Best Romantic Summer Getaways
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.
Dubrovnik gets lots of love, but we’re smitten with the lesser-known city of Rovinj to the north. The terracotta rooftops, church steeples, and winding cobblestoned streets of the medieval old city are set on a peninsula jutting into the Adriatic Sea, which provides the focus for the many alfresco cafés lining the waterfront. Shop for wild asparagus, truffles, and just-off-the-boat seafood at the St. Euphemia farmers’ market, held daily, then take your picnic to Golden Cape Forest, a short bike ride or walk from the old town. The striking Hotel Lone overlooks the edge of the forest and offers chic, design-conscious rooms with private infinity pools on each balcony. Dine at the top of the hill, near the cathedral, at Monte, where molecular cuisine meets farm-to-table fine dining.
Tear yourselves away from Buenos Aires for some wine-region romance in Mendoza, an hour’s flight. At Cavas Wine Lodge, the stylish west-facing adobe rooms include perks like plunge pools, wood-burning fireplaces, and outdoor showers—plus views of the snowcapped Andes mountain range. Hit the wine trail to sample some of the region’s praiseworthy Malbec. Carlos Pulenta showcases impressive reds and sparkling wines in a bucolic setting whose main house features Criollo native Argentinean architecture. Wind down at the 19th century Park Hyatt Mendoza, whose excellent Kaua spa offers decadent treatments like a “chocolate body glow.”
Embrace summer by heading to a land where the midnight sun shines all season long. The Finnish capital really comes into its own in the warm months, when locals take both to the water—to explore Helsinki’s gorgeous islands and fjords—and the streets for the culinary spectacle that is Restaurant Day. Thousands of the city’s best cooks gather to host pop-up restaurants selling everything from Finnish-style donuts to Thai curries. Board the jaunty blue-and-white ship Doris for lunch and a sightseeing tour of the archipelago, then hit the Design District, a walkable route with 200 shops, galleries, and boutiques. Over dinner at Juuri, you can sample sapas, a Scandinavian version of tapas. Sleep it all off at the chic Klaus K, where that famed Finnish design is on full display.
This laid-back island continues to be among the most-visited Caribbean destinations thanks to its heady combination of intoxicating music, sublime sunsets, and affordability. Couples should make a beeline for Negril, the fun-loving resort town on Jamaica’s northwest coast, and check in to T+L reader favorite Rockhouse Hotel, where love is always in the air. Book one of the thatched-roof villas on the edge of cliffs overlooking Pristine Cove, and feast on blackened mahi mahi with mango chutney—served by the light of tiki torches in the cliff-side restaurant. Hit the elevated wooden boardwalk in Negril’s tranquil Royal Palm Reserve, a forest oasis filled with Morass royal palms (found nowhere else in the world) and more than 300 species of fauna, including butterflies and exotic birds.
Charming architecture and a lack of tourist hordes make the Latvian capital an alluring alternative to the usual European hot spots. Start by taking a guided tour of the opulent Opera House, then head to Alberta and Streinieku streets to ogle a wealth of perfectly preserved Art Nouveau buildings—there’s even a small museum dedicated to the movement (known as Jugendstil here). While on Alberta, pop into Madam Bonbon, a boudoir-like boutique stocked with chic shoes, fine jewelry, and pretty frocks you won’t find elsewhere, many by Latvian designers. Dine at the city’s most acclaimed restaurant, Vincents, where star chef Martins Ritins works his culinary wizardry: expect decadent dishes like foie gras ravioli and risotto Milanese served with gold leaf. For a more casual but no less memorable dining experience, check out Valtera, a serene, clean-lined restaurant in the old city where chef Valters Zirdzinš uses organic produce to great effect. At the end of the day, retreat to the hip Hotel Bergs, whose sleek, contemporary rooms (some with Art Nouveau fireplaces) hide behind a 19th-century façade.
