One of the best parts of being in a relationship is having a built-in travel buddy, and one of the best parts of travelling with that built-in buddy is getting unobstructed one-on-one time while exploring different parts of the world. Whether domestic or international couple vacation, a trip with your significant other almost always guarantees sharing exciting experiences and learning something new about each other, like that your girlfriend gets a rush from cliff diving or your boyfriend can make friends with anyone despite only being able to say one phrase in the local language. By
It’s easy to uncover sides of your partner, and maybe even yourself, you haven’t seen before when you’re having many first-time experiences together. Plus, travel allows couples to access a different kind of closeness than that of regular daily life.
When deciding where to venture with your significant other, you’ll want to consider which components of a romantic getaway matter most to you, from interesting sites and adventurous activities to intimate settings and stunning views. Couples looking for a chance to fully unwind together might choose a beach vacation or spa weekend in a beautiful destination, while those searching for that once-in-a-lifetime experience may want to finally book that African safari or a trip to seek out the northern lights. Foodie couples will want to eat their way through Paris’s fine restaurants or sip through scenic Portugal, while active travellers might prefer a ski trip or snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef.
Whatever your travel style, here are 25 of the best couple vacations.
Bali, aka the “Island of the Gods,” is a versatile haven with something to offer every type of couple. If your version of romance is hiking through lush greenery, monkey forests, and rolling rice paddies, you’re in luck. If you think romance is dancing to DJ sets and light shows until the wee hours of the morning, Bali is also known for its nightlife scene. And if you’re all about beaches, the island’s bevvy of beaches range from white-sanded shores on the south coast to the more unexpected black sand you’ll see on the northern and western coasts.
In addition to the historic temples and shrines Bali is known for, the island is also home to high-end resorts, yoga classes, spas, and Australian-influenced cafes.
Santorini is a cloud-like oasis that envelops travellers in an ethereal fantasy, so it’s no surprise it’s a popular choice among newlyweds looking for a picture-perfect honeymoon destination. The romance of the island pretty much sells itself; wandering the hilly, weathered streets, you’re surrounded by bright white walls and blue roofs, and in the evenings you have front-row seats to incredible sunsets. Once the sun is down, the city lights up and the houses, churches, and restaurants glow like stars.
Safari in Tanzania
Aside from travelling to Tanzania to hike the intimidating Mount Kilimanjaro, many visit the country because of the incredible wildlife conservation sites and national parks. Going on safari allows you and your significant other to share some firsts: the first time you see a lion, the first time you drive across the African plains dotted with baobab trees, the first time you meet someone from a local tribe. You’ll definitely want to visit Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest inactive and intact volcanic caldera. The bowl-like shape makes a natural border for the animals, boosting the chances safari-goers will be able to spot all of the Big Five — lion, cheetah, rhino, elephant, and buffalo — during a tour. Serengeti National Park is another popular safari destination because of the area’s mass seasonal migrations of wildebeest and zebra, large lion population, and diversity of habitats and animals.
Two core pillars of many romantic couple vacations are intimate settings and exciting experiences, and Tulum has a lot of both. You can rotate between lounging out on tropical beaches, snorkelling at the nearby “aquatic theme park,” Xel-Ha Park, swimming in a natural sinkhole (or cenote), and touring the Mayan ruins, which make up one of the most intact sites of their kind. After a day packed with leisure, adventure, or both, the cherry on top will be a drink at a bar that feels more like a jungle.
A great way to bond as a couple is by getting active, and skiing on Whistler and Blackcomb mountains is great for both veteran and beginner skiers alike. You can take on the mountains, with numerous trails of varying intensity, enjoy an overhead view of the snow-capped trees from sprawling gondolas, break for lunch at the mid-mountain lodge, and top off the day with an après ski at one of the slope-side bars. If one day of skiing leaves you with wobbly legs and your fill of downhill action, there’s a lot more action at the base of the peaks. Whistler Village is a lively, pedestrian-only hub of bars, shops, and restaurants. The little winter wonderland is as charming as the inside of a snow globe, and what’s better for a romantic getaway than that?
For a fairy-tale couple vacation, there’s nothing more fitting than a landscape dotted with literal “fairy chimneys.” In addition to fairy chimneys, which are tall, thin rock cones dotting the rock sites of Cappadocia, cave churches, underground cities, and homes carved into rocks create a whimsical aura usually reserved for the fictional realm. Floating high above the rocky terrain in a brightly-designed hot air balloon, you’ll feel like characters wandering the pages of a Dr Seuss book or like astronauts discovering a civilisation on the moon — either way, the other-worldly experience will have you recapturing childlike wonder and awe together.
