalchi, the largest fish market in South Korea, is the ultimate destination for seafood lovers. 

The sea creatures are mostly live, available to buy and sometimes consume on the premises. You’ll see plenty of dissection, fish gutting and boiling up of live crustaceans. 

Avoid this excursion if even a tiny bit squeamish — overpowering odours pervade the air and you are likely to witness people scoffing squirming fish.

Fish market Busan

© Shutterstock

16. Kayaking on Vancouver Island, Canada

For the adventurous couple, such an activity may seem like the perfect way to inject a heady dose of endorphins into your trip. But there's a good reason kayaking very rarely tops "most romantic holiday" lists.

For example, while the icy waters of Vancouver Island might be ideal for whale spotting, even energetic paddling won’t stave off the chill. 

Once this spreads to your vital organs, any chance of an impromptu steamy session afterwards is surely off the cards. 

17. Shopping in the souks, Morocco

We all know that shopping with a loved one can be challenging. But have you ever tried tackling the souks of Marrakesh together? 

Granted, you are likely to find plenty of trinkets and affordable mementoes. But the labyrinthine network of streets and shops selling often-identical merchandise can befuddle even the most expert shopper. 

High temperatures, persistent merchants and feeling like you could have got a better deal elsewhere all contribute to rising tempers.

Still keen to get your souk on? Read some recommended Morocco itineraries.

Souk Marrakesh

Marrakesh © Shutterstock

18. Doing karaoke in Japan

Japanese karaoke bars offer a superior experience to those of the Western world. For intimate parties of two, it is possible to be spared the public humiliation of performing to a room of strangers thanks to the private booths on offer. 

Sober karaoke is generally intolerable, so helpfully (or perhaps to your detriment) many bars provide an all-you-can-drink service, meaning any preconceived inhibitions won't linger long. 

Couple this with the bonus of privacy, and unbridled crooning is inevitable.

Editor's tip: to avoid karaoke-provoked passion, book our Self-guided Adventure Tour of Japan.

Singing karaoke © liza54500/Shutterstock

Singing karaoke © Shutterstock

Keen to enjoy your own adventure? Browse our customisable itineraries to kickstart your trip of a lifetime.

Or, if reading this has had the adverse effect and got you in the mood for love, read our run-down of the most romantic places in the world.

Phoebe Lowndes

written by
Phoebe Lowndes

updated 24.01.2024

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