For all you bride & grooms to-be – or just the wanderlusters (we may have made that up) like us – these 5 BEST Cities to Honeymoon need to make it to the top of your travel list! For the romantics or the adventurers or the ones who want a bit of both, Katie from Ever After Honeymoons has hand picked these destinations! She speaks from a whole lot of personal experience on everything you need to do, see, and eat in these incredible cities! Have your passports at the ready because you won’t be able to sit still for long after this!
1. Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown is a personal favorite spot of mine! With incredibly gorgeous scenery, the charming town to explore, and incredible restaurants it makes for an excellent honeymoon destination. For couples that enjoy adventure activities, there are plenty of exciting things to pick from! Everything from shotover jet boats to paragliding to bungy jumping to quad bikes through the countryside can be done nearby. To see the best views of the Queenstown area, I can’t recommend a helicopter tour enough! The Milford Sound Helicopter tour with a Glacier Landing has the most insane views that you will never forget!
For couples wanting a bit more of a relaxing honeymoon, they can walk around the charming town of Arrowtown, visit wineries in the Southern Lakes Region, and enjoy the many incredible restaurants in Queenstown. The scenery of Queenstown is so jaw-dropping gorgeous that it’s impossible not to love it here!
Favorite hotel: Azur Lodge. Just 9 private villas, each with incredible views of Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables mountain range. Floor to ceiling windows to take advantage of the incredible views, along with a spacious deck. The hotel is located just a few minutes from the town of Queenstown, making it the perfect balance of privacy and access to the town.
2. Reykjavik, Iceland
Hotel in Reykjavik: 101 Hotel – SUPER central, modern black and white contrasts with Aveda products (rooms 103, 203, 303, 403 and 503 – have the best view of Harpa and the harbor and mountains), open plan bathroom with beautiful bathtub for romance.
In Rekyjavik, visit Harpa Hall (especially at night when the entire glass façade changes colors), stroll the quaint streets and shops, go into Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral and take the elevator to the top for beautiful 180 degree views and taste their signature distilled beverage Brennavin. Reykjavik has a serious nightlife scene until at least 3am. For after hours in Reykjavik, go out to the Slipp Bar at Hotel Marina for drinks, then dancing at any of the hotspots on Austurstræti.
Activities Outside Reykjavik (all within 1-3 hours driving):
- Fishermans breakfast at the harbor in Grindavik Village
- Blue Lagoon – those who want to splurge for extra romance and privacy can pay to reserve a private suite for 3-hour segments.
- Skogafoss – one of the most beautiful waterfalls (Iceland has an estimated 10,000+ waterfalls!!)
- Golden Circle tour – to see the Golden Waterfall, Geysir field (the Great Geysir blows every 4-7 minutes), Langjokull Glacier (2nd largest glacier in Europe)
- Ice hiking
- Ice lagoon
- Diving or snorkeling between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates
- Black sand beaches
- Whale watching
- Thorsmork Touring – recommended as a one-day splurge, serious off-roading in a Super Jeep through rivers and snow and mountains; can only be done in small groups or private with a licensed guide (includes a bbq lunch and a hike to a hidden waterfall through a river)
- Helicopter tour for a splurge and different vantage point of the Northern Lights (October-March only)
- Ice caves (wintertime only)
- Volcano lift (summer only) into the mouth of a dormant volcano to see the colorful Magma chambers
- Golfing (summertime, courses are open 24 hours)
- Westman islands festival – (first weekend in August annually), can take a half hour ferry from the southern coast
Food and Restaurants
- All fish/sushi is INCREDIBLE, salmon is everywhere
- Different types of bread everywhere, and delicious
- Visit the famous hot dog stand Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur
- Holt Hotel has the best wine cellar and restaurant
- Grill Market or Fish Market are both exceptional
- Unique delicacies you can find in Iceland – Mink whale, Reindeer, Puffin, Bone marrow ice cream
3. Cape Town, South Africa
Hotel recommendation: Twelve Apostles – boutique luxury for couples who want a remote water setting.
