Those who seek romance know Europe conjures up an unmistakable faraway allure. For that reason, Europe gratifies honeymooners as an ideal place to spend the first few days of marital bliss. Once you have taken into account the cost of getting to Europe, the fairytale places you can visit makes it well worth the trip.
One of the first things to do in Santorini is to hit the colorful beaches and the black and red sands make for a memorable visit. Next up, indulge in the archaeological delights of the impressively preserved Ancient Akrotiri or climb the ancient stairs that lead to the historic city of Manolas in Thirassia. From there, catch a breathtaking view of the caldera, a brilliant turquoise pool of water that serves as nucleus for the varied isles of this archipelago. Some would say you only need a day to enjoy these islands’ charms but to really drink in all Santorini has to offer, you’ll need a few days to a week. Today, Santorini consists of two inhabited islands and several islets. Most visitors spend their time on Thira, the archipelago’s largest island, which is home to Santorini’s major towns, including Fira and Oia. Sleepy Thirassia makes for a relaxing day trip too.
Numerous films have been made about this gorgeous area in northwest Italy which evokes the idea that Tuscany is indeed a place of romance, chianti, olives, aromatic cooking and, of course sunshine. Today, many travelers visit this region to celebrate their nuptials, whether it’s for their honeymoon or their 50th anniversary. The combination of castles-turned-wineries, elegant cypress trees, cascading hills and leafy vineyards is simply heavenly. Time seems to slow in this effortlessly idyllic place. And what better way to unwind than by savoring a glass of vino under the Tuscan sun. A bus tour is both a fun and safe way to see Tuscany while tasting the regional vintages and like the wines it produces, should be savored so try to give yourself at least a week in this glorious region.
Step from the Santa Lucia train station, and you’ll find the breathtaking Grand Canal sprawling before you with water taxis bob along, drifting underneath the Ponte degli Scalzi. Romantic gondolas carrying smitten couples coast along the web of waterways. On land, narrow passageways twist past Venezia’s Old World storefronts and residences and over bridges. You should note that maps are useless here, and getting lost is the norm so embrace the disorientation. This canal-strewn city’s main draw is its magical atmosphere, but you’ll also find quite a few diversions too: The tour guides at Saint Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace give some great historical insight; the Gallerie dell’Accademia hangs works by Titian, Veronese and other famed Venetians; and the Teatro La Fenice puts on some world-renowned operas.
On this vibrant Italian island, you get both a laid-back vibe and a cosmopolitan rush. You can laze on the beach one day and explore vibrant towns the next. With fresh Italian ingredients, Sicilian cuisine will make your honeymoon a gourmet delight. A tropical island with gentle waves spilling onto sandy shores, sunshine gleaming off a sparkling sea and volcanoes spurting steam in the distance. Add to that image: lush, rolling hills, topped by ruins from antiquity. And then you need to imagine the rich tastes of fresh seafood, decadent pastas, sweet wines and desserts. When night falls, the calm atmosphere transforms into a sizzling party in places like Mondello Lido and Palermo’s market area. This is Sicily — a balmy, laid-back refuge with an Italian style. You’ll find this large, triangular island at the toe of Italy’s boot, surrounded by the Tyrrhenian, Mediterranean and Ionian seas.
What honeymoon list would be complete without including this city of romance which draws millions of visitors every year with its unforgettable ambiance. The gentle River Seine rambles through the city, flanked by stately museums, centuries-old churches, and blocks of Rococo- and Neoclassic-design architecture, further enhanced by charming trees and glowing streetlamps. Containing world-class museums, fashion, cuisine, and an atmosphere all its own, Paris is also a city of “many splendors,” as Ernest Hemingway recalled in his memoir, “A Moveable Feast.” Visit the Centre Pompidou, enjoy gourmet pastries, shop couture on the Champs Élysées or hit the boutiques in Les Halles, take in the view atop the Eiffel Tower, or even plan a day trip to Versailles Palace.