Most clichés became clichés for a reason, and so is the case with Paris’ romantic reputation. Looking at pictures of couples in the City of Light, you can practically see the cartoon hearts in their eyes as they embrace in front of the Eiffel Tower. Paris and romance go together like Valentine’s Day and chocolate, anniversary dinners and candlelit bistros, marriage proposals and world-famous landmarks… all of which Paris is not-so-coincidentally known for having.
While not as romanticised for cherry-blossomed strolls as its nearby neighbour, Kyoto, Hakone is a day trip away from Tokyo that offers an intimate escape from city travel in the most relaxing way possible: hot springs resorts. Aside from relaxing in onsen (hot springs) at a traditional ryokan (Japanese inn), you can take advantage of the natural sites, like Lake Ashi and the volcano Mount Fuji, or tour the fire engine red Hakone Shrine and the open-air sculpture museum. The many transportation options also seem more like mini adventures than a straightforward means of travel, from boats and cable cars to rolling train routes through the mountains.
Northern Lights Seeking in Northern Norway
If you’ve ever considered stargazing a romantic experience, northern Norway really ups the ante with its unbelievable events in the sky. The region, which covers about one-third of Norway, is considered a top destination to see the northern lights from autumn to mid-April, while from May to July, the sun is still visible late at night in a phenomenon called the “midnight sun.” Venture even farther north — if you dare — to Svalbard, the northernmost inhabited region of Europe, to experience 24-hour daylight between April and August. On the opposite end of the light spectrum, Svalbard’s January and February months have “polar nights,” when the night lasts for around 24 hours, making the aurora borealis particularly visible.
If you do decide to take this trip together, beware: Looking up at the stars in your backyard won’t be quite so romantic anymore.
Porto is a waterfront merchant city that transports you to an earlier time with its cobblestoned streets, baroque churches, and prevalence of family-owned businesses and port factories, the region’s most famous export. In the nearby Duoro Valley, you can visit the vineyards where the wine has been produced for 2,000 years, sample the wine, and participate in some harvesting practices like stomping on the grapes. In a city infused with the culture of wine making and drinking, you and your significant other can get tipsy on the energy alone.
Amalfi Coast, Italy
Known for its natural and architectural beauty, the Amalfi Coast is a prime choice for a romantic Mediterranean getaway. Travellers bask in the natural scenery, hike through small villages with picturesque sea views, and visit famous sites like the “Emerald Grotto” (Grotta dello Smeraldo), medieval churches, gardens, and museums. When you need some quiet time for just the two of you, there are a number of secluded hotels that offer oceanfront views and luxurious amenities.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
In Argentina’s bustling capital, you and your significant other will never run out of activities to try with lots of live entertainment and a multitude of restaurants and bars. For a day-to-night date, La Boca is a vibrant neighbourhood known for Tango dancing and a pedestrian walkway lined with crafts and houses and shops painted in bright primary colours.
Whitsunday Islands, Australia
At the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, these 74 islands off the coast of Queensland, Australia, will have you sailing into uncharted relationship territory with unbelievable sites to discover together. Whitehaven Beach is one of the most famous white-sanded beaches on the islands and despite being a tourist hotspot, it stretches for over four miles (6.4 kilometres), making it easy to find your own space. In addition to having blissful beach days, you can have some truly unforgettable and romantic excursions while visiting these islands, like flying over the Heart Reef in a helicopter, staying aboard a boat for a few days, and snorkelling at the Great Barrier Reef.
South Caicos, Turks and Caicos
While Turks and Caicos is certainly not a new destination for romantic vacations, most tourists flock to Providenciales, the first stopping point for travellers on the tropical archipelago. Far less popular (and far more secluded) are the pristine beaches of South Caicos, just a short, scenic connecting flight away. If you’re looking for something truly special — perhaps for celebrating an anniversary or another special occasion — Sailrock Resort is a luxury property nestled within natural brush along white-sand shores that lead into crystal-clear water. You’ll experience the type of picturesque serenity you thought was only accessible to movie stars — yet there the two of you will be, sipping colourful cocktails together on a hammock at the beach’s edge, with nothing but the open, beautiful horizon spanning ahead of you.