In Cape Town:
- Table Mountain (can hike or take the funicular)
- Lions Head hike
- Biscuit Mill is a super fun market open on Saturdays during certain morning and afternoon hours with food and crafty shopping (perfect for gifts and souvenirs)
- V&A Waterfront is great for shopping, food, and people watching
- Beaches – be sure to have a grenadillo lolly
- Boat to visit and tour Robben Island (Mandela prison)
- Great White shark cage diving (for the super adventurous)
- Boulders Beach to visit the penguin colony
- Half day trip to the Cheetah Outreach at Paardevlei to pet cheetahs and other protected animals
Outside Cape Town:
- Can drive and stop off at any of the little towns along the coast – Camps Bay, Haut Bay, Kalk Bay – for lunch and wandering the main street – all have a different seaside charm!
- Day trip or overnight in nearby winelands – Babylonstoren is a lovely boutique find, popular with the bloggers for the chic farm-ish appeal. For just lunch on a wine estate, go to La Colombe in Constantia.
- Day trip to Cape Point to see where the two oceans – Indian and Atlantic – meet
- Pair Cape Town with 3-5 nights on safari in Kruger National Park or near the border with Botswana in the malaria-free zone, also pairs with Madagascar//Mauritius//Seychelles
- Tasca – Portuguese South African cuisine on the V&A Waterfront
- Baia – amazing fish and romantic setting, also at V&A Waterfront
- The Codfather – recommended for fish-lovers but not my favorite restaurant; in an area of Cape Town called Camps Bay
- Koi – at the Ambassador Hotel, fusion food along the lines of Nobu; very hip and cool, great ambiance (on the cliffs)
- The Grand – dining on the beach with your toes in the sand, super trendy (in a good way); great atmosphere that feels like St Tropez
- Shimmy Beach – great atmosphere, turns into a night/dance club
- Willoughby’s – incredible (!) sushi at the V&A Waterfront
- The Black Marlin – on the coast past Boulder’s Beach, closer to Cape Point…INCREDIBLE views and food, highly recommended
- Perroni – recommended for lunch in Haut Bay, Portuguese South African that is super yummy.
- Olympia Cafe – in Kalk Bay, looks like a place straight out of “diners drive-ins and dives” but it’s AMAZING; fun little stretch of town to shop in as well
- Wakame – great sushi place
PARIS!! You just can’t have a list of the most romantic cities without including the City of Love!
Hotel in Paris: Esprit St. Germain – left bank, chic vibe, amazing service
Outside of Paris: Chateau la Chenevière (Normandy) – an 18th century mansion and farm with a walled rose garden, and an amazing restaurant that uses fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables grown in the garden on property.
Domaine de la Tortinière (Loire Valley) – family owned chateau with traditional, elegant décor. Request to stay in one of the turrets overlooking the Loire valley)
Activities in Paris
- Eiffel Tower (take elevator to the top for panoramic views of the city)
- Notre Dame (people watching in the square, beautiful interior of the cathedral)
- Saint Chappelle (famous stained glass)
- Saint-Sulpice (Romanesque, white marble obelisk inside used as a sundial)
- Place Vosges (beautiful, hidden square in Le Marais)
- Picnic in Luxembourg Gardens (pick up wine, cheese, baguettes and fruit)
- Montmartre (observe painters in Place du Tertre, climb to the top of Sacré Cœur– UNBELIEVABLE views)
- Outdoor market in the Bastille
- Museums: Louvre (Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, Venus de Milo), Museé d’Orsay (Impressionist art)
- Shopping: Rue du Faubourg St. Honoré, Department Stores (Le Printemps, Galleries Lafayette)
- One of the most romantic things to do is to walk along the Seine river at night. The lights, music, sounds, etc are magical. And you can’t miss the sparkling Eiffel Tower!
Activities around Paris
- Giverny (Monet’s garden and home) – easy drive or bus from Paris
- Normandy (beaches, Mont St. Michel) – recommended overnight
- Loire Valley (wineries and champagne caves i.e. Moët & Chandon, Piper-Heidsieck, tons of chateaux)
- Chateau de Versailles – palace built by Louis XIV (Hall of Mirrors, Grand Apartments, Gardens)
Food and Restaurants
EVERYTHING! Boulangeries (bakeries), Pâtisseries (pastry shops), Charcuteries (deli, butchers), Fromageries (cheese shops)– around every corner!
