The earliest meaning of the term "honeymoon" supposedly stems from an old European custom in which newlyweds would consume great quantities of mead, a brew made from fermented honey and water. At the time, many cultures followed a lunar ("moon") calendar, and during the first lunar month after the wedding, couples were to drink mead, which was also believed to be an aphrodisiac.
In Western civilization, the custom of a newlywed couple going on a holiday originated in Great Britain in the early 19th century. The practice soon spread throughout Europe, and honeymoons in the modern sense became common. Traditionally, honeymoons started the night of the wedding, with the couple leaving midway through the reception to catch a late train or ship towards sunnier, warmer climates. This has evolved with the invention of air travel. These days, couples have more flexibility and options. Destinations run the gamut, and romance can be created anywhere (and with any budget), from an exotic beach locale to a Canadian city to a secluded cabin in the mountains. That being said, here are our top picks for honeymoon destinations around the world. Spanning all corners of the globe, each place offers an extra special start to married life.
Editor’s note: Save these ideas for when it’s safe to travel again, and always follow all COVID-19 restrictions, rules, and safety regulations both at your destination and upon returning home.
There’s a reason why the Maldives, a nation in the Indian Ocean composed of 1,190 coral islands, ranks high on honeymoon fantasy lists. These picture-perfect islands are a real-life Robinson Crusoe fantasy. After being whisked away by a speedboat or seaplane, you’ll step on a jetty towards a white-sand beach far removed from crowds. The iconic overwater villas are particularly popular with honeymooners, but the secluded beach villas are wonderfully romantic too, and often come with spacious outdoor bathrooms or private plunge pools. During the day, partake in world-class snorkeling and diving, spa treatments, sunset cruises, and picnics on uninhabited islands. After dinner, expect little to no nightlife — most guests are content to watch the stars and the moon. The resort’s romantic lighting adds to the ambiance; walking paths are low-lit and the only noise is palm trees swaying in the breeze. Typically, guests slip away to their fabulous rooms to enjoy the peace and quiet in newlywed heaven.
Maldives Hotel Pick:
Take away the extraordinary hotels, restaurants, shopping, and art, and Paris would still be arguably the most romantic city in the world. As a couple, you can wander hand-in-hand around the cobblestone streets, steal kisses on bridges, and explore iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the Notre Dame Cathedral (although the cathedral remains closed to the public for renovations after the 2019 fire, visitors can still experience the awe-inspiring view of the outside architecture from surrounding squares). But the true magic of Paris lies in experiencing some of its local favorites and lesser-known gems in charming boulevards, cozy cafes, and bustling bistros.
The 6th Arrondissement, for instance, is the literary heart of Paris, known for its cafe culture. It’s the former haunt of writers, artists, and philosophers such as Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso. It also goes without saying that the cuisine in Paris is top-notch: Paris has more Michelin three-star restaurants than just about any other city in the world (only Tokyo beats it). The nightlife scene is similarly excellent: It’s one of the liveliest in Europe, with diverse options ranging from outdoor concerts to ultra-chic clubs. Who wouldn’t agree with Audrey Hepburn when she said, “Paris is always a good idea”?
Paris Hotel Pick:
If your immediate thoughts on Los Cabos steer towards party-centric Cabo San Lucas, then you’re only considering a small slice of the region. Los Cabos — meaning two capes — offers plenty of romantic resorts and boutique hotels for couples looking for privacy and relaxation. These locations tend to be further from the action, and getting here means taking roads less traveled — namely, following signs down some gravel pathways and turnarounds. It feels far less touristy, with extra space and fewer crowds. There’s not a souvenir shop in sight — only beautiful vistas of the deep blue sea, grounds with cacti and palm trees, and mountains in the distance.
Many take advantage of the all-inclusive benefits and will not leave the property much (if at all), while others will want to get out and explore the region. San Jose del Cabo, the quaint, historic section with charming restaurants, bars, and art galleries is definitely worth a visit — especially near the Town Square. Also worth a visit is Flora Farm, a 10-acre organic farm and restaurant in the foothills of the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains. Also noteworthy is Pitahayas restaurant, which is located at the Sheraton Grand Hacienda del Mar and features a 350-label wine cellar (you can ask for a tour). Back at the resort, tanned, dressed-up guests will wander the grounds with a glass of wine after dinner and have close conversations while watching spectacular sunsets.
Los Cabos Hotel Pick:
Simply put, Bora Bora, French Polynesia’s famous island, embodies the most idyllic honeymoon destination. This is a place that boasts turquoise lagoons, overwater bungalows perched on stilts, uncrowded sandy beaches, brightly colored hibiscus flowers, and dramatic views of Mount Otemanu. The Pearl of the Pacific also offers amazing hotels and resorts and activities like scuba diving, sailing, hiking, yoga, bicycling, sunset couples’ massages, private dining, and lovely scenery in every direction. Bora Bora’s main island is surrounded by many tiny islands, known as motus, and guests have two options: stay on the main island, or stay on a motu. The majority of Bora Bora’s exclusive resorts are located on private motus (think breakfast delivered to your bungalow by canoe), while more budget-friendly options are located on the main island. Another tropical destination to consider is Fiji, which also offers a wide range of accommodations.