The west coast of Barbados is home to several high-end resorts with various offerings to make your Caribbean escape extra memorable. Of course, you can arrange some classic island excursions, such as snorkelling, private boat trips with companies like Seaduced, and visits to local attractions like the spectacular Hunte’s Gardens and Rihanna’s childhood home. For a dose of the local cuisine and culture, enjoy an upbeat Friday night at Oistins fish fry or sample some of the island’s best rums at Mount Gay rum distillery. You could also kick back and make relaxation your number-one priority by simply enjoying the beautiful beaches and temperate water. No matter how active you decide to be, Barbados makes for one of the best vacation spots for couples. Some hotels offer unique experiences for couples wanting to up the romance even more. For a dinner you won’t soon forget, head to The Cliff, which overlooks the water in a sultry, fire-adorned setting.
Dalmatian Coast, Croatia
For the ultimate romantic vacation, charter a boat and sail along the Dalmatian Coast in Croatia. If you start your journey in Dubrovnik and end up in Split, you’ll get a comprehensive look at the country, from nautical exploration to sightseeing in both small seaport towns and big cities. With a stopover in a new place every night, the transit is part of the fun, rather than merely a means to get from point A to point B. Travellers mainly book Turkish gulets (or small yachts) with separate quarters for the crew, and companies like Adriatic Holiday offer packages with a captain, chef, and one to two crew members who help curate not just your route, but everything else you do while on water or shore. The busy season is from June through early September, but trips set out into October — a great option if you want a bit more quiet and privacy on the Adriatic Sea.
Step into a romantic period piece on a vacation in the picturesque English countryside. The rolling hills and fields are dotted with the most quaint towns you’ll ever find — popular stops include Stow-on-the-Wold, Bourton-on-the-Water, and Castle Combe. Grab a pint in a storied pub or tea in a cute cafe after spending the day exploring town after adorable town.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
What could be more romantic than snuggling up by the fire after a day out in the snow? At Jackson Hole, you can enjoy winter sports in a stunning setting just a short distance from Grand Teton National Park. Plus, you can book a stay at a luxurious property like Amangani or Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole for a truly romantic trip.
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston is a favourite city among Travel + Leisure readers, and once you visit, it’s easy to see why. Dine at delicious restaurants, take a sunset cruise in the harbour (where you may even spot a dolphin or two), and visit one of the nearby beaches. For romantic accommodations, we recommend staying outside the city on Kiawah Island — a little under an hour away — where you’ll find The Sanctuary, a beachfront luxury hotel.
Arizona Spa Retreat
Looking for a mindful way to connect with your partner? Consider booking a trip to a wellness resort with a spa and classes to deepen your relationship. Miraval Arizona is located in Tucson and offers an all-inclusive experience with fitness classes, wellness lectures, spa treatments, and more. Civana Wellness Resort & Spa near Scottsdale offers a serene escape amid the Sonoran Desert. And Sedona, with its red rocks and mysterious vortexes, is another popular destination among wellness travellers.
Find paradise together on a trip to Kauai. The island combines the best of worlds with lush jungle and beautiful beaches, so you can spend days lounging on the shores and exploring its natural wonders by foot, boat, or helicopter. Resorts on the island include Timbers Kaua’i and Koʻa Kea Hotel & Resort at Poipu Beach.
Napa Valley, California
A romantic jaunt to California’s wine country might be the perfect getaway for couples looking for delicious vino, beautiful views, and world-class dining. Spend days touring vineyards and tasting different varietals while gazing out on the rolling, vine-covered hills. You can also opt for a ride on the Napa Valley Wine Train for more scenic views. Retire to one of the many beautiful luxury resorts in the area, like Auberge du Soleil, Four Seasons Resort and Residences Napa Valley, and Solage, Auberge Resorts Collection.
Sea Island, Georgia
This Georgia barrier island offers secluded, five-star luxury across several styles of accommodations, including The Cloister, located in the heart of the resort, and private cottages. In addition to the beach, guests can golf, lounge by the pools, get a spa treatment, and enjoy activities like tennis, horseback riding, and more.
New York, New York
For some couples, taking on a big city is just as romantic as spending a week by the beach. And when it comes to city destinations in the United States, it’s hard to beat New York City. Every night is date night on vacation, so go to dinner and a Broadway show, enjoy extended evening hours at some of the world’s best museums, visit acclaimed restaurants and cocktail bars, and stroll through Central Park to soak in the sights and sounds of the Big Apple.
Palm Springs, California
Escape to the desert with a trip to Palm Springs, surrounded by picturesque mountains and lined with palm trees. Plan your visit in the spring, fall, or winter to avoid the intense summer heat, and admire the mid-century modern architecture and hit the links or the spa. The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage is a luxe pick for a pool with a view, and the Parker Palm Springs is a trendy choice.
This story first appeared on www.travelandleisure.com