It's that time of year when lovers everywhere are looking to set up their perfect romantic getaway. Make it a grand gesture this Valentine's Day and sweep your partner away to the lakelands of Fermanagh. With stunning landscapes, fairytale castles and elegant options for wining and dining, romance-filled destinations don't come any better.
There are lots of top-notch hotels, stately manors and waterside lodges ideal for any couple in the Lakeland county, but for a really romantic and unusual stay, set your hearts on the luxury bubble domes at the five-star Finn Lough Resort. These forest hideaways, situated at the top of Lower Lough Erne, feature 180-degree transparent walls that let you spend a cosy night together, safe and warm under the light of the stars. With bespoke four-poster beds, comfy armchairs, Nespresso coffee machines and telescopes for admiring the constellations, these are perfect for a weekend stay, especially since Valentine's Day falls on a Friday this year.
After breakfast and a wonderful night of star-gazing, take a half-hour morning drive to Lough Navar Forest, where you can treat your lover to a picnic in the middle of some of Fermanagh's most beautiful scenery. This vast patchwork of forestry, heathland, bog and loughs makes up one of the most stunning areas of the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark. Try the two-kilometre Magho Cliffs Walk, one of several routes in the forest with dedicated picnic areas. There are remarkable panoramic views here over Lower Lough Erne, the Bluestack Mountains, Mullaghmore and Slieve League.
Spend the afternoon at the nearby Boatyard Distillery on a gin tour and tasting experience on the banks of Lough Erne. Meet the entertaining team behind the award winning farm-to-bottle distillery. Discover its origins and history, the secrets behind its copper stills, and even label your own bottle to take home.
Finish the day off with a romantic meal on Lusty Beg Island, only five miles from Finn Lough. Take the short free of charge ferry ride out to dine at the Island Restaurant, which serves up the very best of local produce. Sip a cocktail or some Champagne before savouring the wonderful experience of dinner for two on a Lough Erne island.
Next morning, it will be worth heading out for a mini tour of the mysteries, histories and stories of Fermanagh's well-known National Trust properties. Crom Estate is situated at the southern half of Fermanagh and is perfect for long romantic lakeside walks. And with rowing boats and canoes available for hire, you could take to the water to sightsee the islands and tranquil landscapes at a slow pace. Florence Court is one of Northern Ireland's most beautiful Georgian houses. In February there are scenic and restful gardens, a picnic area and extensive walks across the estate. Look out for the famous Florence Court yew tree while exploring the grounds.
Or combine a visit to 18th century Castle Coole with a trip into Enniskillen, which is just a five-minute car ride away from the mansion. There is much to explore in the landscaped grounds here, including the pump house, ice house and Belmore omnibus.
Afterwards take a stroll around the town, go for some retail therapy and make sure to take your partner in for a drink or something to eat at the renowned Blakes of the Hollow. With every nook and cranny brimming with history and character, this old Victorian pub is one of the most famous and well recognised in Ireland.
Book a private boat tour for your Valentine from Enniskillen and see the most famous Lower Lough Erne island. The peaceful Devenish Island features a 30-metre tall monastic round tower, high crosses and the ruins of a centuries-old Augustinian abbey (right). If you prefer to go under your own steam, you can also rent a kayak or canoe, or opt for a powered boat, which can be rented for a few hours from Erne Boat Hire.
Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark
Fermanagh's Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark is home to some of the finest landscapes in Ireland. Taking one of the driving routes of the area is great way to appreciate the huge amount of natural and cultural heritage on offer. The five-hour Lower Lough Erne route around the entire lough is exceptionally beautiful, taking in the likes of Belleek, Boa Island, Tully Castle, Drummoney Falls, breathtaking viewpoints and some of finest hidden gems of the geopark.
Enniskillen Castle Museum
Enniskillen Castle guards its home town from a prominent position on the banks of the River Erne. This inspiring fortification features two excellent museums, the Inniskillings Museum and the Fermanagh County Museum, which displays the history, culture and environment of the area. A souvenir shop, café, discovery space and the Fermanagh Genealogy Centre on site will provide hours of pleasure.