Exotic adventurers, urban wanderers or beach dwellers, plan the perfect honeymoon with our globetrotting recommendations for top honeymoon destinations this year.
Adventure activity honeymoons
Lace up your hiking boots and get ready to tackle Peru’s intrepid Inca Trail where the end goal is the goosebumps inducing sight of the ruined city of Machu Picchu. The distance to cover is barely 39 kilometres but the four-day trek between the Sacred Valley and your final destination snakes it way through the Andean mountain range and up over a trio of high passes.
Vast, landlocked and suitably remote, adventure is par for the course in the birthplace of Genghis Khan where 15 nomadic ethnic groups make up the population. The horse still plays a vital role as a transport necessity, and is also an indication of wealth and status. Saddle up as part of a small group tour and hit the epic plains, but don’t expect brick and mortar hospitality – this is the land of the ger (circular tent), although glamped-up options are starting to make an appearance.
There’s more to Nepal than treks to Everest Base Camp, with whitewater rafting and kayaking aplenty courtesy of melting mountain snow and monsoon rains. Liquid thrills include rafting the rapids of the Sun Kosi, a National Geographic top 10 world river journeys rated experience, and the Kali Gandaki near Pokhara, which flows through the world’s deepest gorge at one point.
Nature and wildlife honeymoons
The world’s largest cat can be seen closer to home in India where almost 50 percent of the remaining global wild tiger population roam under government protection in some 40 national parks. With around 1,400 big cats spread across the country, these elusive beasts are notoriously difficult to spot. Top locations include the gloriously photogenic Ranthambore National Park, once the hunting grounds of the Maharajas of Jaipur, and Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh, which is also home to the famed white tiger (although one hasn’t been sighted in over 50 years).
The country’s gorilla population is a major draw with tourists hiking to the Virunga Mountains to spot them in their natural habitat. Only a limited number of permits are issued each year and special packages combining gorilla trekking with trips to other national parks in Rwanda are also available.
Whale watching tours are a year-round attraction and just one reason to head north to south where 11 species, including orcas, frequent Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf and sperm whales are a staple sight off the coastal town of Kaikoura. Playful fur seals, dusky dolphin pods and endangered yellow-eyed penguins are also part of the wildlife-rich islands offering.
The 1,190 atolls and islands that make up the Maldives offer an endless profusion of impossibly good-looking stretches of white sand embraced by deep blue skies and lapped by turquoise waters. Can’t decide on a single location? Opt for an island-hopping honeymoon to experience both the breathtaking underwater coral reefs to the north and stunning lagoons and marine life-rich dive spots in the south. Lush, tropical and perfectly paradisiacal.
A popular stretch of Caribbean coastline and chic Yucatán Peninsula playground, Riviera Maya is Mexico’s beach destination of choice from the all-inclusive resorts of Playa del Carmen to the more boho vibe of southern Tulum. Immaculate stretches of white-bright sand meander for some 1,600 kilometres and are offset by the cerulean ocean waters. The quaint fishing village of Puerto Morelos, untouched sands of Punta Bete and boutique Tankah community are worthy contenders for best beach experience.
Avoid the tourist hordes and seek out Thailand’s as-yet-unexploited seaside locales for some of the best beach action in Asia. South of busy Koh Lanta, tiny Koh Kradan island is ideal for kayaking action or just to lay back and soak up the sun while Mae Nam on Koh Samui may be mere minutes from all the trappings of modern-day tourism but feels like an island idyll of its own. There’s even a stretch of heaven on Phuket, where the hidden west coast delights of Laem Sing are to be found.
Unique cruising honeymoons
Charter a traditional Turkish wooden gulet (where three to 10 cabins is the norm) for a more intimate cruising experience along the country’s southwestern Mediterranean coastline. Berth at picturesque harbour towns like Göcek with its Roman ruins; Fethiye, for a wander through the charming old town; and end your trip in the lively resort of Marmaris. On-trend Bodrum is another great embarkation point in the Aegean and is close to the nearby Greek islands of Kos and Rhodes.
