From the pristine beaches of Kerala to sensual tango dancing in Buenos Aires, these are our picks for top 10 most beautiful places in the world for romantic holidays.
Bali is not just a pretty face: While the island’s picturesque scenery attracts visitors from around the world, its unique culture and tradition keeps them coming back for more. Watch the sunset over clear blue water in Sanur, a popular beach destination. An iconic attraction, Tanah Lot, is a 15th-century temple that juts out of the ocean on a small rock formation. Don’t miss the five waterfalls between Bedugul and Singaraja: Gitgit is the farthest down the mountain, and visitors can climb 150 steps to take in stunning cascading falls.
Tip: To escape the crowds at Bali’s southern beaches, visit Echo Beach in Seminyak. The secluded stretch of sand is located below a series of outcrops, and often features a hazy, dream-like mist.
Fairytale Brugge will enchant visitors. The city’s open squares, quaint houses, and cobblestone streets create a romantic atmosphere, and couples can take boat rides through picturesque canals. Climb the Belfort’s 366 winding steps for bird’s-eye views of the city. Take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage ride to Beguinage, a sprawling monastery with bridges and swan-filled ponds. For canal-side accommodations and upscale amenities, book a room at the Fodor’s Choice hotel De Tuileriëen. The property features charming guest rooms and parlors, and turndown service includes complimentary Belgian chocolates.
Tip: Splurge on a meal at De Karmeliet. Located in an 18th-century house, the formal restaurant features a topiary-filled garden for al fresco dining.
It’s easy to get swept away by Buenos Aires’ colorful nightlife and diverse culture. Sit back in Teatro Colón’s red velvet seats and take in an opera or ballet. The Palermo neighborhood boasts some of the city’s finest restaurants and boutiques, and it offers acres of parks perfect for picnicking or long walks. Dance the night away at Rojo Tango, a popular club that features five-star food, cabaret performances, and glamorous velvet-lined interiors.
Tip: Seasons in Buenos Aires are opposite from the US: An Argentinian winter is a North American summer. Visit during spring (September to December) for blooming flowers, mild temperatures, and fewer crowds.
The rocky shores of the Italian Riviera belong in the pages of a romance novel. Visitors can explore quaint harbor villages, hike up stunning trails, or stroll through beachfront promenades. Climb the Cinque Terre trails to explore vineyards and villages, and lookout over the sea. The world-famous Giardini Botanici Hanbury features one of the largest gardens in Italy and offers panoramic views of the water. Spend the day touring Portofino, a lush seaside village with cliffside gardens and plenty of people watching.
Tip: The Italian Riviera is divided into two regions: the more rustic Riviera di Levante to the east, and the resort-oriented Riviera di Ponente to the west. Riviera di Ponente is your best bet for nightlife and beaches. But for breathtaking views of the Ligurgian and a more secluded ambiance, nothing beats the Riviera di Levante.
Stepping through the gates into Fez feels like entering a time machine: The city’s medieval streets, covered markets, and historic sites will heighten your senses, and take you back to a different era. Visit Heri el Souani to tour granaries designed by an ancient king. Pass through Medina Square in nearby Meknès to view Bab Mansour, an elaborate marble gate with engraved tiled panels. House of Venus in Volubilis houses the city’s finest set of mosaics, and provides easy access to the site of the Temple of Saturn.
Tip: Although Fez is best known for its ancient architecture and historical sites, the surrounding region is also home to ski slopes. Book a room at the Michlifen Ifrane Suites and Spa for luxurious amenities and picturesque mountain views.
The Cyclades, or Greek Isles’ shimmering turquoise-blue waters are an attraction in their own right, and rustic mountains, bright sun, and delicious food attract honeymooners and seasoned travelers alike. The most famous of the islands, Santorini, boasts breathtaking sunsets and dramatic white stone cliffs. Naxos, the largest of the isles, features long, sandy beaches, and stunning green valleys and ravines. Hike to Panayia Pouláti, a whitewashed, blue-domed structure and bell tower set atop a sparkling bay.
Tip: If you’re planning on visiting the Isles, consider booking a room in the spring or fall. Summer months mean more tourists and overcrowded beaches, while winter brings shuttered businesses and stormy weather.
Kerala mesmerizes with its pristine beaches, lush tropical forests, and ayurvedic treatments. Spend a day relaxing in the state’s renowned spas, which offer everything from oil massages to natural restorative treatments. For the ultimate in seclusion, visit Northern Kerala. The area is largely untouched by tourism, and it features unparalled views of rolling hills dotted with tea plantations. Travel to Thekkady and Munnar to take in glittering waterfalls and colorful wildlife.
Tip: Once a bustling seaport, Kerala still boasts many of its original waterways. Take a cruise through the backwaters for up-close views of lotus-flowered rice paddies and verdant coconut groves.
San Sebastián is a lover’s paradise. The city boasts lush green hills, crashing surf, and a shell-shaped beach ideal for sunbathing. For views of La Concha and old-world ambiance, book a room at Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra. Guests can watch the sunset from private terraces, or dine at an in-house restaurant facing the bay. Take the funicular up to Monte Igueldo for a panoramic view of the city. San Sebastián is known for its gourmet cuisine, and Mugartiz serves authentic Basque specialties in a rustic setting.
Tip: Sample some of the city’s best food at Arzak. World-renowned chef Juan Mari Arzak serves traditional Basque fare with cutting-edge style, in an intimate dining room. Reserve a table several weeks in advance.
Wellington’s mystical ambiance attracts those in search of romance. The city’s natural beauty makes it the perfect homebase for exploring. Travelers can wander misty hillsides, stroll along waterfront promenades, or hike through green valleys. Visit Wellington Botanic Garden for an up-close look at exotic trees and plants.
A neighboring town, Martinborough, features more than 20 vineyards and is accessible by horse-drawn carriage. Take a scenic drive around the Pauatahanui Inlet and Bird Sanctuary for picturesque views of the coastline.
Tip: Kapiti Island is one of Wellington’s best-kept secrets. Climb 1,700 feet to the island’s highest lookout point for stunning views of the surrounding area, and to observe exotic birds and wildlife.
The City of Light is also the city of love. Whether you’re strolling along the Seine hand-in-hand or enjoying a candlelit meal at a cozy bistro, the romantic ambiance is hard to ignore. For a view of the Eiffel Tower and lavish amenities fit for a king, book a room at the Shangri-La Hotel. Take a walk through the peaceful Palais-Royal, Paris’s most secluded garden. For unparalleled views of the city and fairytale sunsets, climb the steps to Sacré-Coeur.
Tip: Parisian restaurants are the perfect place to linger over dinner. For an intimate dining experience with inspired seasonal cuisine, visit restaurant Spring.