Bora Bora Hotel Pick:
Many soon-to-be-married couples consider a honeymoon in the global center of fashion, media, entertainment, and finance — and for good reason. With a variety of restaurants, bars, and attractions popping up all the time, there’s so much to see and do. Couples planning a honeymoon in New York City have no shortage of romantic accommodation options, from swanky hotels to charming downtown boutiques. When you’ve pulled yourself away from the hotel room, explore the neighborhoods in five distinct boroughs on foot or via bike. Each enclave offers unique shops, historic streets, and trendy bars and eateries.
After getting gussied up for dinner, sip a fancy cocktail, then soak up the culture at Lincoln Center (you can often get last-minute tickets for the New York City Ballet, The Metropolitan Opera, or the Philharmonic). Or, take the ferry over to Brooklyn and dine on lobster at Brooklyn’s legendary River Cafe, which sits prettily under the Brooklyn Bridge with some of the best views in the city. Although it’s true that New York is an expensive city, a honeymoon here is within your financial reach if you are flexible and plan carefully in advance. For instance, trade River Cafe for a cash-only, BYOB pizza place called Lucali, a favorite place for Jay-Z and Beyonce.
New York City Hotel Pick:
Bali‘s popularity with honeymooners is well deserved. This magical island — one of 17,500 in the Indonesian archipelago — is a honeymooner’s dream, thanks to its exotic beaches, coral reefs, picturesque rice paddies, awesome surfing opportunities, and vibrant nightlife. Plus, there are no shortage of places to stay for all budgets, from backpacker beach huts to designer boutique retreats to massive, five-star resorts with private plunge pools. Despite ongoing growth, this small island manages to retain its authenticity with residents who are generous and genuinely warm.
Bali Hotel Pick:
Like many Caribbean destinations, the Bahamas are a popular pick for beach-seeking honeymooners. The gorgeous water, year-round pleasant temperatures, and abundance of activities like scuba diving make it a nice option for couples who want to spend their days by or in the water. Stay at One&Only Ocean Club, which offers expansive manicured grounds, two outdoor pools, a romantic garden and statuary modeled after Versailles, and a pristine white-sand beach. After a day in the sun, guests return to the room to find Champagne and strawberries waiting, and many choose to begin their evening with sunset drinks at Jean-George’s Dune restaurant.
For something further removed, head to the three-and-a-half miles of soft-pink sand on Harbour Island. Guests can spread out for romantic beach walks and leisurely swims in the calm turquoise sea. Those wild roosters are sure to say hello in the morning, but this is part of the unspoiled Harbour Island experience.
Bahamas Hotel Pick:
A short 90-minute drive north from San Francisco, Napa Valley is undoubtedly a sought-after grape-growing region (it attracts nearly four million visitors a year). The dreamy landscape offers top-notch wineries, farm-to-table restaurants, and sophisticated retreats, so it’s no wonder Napa Valley has such enduring romantic appeal. The city of Napa anchors the valley and has some noteworthy spots, such as the Oxbow Public Market as well as a riverfront promenade with shops and restaurants. Still, most choose to rent a car or hop on a bike and explore off-the-beaten path wineries and restaurants in and around Napa Valley and its less-touristy neighbor, Sonoma Valley. Other scenic towns include St. Helena, Yountville, and Calistoga, which offer plenty of romantic opportunities for those who need a wine-and-dine break.
Napa Valley Hotel Pick:
With tasty street food, inspiring Buddhist culture, and fantastic value (some upscale hotels are even within reach of thrifty travelers), Thailand is a top choice for honeymooners looking to celebrate their love. Known as the Land of a Thousand Smiles, this Southeast Asian country boasts an enchanting and sultry combination of amazing beaches, awe-inspiring landscapes, and a seemingly endless array of hotels and resorts.
Many will start the trip in bustling Bangkok, a city that offers sensory overload with tons to see and do. It does take a bit of savvy to know where to find the good stuff. However, for those willing to brave the adventure, Bangkok is packed with rewards. Then, head north to Chiang Mai for adventurous activities, important Buddhist temples, and elephant sanctuaries, or head straight for the stunning shores to the south. Thailand boasts a fabulous array of islands, from lively beach scenes to secluded resort hideaways.
Thailand Hotel Pick:
With narrow, labyrinthine streets emerging onto market squares and elegant piazzas — not to mention, the toll of church bells —Venice is the ultimate romantic destination. Touristy, yes, but no trip to Venice is complete without a starry-eyed gondola ride, so cuddle up and glide through the Venetian canals. Alternatively, travel the Grand Canal by vaporetto, boats that carry Venetians just as city buses carry passengers on inland cities.
Then, fuel up on some of the best seafood and pasta in Europe, followed by a slow evening walk across a piazza or campo. This compact city also has plenty of romantic hotels, which can be located on a side canal with its own private water landing. Some properties feature classy decor that includes tall ceilings, marble floors and columns, ornate fireplaces, and opulent chandeliers, as well as exquisite dining rooms with frescoes on the ceiling and walls. Nightlife is virtually non-existent, forcing brides and grooms to rely on each other for entertainment — perfect for newlywed bonding.