- Fondue – Rue Mouffetard (long, narrow street with tons of lively cafés and shops)
- Afternoon tea – Angelina (Rue du Rivoli) – BEST hot chocolate. LaDurée – famous macarons
- Les Deux Magots – café in St. Germain des Prés, famous for being Ernest Hemingway’s favorite
- Les Bouquinistes – Odeon/Saint Michel area, view of Notre Dame, beautiful interior, delicious food (Michelin star chef – Guy Savoy)
- Le Petit Canard – 9th arrondissement, classic French cuisine, cozy atmosphere
- Kei – near the Louvre, Michelin star chef – Alain Ducasse, sophisticated décor, impressive sommelier/wine list
- Dans les Landes – casual restaurant near Place Monge, tapas, rustic décor
Favorite Hotel: Villa Cora
This place is full of old charm and romance. Just a brisk walk or shuttle transfer from the historical center of Florence. The newly restored 5 star hotel consists of 46 rooms and suites, a beautiful pool, and gardens full of french and ancient roses. The Junior Suite on the fourth floor room number 401 has it’s own private lift, three large windows overlooking the garden, and hand painted white and gold decorations throughout.
Sit back and relax as a private tour guide accompanies you through the picturesque hills of Tuscany. Some of the most famed wines worldwide come from just outside of Florence in Italy’s famous region of Chianti. Start with tastings at Montefioralle, a family owned operation and one of the smaller wineries in Chianti producing only 10,000 bottles a year. Stop by Antica Macelleria Falorni to sample the famous salamis and fine cheeses being produced since 1806. Then off to Castello di Verrazzano (M-F 12:00-3:00) where you can enjoy a full tour of the castle’s gardens and historical aging cellars, followed by a guided tasting of their best wines, and complete with lunch prepared with local ingredients from the farm and surrounding areas. Then with the assistance of your guide you may continue through the hills of Chianti tasting wines to your hearts content.
A great all-day trip for the adventurous is Cinque Terre, prepare for nature hikes and picturesque fishing villages. Either take the train or hire a private driver to navigate the windy roads.
Cooking Classes: Spend a day immersing yourselves in Italian food and wine. Start with a guided tour of local markets, selecting the best ingredients, then your driver will take you to a Villa in Chianti where you will prepare your own meal paired with wines in an intimate group setting. Or ask your travel agent to customize your experience based on your preferences: private instruction in the heart of Florence or in an intimate setting just outside of the city. Pizza, Pasta, Gelato, the possibilities are endless..
Drinking and Dining Must Do’s:
- “A Golden Dinner on the Ponte Vecchio,” an unforgettably romantic experience. On the exclusive fourth floor terrace at The Four Seasons Firenze the one and only open-air terrace on the famous Ponte Vecchio. Michelin starred chef Vito Mollica will delight your senses with four courses as the sun sets on the Arno River.
- Enoteca Pinchiorri a Michelin star restaurant combining tradition, service and innovation in a Renaissance Palazzo in the heart of the city.
- Sunset cocktails and appetizers at The Westin Excelsior Firenze’s rooftop bar, Se Esto on Arno, provides 360 degree views of the city and has been noted as one of the 10 best rooftop bars in Europe.
- Lounge Bar La Terrazza located on the roof of Hotel Continentale boasting sweeping views of the Arno.
- Trattoria I’ Parione amazing food with a cozy candle lit atmosphere.
- Mercato Centrale is a large covered marketplace or better known as a little haven for foodies. A place where you will find all the artisanal traditions of Italy: fresh cheeses, homemade pastas, chocolates, meats, wine, and more…. Bring a basket and stock up for a picnic or stop in for a casual lunch
History and Art:
- Take a day to check out the most historical sights and best museums around the city.
- The Uffizi is one of the oldest and most famous gallery museums in the world. Housing the works of Michelangelo, Leonardo de Vinci, Raffaelo, and many more.
- Wander through the L-shaped Piazza della Signoria – a historical square drenched with famous statues and incredible architecture at every angle.
- Check out Galleria del Accademia, where you will find Michelangelo’s original statue of David.
- Walking the streets of the city you will become quite familiar with The Dumono, which is a centerpiece of the city and one of the tallest gothic style cathedrals since 1436. Entrance remains free to this UNESCO world heritage sight. Climb to the top for incredible views of the city.
- Piazzale Michelangelo is perched on a hill above the Oltrarno, where you will find the replica of the statue “David” along with some of the best views in the city. The perfect place for a leisurely hike just before watching sunset from the top.
- Boboli Gardens
- Gelateria La Carria is some of the best in town!
- Dolce Vita’s Chocolate and Wine Tasting Room offering delicious homemade chocolate, wine and live music.