8 Romantic Long Weekends On A Budget

We all love a loved-up long weekend.

However, three-or-so days of romantic wining and dining can come at a price. If you both have champagne tastes but are travelling on an anything-but budget, here are some long weekend ideas that deliver plenty of fizz without the financial fizzle. Book your stay with Choice Hotels.

1. Launceston, Tasmania

Do a Tamar Valley Wine Tour from Launceston. Image Courtesy of Tourism Tasmania (Kelly Slater).
Do a Tamar Valley Wine Tour from Launceston. Image Courtesy of Tourism Tasmania (Kelly Slater).

Lonnie is generally a very cost-effective travel destination, and with the glorious Tamar Valley wine region on your doorstep in spring and summer, and plenty of open fires to curl up in front of in autumn and winter, there’s no shortage of opportunities for romance along the way. Start with a stroll hand in hand through one of the city’s gorgeous parks and gardens (Prince’s Square is particularly romantic), then do dinner at Geronimo Aperitivo Bar and Restaurant on Charles Street. It offers reasonably priced tastes of Europe. Day two is all about getting amongst the vines in the Tamar Valley. Consider booking a wine tour with transport, lunch and tastings included in the cost. Head for Cataract Gorge on day three and take your love to new heights for $13 each (at the time of writing) on the chairlift that flies high above the gorge floor.

Need a place to stay?
Quality Hotel Colonial Launceston is truly unique. Built in 1847, this heritage property combines old world charm with modern conveniences.

2. Wagga Wagga, New South Wales

If Wagga doesn’t spring to mind as a potential spot for romance, think again! This bustling rural city in the Riverina region of southern New South Wales has a beautiful setting by the Murrumbidgee River (perfect for lazy walks by the water) and a burgeoning gourmet food scene. Spend day one soaking up some culture at the fabulous Wagga Wagga Art Gallery (free entry), then do a set-price three-course dinner at the atmospheric Magpies Nest. Plan a picnic for day two at sandy Wagga Beach and splash out on some 21st century couple’s pampering in a 1920s-era setting at Circa 1929 spa. Finally, head for Bidgee Strawberries and Cream on day three and hand-pick a punnet of sweet organic berries for two.

Need a place to stay?
Comfort Inn Heritage Wagga is situated just 800 metres from the CBD precinct, with its cafes, restaurants and shopping options. Quality Hotel Rules Club Wagga offers access to a suite of on-site amenities, including a popular bistro, sports bar and bowling club. Sitting adjacent to the tranquil Murrumbidgee, Quality Inn Carriage House offers complimentary parking and Wi-Fi.

Learn More About Wagga Wagga

3. Bathurst, New South Wales

Visit Mayfield Garden from Bathurst. Image courtesy of Destination NSW.
Visit Mayfield Garden from Bathurst. Image courtesy of Destination NSW.

Nothing says I love you like flowers, and Bathurst in the Central West of New South Wales makes a great base for exploring the stunning Mayfield Garden. You could easily spend an entire day taking in everything this 40 hectare site has to offer, so save that for day two. Start your visit by cruising up the famous Mount Panorama circuit to enjoy the gorgeous views. Cobblestone Lane serves up European-inspired fare, and their late supper menu on Fridays and Saturdays is a cost effective alternative to a full meal (save room for a shared sticky date pudding with butterscotch sauce and Baileys ice cream!). Wrap up your long weekend with a country drive through some of the atmospheric towns dotted around Bathurst, including Hill End, Wattle Flat, and the delightful-sounding Sunny Corner.

Need a place to stay?
Quality Hotel Bathurst has 50 stylish rooms and an inhouse restaurant that serves modern Australian cuisine. Free Wi-Fi is available to all guests.

4. Sunshine Coast, Queensland

You can spend as much or as little as you like on a romantic getaway on South East Queensland’s fabulous Sunshine Coast. Start with an afternoon at one of the region’s fabulous beaches for nix. Less crowded options like the Point Arkwright end of Yaroomba Beach, Mudjimba Beach, and Alexandria Bay in Noosa National Park won’t see your style cramped. Dinner can be done for around $30pp at popular Rice Boi at the Mooloolaba Wharf or Junk Maroochydore on Ocean Street. Both offer sizzling Asian-style bites. Push the boat out on day two on a seafood lunch and canal cruise from Mooloolaba Wharf. At $49pp with a meal of fresh fish and chips included, this has to be one of the best value things to do on the coast. A morning wander through the hinterland towns of Montville and Maleny is a lovely way to wind up your weekend escape.

Need a place to stay?
Enjoy a dash of understated luxury at Breeze Mooloolaba, Ascend Hotel Collection. It’s a short walk from the Mooloolaba Wharf.

5. Townsville, Queensland

Townsville. Image courtesy of Tourism & Events QLD.
Townsville. Image courtesy of Tourism & Events QLD.