Beaver Creek, CO
This tiny ski town has a hot secret: it rocks in summer too. Park yourself at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek and indulge at the Allegria, the only spa in town to offer couples suites. The two-hour-and-15-minute “Spa Romance” Colorado-inspired ritual features a wildflower and eucalyptus scrub, a steam, a Swedish or deep tissue massage, a lavender bath, and champagne. On select summer Tuesdays, the lawn behind the Park Hyatt hosts Movies Under the Stars, family-friendly movie screenings. It’s grown-ups only at the Beaver Creek Wine and Spirits Festival, an annual August event that showcases great wine and food along with cooking demonstrations and hikes followed by farm-to-table feasts.
Riviera Nayarit, Mexico
Stretching nearly 200 miles from the colonial town of San Blas to Nuevo Vallarta (just north of Puerto Vallarta), Riviera Nayarit winningly combines Pacific coastline with the majesty of the Sierra Madre Mountains. An acclaimed culinary scene and some of the world’s best whale-watching don’t hurt either. The city of Puerto Vallarta’s siren song is strong—lively nightlife, a pretty historic center, and winsome hotels like colonial art–filled Hacienda San Angel. If you’re in the mood to splurge, seek out the 250-acre Imanta, a Relais & Châteaux resort hidden between lush jungle and a perfect sweep of beach near Punta de Mita, at the northern tip of Banderas Bay. Kick back with a margarita and sublime fish tacos at the beach restaurant. Nearby, the famous surf town of Sayulita offers a laid-back vibe and activities (paddleboarding, horseback riding, yoga) that draw a youthful and New Agey crowd.
Lake Garda, Italy
Como attracts the glamorous set (ciao, Mr. Clooney!) but Lake Garda has all its neighboring star’s pulse-racing beauty and old-world charm—minus the day-trippers and celebrity-spotters. Wander among olive and lemon groves, take a lazy paddle out on the glimmering water, or savor a long lunch in picturesque villages like Sirmione (known for its thermal spa culture and ruins from ancient Rome) or Gargnano, with its cobblestoned medieval town and charming marina. Whether for drinks or an overnight stay, be sure to check out the lake’s most storied address: Villa Feltrinelli. It’s a neo-Gothic 1860s mansion-turned-luxury-hotel whose many virtues include a Fellini-esque sweeping marble staircase, frescoed walls, a lemon grove, and dilettante distractions like a croquet court.
Awe-inspiring scenery, spiritualism, and rich cultural and culinary traditions continue to lure lovers to this Indonesian island—which also has its share of world-class spas and resorts. One of the newest, The Mulia, has three tiers of lodgings: rooms within the Mulia Resort, butler-serviced beachfront suites at The Mulia, and ultra-private Mulia Villas, also with private pools and butlers. Sip cocktails at the Instagram-worthy candlelit Sky Bar, with its sweeping Indian Ocean views, then dine at Table8, the property’s new restaurant, featuring home-style Cantonese and Sichuan dishes and fancy street food. For a dose of culture, head up to the lovely hill town of Ubud, with its poetically beautiful jade-green terraced rice paddies and vibrant arts scene, and wander through the Sacred Monkey Forest, a wooded sanctuary filled with Hindu temples and cheeky macaques.
Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Helping burnish Costa Rica’s reputation as an eco-destination, the recently opened Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort overlooking the Gulf of Papagayo and Culebra Bay caters to couples seeking pura vida—without giving up the indulgences of romantic travel. Architect Ronald Zurcher’s design uses clean, modern lines while embracing the artisanal heritage of the region; local influences also turn up in dishes like fresh ceviche and Costa Rican chicharrones at three on-site restaurants. If you fancy bonding at the beach instead, the affordable Witch’s Rock Surf Camps, around 1.5 hour’s drive from Peninsula Papagayo, offers surf lessons, a restaurant, a brewpub, and 18 rooms.
