An Off-The-Beaten Path Romance
When we looked up the definition of romance, it read, “a quality or feeling of mystery, excitement, and remoteness from everyday life.” When it comes to romance travel trends, we tend to find that there is very little mystery in it these days. Most travelers know what to expect when they take a romantic trip to Jamaica, Venice, and Paris because we’re bombarded by romantic images of those destinations in movies, films, and social media.
So to add the mystery back into romance travel and bring you and your partner some new kind of excitement, we decided to create this list of underrated romantic destinations around the world that will have you calling us at Sten Travel ready to book.
Imagine a land with 103 castles and palaces, 1,300 thermal baths, and 22 wine districts. Sounds romantic, right? That land is called Hungary and it’s one of our favorite romantic spots in Europe. Start your trip in Budapest where you can take a romantic river cruise on the Danube River and stay in the Anantara New York Palace Budapest Hotel, a mighty dame with ornate decor in the style of Belle Epoque. Just outside of Budapest is the charming town of Szentendre, which has colorful buildings, cobbled streets, and galleries galore. Go further afar to have a castle stay in the Botaniq Castle of Tura or eat at a Michelin star restaurant, Platán Gourmet, in the Tata castle. No matter where you go in Hungary, it’s sure to be a romantic, fairytale-esque trip for you and your loved one.
2. Louisville, Kentucky
You’re probably surprised that Louisville is on this list, but it’s inclusive and queer-friendly atmosphere makes it a safe and romantic destination for couples of any type who love bourbon, architecture, and fun. Have the ultimate bourbon tasting at Old Forester, which has the first openly gay master taster, or a Prohibition era tasting called The Ideal Bartender Experience at Evan Williams Bourbon Experience. As you taste three whiskies, you’ll be served by (an actor playing) Tom Bullock, the First Black American to write and publish a cocktail book. Beyond bourbon, take a stroll through Old Louisville to admire the largest collection of restored Victorian homes, or better yet — book an Old Louisville Ghost Tour! And it could be fun to dress to the nines before catching a horse race at Churchill Downs. Who said romance couldn’t involve booze, ghosts, and betting?
Andorra is a tiny country located in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain. Full of charming villages with historic buildings and churches, Andorra is perhaps best known for having 190 miles of slopes across four major ski resorts including the Grandvalira. In addition to a cozy and romantic ski getaway with your ski bunny, you could also visit the capital of Andorra La Vella, which is walkable, and full of cafes, great art galleries, and historic buildings. Take day trips to Les Escaldes to soak in the thermal hot springs and go hiking in El Serratf.
4. Amelia Island, Florida
If you’re looking for a romantic beach holiday in the U.S., consider Amelia Island. Located on Florida’s Atlantic Coast, Amelia Island has 13 miles of uncrowded beaches, a cute downtown, and wonderful hotels with spas and charming B&Bs. Book a stay at the Hoyt House in the historic downtown or choose a beachfront stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. Active couples can explore the island through kayak excursions, by sailing, or on an electric bike. Foodies should check out the Parisian dining experience at LECLOS or order a luxe and lavishly decorated picnic on the beach with Picnics by Les. With plenty of shopping, wine tastings, and sea adventures, there is something for all couples to enjoy in Amelia Island.
A lot of travelers to Vietnam start off in Ho Chi Minh City, but we want to turn your attention to Vietnam’s most romantic destinations. The beaches of Da Nang are gorgeous and feature an array of great hotels, like TIA Wellness Resort, with incredible spas and rooms. Other great beach destinations include Phu Quoc Island and Cam Ranh.
Couples who prefer history, architecture, and art, will love Hanoi. Stroll through the Old Quarter during the day, stopping to sample street food or experience the cafe culture. Hanoi is also known as Vietnam’s art capital drawing travelers to its galleries and museums. And for something especially unique? Travel through the beautiful Ha Long Bay with the luxurious Au Co Cruises to experience this gorgeous slice of Vietnamese heaven on a lovely boat with beautiful rooms, open-air Jacuzzis, and great food.
Whether it’s the winter or summer, Finland is an unexpected romantic destination, but one we know that adventurous couples will enjoy. Hit the slopes in the winter with your loved one at the Levi ski resort, and when you’re not skiing, set up other fun experiences with the resort such as meeting local reindeer. To see the Northern Lights, take husky sled rides, and go on snowmobile safaris, you’ll need to book a trip to Saariselka.
In the warmer months, Helsinki is a great jumping-off point for a romantic vacation full of things to do like island hopping or visiting the Market Square, museums, and romantic restaurants. Don’t overlook the chance to discover other beautiful places in Finland like Savonlinna with its ancient castle and lake cruises and the beachy getaway of Hanko.
Want a truly unique couple’s getaway — how about staying in a hotel made of salt in the world’s largest salt flat? It can be done in Bolivia at Hotel Palacio de Sal. The property is made of salt and has a front row seat to Bolivia’s Uyuni salt flat. Beyond visiting Uyuni during the day, you can take a romantic stargazing tour at night.
But wait — there are more romantic trips to be had in Bolivia. Go to Isla del Sol in Lake Titicaca for incredible sunsets and hiking or take vineyard tours in Tarija. Samaipata is a fun little getaway that’s nicknamed “Bolivia’s Little Switzerland” for its colorful houses and shops set in surrounding mountains. The area has a great selection of jungle hikes and the La Cuevas park which is full of various waterfalls for you and your partner to enjoy.
8. The Highway 1 Discovery Route in Central California
Looking for a romantic road trip? Check out the Highway 1 Discovery Route in Central California. Highway 1 Discovery Route goes from Ragged Point to Nimono and features 10 artisan communities that stretch alongside 100 miles of beautiful Pacific coastline. Besides the amazing beaches along this route, you can stop in each community for a different experience. San Simeon has the only free, accessible elephant seal rookery in the world and the beautiful Hearst Castle. Edna and Arroyo Grande Valleys are full of mom and pop coastal wineries begging you to stop and take a taste. You can ride the gigantic Clydesdale horse at Covell’s California Clydesdales in Cambria, or check out one of the 13 state parks along the route. If you’re the kind of couple who likes to fly by the seat of their pants and have a coastal road trip experience, the Highway 1 Discovery Route is perfect for you.
Australia is such a large country that we thought it best to focus on the southeastern state of Victoria. Melbourne can offer a romantic urban experience that includes eating at restaurants on the Yarra River, strolling through the picturesque Paris End of Collins Street, taking hot air balloon rides over the city, and catching live performances at Her Majesty’s Theatre. From Melbourne, hit the Great Ocean Road in a car to enjoy the beaches and wildlife along the coastline. Or go to Phillip’s Island to see the Penguin Parade at sunset. Day trips to Yarra Valley, one of Australia’s premiere wine regions, are a must.
10. Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe, set in the Land of Enchantment, invites couples to enjoy adobe architecture, spectacular sunsets seen from rooftop bars, and relaxing spa experiences at hotels like Hotel Inn & Spa at Loretto. Stroll hand in hand through the Santa Fe Botanical Garden before exploring over 100 galleries, boutiques, and restaurants at Canyon Road and learning about the city’s Native American history at the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture. Add some playfulness to your couple’s trip with a visit to Meow Wolf, and in the winter, ski down the slopes together at Ski Santa Fe.