The days of a romantic "fly-and-flop" vacation to a sandy beach are over. Now, couples looking for romance are looking farther afield and for destinations that offer experiences galore—whether that be off-the-beaten-path hikes, new restaurants from the world's top chefs, secluded hot springs, or photo ops at rom-com landmarks. Whether you're planning a Valentine's Day vacation, a destination wedding, a milestone anniversary trip, or, you know, just a quiet weekend away, this list of 10 romantic destinations near and far will satisfy every kind of couple.
As dozens of romantic comedies have already confirmed, London is one of the world's most romantic cities. The British capital has everything you need for a perfect Valentine Day's, whether you're a couple, traveling with friends or flying solo. Since the holiday falls over a long weekend this year, why not hop across the pond for a few days exploring the setting of "Notting Hill," "Love, Actually," and "Bridget Jones's Diary"?
Book into 11 Cadogan Gardens, a five-star boutique hotel hidden in Chelsea, or create a love nest in the hip (and recently opened) Treehouse Hotel London. Brit Movie Tours offers several rom-com themed treks to iconic locations like Borough Market, OXO Tower, and Notting Hill, or couples can reenact the meet-cute from "About Time" with dinner at Dans Le Noir. If you prefer to write your own narrative, head for dinner and drinks at Davies and Brook, the new London outpost from Eleven Madison Park chef Daniel Humm. — Emily Zemler
While Sardinia's Costa Smeralda has long drawn the likes of VIPs like Elton John, Bradley Cooper, and Pierce Brosnan, the island's southern coast has all the charm and none of the crowds. Previously, those in the know stayed at mega-resorts like Forte Village or quaint agriturismos, but now there's a new option for travelers who want a combo of idyllic beaches and Italian urban life.
Opening on Feb. 27, Palazzo Doglio brings 72 plush rooms to the city's historic center, making it easier than ever to spend your days exploring sites like Nora, an ancient Roman and pre-Roman town on the city's outskirts or tasting exciting Cannonau wines on the island's hillsides, and nights sipping Negronis on the piazza or tucking into a plate of malloreddus alla Campidanese, a Sardinian staple of saffron-tinged pasta with tomatoes and sausage. — Laura Ratliff
Widely tipped as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s chosen honeymoon destination, Namibia is a top pick for a romantic getaway. Its remote landscapes are the backdrop for an endless array of memorable moments: climbing to the top of Sossusvlei’s highest dunes in time for sunrise, perhaps, or sipping sundowners on an afternoon river cruise in the Caprivi Strip. Etosha National Park is one of Southern Africa’s top wildlife-viewing destinations, while the Kunene Region is a cultural hotspot complete with ancient San rock art and traditional Himba villages.
Two of Namibia’s most romantic and luxurious tented camps, andBeyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge and upcoming Kwessi Dunes, are located within the private NamibRand Nature Reserve. Designated as Africa’s first International Dark Sky Reserve, NamibRand affords opportunities for unparalleled stargazing by night and unforgettable desert adventures by day. An average of 300 days of sunshine every year adds to Namibia’s appeal for outdoors-loving couples. — Jessica Macdonald
Take a Cruise
A cruise doesn't have to mean a full itinerary or a pool deck jammed with screaming kids. Turn the idea of a mega-ship on its head by taking a sailing of a different kind—new ships, luxury lines, and adventurous, adult-only sailings make 2020 prime time to take to the high seas.
Small, luxurious ships, like Ama Waterway's AmaMagna, cruise the romantic Danube River, making stops in Vienna and Budapest, but also postcard-perfect towns like Spitz, Passau, and Melk. Suites on the new ship measure up to 710 square feet (remarkable for a river ship), with spacious balconies perfect for sharing that bottle of riesling you picked up onshore. Or head out on an adventurous Amazon River cruise with Delfin, the world's only Relais & Châteaux cruise. This spring, Delfin will host Dr. Joanna Alfaro, a researcher specializing pink river dolphins, onboard for two sailings and guests can even assist with her research.
If the ocean is more your speed, Regent Seven Seas' brand new, all-suite, all-balcony Seven Seas Splendor, sets sail on Feb. 6. The ship features more than 46,000 square feet of Italian marble, a $5 million art collection, and more than 500 crystal chandeliers.
And for the trendy set, Richard Branson's long-awaited Virgin Voyages launches in April, with the Scarlet Lady bringing along adults only for the ride. This buffet- and kid-free ship has more than 20 onboard restaurants, free Wi-Fi, unlimited workout classes, and itineraries include a stop at Beach Club at Bimini, a private island in the Bahamas. — Laura Ratliff
With five main islands, more than 200 beaches, and a dual African and French vibe, Guadeloupe packs a solid punch for couples for seeking a trinity of nature, culture, and adventure. Plus, this French Caribbean archipelago is now more accessible than ever thanks to JetBlue’s new thrice-weekly direct flight from New York, which launched on Feb. 1.
The brand new adults-only section at the renovated Club Med La Caravelle on Grande-Terre serves as an ideal base to ferry hop around Guadeloupe’s varied islands, each offering unique scenery and activities: volcano hiking trails and sulfur pools at Guadeloupe National Park on Basse-Terre, rhum distilleries and secluded beaches on Marie-Galante, or diving and French village life on Terre-de-Haut, Les Saintes, where only solar-powered electric cars and scooters circulate. Spare a day to shop at the colorful market in downtown Pointe-a-Pitre—gwo ka drummers liven it up on Saturdays—and visit the Memorial ACTe museum, dedicated to the history of the slave trade. — Lebawit Lily Girma
Paso Robles, California
Not even a decade ago, like much of inland central California, Paso Robles was mostly known for cattlemen and crops, not couples' getaways. But like the innovative vintages made at the region's 250 wineries, PR has grown finer with age and perfected its brand of pastoral-tinged passion, mostly by capitalizing on those historic strengths.