Summer in New England brings out your inner romantic, and cozy inns, historic towns, high-end comfort food, and bucolic maritime scenery make the smallest state loom especially large for couples with wanderlust. Check into Forty 1° North, a boutique hotel that showcases Newport’s seaside splendor in its light-flooded suites and cottages overlooking the harbor. Graze the raw bar at The Grill, the hotel’s waterfront dining room, or tuck into coastal staples like clam chowder and crab cakes at Christie’s, then admire the island’s array of historic lighthouses on a leisurely 90-minute Rhode Island Bay Cruise on Narragansett Bay.
The sun-kissed, whitewashed Greek Islands have stolen the hearts of countless travelers. But lately, Athens looks increasingly attractive. Start in the historic and newly hip neighborhood of Plaka, where boutique hotel New is making waves for its artsy design (including an installation by Laurie Anderson) and a rooftop bar featuring a 2,000-strong library and breathtaking views. The Island Club Restaurant, meanwhile, on the so-called Athens Riviera, is a magnet for A-listers like designer Valentino. Join them at this cliff-top bar overlooking the Argosaronic Gulf to listen to music and sip champagne or Greek wines at candlelit tables. There’s even a private beach for midnight dips.
Guana Island, BVI
If escaping somewhere far from the madding crowd is your idea of heaven, this privately owned isle in the British Virgin Islands will render you starry-eyed. With just 20 all-inclusive rooms, a maximum of 32 guests, and no other island inhabitants, Guana offers blissful serenity and the chance to get back to nature (850 glorious acres worth). While children are welcome, this is a destination tailor-made for couples, with seven pristine beaches, miles of hiking trails with sublime ocean views, and perks like movies under the stars in a cliff-side setting known as the Garden of Eden. Be sure to book a massage in the “spa”—an alfresco cabana tucked discreetly in mangroves behind the main beach—where the soundtrack is the murmur of the sea and breezes rustling the palms.
Santa Fe, NM
With its dramatic high-desertscapes, endless blue sky, and mild climate, Santa Fe offers a Southwest experience ideal for summer getaways. Book a casita-with-a-view at the Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado, a former dude ranch in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and take forays into the landscape that inspired Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams. Ghost Ranch, O’Keeffe’s onetime home, offers various tours including sunset trail rides and hikes through the painter’s “red hills.” The present-day art scene is on finest display each July, when you can catch three major fairs. The open-air Santa Fe Opera hosts a world-class summer program, and if you’re feeling flush, sign up for one of the Four Season’s Show-Stopping Opera Tailgate parties, which include backstage tours and a four-course meal served beneath a tent themed to the evening’s show.
John Muir Way, Scotland
Sample all the bonny charms of Scotland on a coast-to-coast adventure for two along the recently opened John Muir Way. Suited to hikers and bikers, it runs 134 miles through the country’s heartland, from Helensburgh in the west to Dunbar on the east coast, providing a fresh perspective on Scotland’s stark beauty—and insight into the man who helped protect some of the world’s great wild places. Begin in the west at Monachyle Mhor, a 14-room 18th-century farmhouse overlooking Loch Voil complete with an award-winning farm-to-table restaurant. Indulge your sybaritic impulses along the way with stops at Glengoyne Distillery (a whitewashed farmhouse at the foot of Dumgoyne Hill, where you can sample fine highland single malt), impressive castle ruins like Dirleton and Saltcoats, and of course the fine city of Edinburgh.
Lush mountains, bubbling lava tubes, knockout waterfalls…Kauai’s prelapsarian beauty is a beacon for adventurous lovers. Get up just after sunrise to experience the multi-tiered Wailua Falls, just off Highway 583, at their most glittering and lovely, then dig into ahi tacos at Kapaa local hangout Mermaids Café. Find the room to match your vacation budget; an ocean-facing room at the St. Regis Princeville in Hanalei among the 9,000-acre Princeville resort, or a condo at the Hanalei Bay Resort in the same complex.
