Finding a romantic destination can be tricky if both seclusion and originality are your key criteria. We asked Bookers around the world for their recommendations. Here are 5 off-the-beaten destinations for an intimate getaway.*
Otaru in Hokkaido, Japan
Otaru Canal on the opening day of the city's Snow Light Path Festival
The city of Otaru on Hokkaido Island made its name as both a trading port and financial hub, but isn’t exactly known as a romantic destination. However, among domestic Bookers, it’s one of Japan’s most popular destinations for couples. One of its main attractions is the city’s central canal, where stone buildings and Victorian street lamps line the water, with an incredible mountain landscape in the distance. Also, a visit over Valentine’s Day almost guarantees a fresh sheet of snow. At the edge of the canal, Otaru Furukawa is a traditional, Japanese guest house with its own onsen (hot spring bath) and restaurant.
Èze in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France
The hilltop village of Èze offers breathtaking views of the French Riviera
The medieval, hilltop village of Èze is often overlooked in French Riviera travel guides, outshined by famous neighbors like Nice and Monaco. Regardless, Bookers will be in awe of Èze’s cobbled streets, bougainvillea-covered archways, and the hills lined by lemon, orange, and carob trees below. In the distance, the sun glimmering over the Mediterranean Sea makes for a Côte d’Azur daydream. The Jardin Exotique d’Èze, located at the top of the village, is a must-see, where stepping stones wind around statues, cacti, and tropical plants, as well as a neo-classical church with beautiful frescoes. Stay in a 12th-century castle with breathtaking views over the town and Mediterranean coastline at La Chèvre d'Or.
Dinkelsbühl in Bavaria, Germany
A cobbled street in the town of Dinkelsbühl, Bavaria
About 50 years ago, some clever German travel agents branded a particular route that passes through Bavaria and the town of Dinkelsbühl as the “Romantic Road.” Marked with signs along the way, it runs along some of southern Germany’s prettiest sights, such as moated castles, spa towns, the Danube River, and even a crater left by a meteorite that crashed into Earth 15 million years ago. Bookers can visit the walled city of Dinkelsbühl for a romantic stroll past medieval houses with red-tiled roofs, flower boxes, and wooden shutters. Book a stay at the historic yet luxurious Hotel Deutsches Haus, which sits right on the famous Weinmarkt square.
Orta San Giulio in Piedmont, Italy
San Giulio Island sitting on the blue waters of Lake Orta
Even though Orta San Giulio is just as picture-perfect as Venice, it has coasted under the radar of more mainstream honeymooners. It sits on a mountain slope that leads into a peninsula off the shores of Orta Lake, overlooking the gorgeous San Giulio Island and the lake’s teal waters. The island is home to a 12th-century basilica, a 19th-century monastery, and several small piazzas worth stopping at for an espresso or gelato. Catch a boat back to Orta San Giulio to watch the sunset over the lakeside villas and palaces. Bookers can stay at B&B Al Dom, an old Italian villa with a manicured garden running along the lakefront.
Panwa Beach in Phuket, Thailand
The peaceful waters of Panwa Beach
Panwa Beach is a curved, golden beach bordered by tall palm trees. It sits on the coast of a cape with the same name and juts into the Andaman Sea in a quiet corner of Phuket. Since it’s a little out of the way and doesn’t have much of a nightlife, it has managed to avoid the urbanization that’s overtaking so many other island hotspots. The beach has villas and hotels, but there are still long stretches with nothing more than fishermen’s huts and mangroves. Climb up to the tranquil Panwa scenic outlook for romantic sunset views of this untouched part of the island. Bookers can check in to The Cove, where chic, minimalist suites sit right on the sand.
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** The data scientists at Booking.com used an analysis of internal data to find destinations that were endorsed for romance and lesser-known.