Luxury beachside destinations like the Maldives and Koh Samui tend to spring to mind when thinking about romance -- after all, what’s wrong with 5-star pampering, clear blue waters and softly swaying palm trees? But when we asked the Deal Experts at Travelzoo to share their personal favourite romantic destinations, we got some pretty varied responses.
Just goes to show that everyone’s idea of romance is different! Below are five places our Deal Experts recommend for your next getaway with someone special, along with tips.
Byron Bay, NSW
‘What made it romantic were the long walks on the beach at dusk (true!), wandering through markets, a windy road trip through the hinterland to amazing national parks, and renting a boat on the estuary at Brunswick Head. We chose it because I’m into yoga and my partner is into surfing, so it had something for both of us. Also, it’s summer all year round.
Apartments are great for space and independence. It’s also nice to cook meals together, rather than go out all the time.’ -- Kate Southward, Sales
Hardanger Fjord, Norway
‘The fjords of Norway are a spectacular natural phenomenon, and my boyfriend and I always wanted to see them. The Hardanger Fjord is one of the bigger ones, and it was an easy drive from Bergen where we were staying. When we visited, it was just my partner and I around, it was totally quiet, and it felt like we were in a fairytale. We had the mystique of the snowy mountains around us and the only sound we could hear was that of the running water finding its way to the ocean.
We went in winter, which was amazing, but it would be easier to travel in summer since the snow and ice make the roads dangerous to drive on in winter. I recommend catching the train from Oslo to Bergen, which is one of the most spectacular rides in the world, through the highlands of Norway with sheer cliff faces and stunning waterfalls to look at on the way. Bergen is a lovely city with a lot of great accommodation, restaurants and sights to see, and it is the gateway to the fjords of Norway.
We stayed in Bergen for three nights, but did a day trip out to the fjord. There are plenty of organised bus tours and cruises to go on, or you can rent a car and drive yourself. It is fantastic scenery driving through the mountains, and the tunnels are sometimes kilometres long.’ -- Johanna Grahn, Production
Hunter Valley, NSW
‘For me, the most romantic holiday destination would have to be the Hunter Valley. I actually proposed to my wife there! It has a country feel but is stylish, and its close proximity to Sydney is a plus. The scenery is amazing, with landscapes, mountains, vineyards, and the key for me is being able to drive so I can remove airports from the equation. It also has lots of good wine and food on offer.
Try all the wineries, especially the boutique wineries. Take a map, but only use it as a guide, drive around and explore, as you don’t go far without finding a different winery, or boutique shops.’ Charlie Coorey, Sales
Sirmione, Lake Garda, Italy
‘We travelled here as part of our honeymoon. We also travelled to Venice but found Lake Garda to be much more romantic. The scenery is postcard beautiful, snowcapped mountains surrounded by lakes. Food is insanely good, with great pasta and pizza, along with meat and cheeses. Hospitality and the service from the restaurants and staff were some of the best I’ve ever experienced anywhere in the world.
We stayed in a fabulous boutique hotel right on the lake called Hotel Eden for four days. It’s not the flashest place, but it has a great location with fantastic, helpful staff and amazing views. They also serve a good breakfast!’ -- Sarah Corcoran, Sales
Lake Bled, Slovenia
‘Lake Bled looks like something straight out of a fairy tale, with brilliant teal waters, a grand castle by the shore and an old monastery in the center of the lake. Children vault off metre-high landings and plunge into the lake while ducks waddle in and out of the waters. Visitors can hire out a boat and row to the island themselves -- I think that’s more romantic than a gondola ride in Venice because it gives the man an opportunity to be chivalrous and impressive by rowing himself.
You only need a day to visit it. I recommend swimming in the late; its magical waters are believed to cure many ailments.’ -- Micah Chua, Production