You’ve made it official–and now it’s time to unwind.
Wedding planning, while exciting, can be a major source of stress and your honeymoon is likely going to be your first real chance to enjoy some quality time with your spouse. The trip should be relaxing while also suiting your wants, needs, and style as a couple. With that said, incorporating all of your favorite things into one trip can overwhelm, or take away from your time spent simply enjoying one another’s company. When curating your honeymoon, consider your bucket list (a honeymoon is an ultimate excuse to invest in a trip you’d otherwise never splurge on), your getaway goals, and the best times to visit your dream destinations.
Keep in mind that while off-season travel can save you money, it can also be unpredictable. Decide whether you’re the type of couple who can handle making the most out of your plans being derailed; the last thing you’d ever want is to spend the majority of your trip in inclement weather, or discover that most of a must-visit location’s are only open in high season.
Here are the ultimate honeymoon destinations to have on your shortlist:
While many would not be able to correctly imagine Croatia in their head, much less a specific Croatian city like Dubrovnik, there’s a useful pop-culture reference to the dreamy Mediterranean city – it was the set for King’s Landing in all 8 seasons of Game of Thrones.
Croatia is rife with sights and experiences still undiscovered by most travelers: Expect gorgeous Roman ruins, like the fourth century Diocletian Palace built as a retirement home for the emperor himself (the same local limestone was used to build the White House), natural spectacles like the seven towering waterfalls of the Krka National Park, and virtually-unchanged medieval villages.
Spend the day sailing between Croatia’s beautiful islands, including Pakleni Islands where you can dock for a swim and lay out where you like. Dock in Hvar for a stroll along its cobbled streets and soak up its laid-back island vibes. Korcula is a must, and there is nowhere better to stay than the luxurious Lesic Dimitri Palace. Here you will find the supposed origin of the Silk Road, and you can explore San Marko Cathedral and the Museum of Icons which are well worth the trip. Vineyards, olive groves, and quaint villages dot the beautiful drive to Lumbarda, where you can lay out on the island’s most beautiful beach or hit the local winery for some libations.
While there’s much to explore by the light of the sun, Dubrovnik after dark is mesmerizing. The old city lights up (literally) and comes alive with an abundance of fantastic nightlife options.
2: Comporta, Portugal
Chic and discreet, Comporta is the back-to-nature, beach-shack type of exclusive: a pristine idyll that’s drawn everyone from Louboutin to Sarkozy. It is only an hour’s drive from Lisbon, on Portugal’s blustery west coast, and the strict preservation laws and stewardship by an elite banking group has been the key to keeping it spotless and secluded. Singular scenery ranges across bright-green rice fields, scented cork forests and 12 km of thrillingly elemental beaches, all icing-sugar sand and thundering surf. Endlessly compared to pre-fame Ibiza or St Tropez, it’s in fact far less glitzy – and better for it. Kick off your flip-flops for sunset dining at a handful of restaurants on sun-bleached boardwalks, icy jugs of white sangria aside fresh, garlic-steeped clams and coriander-spiked local arroz.
The happiest people on the earth live, unsurprisingly, in the country where the primary metric of economic and social growth is net-happiness. Tourism in Bhutan is easy; you just pay the government tourist agency a flat fee for each day you plan on staying, which covers most necessities like transport.
There’s never been a better time to explore the Kingdom of Bhutan with the forthcoming opening of five Six Senses lodges (late 2017), scattered across the foothills of the Himalayas. Start your itinerary in Thimphu (the capital), before moving on to Bumthang (a verdant woodland), Punakha (filled with agricultural terraces), Gangtey (among the last habitats for the endangered black-necked crane), and Paro (home to Tiger’s Nest, an architectural marvel and one of the country’s most sacred monasteries).
Vienna is one of Europe’s great cities, filled with every sort of Euro-city sight you could imagine. Salzburg, the salt town, is a great jewel whose old white-washed city center is a grand bazaar of fashion and food overlooked by a white medieval castle on a mountain of salt.
Look for some skiing at the party/ski town at St. Anton. This resort is scenic but intense; don’t hesitate to sign up for lessons. Afterwards, down a few mugs of beer at Platz’l Bar, a chill piano bar. For a wilder night, try KrazyKanguruh, where loud music and strong shots are standard fare.
Greece’s rich history, exceptional food and mesmerizing beauty make it an ideal place to set off on honeymoon, spending at least a few nights amid the postcard beauty of Santorini. Overlooking the cerulean seas and typified by white walls, this is the Greece we’ve all dreamt of.
