The Most Underrated Romantic Destinations in the World

A couple walks along Blouberg Beach in Cape Town, with Table Mountain in the background South African Tourism/Flickr
Paris, Maui, Venice—been there, done that. Although these spots are many couples’ first picks for a romantic getaway, they’re so famous that they can feel clichéd, especially if you’re trying to wow the one you love. Let us introduce you to some underrated romantic travel sites, where you can pop the question—or just pop a bottle of champagne—in a way that’s sexy, but a bit more creative.

Pictured: Blouberg Beach outside of Cape Town, South Africa
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Beach in Pacific City, Oregon Randy Kashka/Flickr
For those who can’t have romance without adventure, Oregon's 363-mile coast is ideal. With more than 70 state parks, countless beaches, towering sea cliffs, forests, and opportunities for fishing, hiking, and even wine tasting (inland), it’s paradise for those who love nature and good living. Plus, unlike the (slightly) more manicured California coast, prices for food and lodging here are reasonable—important if you might have a wedding reception to pay for in the near future.
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African women fishing in the water Matt Kieffer/Flickr
Secluded, intimate, and natural—sound like a love nest? Those words capture this archipelago 15 miles off the coast of Tanzania, a place favored by travelers pursuing romance and an escape from the frenzy of everyday life. Zanzibar boasts small, nearly abandoned islands untouched by tourists, sparkling turquoise blue waters, sandy beaches, coral reefs, and even dolphins. Besides its unparalleled natural sights, visitors can get a glimpse of Zanzibar’s storied past in Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site of twisting cobblestoned alleys, ancient mansions and former palaces (some of which are now hotels), exquisite mosques, and souks.
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Beach in Molokai, Hawaii jomilo75/Flickr
Aloha classic Hawaii! On Molokai, lovebirds find idyllic and (often) totally empty beaches, plus waterfalls, the tallest sea cliffs on the planet, ancient Hawaiian ruins and balmy temperatures, but no behemoth hotel chains, boisterous nightclubs, chain restaurants—or even any traffic lights. It’s the ultimate Hawaiian getaway, without the crowds and annoyances of the other Hawaiian islands.
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People on the street in Antigua, Guatemala ben_leash/Flickr
This is a place for history lovers…who also are lovers. Until 1776, this was the most important city in the Spanish Colonial Empire. But then an earthquake struck and the city’s exquisite 16th and 17th century churches, mansions and other buildings were largely abandoned, making this one of the least touched Colonial cities in the Americas. A 30-year civil war, which ended two decades ago, also helped keep development at bay. Today, Antigua is tourist-friendly and safe, but still maintains its old-school charm. Couples can stroll hand-in-hand past ornately sculpted edifices covered with flowering plants, through markets bursting with color and past Mayan residents who are still wearing the vibrant, hand-woven clothing their ancestors did hundreds of years ago. Brand new restaurants and cushy hotels add to the city’s romantic appeal.
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 Prince of Wales Hotel in Niagara-on-the-Lake Tamara Smith/Flickr
You’ll be drunk on love—or maybe on wine, tippled at one of the many charming wineries around Niagara-on-the-Lake (nearly 30 of them are found within the city limits). Whatever the cause, many couples feel happily tipsy in this picturesque town of Georgian-style houses and B&Bs, splendid gardens, fine restaurants, and some of the best theater in Canada at the yearly Shaw Festival. Not far away is the once-iconic, and now happily kitschy, honeymoon destination, Niagara Falls.
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Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa mattharvey1/Flickr
Some couples want relaxation, while others prefer a location with more sizzle. Cape Town is the perfect middle ground—its unparalleled natural and cultural sights can be enjoyed during leisurely excursions, or in a more active way. Spend a few days hanging out at Boulders Beach (with its colony of African penguins), ambling around Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, or relaxing with a glass of Merlot at a nearby wine estate. For the active part of the trip, ascend Table Mountain (by cable car or climbing from a gorge), visit Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for decades), or take an invigorating hike around the Cape of Good Hope, a peninsula on the South Atlantic coast of the Cape.
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Street in Perugia, Italy Ovi Gherman/Flickr
It's a no secret that Italy is a romantic destination. But lesser known Perugia has all of the lures of the more famous Italian cities—narrow medieval streets, superb museums and architectural sights, charming ristorantes, and trattorias—with an additional bonus: chocolate! There’s both a factory for it and the annual Eurochocolate Festival there. Add to that a boisterous, young population (Perugia is a university town) and an infatuation with jazz (the city has many clubs and is home to a renowned yearly festival) and you have the perfect long weekend away for globetrotting couples who enjoy burrowing into local experiences.
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