The romantic appeal of some destinations is obvious — we’re looking at you Paris, the Amalfi Coast, and Bora Bora — but these places tend to be swarming with lovestruck couples. Instead, grab your partner and explore a new, unexpectedly romantic place this year, one that offers a balance of adventurous activities and intimate experiences to deepen your bond. Here are five of our favorite underrated romantic trip ideas for couples.
The relatively small, central European country of Slovenia is often passed up for bigger-name neighboring destinations like Italy, Croatia, and Austria. But it would be a mistake to overlook Slovenia’s stunning landscapes, charming cities, and long-standing wine regions. In fact, Slovenians love wine so much that it’s estimated there is one vineyard for every 70 residents — and very little of the wine is exported. If you and your partner both have an appreciation for fine wine, head straight to Maribor, Slovenia’s second-largest city.
As Slovenia has yet to be discovered by the masses, vineyard tours and wine tastings here feel more intimate in Maribor than many places in Western Europe. The world’s oldest grape vine still bearing fruit grows in the middle of Maribor, and several walking wine tours are offered throughout the city. To access Slovenia’s largest wine-growing region, Podravje, rent a car and drive into the beautiful countryside to sample unique varietals like rebula. Back in town, the romantic vibes continue with time spent in the charming Old Town cafes, wandering arm-in-arm around the city’s back alleys, and admiring the Gothic and Renaissance architecture at every turn.
There’s something truly special about witnessing the otherworldly landscapes of Iceland in person — and it can strengthen the bond of anyone experiencing it together. Located roughly 50 miles from the capital of Reykjavik is Thingvellir National Park, where you can stand together between two tectonic plates, snorkel in the clear waters of the Silfra Fissure, gaze upon waterfalls, and explore majestic mountains, glaciers, and craggily valleys.
When it’s time to unwind from epic adventure days, take a dip in the Blue Lagoon’s healing waters. As evening temperatures drop, couples can find a local bar or restaurant in the quaint capital and warm up with Brennivín, Iceland’s unique national beverage. With so much to do in and around Reykjavik, you might be spending your spare moments planning your next trip to Iceland.
New Orleans, Louisiana
If both music and food are your love language, then the Big Easy is one of the best cities to experience with your other half. Known for its jazz scene and vibrant nightlife, Bourbon Street is a must-see, but don’t let it define your time in New Orleans. Instead, soak up NOLA’s true character at the best music venues in the city, along Frenchmen Street in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood.
For a taste of authentic Creole cuisine, book a table for two at Antoine’s, the oldest restaurant in the city (and the birthplace of several culinary classics). Or for a more casual outing, grab a spot in line at Domilise’s for one of the best po’boys in town. Be sure to dive into New Orleans’ rich history with a visit to world-class museums like the New Orleans Museum of Art and National World War II Museum — or perhaps hold each other in a tight embrace for one of the city’s famous ghost tours.
If your dream of romance is wandering aimlessly around the endless alleyways of a UNESCO World Heritage Site with your partner, then the magic of Marrakech will be evident from your first step inside this ancient walled city. Explore the labyrinth of the medina, which leads to countless shops selling locally made goods, a century-old kasbah, authentic hammams, and famous tanneries.
Soak up the excitement of the beating heart of Marrakech, the Jemaa El-Fnna, over mint tea and tagine from a restaurant overlooking the historic market, or enjoy time together in a rooftop pool of a lavish riad, a traditional Moroccan villa with a lavish interior courtyard. When you need a break from the buzzing souks, make your way to Le Jardin Secret, a peaceful botanic refuge nearby. When you’re ready to venture out again, check out Jardin Majorelle. Designed by French artist Jacques Majorelle in the 1920s, it’s famous for its vibrant blue accents, stately fountains, and exotic plants.
This U.S. territory doesn’t require a passport to travel to but still feels a world away from the rest of the continental U.S. Hop on a direct, often inexpensive flight from many cities on the East Coast or Midwest, and you’ll touch down in paradise a few hours later.
Founded by Spanish colonists in the 16th century, Old San Juan is packed with brightly colored buildings, domes, arches, and balconies typical of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture. The city is fringed with historic fortifications, and a visit to either Castillo San Felipe del Morro, Castillo San Cristóbal, and La Fortaleza provides valuable historic context while offering uninterrupted views of the Caribbean. After discovering San Juan, rent a car and head west for laid-back, romantic beach towns and world-class surfing. Driving east will take you to El Yunque National Forest or Vieques Island’s Mosquito Bay for an unforgettable bioluminescence experience.