Venice Hotel Pick:
St. Lucia stands out from other low-level Caribbean neighbors for its dense rainforests, fertile valleys, banana plantations, and the dramatic Pitons — twin peaks that soar high above the ocean. There are a smattering of extraordinary hotels that take advantage of this view and the romance is tough to top. This has its advantages, but it also requires an adventurous, and at times terrifying, drive from Hewanorra International Airport in Vieux Fort. Roads around the island are filled with hairpin turns, massive potholes, and serious inclines. Finding the resort is tricky; if you do rent a car, be sure to get four-wheel drive and exercise caution. Many guests choose to take a taxi, arrange for a private driver, or take a helicopter. Unlike in more developed Caribbean islands, this area of St. Lucia doesn’t offer much in the way of touristy dining, shopping, or nightlife, which is why many choose to stay here to begin with.
Once you’re at the resort, you’ll likely stay here, unless taking a guided tour to Tet Paul Nature Trail, the Diamond Falls, and Sulphur Springs. (These popular attractions are more convenient for guests staying in this area than those staying on the northwestern shore.) Those who want to explore other restaurants and bars can head to nearby luxury resorts. Other than this, guests can expect to be isolated from virtually everything and everyone — aside from a rooster crowing at dawn, or tree frogs singing their nightly chorus.
St. Lucia Hotel Pick:
Even the name Seychelles evokes fantasies of a remote island paradise, lined with palm trees, white sand, and turquoise water. With a dreamlike setting like this, it’s not surprising that honeymooners have long had this destination at the top of their wish lists. Super-luxe resort options rule the roost — this is not a budget destination by any means — but the Seychelles does have some self-catering facilities and family-run guesthouses that are easier on the wallet. This archipelago of 115 granite and coral islands is home to numerous beaches, coral reefs, and nature reserves, as well as rare animals like the Aldabra giant tortoise, which gives it the name “The Galapagos of the Indian Ocean.” Uninhabited until the 18th century, the Seychelles spawned a rich variety of flora and fauna, most of which has survived the test of time. Thanks to its isolation, many species have thrived here where they did not elsewhere. For the ultimate honeymoon, pair the beach trip with an adventurous safari in Tanzania or Kenya to the west.
Seychelles Hotel Pick:
If unwinding at an all-inclusive resort with a frosty pina colada isn’t your thing, New Zealand might be the honeymoon destination for you and your sweetheart. This island nation offers newlyweds a beautiful landscape of native forests, pristine beaches, friendly hospitality, and relaxed vibes. Yes, the list of places to see is vast and the decision is tough, so it’s best to rent a four-wheel drive and get on the road. Most will start in Auckland with great shopping, diverse cafes, and cool international nightlife. Then, head south and create your very own dream road-trip itinerary — perhaps making a stop in Rotorua for the geothermal hot springs, before continuing towards the beautiful capital city of Wellington, where you can take the car ferry to the South Island. The scenery just keeps getting better, so prepare to charge your camera batteries nightly. Stop to hike with the sheep in Nelson, then continue along the road towards wineries, world-famous glaciers, and to the country’s adventure capital, Queenstown, which also happens to have some of New Zealand’s best restaurants. End the day of outdoor activities by soaking in the hot tub before partaking in local wine and seafood.
New Zealand Hotel Pick:
Graced with soft-sand beaches and dramatic volcanic cliffs jutting out from the Pacific, it’s hard to go wrong with a honeymoon in Hawaii — and it certainly reigns supreme for those who reside in the United States. Year-round tropical temperatures make this a romantic destination during any season. Plus, each island has its own specialties, so there’s a Hawaiian spot for every type of honeymooner. If you’re looking for a mix of big-city atmosphere and an array of historical and natural attractions, then Oahu is likely for you. Maui offers luxury resorts, golf courses, and wellness programs, while Kauai boasts green-velvet mountains, riverside jungles, and hidden valleys. Big Island offers natural wonders, while the less-developed Lanai and Molokai are quieter. That said, all the islands are rich in Hawaiian culture and romance and relaxation are pretty much guaranteed.
Hawaii Hotel Pick:
Everything you’ve seen or heard about Greece is true — the days are warm and sunny, the history is rich, the landscape is rugged, the food is tasty, and the locals are lively. Whitewashed villages, blue-domed churches, the bluest waters, and small fishermen’s bays set the scene, while delectable seafood, wine, and ouzo fill your stomachs. To top it off, Greece is also affordable, as things tend to cost half of what they do in other parts of Europe. There are many sightseeing options both inland (think ancient monuments) and around the islands, but Santorini is the most popular stop for romance (it’s the self-proclaimed honeymoon capital of Greece). If you stay at Anastasis Apartments, spend the morning gazing at the Aegean Sea from the infinity pool. Spend the rest of your day on the beach, hiring and enjoying a boat ride, or exploring local villages. In the evening, experience one of the most famous sunsets in the world at Oia. We recommend skipping the cafe crowds and opting for a private cliffside picnic for two, instead.
Greece Hotel Pick:
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