Local meats, seafood, and produce make meals more decadent (and sustainable) at restaurants like Les Petites Canailles (do not, under any circumstances, skip the leek vinaigrette!) and the 12-seat Six Test Kitchen. Gather provisions on your own from Etto in Tin City or General Store on the downtown square, or straight from the source at area farms and stands like Morro Creek Ranch or Stepladder Creamery, for a picnic in the natural beauty—the rolling mountains, towering oaks, rocky shores, spring wildflowers, sprawling vineyards, and orchards—that earned the Central Coast its spot on TripSavvy's Where To Go in 2020 list.
Don't forget something fermented or distilled nearby to toast with like Gopher Glen apple cider, Re:Find kumquat liqueur or Silva Brewing Paso Pale. For dessert, swing by the posh Justin estate or their downtown tasting room for the chocolate and wine pairing launched last October.
As the moon rises, everything will be illuminated by the 58,000 fiber-optic spheres that make up Bruce Munro's Field of Light at Sensorio, a magical 15-acre walk-through art installation extended through June. Recover from all that eating, drinking, and walking with a private soak at River Oaks Hot Springs Spa before sliding between the silky soft sheets at The Piccolo. The brand-new 24-room boutique boasts in-room wine fridges, lobby macarons, the city's only rooftop bar, and a Champagne vending machine. —Carrie Bell
Hawai‘i Island, Hawaii
When planning a romantic getaway, Hawai‘i Island provides a foolproof combination of enchantment and excitement. Spend your vacation nestled along the pristine Kohala Coast, a stretching shoreline made up of white-sand beaches and ancient lava fields.
Take the newly renovated Mauna Lani, which was acquired by the luxury aficionados at Auberge Resorts Collection in 2018. The property got a $200 million makeover before officially re-opening its doors in January. Book one of their five romantic bungalows to create your own dreamy oasis.
The nearby Westin Hapuna Beach Resort is a glamorous retreat with an adult infinity pool, ocean-view suites, and its own garden on the premises to supplement its four outstanding eateries. For couples with children, the resort offers an onsite kid’s club to help entertain the little ones.
Once you finally venture beyond your accommodations, have a cocktail by the fireplace at the historic Volcano House Hotel with Kīlauea and Halema‘uma‘u Crater as your backdrop. Or, watch the sunset 9,000 feet above sea level on the mountain at the legendary Mauna Kea Visitors Center after a day hiking through the rainforests of Waipi‘o Valley. — Katherine Gallagher
Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland
An old Irish tradition says that a leap year is a perfect time for a woman to take romantic matters into her own hands and propose. Now, we believe women have that right whenever they like, but why not give a wink and a nod to St. Brigid of Kildare with an Irish road trip?
Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way, a 1,600-mile stretch of the island's northern and west coasts, has everything a romance-seeking traveler would want: dramatic cliffs overlooking the sea, picture-perfect castles, and charming harbor villages.
Start your journey in Shannon, Ireland, which is serviced by direct flights from New York on Aer Lingus, Ireland's national flag carrier. From here, Dromoland Castle, a five-star castle hotel just 30 miles from the Cliffs of Moher, serves as a romantic base while you plot the rest of your journey. As you head north, explore landmarks dating back to the Bronze Age, like Derreenataggart Stone Circle; Galway (our top pick for culture-focused travelers in 2020); Slieve League, Europe's highest sea cliffs; and you guessed it—even more castles. — Laura Ratliff
Lake Placid, New York
For some, a romantic getaway is walking hand-in-hand along the beach at sunset; for others, it’s drinking hot cocoa and watching the snow fall around you. If the latter is your preferred romantic setting, book your winter getaway to Lake Placid, a town in New York’s Adirondack Mountains.
Experience the area’s outdoor beauty by skiing at Whiteface Mountain, ice skating on Mirror Lake, or hiking or snowshoeing along the many snow-covered trails. (Head to High Falls Gorge to see some pretty spectacular ice formations.)
If you’re still up for some adventure, head to Olympic Center to visit the site where several records were set and victories achieved, including the win of the U.S. Men’s hockey over the Soviet Union (inspiring the movie “Miracle on Ice”), which is celebrating it’s 40th anniversary this year.
After your adventurous day, make your way back to Lake Placid Lodge to enjoy that hot cocoa we mentioned and some s’mores by the fire pit, romantic winter essentials that are offered here daily for guests. Then retire to your room—we suggest one of the overlook rooms (complete with views of the lake and mountains, private porches, and wood-burning fireplaces) or one of the private lakeside cabins—to cozy up after your long day in a winter wonderland. — Jamie Hergenrader
Northwest Arkansas has yet to make it on the radar for many travelers, which only adds to the allure of the seemingly undiscovered charming mountain towns and emerging cities of the region.
A drive through Northwest Arkansas will take you on a journey below canopy-covered back roads, alongside sparkling rivers, and through the verdant hills of the Ozark Mountains to the heart of Arkansas’ wine country. Sample Arkansas's state grape, the cynthiana, at Chateau Aux Arc in Altus, a winery that also holds the distinction of being the largest U.S. chardonnay vineyard outside of California—or take a short hike in the woods to uncover the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired glass-enclosed Thorncrown Chapel just outside of the Victorian village of Eureka Springs.
The small town of Bentonville has earned a big reputation in the art world, as it’s home to both the 21C Museum Hotel Bentonville and the award-winning Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and the culinary arts are thriving in the town as well with chef-driven restaurants like Tusk & Trotter and The Preacher’s Son. — Kristy Alpert