People often ask me, “what is your favorite place you’ve been to?” This really is a silly question, because “favorite” has a tendency to change based on who you are there with and the purpose of your trip.
However, some places are naturally romantic – the perfect spot for an amorous getaway, honeymoon to remember or an adventurous elopement. These are the kind of vacation destinations that are made for creating memories with someone you love most and the perfect setting for wine-sipping and sunset smooches.
Almost any city on the Amalfi Coast is absolutely bursting with the type of old world charm that almost feels manufactured. Artisanal bakeries, fishing boats bringing in local delicacies, lemon groves, lemon groves, lemon groves … terraced up and down the Coast. Views of the sunset in Conca dei Marini are stunning. In Praiano, fewer tourist crowds make for a more intimate visit. If you wander into Atrani, a day at the beach and a night in the piazza with the locals is not to be missed. And the villas and vistas of Ravello are fairytale gorgeous. One turn about the gardens at Villa Cimbrone is a pinch-me-I’m-dreaming experience.
If Southern Italy doesn’t sound like your thing, how about the wild west coast of Ireland – having a pint in a tucked-away pub or the wind blowing your hair at the top of the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic? It’s a Wuthering Heights kind of romance of rolling moors and jagged rocks, old tales of days gone by played on a fiddle all night.
Or, if whipping wind isn’t exactly the right romantic setting for you, I would offer Budapest, often called the Paris of the East. The Danube River curves around the city, seven bridges connecting Buda and Pest, each with its own story and tale, all providing an enchanting crossing from the more modern Pest to the ancient castles and Roman architecture of old Buda. And Budapest is lousy with spas! Hot mineral water to bathe, cold to refresh, saunas, massage, there are a dozen different ways to relax body and mind, to clear away worries and spend a day (or two) in the largest medicinal spa in all of Europe, Szechenyi, or any of the smaller baths in the capital.
Finally, there’s Rome. I tried not to include it as a romantic hotspot, but, everything about Rome calls for holding hands, splitting a gelato and slurping up the same spaghetti noodle until you accidentally kiss. It’s cliche and touristy, crowded and some areas are rough. But … the Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona, hundreds of small family ristorantes and cafes. There is something lazy and sensual about Rome, even in the midst of hustle and grind and sightseeing groups. There’s something about the way the ancient landmarks exist so naturally alongside a dozen honking Vespas or the couple at the table next to you is a little too passionate in their embraces; but somehow, you are the one who feels out of place. It’s a city for exploring and indulging, both very glamorous and mysterious.
There are many more romantic places, rambling through wildflowers in Cornwall or having a windswept hike in Scotland; a rooftop view sipping mezcal in San Miguel de Allende or a stroll through Paris in the evening. Sometimes it’s the place itself that provides the backdrop for love, and other times the person you’re with can make any place at all the most romantic. Either way, wherever you go or whomever your company is, sip a little slower, take it all in a little more and fall in love with wherever you are.