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Destinations Plucked Straight Out of a Romance Novel

The places most often depicted in romance novels are filled with intrigue, charm, and glamour — making it easy to picture rekindling or falling in love on a romantic retreat. But instead of reading about these dreamy destinations, wouldn’t you rather visit in real life? From game reserves in Africa to thatched villas in the middle of the ocean, here are 16 destinations primed for romance and perfect for a party of two.

16

North Island, Seychelles

Overlook of North Seychelles near Vista Do Mar on Mahe island.
Credit: lr.s/ Shutterstock

As the chosen honeymoon destination of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Seychelles are often considered one of the most romantic places in the world. The Indian Ocean archipelago comprises 115 islands, but the North Island — with its brilliant turquoise water, thick swaths of jungle, and white-sand beaches — is particularly tailor-made for couples.

The island has a mere 11 villas for visitors who are seeking a winning combination of privacy and luxury. Each 5,000-square-foot villa provides direct access to the beachfront while giving visitors the illusion of staying in a private paradise for two. Constructed with thatched roofs and laden with natural wood, these luxury accommodations provide seamless transitions between the sumptuous interiors and the island’s exotic surroundings.

15

Sabi Sands Game Reserve, South Africa

View from a safari vehicle in Sabi Sands Game Reserve.
Credit: Andy Riley/ Shutterstock

This one’s for animal lovers: Adjacent to Kruger National Park, Sabi Sands is a private game reserve that encompasses 160,000 acres of land teeming with exotic wildlife. Sabi Sands is home to Africa’s “Big Five” — elephants, lions, leopards, rhinoceros, and African buffalos — but is particularly known for its big cat population, especially leopards. The reserve is also famous for its rugged beauty and luxury accommodations.

After checking a wild animal safari off your bucket list, you and your loved one can recuperate at the park’s five-star accommodations. These prestigious lodges offer romantic experiences such as a night under the stars in a treehouse, private bungalows that overlook the Sand River, and magical bush camps in the middle of the African savanna.

14

Hampshire, England

An elevated view of Highclere Castle taken from Beacon Hill in Hampshire, England.
Credit: Nick Brundle Photography/ Shutterstock

If your favorite romance novel is Pride and Prejudice, then Hampshire is probably the place for you. The setting where Jane Austen wrote most of her novels in the early 19th century, Hampshire still provides the allure of old-fashioned romance today. Home to historic manors — including Highclere Castle (the real Downton Abbey) and Chawton House (the home of Jane Austen’s brother) — Hampshire is also a charming destination for history buffs and old fashioned romantics.

Hampshire provides nature enthusiasts with plenty to do, too. Famous for its bluebells, a flower that blooms in swaths of color in April and May, Hampshire is a true delight in the spring. Visitors can gaze across seas of purple blossoms in forests throughout the region, which serve as a picturesque background for a lover’s stroll.

13

Marrakesh, Morocco

Winston Churchill suite at La Mamounia Hotel in Marrakech, Morocco.
Credit: Steve Etherington - EMPICS/ PA Images via Getty Images

From wandering through Old Medina’s ancient streets to exploring the city’s many souks (markets), Marrakesh provides a sense of intrigue everywhere you look. Visitors can tour the ruins of El Badi Palace or visit one of the city’s many mosques, such as the impressive Koutoubia Mosque.

Staying at the century-old La Mamounia Marrakech will provide you and your partner with a taste of old-world luxury. If those accommodations are a bit out of your price range, a day trip to the hotel still allows for a taste of the city’s opulence — whether you sip Moroccan mint tea in the hotel’s extravagant tea room, enjoy a couple's massage in the spa, or stroll through 700-year old olive trees in the hotel’s famous garden.

12

Mendoza, Argentina

Beautiful snow capped Andes mountains and vineyard in the Mendoza wine country of Argentina.
Credit: Thomas Barrat/ Shutterstock

If you enjoy reading a Western novel with a glass of red wine, then Mendoza is the spot for you. Since this Argentinian city is famous for its gauchos (cowboys), visiting a local estancia (ranch) is requisite on any trip to Mendoza. What these Argentine ranches lack in frills, they make up for with charm in spades. You’ll be riding horses by day and feasting on asado (barbecue) by night under the Southern Hemisphere’s stars — an experience you won’t forget anytime soon.

Situated on the eastern side of the Andes Mountains, the stunning region is also renowned for its plentiful vineyards that serve some of the best malbecs in the world. With more than 1,500 wineries spread across three valleys, there is plenty to keep vino lovers occupied. Visiting wineries by bicycle is a great way for couples to soak up several in a day.

