Romantic Travel Destinations for Every Occasion

spa treatment tables

Gondolas on the Grand Canal, Venice Italy

I’m frequently asked for some suggestions about where to go for a romantic travel getaway. I always have a few favorites to recommend, but ultimately everyone’s definition of romantic travel or a romantic destination is different. Romance is where you find it, whether that’s a secluded beach or the top of the Empire State Building, so I’ve collected some of my favorite choices for a romantic travel getaway. And hint, hint, Valentine’s Day is not too far away.

If you’re a City Lover

If you love the big cities, you know that they aren’t cold and impersonal – no, they’re teeming with romantic travel opportunities. Just think about these:

  • Paris is probably the most romantic travel destination in the world. Known as the city of love as well as the city of lights, there are too many romantic spots to mention. The Eiffel Tower, of course, but don’t underestimated the sheer decadent romantic appeal of the Champs-Elysees.
  • A kiss at midnight at the top of the Empire State Building. It worked for Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr in an An Affair to Remember and Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in Sleepless In Seattle. It’ll work for you. And don’t be late, the observation deck closes at midnight.
  • A gondola ride in Venice, especially at sunset, may be the quintessential romantic travel experience. Legend has it that if lovers kiss while on a gondala ride that passes beneath the Bridge of Sighs at sunset they will be granted everlasting love and bliss. Give it a try.
  • “They say the neon on lights are always bright on Broadway. They say there’s always magic in the air.” Capture a little of that magic by taking in a classic Broadway show. There’s a romantic energy to be found in the theater, grab it and make it your theme for an evening.
  • If wasn’t just literary fans who oooh and aaahed over the site for Carrie’s ill-fated wedding in Sex and the City: The Movie. The New York Public Library, with Its Beaux-Arts design, provides a beautiful and romantic backdrop for whispered conversation or a kiss on the stairs.

If you’re a Nature Lover

Maui beach view from hotel balcony

Whether your dream is a sandy beach, a place in the woods, the top of a mountain, or a secluded spot far away from the crowds, there’s plenty of romance and beauty to be found in nature. Try one of these romantic travel destinations:

  • My current romantic travel dream destination is the South Pacific to stay in one of those over-the-water bungalows with the ocean surrounding me. Whether it’s in Fiji, Tahiti, Bali, or some other exotic, and warm, destination, I’ll get there one day.
  • Hawaii offers many islands to choose from, so this romantic choice is just about matching up your preferences with the right Hawaiian island. There’s plenty to enchant you in the islands, and while you’re there try a romantic Hawaiian breakfast looking out at the vividly blue ocean.
  • Fuerteventura, Spain, lures travels to its shores offering white and black sand beaches along with a variety of outdoor adventure activities. There are over 150 beaches on Fuerteventura, so you’re sure to find one to your liking including some tht are clothing optional.
  • For a combination of ocean views and rugged mountain terrain, a romantic getaway to Santa Barbara may be just what you’re looking for. A couple of hours out of Los Angeles, this charming ocean side town is often called the American Riviera.
  • Along the Pacific Coast, south of Monterey and north of Carmel, you’ll find the rugged region known as Big Sur. This is home to Pebble Beach, and the iconic cypress trees along the coast, but there are plenty of coves, beach, and park areas to enjoy the best that nature has to offer.


If you’re a Foodie

Macadamia nut pancakes with fruit is a delicious Hawaii breakfast

Food is such an integral part of the travel experience that we often take it for granted. You can always find a fabulous restaurant for an equally fabulous meal, but there are some romantic travel destinations that are simply over-the top. Like these:

  • Set off for some wine tasting. The northern California areas of Napa and Sonoma are probably the best well known, but Carmel has lots of wine tasting opportunities as well. Or splurge on a wine getaway a little from home with a romantic trip to Tuscany or Argentina. Extend your romantic getaway by shipping some wine home to enjoy later.
  • Mexico gets a bad rep these days, and it’s a real shame as the country is full of wonderful culinary experiences. Try carne en jugo in Guadalajara, real tacos in Oaxaca, or the delicious vibrant flavors of the Mexican Riviera. When you’re not eating your way through the region, you can enjoy the beach, get lost in the culture of a city, or discover Maya archaeological wonders. Or relax by a great pool at your hotel.
  • Find a fabulous restaurant, with great food and atmosphere, and plan on this foodie splurge wherever your romantic travel destination may be. One of my favorite foodie destination is Quebec City, although there’s plenty on the culinary scene in Las Vegas, and here at home in Seattle, the lovely food of ART at the Four Seasons Seattle is hard to beat.
  • You can’t go wrong with chocolate. Whether you’re looking for a travel getaway focused on chocolate, or just want to incorporate chocolate experiences into your romantic travel destination, chocolate is a universal symbol of romance. Nibble on it, enjoy it with a robust red wine, or let it be your romantic bedtime snack. It’s all good.
  • Follow the stars, the Michelin stars that is. Most major cities are full of Michelin star restaurants (think New York City, Paris, and San Francisco), but there are  stars to be found in the more moderately sized cities of well. Girona, Spain, is home to the second best restaurant in the world, Cellar de can Roca. I got to sample their goodness at a catered party, but if you plan far enough in advance, you can get dinner reservations there.

If you Love your Luxuries

spa treatment tables

Nothing says romance like lounging around in a decadent hotel room., but there are other luxuries you can enjoy in your romantic travels. It takes a healthy budget to dish up these romantic destinations, but even if you’re not flush with the cash you can look for value luxury ways to enjoy these romantic travel destinations:

  • Enjoy some quality time in a romantic hotel room. Whether you enjoy the eco-friendly, smoke-free environment of ARIA in Las Vegas, a classic and historic property like the Davenport Hotel in Spokane, Washington, the majestic castle of the Hotel Frontenac in Quebec City, or a quirky B&B, for a romantic getaway. Splurge on a posh penthouse in Paris, a presidential bungalow in Beverly Hills, and don’t be so quick to leave your room.
  • Palm Springs is a romantic travel destination that has managed to pair old world classics with hip, new design. You’ll find plenty of top notch hotels and restaurants, many featuring hand-crafted cocktails.
  • Enjoy a spa treatment as a pampering treat. A great body scrub or massage, solo or for two, is a special way of saying “you’re worth it.”  There are plenty of spa experiences to choose from. Check out the spa at your hotel, set aside time for a visit to a day spa, or go au naturel at a bath. There are plenty of romantic travel destinations that feature spas, or you can find one wherever you happen to be going.
  • At 40,000 feet. Nothing says luxury like flying business class or first class, and even better when the flight is a transoceanic one. Bundle up on your lie-flat bed, sip on the good champagne, and don’t think about the poor folks roughing it in cramped coach class.
  • Or for a real splurge, try a private island, arrange for a private jet in Switzerland, or get a really expensive rental car. If you have this kind of money, you don’t need my help at all.

Travel is special. And it’s intensely personal. When it comes to romance – for Valentine’s Day, a honeymoon, a special anniversary, or just to share some special time – splurge a little. Or a lot. Make your next romantic travel destination a getaway that you’ll be talking about year after year after year.


My favorite romantic travel destination is Paris. I smile, and smile big, every time I think about being there. How about you? Where is your favorite romantic travel destination?

Photo credit:  author’s collection

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Mary Jo Manzanares is a traveler, travel blogger, and podcaster. In addition to her blog, Traveling with MJ, she hosts the Where Else to Go podcast, and is the founder and the editor-in-chief of The Traveler’s Way, an online travel magazine. Her travel ethos is value luxury - luxury for real people - and her goal is to help travelers know when to splurge and when to save. Mary Jo has been a speaker at various industry events around the world. When she’s not traveling, Mary Jo likes lingering over a cup of coffee, wandering in a museum, sipping wine at a cafe, and sharing it all with friends and readers. Her most recent travels were to Israel, Stockholm, and a Baltic cruise.

3 Responses to “Romantic Travel Destinations for Every Occasion”

  1. Erin January 28, 2014 at 3:33 am #

    Awesome post! Thanks MJ some real great ideas.

  2. Marysia @ My Travel Affairs January 29, 2014 at 1:51 pm #

    Please take me to Sonoma 🙂


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