Imagine sipping Argentina’s finest wines with the snowcapped Andes in the distance, sailing the fjords of Finland while the midnight sun shines down, or taking in a live opera under the stars in the high desert of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
These stirring scenarios have one thing in common: a gorgeous backdrop tailor-made for romance. “We’re all starring in the movie of our lives,” declares Susan Moynihan, founder of The Honeymoonist, a boutique travel-planning company for luxurious romance experiences. “And a beautiful setting makes you feel more beautiful—you want a setting that matches your mood.”
Sometimes it’s not just the usual summer getaways that hit the spot, though. In compiling our favorite vacation ideas for couples, we looked further afield than staples like Rome, Bora-Bora, the Greek Islands, and Paris. (Don’t worry, we’ll always have Paris.) We even let another of New York’s boroughs steal our hearts away from perennial favorite Manhattan.
Related: The 50 Best Romantic Getaways
We fell head over heels for places like the Scottish countryside, with its cozy inns and atmospheric landscapes. Summer heralds its sunny season, and all that green outdoors is now accessible to hikers and bikers along the John Muir Way, which cuts past castle ruins, whitewashed farms, and wild beaches.
There’s an added thrill in experiencing a new place together, especially one that still feels truly different. Laos’s royal city of Luang Prabang, for example, moves at a languid pace and woos with its crumbly French colonial architecture and Buddhist temples. It is also, admittedly, hot; seek relief at the infinity pool of La Residence Phou Vao.
Starry-eyed couples can also find such transportive experiences in the U.S. A short flight or ferry ride from Seattle brings you to the San Juan Islands, a rugged archipelago that feels far removed, with its exhilarating natural beauty, farm-to-table cooking, and wildlife spotting (the orcas come out to play in summer).
“Part of the goal for a romantic trip is to get out of your routine and away from everyday stresses and surroundings so you can focus on each other,” says Moynihan. “Going to a destination that is distinct and different from your everyday life helps create that mood and magic.”
Find out where you two can create some magic of your own this summer.