11

Ravello, Italy

High angle view of the Mediterranean Sea over the Church Spires In Ravello.
Credit: SimonSkafar/ iStock

It’s easy to see how so many couples fall in love with this picture-perfect town, situated on a hilltop overlooking Italy’s Amalfi Coast. For the ultimate romantic day in Ravello, start at the Terrazzo dell’Infinito (which translates to "Infinity Terrace") at Villa Cimbrone. Situated alongside a lovely garden, the terrace is decorated with Romanesque statues and provides sweeping views of the Mediterranean coastline.

Next, grab lunch at one of the town’s many superb eateries, such as Villa Maria, with views of the sea. After your meal, wander through the city’s cobblestone streets, visit the piazza, or stop at an outdoor cafe for a cappuccino. Finally, continue your journey down to the shoreline to lounge next to the sea or go for a refreshing dip.

10

St. Moritz, Switzerland

View of St. Moritz, the famous resort region, from the high hill.
Credit: yuelan/ iStock

With its snow-capped mountains and powdery slopes, this elegant town in the Swiss Alps is heaven for couples who love skiing. And after a day on the slopes, après-ski in St. Moritz does not disappoint. You and your partner can step into a cozy Swiss eatery such as Engiadina to share a pot of fondue or make reservations at the King’s Social House, a posh bistro with Alpine fare.

To truly arrive at St. Moritz in style, book your passage on the Glacier Express from Zermatt. Providing unparalleled views of the Alps, the train passes over the Rhine Gorge (also known as the “Grand Canyon of Switzerland”) and arrives at St. Moritz in eight hours.

9

Anguilla

The Barnes Bay on the Anguilla Island in the West Indies.
Credit: Photostravellers/ Shutterstock

This small British Overseas Territory in the eastern Caribbean may be the closest you get to living out your deserted island fantasy. Anguilla covers just 35 square miles, but with 33 beaches, you may not even run into another couple. The island is home to luxury villas and upscale resorts such as Four Season Anguilla, making it easy to unplug and disconnect from the world.

It’s probably no surprise then that Anguilla is known as one of the most romantic islands in the Caribbean. Couples can charter sailboats, kayak to empty cays, or go horseback riding on white-sand beaches. As the sun begins to fall, Anguilla Arch is perfect for watching the sunset before heading to Vaya Restaurant for a memorable dinner in a treehouse.

8

Scottish Highlands, United Kingdom

A view of the Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland, United Kingdom.
Credit: Milosz Maslanka/ Shutterstock

From Outlander to Highlander, countless romance novels have been written about the Scottish Highlands, and for good reason. With its windswept plains, breathtaking landscapes, and centuries of history, this part of the world exudes romance. In the charming town of Fort William, visitors can cruise one of Scotland’s beautiful lochs (lakes) before hiking to Steall Waterfalls, one of the most breathtaking sites in the Highlands.

There are also plenty of hiking trails in the rolling hills of Glencoe Lochan, an idyllic place to spend the day exploring the region. And as one of the most famous sites in all of Scotland, Eilean Donan Castle is a must-visit. Constructed during the 13th century to protect the lands of Kintail, a mountainous area in the Northwest Highlands, the medieval castle is situated on a picturesque island where three lochs meet. It has been rebuilt several times and offers a fascinating peek into Scottish history.

7

Railay Beach, Thailand

Thai traditional wooden longtail boat and beautiful sand on Railay Beach in Thailand.
Credit: Preto_perola/ iStock

If you’re looking for a quiet seaside escape for two, Railay Beach, Thailand, might fit the bill. Accessible only by long-tail boat, a type of watercraft typical in the region, the peninsula is framed by dramatic limestone cliffs and soft sand beaches. Don’t expect late-night beach parties in this remote section of the world; instead, Railay is laidback and unassuming (killer views aside).

With everything accessible by foot, it’s also easy to get around to the two main beaches, Railay West and Railay East. Railay West is the largest and most popular beach, lined with tasty eateries and local shops. In contrast, Railay East is smaller and quieter, but still an excellent place to walk along the shoreline or take in the views. If you’re in search of activities other than beach lounging, there are local spots to rock climb, kayak, dive, and snorkel.

6

Seville, Spain

Spanish Square (Plaza de Espana) in Sevilla on a beautiful summer day.
Credit: S-F/ Shutterstock

Often referred to as the “most romantic city in Spain,” Seville is also the birthplace of Don Juan, the legendary fictional Spanish romantic. It’s easy to picture Don Juan in Seville — with its winding streets, live flamenco shows, and fragrant orange blossoms, Seville provides a sense of intrigue around every corner.