Post up at the Andronis, replete with private cave-like pools that overlook the island’s crater bay. Greek cuisine is all about the fresh catch, so take some time to explore the town, stopping by for lunch at one of the local tavernas, before returning for an evening at Lycabettus and a table with views onto infinity.
Steeped in mythology, Greece is undeniably at its most authentic out on the smaller, lesser-known islands. Take softly slumbering Folegandros, set with a dramatic backdrop of black cliffs and white sand beaches; it’s the perfect place to unwind. Drop your bags at the Anemi Hotel, where the surrounding gardens provide sensory overload (in a good way).
Enjoy a leisurely stroll with your loved one into the village of Karavastasi and grab an ouzo with the locals at one of the many cool little taverns dotting the town. Wind up the honeymoon sailing out to the smaller-still island of Sifnos for a few nights at one of Greece’s best-kept secrets, thee Elies Resort. An exceptional hideaway with great eats, far removed from reality and a perfect place to relish each other’s company, it makes for an absurdly romantic setting.
Indonesia has always been a honeymooner’s favorite. It has that exotic appeal that makes it worthy of the occasion yet the luxury of somewhere that will bring that sense of marital bliss. While Java entices with the ancient stupas of Borobodur, Lombok invites an adventurous side and Bali speaks for itself; for a honeymoon that has it all – without the crowds – Sumba stands out on its own.
Sequestered in the heart of an undiscovered island paradise, the exclusive Nihi Sumba hugs the white sands of the Indian Ocean to create a remote hideaway. An island deeply-rooted in its culture, there is a spiritual connection to be found here that serves to energize and invigorate even the most laidback of honeymoons. Make sure you venture out on a trip to Komodo to see the legendary island dragons there.
Amid the beautiful landscape, the palm trees reveal a place perfect for any couple, whether they spend their days beneath the surface scuba-diving, rustling up a nasigoreng in a cooking class or exploring local villages and customs on an island tour. This is a place where you’ll come for your honeymoon – and every anniversary to follow.
Many Americans trace their heritage to or feel a connection with the Emerald Isle. Do yourself a favor and take the cross island train after you land in Dublin to Galway on the wilder west coast of Ireland. Rent a car and drive north or south along the coast a book a BNB at every quaint seaside village you come across.
Travel down through the beautiful county Claire and stop at Doolin and see the legendary Cliffs of Moher, or visit Caher and Cashel for medieval castles and monasteries – always with quaint pubs and taverns nearby to indulge in a pint of the black stuff or some roast duck and lamb chops.
The Dingle Peninsula in the south will offer continuous sights of the rugged sea-scape of the coast of Ireland, as well as an endless selection of superb seafood dishes at local restaurants.
Northbound, one will travel through the harshly beautiful heathered landscape of Connemara, before reaching county Kerry in the Northwest. Stop at Letterkenny for a show at the cultural center and plan a visit to Glenveagh National Park, the greatest inland wild spectacle Ireland has to offer.
8: Kanazawa, Japan
No doubt all of Japan is an exciting place to visit, but a week walking around Kanazawa will spoil the rest of the world for you. Every season the indescribable beauty of Kanazawa’s preserved streets and buildings comes alive with pink blossoms in spring, piles of golden leaves in autumn, sheets of unbroken white powder upon black-tile roofs in winter, and green trees swaying in the ocean breeze in summer.
The impossibly gorgeous Kanazawa Castle will bring all the romance of the feudal Samurai-era back in full focus. The city is a UNESCO Arts, Crafts, and Culture City, so whether its paintings, sandals, dresses, or wood furniture, the markets of Kanazawa will yield the most memorable of souvenirs for those back home.
For those with an adventurous streak, Africa offers the ultimate outdoor honeymoon. Visiting the Ngorongoro Crater, a two-million-year old collapsed volcano, hand in hand with your bride or groom is a humbling memory that will last a lifetime. Wine is provided while visiting the site, so order a glass and sip while looking out for black rhinos that inhabit the crater site. There’s also some world-class coffee that comes from this African country.
There are thousands upon thousands of large mammals that call Tanzania home and you can see them up close while touring one of the many Tanzania National Parks on safari.
Things can get a little hot when you visit the local hot springs or adventure out to Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain on the continent. Cool off at one of the many luxurious safari lodges or camp locations in the area made for people who want to experience the wild without sacrificing comfort. Safari lodges and camps look more like first class suites than “camps” and are located on protected lands in game reserves and national parks.