Imagine sipping Argentina's finest wines with the snowcapped Andes in the distance. Sailing the fjords of Finland while the midnight sun shines down. Or taking in a live opera under the stars in the high desert of Santa Fe, NM.
These stirring scenarios have one thing in common: a gorgeous backdrop tailor-made for romance. "We're all starring in the movie of our lives," declares Susan Moynihan, founder of The Honeymoonist, a boutique travel-planning company for luxurious romance experiences. "And a beautiful setting makes you feel more beautiful-you want a setting that matches your mood."
Sometimes it's not just the usual hot spots that hit the spot, though. In compiling our favorite romantic summer getaways¸ we looked further afield than staples like Rome, Bora-Bora, the Greek Islands, and Paris. (Don't worry, we'll always have Paris.) We even let another of New York's boroughs steal our hearts away from perennial favorite Manhattan.
We fell head over heels for places like the Scottish countryside, with its cozy inns and atmospheric landscapes. Summer heralds its sunny season, and all that green outdoors is now accessible to hikers and bikers along the John Muir Way, which cuts past castle ruins, whitewashed farms, and wild beaches.
There's an added thrill in experiencing a new place together, especially one that still feels truly different. Laos's royal city of Luang Prabang, for example, moves at a languid pace and woos with its crumbly French colonial architecture and Buddhist temples. It is also, admittedly, hot; seek relief at the infinity pool of La Residence Phou Vao.
Starry-eyed couples can also find such transportive experiences in the U.S. A short flight or ferry ride from Seattle brings you to the San Juan Islands, a rugged archipelago that feels far removed, with its exhilarating natural beauty, farm-to-table cooking, and wildlife spotting (the orcas come out to play in summer).
"Part of the goal for a romantic trip is to get out of your routine and away from everyday stresses and surroundings so you can focus on each other," says Moynihan. "Going to a destination that is distinct and different from your everyday life helps create that mood and magic."
David Alexander Arnold
Dubrovnik gets lots of love, but we're smitten with the lesser-known city of Rovinj to the north. The terracotta rooftops, church steeples, and winding cobblestoned streets of the medieval old city are set on a peninsula jutting into the Adriatic Sea, which provides the focus for the many alfresco cafés lining the waterfront. Shop for wild asparagus, truffles, and just-off-the-boat seafood at the St. Euphemia farmers' market, held daily, then take your picnic to Golden Cape Forest, a short bike ride or walk from the old town. The striking Hotel Lone overlooks the edge of the forest and offers chic, design-conscious rooms with private infinity pools on each balcony. Dine at the top of the hill, near the cathedral, at Monte, where molecular cuisine meets farm-to-table fine dining.
Courtesy of Cavas Wine Lodge
Tear yourselves away from Buenos Aires for some wine-region romance in Mendoza, an hour's flight. At Cavas Wine Lodge, the stylish west-facing adobe rooms include perks like plunge pools, wood-burning fireplaces, and outdoor showers-plus views of the snowcapped Andes mountain range. Hit the wine trail to sample some of the region's praiseworthy Malbec. Carlos Pulenta showcases impressive reds and sparkling wines in a bucolic setting whose main house features Criollo native Argentinean architecture. Wind down at the 19th-century Park Hyatt Mendoza, whose excellent Kaua spa offers decadent treatments like a "chocolate body glow."
Embrace summer by heading to a land where the midnight sun shines all season long. The Finnish capital really comes into its own in the warm months, when locals take both to the water-to explore Helsinki's gorgeous islands and fjords-and the streets for the culinary spectacle that is Restaurant Day. Thousands of the city's best cooks gather to host pop-up restaurants selling everything from Finnish-style donuts to Thai curries. Board the jaunty blue-and-white ship Doris for lunch and a sightseeing tour of the archipelago, then hit the Design District, a walkable route with 200 shops, galleries, and boutiques. Over dinner at Juuri, you can sample sapas, a Scandinavian version of tapas. Sleep it all off at the chic Klaus K, where that famed Finnish design is on full display.
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