The Andalucian capital also effortlessly mixes Spanish culture, art, and history in places like Plaza de España, the city’s most famous square. Featuring intricate mosaic tiles, painted frescoes, and horse-drawn carriages, the plaza is an ideal spot to share with your amor. Not far from the square, the city’s exotic past is on display at the Royal Palace Alcazar, with its intricate dome, sunken gardens, and Moorish architecture.

5

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

Landscape shot of Aquinnah (Gay Head) Cliffs in Martha's Vineyard.
Credit: Katkami/ Shutterstock

There’s no shortage of charm in New England, but for a super romantic getaway, head to Martha’s Vineyard, situated six miles off the Massachusetts coast. The Beach Plum Inn provides cozy bungalows for couples, or opt for a larger two-bedroom home with views of the bay and a private outdoor shower.

With 44 miles of bicycle trails, renting a bike in Edgartown is one of the most enjoyable ways to explore the island. Whether you’re cycling to South Beach or to the West Chop Lighthouse, pack a beach blanket and a bottle of wine for a romantic picnic for two. If cycling isn’t your thing, drive out to the Aquinnah Cliffs, one of the best spots on the island to watch the sunset.

4

Kyoto, Japan

A view of Kyoto, Japan during the spring in the historic Higashiyama Ward.
Credit: Sean Pavone/ iStock

Filled with tradition, culture, and natural beauty, Kyoto is an appealing destination any time of year, but it is especially romantic from the end of March until the middle of April — when the city’s blooming cherry blossoms transform Kyoto into a lover’s paradise.

Besides walking hand-in-hand beneath flowering trees, Kyoto offers plenty else to do. A stroll beneath a grove of the sky-high trees in Sagano Bamboo Forest is a magical experience, while dinner in Pontocho — a narrow street lit with traditional Japanese lanterns — provides a striking ambiance for a romantic evening. Kyoto’s Jishu Shrine pays homage to the gods of love and matchmaking, and visitors who walk between the shrine’s matching love stones with their eyes closed are predicted to find true love.

3

Sintra, Portugal

Castelo dos Mouros in Sintra, Portugal.
Credit: LuisPortugal/ iStock

Less than an hour by train from Lisbon, the storybook village of Sintra is perfect for a day trip or weekend getaway. Sintra is perched high above the Atlantic, filled with winding cobblestone streets, exotic gardens, and multiple brightly colored castles — from Castelo dos Mouros (an ancient Moorish castle) to the 19th-century villa Quinta da Regaleira and the famed Palácio Nacional de Pena.

The village is also surrounded by the stunning natural scenery of Sintra/Cascais National Park. Not to be missed is Cabo de Roca, a cliffside landmark with dramatic views of the sea that marks the westernmost point of mainland Europe. Visitors can also explore the park’s coastal walks, forest hikes, and Anta de Adrenunes, an ancient structure that is believed to be a megalithic tomb.

2

Québec City, Canada

The blue lake and powerful waterfall in Montmorency Falls Park, in Quebec.
Credit: kavram/ Shutterstock

If Paris is the city of love, then Québec City might just be the next best thing. Located in French Canada, this historic city feels like a European city — without the transatlantic flight. From French food to French-inspired architecture and locals speaking French, you’d be hard pressed to find a more romantic (or Francophile-friendly) setting in North America.

Don’t let the cold deter you from visiting in winter, either: Québec City’s charms are on display during the coldest season. City residents refuse to hide indoors; instead, they can be found ice skating in Plains de Abraham, shopping in Petit-Champlain, or hiking to nearby Montmorency Falls. This is also the best season to visit Strøm, a Nordic spa located along the St. Lawrence River. Offering a variety of thermal experiences, massage treatments, and a deeply relaxing flotation bath, this type of spa experience is ideal for couples in need of R&R.

1

Bali, Indonesia

View of the landmark temple gates in Northern Bali.
Credit: R.M. Nunes/ iStock

Bali is one of the most coveted honeymoon spots in the world for good reason. From lush island landscapes to postcard-perfect beaches, sunset cruises on catamarans, and hiking volcanic mountain ranges, Bali offers an ideal balance of relaxation and adventure. Nicknamed the “island of the gods,” it’s also a highly spiritual place, and there are many Buddhist temples to explore. One not to miss is Uluwatu, a cliffside Balinese sea temple with unobstructed views of the sea.

In the town of Gesing, couples can make a wish on a 700-year old banyan tree, while Lempuyang is home to the photogenic Gates of Heaven. To see sea turtles and manta rays in their natural habitat, snorkelers can head to Menjangan National Marine Park, a protected marine environment that can be accessed by boat.

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