Luang Prabang, Laos
This ancient royal city at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers in Laos’s north moves at a languid pace, rewarding those who take the time to explore its ornate French colonial buildings, tropical surroundings, and wonderful food. Dawn brings a procession of saffron-robed Theravada Buddhist monks on their way to the temples; onlookers can buy small gifts of food (known as alms) as offerings in return for prayers. Visit Wat Xieng Thong, the city’s most impressive temple, then hit famous restaurant L’Elephant, which specializes in French classics served in a high colonial setting, with ceiling fans, bamboo furniture, and potted palms. The Indochine theme continues at La Residence Phou Vao, an upscale hideaway just outside of town with an infinity pool and views stretching across to the magnificent Phousy Temple.
San Juan Islands, WA
A short but scenic flight or ferry ride gets you from the Washington mainland to this idyllic archipelago. Of the 172 islands and reefs in San Juan County, four islands are easily accessible (San Juan, Orcas, Lopez, and Shaw), and each offers a temperate year-round climate and bounteous natural beauty. Hole up at Rosario Resort & Spa, a dreamy 40-acre waterfront property on Orcas Island. When you’re ready for the great outdoors, join Captain Hobbes aboard his powerboat, M/V Natsilane, on a thrilling whale-watching excursion. Summer is prime time to spot orcas, along with grays, minkes, and humpbacks. Activities also include a “farm-to-kayak” three-day adventure with Orcas Outdoors: small groups of kayakers paddle around the islands camping at secluded state parks, wildlife watching, and feasting on locally grown and organic foods.
San Sebastián, Spain
If you like your romance retro, you’ll appreciate this sunny seaside town, a favorite of surfers as well as the rich and fabulous, from 19th-century kings and queens to Hollywood royalty. Catch a movie—and maybe a celeb sighting or two—at the glitzy San Sebastián Film Festival, which draws luminaries to these shores every summer. But for many, the first and foremost reason to visit is to eat, hopping from one Michelin-starred restaurant to the next. For an unforgettable meal that borders on the theatrical, reserve your table at Arzak. Another local institution, La Cepa, is known for its sublime Jabugo ham and for pintxos (the Basque take on tapas). Sleep it all off at the charming Villa Soro, a 19th century mansion close to the beach, featuring manicured gardens and surprisingly modern, streamlined guest rooms.
Ancient redwoods, bucolic wine country, cozy inns, and showstopping coastal scenery are just a few of the reasons to look north beyond Sonoma to Mendocino County. Settle in at The Madrones in Anderson Valley, where rooms come with vaulted ceilings, warm earthy tones, French doors overlooking the vineyards—and an affordable price tag. The vintage Skunk Train tracks a 40-mile course through majestic redwood forests and mountain meadows. If you prefer setting your own pace, see the beaches and redwoods by horseback on a private tour with Ross Ranch. The Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands, a newly minted national monument, encompasses 1,665 acres of pristine coastal land and landmarks like the Point Arena Light Station. Finish a day in the great outdoors with a romantic dinner à deux at Ledford House, where rich Gallic classics like escargots in garlic and duck pâté meet the intensely seasonal, produce-driven Californian ethos. The wine list focusing on organic and biodynamic wines from the region is also a standout.
With a fortified old town that’s almost unbearably picturesque, 400-year-old Quebec City offers a supremely romantic getaway sans that European jet lag. After winter’s long chill, locals come out in droves, and all that sunshine feels exhilarating as you stroll the cobblestoned streets, with horse-drawn carriages and open-air art galleries. There’s a serious food scene, and any culinary spin about town has two required stops: Aux Anciens Canadiens, for comfort food like boar and wild caribou rillettes, and perennial hot spot Panache, where the ever-changing menu might include crawfish with fiddlehead ferns or duckling served with turnip and blueberries. (Chef Louis Pacquelin has a masterful way with seasonal produce from his organic garden.) Keep an eye out for the fairy tale castle–like Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, said to be the world’s most photographed hotel.