While romance-ridden tropical paradises like Fiji, Hawaii and Tahiti are off-limits at present, there’s a bit of them all on offer in our very own Townsville – and it comes without the high cost of overseas travel. Strolling hand-in-hand along the palm-fringed Strand and gazing out towards shimmering Magnetic Island, you could easily be in any or all of the above. Laze away your first afternoon along this gardened oceanfront strip, then enjoy cocktails with a relaxed coastal vibe at Longboard Bar and Grill. Make day two all about ‘Maggie’, which offers no end of secluded beaches to enjoy. You may not make it out to the Great Barrier Reef on this short trip, but it comes to you on day three at Reef HQ — the largest coral reef aquarium in the world.

Need a place to stay?
The stylish and sophisticated Clarion Hotel Townsville is located in the heart of the CBD – just a short walk from cafes and restaurants.

6. Hahndorf, South Australia

With its German heritage, there are few Aussie towns as atmospheric as gorgeous Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills. Food, wine and culture-loving couples in particular will adore this destination. One of the great joys of visiting Hahndorf is simply strolling along the historic main street, so spend your first afternoon doing exactly that on a self-guided (and free!) walking tour. On day two, head out and explore the myriad wineries and providores of the Adelaide Hills on a Hop On Hop Off Tour with Trailhopper. Due to the pandemic, you’ll have to prebook your wine tastings, but the driving and commentary are all taken care of. Day three is all about getting more of a taste for the region’s bounty. Drop by Beerenberg, Chocolate @ No. 5 and Udder Delights, just to name a couple, and sample their delicious wares.

Need a place to stay?
The Manna by Haus, Ascend Hotel Collection in Hahndorf offers stylish, modern accommodation, including spa suites. Alternatively, opt for deluxe self-contained apartment-style accommodation (including kitchen and dining facilities) at the The Studios by Haus. Comfortable, well-appointed hotel rooms are a feature of The Lodge by Haus, which also has an award-winning onsite restaurant.

7. Geelong, Victoria

Explore the Geelong Waterfront. Image courtesy of Visit Victoria.
Explore the Geelong Waterfront. Image courtesy of Visit Victoria.

Geelong is only an hour by car from the Victorian capital, and in addition to its sublime waterfront precinct, offers easy access to the beaches and bucolic hills of the Bellarine Peninsula. Start your visit with a relaxed stroll along the waterfront and snap some selfies with various characters on the famous Bollard Trail. You may even want to take a romantic ride on the old-time carousel! Circle back to Cunningham Pier and seek out Wah Bah (part of Wah Wah Gee restaurant on the pier), which serves bao buns with change from a twenty. Hit the Bellarine Taste Trail on day two and visit your choice from 50 food and wine experiences. You’ll generally pay a few dollars for guided tastings as you go, but it’s great value and lots of fun. Choose a lunch venue to suit your budget. Spend day three chilling out in the Victorian-era Geelong Botanic Gardens, which is packed with heritage highlights.

Need a place to stay?
Quality Hotel Bayside Geelong is located right on the Esplanade and offers amazing water views. Guests can walk to all the waterfront’s attractions with ease, or take advantage of the complimentary bike hire.

Sorrento Beach, Western Australia

Rottnest Island. Image courtesy of Tourism Western Australia.
Rottnest Island. Image courtesy of Tourism Western Australia.

Sorrento Beach is the perfect Perth staycation destination for romantics. Situated just 30 minutes’ drive from the CBD, a stay at Sorrento puts the stunning white sandy beachfront on your doorstep, the facilities and dining options at Hillarys Boat Harbour within easy reach, and golden sunsets on the horizon for your enjoyment every evening. Spend day one exploring the coast by bike, before taking your pick from the menu of dinner options on offer in the Hillarys precinct. Day two is an opportunity to visit stunning Rottnest Island with Rottnest Fast Ferries, which depart from Hillarys. Laze away the day in the warm crystal-clear waters off Rottnest (snorkel and flipper hire will set you back just $15pp), and snap that all-important quokka selfie. Back on the mainland on day three, experience more of the beauty of the world beneath the waves at The Aquarium of Western Australia.

Need a place to stay?
Quality Resort Sorrento Beach is perfectly located for enjoying this paradisiacal piece of the WA coastline. The hotel is just a short walk to the beach and has rooms with stunning ocean views.

Plan your romantic long weekend with Choice Hotels
Choice Hotels has you well and truly covered in Australia with a superb range of accommodation options to suit every budget. Search online and book direct for a Lowest Price Guarantee.

About the writer

Adam Ford is editor of The Big Bus tour and travel guide and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger and photographer. He has previously had the opportunity to travel the world as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten.

Cover image: Prince’s Square, Launceston. Image courtesy of Tourism Tasmania & Chris Crerar.

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