Top 5 romantic places to learn a language

Love is certainly in the air around Valentine’s Day, but there are some places in the world that ooze charm every day of the year. With this in mind, here are our top 5 destinations for sharing a little romance whilst learning some of the local lingo.

1. Cologne, Germany


If you want a romantic European city break but something a little different from much-lauded Paris, then the German city of Cologne may just hit the spot. This is a place that inspires couples to fix padlocks to the railings of a bridge and, to ensure everlasting love, throw the key into the river below – and not just on Valentine’s Day. As the river Rhine collects keys of all sizes, so its visitors fall in love with the city too. Oozing with history, magnificent architecture, a stunning Cathedral, cobbled streets, boutique shops and traditional bierkellers, this is an unforgettable and charming place that is likely to steal your heart.

German courses in Cologne

2. Cartagena, Colombia


Some say that Cartagena is the most romantic city in South America, and it’s easy to see why. Sitting on Colombia’s northern Caribbean coast, you can’t help but fall in love as you walk through the Old Town’s narrow cobbled streets, tropical flowers spilling down from balconies above, the infectious beat of salsa on every street corner and warm days drawing to a close as the sun dips below the horizon each night. The natural warmth and affection of the locals, coupled with an inherent love for life, is nothing short of infectious.

Spanish courses in Cartagena

3. St Petersburg, Russia


A city steeped in history, legend and intrigue, St Petersburg is an unexpected yet wonderful choice if you want to whisk away your loved one. It has no shortage of romantic spots, such as the spectacular Heritage, the fairytale-like Winter Palace and the elaborately decorated Mariinsky Theatre, home to the city’s best ballet and opera and a wonderful opportunity to dress in your finery. Special moments should be saved for a cruise along the Nevsky Prospect, which is equal if not better than a boat ride on the Seine in Paris. And when it comes to eating out, St Petersburg is a treasure trove of exquisite places to dine.

Russian courses in St Petersburg

4. Québec City, Canada


Québec City is one of the oldest cities in North America and as such is full of history, character and charm. It is a perfect romantic winter getaway, celebrating its Winter Carnival just before Valentine’s Day – a perfect excuse to wrap up warm, play in the snow and dive into a friendly bistro for a chocolat chaud. Amongst the city’s many magical spots are the Quartier Petit Champlain, an enchanting European-style neighbourhood of boutiques and cobbled streets, the magnificent Château Frontenac and the UNESCO World Heritage treasure of Old Québec. This is a place that makes you feel warm on the inside even when it’s snowing outside.

French courses in Québec City

5. Florence, Italy

florence duomo

It would be impossible to talk of romance without including Italy. Although the whole country is synonymous with amour, Florence is a wonderful place to base yourself. In the heart of Tuscany, surrounded by rolling hills dotted with cypress trees and vineyards, its historic centre is a magnificent concentration of some of the world’s finest art and architecture. Head for one of the city’s magnificent squares, such as Piazza della Signoria and Piazza della Repubblica, which make perfect spots to sit down to a real Italian gelato and watch the world go by. Wander hand in hand through the city’s cobbled streets beneath magnificent Gothic and Renaissance architecture and indulge in delicious Tuscan food by night; for a romantic couple’s escape, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Italian courses in Florence

Cactus offers language courses in locations across the world, for all ages and levels.

Fun in the snow…Québec Winter Carnival!

To experience a true winter wonderland there is no better place than Québec in February…perfect for the young and the young at heart!

It may be cold in Canada, but they sure know how to use the weather to their advantage. For two weeks each year, the snow and ice so familiar of a Canadian winter transform Québec City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, into a magical winter wonderland, as visitors and locals wrap up to celebrate the Québec Winter Carnival.


Celebrated in 2015 between January 30th and February 15th, the Québec City Winter Festival is the largest winter carnival in the world. Anyone who missed out on a white Christmas or who just can’t get enough of the white stuff will not be disappointed, for you can’t help but get swept up, rosy-cheeked, in the joie de vivre of this huge outdoor party.

Perhaps the most important feature of the festival is the shimmering Bonhomme Ice Palace, built from some 5,000 blocks of ice, and home to a maze of towers and exhibits as well as a magnificent son et lumiere (light and sound) show. Bonhomme himself is the ubiquitous carnival mascot, a large smiling snowman with a red stocking cap who will welcome you in both French and English (as is common practice in Québec) and pop up cheerily at various points throughout your stay.

Also unmissable during this 2-week period are the colourful night parades, when some half a million spectators brave the sub-zero temperatures to line the streets and watch marching bands, floats and clowns pass by. Pile on the layers and huddle within the crowds and it will be an unforgettable few hours.

If however you’d rather be snuggled up in your ice hotel and wrapped in a bearskin by night – which is entirely possible, given that they build a new Ice Hotel each year for the very purpose – there are plenty of activities to enjoy by day. You may not rush to join in the snow bath, which is exactly as it sounds except you wear nothing more than a swimsuit, but you should certainly catch the legendary canoe race on the St Lawrence River. Not to be thwarted if the water is frozen, teams may resort to pulling their wooden canoes across the ice rather than through the water, and the race will inevitably be completed to much merriment and cheering.

It goes without saying than anyone with kids cannot go wrong by bringing them to Québec during the festival. There are countless activities to keep the little ones entertained, including a huge Children’s Village at The Plains of Abraham, former site of the battle in which the British fought the French and conquered Canada. With intricate snow sculptures lining the entrance, this wonderful playground for families offers dogsled and sleigh rides, snow slides and tunnels, snowmobiling, aerial trampolining, an obstacle course, an ice climbing wall, and more.

Other activities going on throughout the festival, for adults and children alike, include snow rafting, the opportunity to spend the night in a tepee or to learn ice fishing, and sampling of traditional Canadian food (the chocolate crepes always go down well).

The list of entertainment goes on, but needless to say this is one way to enjoy all that winter has to offer and see this usually dark and cold time of year in a completely different light. Take the kids or just go and play in the snow yourself – just remember to pack the woollies and you may find that you don’t really notice the cold too much after all.

Cactus offers French courses in Quebec City and also in Montreal.