Door County, WI
When the mood for a classic lake vacation strikes, Door County obliges with 300 miles of scenic coastline and five national parks. Check out the region’s 11 lighthouses, many erected in the 19th century to help sailors navigate the lake and bay (the county’s name was given by the French, who referred to the treacherous waters separating Washington Island from the mainland as Portes des Morts, or Doors of Death.) Snuggle up at the Blacksmith Inn, on the shores of Lake Michigan, with its character-filled rooms—rustic furniture, hammocks, American quilts—and breakfast spreads featuring yogurts and orchard fruits served on your balcony. You can go snorkeling to one of the lake’s shipwrecks, like the Christina Nilsson, a schooner that sank in 1884, then recount your adventures over Door County cherry barbecue chicken at Sister Bay’s Mission Grille.
The Honeymoonist’s Susan Moynihan raves about her favorite city in Morocco for its “bohemian attitude, cute boutique hotels, and great café life. You can ride a camel on the beach past the rock formation that inspired Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Castles Made of Sand,’ then watch the sun set over cocktails at a rooftop lounge—magic.” The fortified medieval city is a study in blue and white, from the blue wooden fishing boats to the whitewashed houses in the medina that lend the scene a Mediterranean feel. Wander the souks and haggle over Berber rugs, brightly hued ceramics, and spices like saffron, then retire to one of the town’s charming riads, like Dar Loulema, an affordable hotel near the seawall with a sunny terrace and rooms decorated in jewel tones. Watch the sun set over cocktails at Taros, a French-Moroccan restaurant and bar with a fabulous terrace where you can snack on dishes like rockfish soup with saffron and cuttlefish in pesto sauce.
Move over, Manhattan. The world’s new favorite borough continues to woo admirers. From hip hotels like Williamsburg’s Wythe, an industrial-chic hotel featuring glam rooftop bar The Ides, to paradigm-changing restaurants like Blanca, the cult tasting-menu-only dining room helmed by Roberta’s chef Carlo Mirarchi, Brooklyn is on a roll. Head to waterfront nabe DUMBO to catch movies under the stars during the Syfy Movies with a View summer series. Watching the credits roll on a silver-screen classic while the lights of Manhattan twinkle just across the water is enough to melt the hardest hearts.
While Istanbul continues to burnish its reputation as one of the world’s most intoxicating cities, sometimes you need an antidote to its nonstop scene and gridlock: Kalkan is just the tonic. This idyllic town on the Lycian Coast (sometimes called the Turkish Riviera) ticks all the romantic boxes, from outrageously beautiful ocean vistas to rooftop restaurants galore. Check in to a room with a private plunge pool at Likya Gardens, then wander the town’s narrow streets, lined with whitewashed buildings sporting Ottoman timber balconies massed with bougainvillea. Drop into local favorite Café Vita for a strong espresso and some of the best kofte (meatballs) in town. Then answer the call of the sea by heading out on a gulet, a traditional Turkish fishing boat, with the Yildiz brothers, who run day trips and moonlight cruises, with meals prepared onboard by their wives. After dark, linger over a glass of Turkish wine at Korsan Fish Terrace, overlooking the water.
The Arctic Circle
Sometimes there’s nothing more romantic than going to the ends of the earth for your beloved—or the top of the earth, in this case. Lindblad Expeditions’ Land of the Ice Bears cruise makes an unforgettable journey through Svalbard in the Arctic Circle, granting up-close encounters with polar bears, walrus, and seals as well as passage through some of the world’s most awe-inspiring scenery. Guests can take zodiac tours and shore excursions from the ship along with a veteran Lindblad–National Geographic expedition crew; the most intrepid take the “polar plunge,” a breathtakingly quick dip into subzero waters. Few travel experiences can rival waking in your cabin as the ship glides past giant blue-tinted glacier walls, or watching mother and baby polar bears play on the ice under a midnight sun. Extravagant? Absolutely. But if you can swing it, the indelible romantic memories are worth every cent.