After months of stressful wedding planning, you and your S.O. deserve some quality time together. And heading to a busy destination, overrun with tourists is not really our definition of a relaxing trip. While popular honeymoon spots like Hawaii and the Caribbean are beloved for a reason (they are breathtaking), sometimes you can feel like you're not exactly having the most romantic experience—something that every post-nuptial getaway should be.
So for your first trip as husband and wife, skip the crowds, and opt for one of these equally stunning destinations that will wow you with their natural beauty, and cultural and historical sights.
While most honeymooners head for Bora Bora, the largest island of French Polynesia, Tahiti, has a lot to offer to newlyweds as well. Dubbed "The Queen of the Pacific," it really combines the best of two worlds—the bustling capital Papeete in the northwest, that boasts fine dining restaurants, colorful markets, bars, and boutiques; and, on the east, the "Wild Side" of the island, with its rocky shores, black sand beaches, towering mountains, and lush tropical forests.
For a really unique experience, stay at one of the treehouse bungalows of Vanira Lodge, cut in to the side of a hill and overlooking the famous Teahupo'o beach, a surfer's paradise.
This huge island, situated off the southeast coast of Africa, has managed to stay relatively isolated and, in terms of tourism, this has worked in its best interest. Its unspoiled landscapes, unique flora and fauna, and breathtaking beaches are waiting to be discovered, so a honeymoon here would truly feel like an expedition. If you and your S.O. are the outdoors-y types and enjoy hiking, diving, and biking, you will find your paradise here.
Of course, this doesn't mean you have to compromise on modern-day amenities. Stay in the newly opened luxury Miavana resort, set on the private island of Nosy Ankao. Each of its 14 ocean-front villas comes equipped with a private pool, full kitchen, living room, and a designated butler team.
Just like its more popular neighbor Costa Rica, Nicaragua is located between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, so there's no shortage of beautiful dark and white sand beaches. If you're into surfing and windsurfing, head to the popular Popoyo beach or Playa Colorado, or simply explore the Pacific coast and find your own remote spot—there are certainly a lot of little beaches. And while Nicaragua's natural beauty, with its lakes and volcanoes, will take your breath away, its vibrant towns, with their colonial architecture will transport you back in time.
Stay at the exclusive 8-room luxury Nekupe Sporting Resort and Retreat where guests get their own ATV upon check-in, which tells you a lot about the property situated on an 1,800-acre nature reserve, just 30 minutes outside of the capital Granada.
For a very long time, Portugal existed in the shadow of neighboring Spain, in terms of popularity on this side of the Atlantic. This is not because the small Iberian country has less to offer to its visitors, though. Quite the contrary.
Think dramatic hilltop castles, ancient monasteries, pristine white sand beaches, delicious fresh seafood, and world-class wine, and that's just some of the highlights of its capital Lisbon. As one of the first European countries to begin exploring the Atlantic Ocean, the archipelagoes of Azores and Madeira (home toCristiano Ronaldo), are definitely worth a visit, too, and are only a 2-hour flight away from the mainland.
While in Lisbon, stay at the Fontecruz Lisboa, an Autograph Collection boutique hotel, perfectly situated on one of the main avenues in the city, Avenida de Liberdade, and within walking distance of the popular Rossio Square as well as the hip Baixa District.
Known as the Pink City for the color of its buildings (Maharaja Ram Singh painted the old city pink in 1876 because it is considered the color of hospitality), Jaipur is the capital of India’s Rajasthan state. History buffs will appreciate the many palaces, temples and forts in and around this dynamic city.
The City Palace complex, is undoubtedly the crown jewel with its eclectic fusion of Rajput, Mughal and European architecture. Other not-to-miss sights are the striking Hawa Mahal Palace of the Winds, overlooking the main street of the Old City, the Jantar Mantar Observatory, a collection of 18-century buildings that specialize in all things astronomy, and the Nahargarh Fort, perched on a hill offering expansive views of Jaipur.
And speaking of forts, after seven years of painstaking renovations, the Alila Fort Bishangarh is finally opening this month and it is the perfect honeymoon hotel. The original structure’s key architectural features such as its majestic turrets and intricate arched windows have been preserved, so you can enjoy luxury amenities in an ancient setting while staying there.
This lesser known outer island is known as the birthplace of the Bahamas, so in addition to not being overrun by tourists, it is absolutely stunning. It is the quintessential romantic honeymoon spot—pristine beaches, endless pineapple fields (it is considered the Pineapple capital of the world), turquoise water, tropical landscapes, and last but not least, no crowds.
While there, stay at the secluded 57-room resort The Cove and enjoy its two private entry beaches and a variety of activities among which conch diving, snorkeling, and paddle boarding. For the more adventurous types, try the "Eat the Enemy" lionfish hunting experience and learn how to hunt and cook this delicious fish.
While the picturesque Adriatic coast of Croatia usually attracts people's attention (for a good reason, of course), Zagreb, the country's capital, is definitely worth a visit. It is a little known fact that there are more museums per square foot in Zagreb than any other city in the world, making it a cultural and creative hub. Gornji grad, situated on a hill, was built in the 13th century and is the oldest district of the city. The Presidential Palace, the famous St Mark’s Church with its tiled roof, and the Croatian parliament are all located there among the small medieval cobbled streets.
Enjoy sweeping views of the city from the top of the Westin Zagreb and opt for a couple's massage in the hotel's spa.
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND
New Zealand's capital, nestled in the North Island’s southernmost point, has an impressive cultural scene which makes it the perfect destination for art lovers. The city is home to over 55 galleries and museums, among which the Te Papa Tongarewa, the most visited museum in Oceania dedicated to the country's diverse visual culture. Don't miss the Cable Car experience, which takes you up hill to the entrance of the Botanic Garden. During the 5-minute ride, you'll enjoy stunning views of the city and its harbor.
Of course, this being New Zealand, you can obviously expect to spot quite a few kiwis. Take day trips outside of Wellington to experience the region's beautiful flora and wildlife. The newly renovated QT Museum Wellington embraces the creative culture of the city, and is ideally located downtown.
Celebrated as one of the most beautiful places on Earth, the area around this southern Chinese city, attracts visitors with its stunning natural landscapes. Take a boat along the panoramic Li River and admire the oddly shaped hills along its coast, and the ancient villages.
And because this destination is so unique, staying at a "regular" hotel is not really an option. Once a working sugar mill, the new Alila Yangshuo resort is set among amongst picturesque karst mountains, and will be the perfect spot to relax after a day of adventures. The architects have kept some of the original features of the property, such as the walls and floors of the luxury underground spa that are made from volcanic rocks unearthed during its construction. The resort even has its own in-house rum distillery.
We haven't forgotten about those of you who'd much rather explore a colder destination, and since Iceland has become way too trendy, head to Finland. What makes this country so special and honeymoon-worthy? If you ask us, there is nothing more romantic than spotting the Northern Lights, and in the Lapland region they can appear on 200 nights a year.
The Kakslauttanen Resort, located some 155 miles north of the Arctic Circle, is where you'll find the famous glass igloos—undoubtedly the best way to enjoy the Aurora Borealis.
The resort is very close to Urko Kekkonen National Park, the largest of Finland’s national parks, where the water is so pure, you can basically drink straight from a stream. While there, you can enjoy reindeer and husky safaris as well as ice fishing or an icebreaker cruise.
This article previously appeared on InStyle.