Yes, Reykjavik is in Iceland, which is, in fact, an icy island most times of the year and, yes, Iceland was the culprit in 2010’s volcanic eruption fiasco. Why go somewhere cold on your honeymoon? What you might not know is that in the cold, long winter, Icelanders warm up in this capital’s geothermal spas; away from the city lights, they can drink in the beauty of the Aurora Borealis. In the summer, the weather is divine and the days are long; some days see 20 hours of sunlight. And volcanoes, like the notorious Eyjafjallajökull, are just one part of Reykjavik’s dramatic, even, ethereal landscape. Then there are also a surprisingly good handful of museums, local shops, a raging nightlife, and some pretty outrageous natural beauty and outdoor adventures.
Romance is everywhere in this this idyllic city in northern Belgium. Swans swim its canals; medieval buildings shadow its cobblestones; willow trees weep over its lake; rich chocolates peer from behind its windows; pints of Belgian beers sit on its café tables; and carillon chimes fill its air with music, this is Bruges. Bruges is more touristy and yet more quaint than the capital city of Brussels so you visit Bruges for a taste of medieval Europe in the 21st century, for a friendly small-town feel with world-class charms and, of course, for the beer, fries and chocolate, all national treasures. Some also visit because they’re fans of Colin Farrell. The violent and yet still somehow comedic 2008 film, In Bruges, was shot here. Fans of Farrell (Brendan Gleeson and Ralph Fiennes too) can trace the actors’ steps through this small city so whatever your reason for coming to Bruges, you’ll undoubtedly be charmed.
Finding your niche as a Greek island can be tough as there’s a lot of competition and lots of crumbling pillars. Many visitors specialize: Mykonos nurtures a reputation as the party heavyweight; Santorini, the romantic favorite; Crete, the historic mecca. Drawing visitors can be particularly difficult for isles that are both far from other popular Greek islands and from the mainland and that is part of the romantic charm for small Rhodes. The legendary Colossus of Rhodes – a gigantic statue of the Greek god Helios and one of the original Seven Wonders of the World, once guarded the Rhodes Town harbor, announcing the island’s wealth and power to approaching travelers. Although the towering figure was brought to its knees by a powerful earthquake centuries ago, Rhodes has been slowly rising on her own feet in the Aegean. With a historic medieval town, multiple Ancient Greek acropolises, an Eden-esque Valley of the Butterflies, pebble and sand beaches and a nearby chain of 11 other islands to explore; Rhodes’ historical and geographic diversity surpasses any other Greek isle.
Used as the backdrop for epic tales by both Homer and Shakespeare, the island of Corfu continues to attract weary travelers looking to escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The sight of its lush green landscape speckled with wildflowers is enough to melt any ounce of stress. The scent of olives and citrus carried by the wind from nearby groves is enough to refresh anyone from the inside out. It’s really the beaches that draw so many tourists to Corfu every year. Whether you prefer the more isolated, but easily accessible, shores of the island’s southern tip or the expansive, pebbly shores of the north coast, Corfu is every sun-seeker’s dream. If you find yourself facing a rainy day, the island is also home to some interesting museums and historical sites. Head over to Corfu Town, the island’s main commercial and tourist hub, and explore the winding cobblestone streets of Old Town. Tucked away amongst pastel-colored houses are breathtaking tributes to Corfu’s rich history, such as the Old Fortress and the Church of Agios Spiridon, all of which can be explored on foot.
Picture, huge stone walls keeping the lapping sea at bay, while you dine in the safety of your Baroque palace. You can come close to this fantasy with a visit to Dubrovnik, which comes straight out of a dream. This small city on the Dalmatian coast has got it all: travelers from all over the world come here to experience the rich history preserved in the monuments and buildings, to taste the fantastic local cuisine, to take a few fun daytrips, and to bask in the warm waters spilling onto pebble beaches. Snapshots won’t do, you have to be here yourself to see what all the fuss is about. Even though you’ve come here to enjoy Dubrovnik’s delights, taking a couple of daytrips into town might be all you need. The Adriatic Sea is the new Mediterranean, and Dubrovnik is its unofficial capital. Poet Lord Byron even called this city “the pearl of the Adriatic” and with its sparkling marble streets and Baroque buildings, it’s easy to see.