With about six weeks a year dedicated to international travel, we still find ourselves focusing most of our trips on active escapes. That’s not to say it’s all outdoorsy by any means, but our itineraries are unequivocally on-the-go from start to finish, leaving little time for pure rest and relaxation. We’re off to Costa Rica in a couple of days for a getaway that’s focused more on marinating and de-stressing than it is on sightseeing, and this will be one of the first ‘vacations’ that we’ve ever taken in a long while (I always say that we ‘travel’, we don’t ‘vacation’, because we always come back more tired than when we left). With Costa Rica on the horizon and Valentine’s Day upon us, I began brainstorming: where would I choose go for the ultimate romantic escape? Here’s my top 7 dream getaways for blissful R&R with a dose of cultural immersion:
1I’ve been to the Amalfi Coast before during a summer Eurotrip with my cousin in 2010. I was convinced then that it was one of the most beautiful destinations that I had ever seen, and six years (and many countries) later, I’m still fairly certain that’s true. There is something that’s utterly charming and entirely captivating about the cascade of brightly colored homes and the enchanting feeling of leisurely lunches in the Mediterranean. My time there was too brief, and while it was a wonderfully memorable trip, it would be something very different if I were to go back now. With a husband in tow and a budget that’s not entirely limited to grad school funds, in my mind it’s the ultimate European destination for a relaxing romantic escape.
Dream Hotel: Le Sirenuse, Via Cristoforo Colombo, 30, 84017 Positano
2I wouldn’t say that Bali is exactly an under-the-radar destination, but it’s a place that has continued to capture my interest as a destination for a romantic escape. To be honest, it has nothing to do with beaches, and everything to do with a culture that seems to thrive on utter happiness. The landscape is vibrant, and the overall vibe seems to be utterly tranquil, with just enough to do to keep the active traveler entertained.
Dream Hotel: The Legian Bali, Seminyak, Bali 80361 Indonesia
Istrian Peninsula, Croatia
3You’ve heard me talk about Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula before, but it’s still top of mind every time we talk about European getaways. Northern Croatia seems to capture the essence and beauty of the Adriatic Coast, with a dose of Italian culture. In my mind, it marries some of Croatia and Italy’s best qualities, being able to provide a thriving food and wine scene (including being the epicenter of truffle hunting!), while offering the perks of the Adriatic Coast and a more budget-friendly setting. How does it get better than sailing on the Adriatic, sipping local wine and enjoy farm-to-table fare?
Dream Hotel: Hotel Monte Mulini, Rovinj
Arabian Desert, UAE
4Perhaps I watched Aladdin one-to-many times in my youth but to me, there’s something utterly romantic about old world Arabia: vast expanses of desert, vibrant souqs, and scorching days that morph into sundowners perfection. Add in the juxtaposition of old and new in the UAE, and it becomes an interesting locale that’s unique in the global landscape. While places like Dubai and Abu Dhabi interest me, it’s the destinations slightly further afield with activities like sunset camel rides, desert picnics, and falconry that leave me daydreaming.
Riviera Maya, Mexico
5Can you curate a list of dream romantic escapes and not have something beachy? Most would include something in the traditional Caribbean landscape but it’s a bit too close to home for me. Places like Tulum and Akumal on Mexico’s Caribbean coast seem to bring in the beauty of the Caribbean with a cultural burst that’s different from what is largely found in the islands. Besides beautiful beaches and great food, there’s the added layer of Mayan ruins and cenotes to add a layer of mysticism and some activity beyond the shore.
Dream Hotel: Rosewood Mayakoba, Playa del Carmen
Cape Town and the Winelands, South Africa
6This is a dream trip that’s becoming a reality relatively soon for us, but I couldn’t neglect it when I was brainstorming. Cape Town has long been on both mine and Scott’s radar, and the entire area is one of the most captivating places for a getaway a deux. There’s no disputing Cape Town’s beauty, but when you add in things like while watching in Hermanus, the vibrant wildflowers that bloom in spring, and wine tasting in South Africa’s culinary capital of Franschhoek you begin to ask if there’s anything more perfect. We’re heading that direction this fall, so stay tuned for photos + recaps from the region!
7I’ve long dreamed about a getaway to Marrakech. Just the thought of Morocco evokes a range of images for me: the desertscapes, the colorful souqs, the Bedouin culture, the mesmerizing architecture. The country generally manages to capture a feel that’s both glamorous and adventurous, with a vibe that makes me recall the vibrancy and magic of Istanbul.
Dream Hotel: Riad Dar Anika, Marrakech, Morocco
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go on a dream romantic escape?