With one of the longest coastlines in the world and a visually arresting alternative to the classic western Med routes, a cruise through Norway’s jaw-droppingly beautiful fjords ticks both the romance and natural world boxes. The region is home to two UNESCO World Heritage sites with cascading waterfalls, lush mountain scenery with notable port towns like the former Viking stronghold of Bergen and Ålesund’s turreted
One of Europe’s most scenic waterways, stretching almost 3,000 kilometres and passing through 10 countries, a Danube cruise will invariably take in the grandeur and historic attractions of major capitals such as Budapest and Prague, as well as the chocolate box quaintness of places like Bratislava and Linz. It’s also great for collecting passport stamps, which is always a
Feast on the best of both French and Italian inspired cuisine on the rugged island of Corsica, the birthplace of Napoléon. Rustic gastronomy is the foodie theme with a hearty dish of wild boar stew, or a plate of local oysters and fresh river trout symbolic of its beautiful coast and rivers.
A very different experience would be Japan, where each region is a proud supporter of its own local specialities. Take a day trip out of Tokyo to explore the port town of Shimoda, home to some of the best seafood you’ll ever taste, tuck into a wagyu sukiyaki in beef capital Kobe, or enjoy a classic okonomiyaki savoury pancake on Honshu Island.
South of the equator, the farm to table culture makes South Africa a must-do destination for foodies with a wealth of both high-end and down to earth dining opportunities. Head to Johannesburg’s Soweto community for traditional bunnychow and malva pudding or take in the pan-African flavours of the Yeoville neighbourhood. Cape Town is the gastronomic heartland from the delights of a traditional braai in Gugulethu township to Cape Malay recipes found in Bo Kaap suburb and fine dining in the Western Cape valley town of Franschhoek.
Picture perfect honeymoons
The dramatic cliffs of the Italian Riviera are the cinematic setting for Cinque Terre, a string of four 16th century villages made famous by their precarious setting and their pantone perfect colour palette. A care-free zone, the quintet of communities is best admired by boat. Stop off for a trattoria seafood lunch or dinner in any one of the enchanting harbours then take the Via dell’Amore (Love Walk) above Riomaggiore.
Fringed by the ice-cold Baltic Sea and nestled in the fells of the Scandinavian mountains, Finland’s Lapland offers unique experiences from reindeer sledding through a winter wonderland to the Northern Lights in all their technicolour glory.
BANFF NATIONAL PARK
In the heart of the Canadian Rockies lies Banff National Park. Rent a car to explore this enchanting and vast wildlife-rich corner of the world with swimming, hiking, hot spring and ski action on offer. The Vermilion Lakes at sunrise is bucket list stuff while Lake Louise is year-round photogenic whether it’s with canoe paddle in hand or as a winter ice skating rink with the majestic mountains your silently appreciative audience.
City break honeymoons
Whether it’s simply sitting at a pavement café watching the world go by, taking a twosome selfie at the top of the Eiffel Tower or strolling along the River Seine at dusk, it’s hard to beat the eternal love fest in Paris. Add in cultural exploration courtesy of the Louvre, the Paris opera at Palais Garnier and in the charming lanes of Montmartre, home to the stunning Sacré-Cœur basilica, or with a cruise through the Canal St-Martin. The City of Love indeed.
Tailor-made for romance, Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires is the home of European influenced architecture, Eva Peron and the tango. Wander through the cobbled streets of local neighborhoods like colourful working class La Boca, San Telmo for its bustling Sunday market or Barracas with its artistically decorated façades. For Peronista flashbacks, take a tour of the presidential Casa Rosada or follow in the first lady’s footsteps with a night at the Teatro Colon opera house, or start as you mean to go on with a tango lesson for two.
If you love the 24/7 buzz of a city then New York is well placed to satisfy daytime desires and after-dark exploration. Amp up the romance with a picnic in Central Park on Sheep Meadow or sitting on the bleachers of the High Line, a former elevated rail line transformed into a cool urban park. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a good spot to meander hand-in-hand between cultural exhibits while the architectural grandeur of Grand Central Station is also home to cool watering holes, and don’t forget a stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge. A Broadway play, Harlem jazz performance or Rainbow Room sundowner atop the Rockefeller Center seal the deal.
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