7 Unique Honeymoon Ideas Picked by Travel Agents
Unusual and Off-the-Beaten-Path Honeymoon Destinations
by Nora Fiore
Looking for something different? Want to move beyond all-inclusive Caribbean getaways and high-profile European cities? We asked seasoned travel agents about their favorite destinations that travelers might not initially consider for honeymoons. After polling travel experts on the top honeymoon destinations, we decided to investigate some of the lesser-known places that received rave reviews from agents.
These unusual honeymoon destinations often deliver more rewarding, authentic trips that help newlyweds bond through discovery.
“You really start to learn a lot about each other by experiencing new cultures and adventures together,” says Lori Rogers, who loves to recommend Ireland for honeymoons. As New Zealand specialist Roseann Iovine explains, her clients “really fall in love with the country in general, versus being in a beach resort somewhere in the world where you’re somewhat isolated.”
Ready for an immersive, unique honeymoon? Discover these 7 off-the-beaten-path destination choices with agent-approved ideas where to go and what to do.
Bali and the Gili Islands, Indonesia
Washington-based travel agent Connie Riker loves Bali because honeymooners can bask in a variety of settings with a minimum of travel in between. “Within a few hours, a couple can be in a completely different type of location,” from beaches to jungles to heritage sites. “You’re not losing days by changing environments.”
Riker mentions affordability and the abundance of activities for couples as other perks of a Bali honeymoon. “You can have a luxury stay with a private pool surrounded by jungle and top-notch service for a very good price. There are many opportunities for just the two of you to enjoy each other's company, including in-room massages and private or small-group tours.”
The Gili Islands, a ferry ride away from Bali, are even more remote and exotic. “I like to recommend the Gili Islands for my honeymooners in conjunction with Bali so that they can have that private, deserted island experience in addition to cultural and popular beach destinations,” says Riker.
- Visit some of Bali’s centuries-old Hindu temples. Honeymooners often mention temples, or puras, to Riker as surprise highlights of their trip. “You can breathe in the religious, cultural, and historical impact that the temple has had on that environment over time. When you touch those columns, you really can feel the sweat and the energy that went into building them. It’s amazing.”
- Shop for pottery, paintings, and other handcrafted pieces in the art markets of Ubud. “Couples almost always come home with something super-neat from one of the local crafters,” notes Riker. “A wide variety of international artisans travel to live in Bali and be part of the community in Ubud.”
- Explore lush jungles and wildlife preserves. “You can take day tours in the jungle, maybe an escorted tour, or even a scooter tour where it’s just the two of you traveling around and seeing the sights.” Observe the fascinating inhabitants of the Ubud Monkey Forest—without any fences between you! “Monkeys are walking around, sitting on the fence posts, and watching the people as the people are watching them,” says Riker.
- Learn how to prepare a local dish, from market to table. Riker arranges a private class “where the honeymooners go shopping in the market with the chef, select their ingredients, and work with the chef to cook a particular meal. Then they get to eat it at the end of their session.”
- Relax in the uninhabited paradises of the Gili Islands. “You can get a kayak from your resort, paddle along the seashore, and find that private beach that lets you have a picnic and enjoy what will feel like a deserted island.”
Best Months to Visit?
“I like April, May, June, and September because of the weather,” says Riker. Those months allow honeymooners to avoid the rainiest times in Bali.
A historic European destination with mouthwatering cuisine… but free from noisy flocks of tourists? Yes, it does exist! Croatia carefully maintains a secluded charm that’s perfect for intimate honeymoons. According to Wisconsin-based travel agent Katie Ciancolo, “they don’t normally allow large groups of people, so you have it more to yourself. I think that’s what makes it romantic.”
“It’s such an up-and-coming place,” says Ciancolo. This small country, across from Italy on the Adriatic Sea, promises “seaside landscapes with olive gardens and vineyards” as well as fortresses and castles. Croatia also pairs well with stopovers in more widely known European locations, especially Venice.
- See the lively city of Dubrovnik by land and water. As Ciancolo explains, “you can take a walking tour, then kayak around the old city walls that go right into the water. There are caves and a little island while you’re going around the city.”
- Take a catamaran to the islands of Hvar and Vis. Poke around the many caves and inlets on mountainous Hvar, which has a similar vibe to Venice, due to its years under Italian rule. Travel to smaller Vis, the sun-kissed shooting location of Mamma Mia 2. Take a sunset boat to either island for an added romantic thrill.
- Tour epic spots you’ve seen on Game of Thrones. Ciancolo notes that there are several tours that take honeymooners around the real landscapes that made the fantasy world of Westeros come alive on TV. “They go to the different locations where it was filmed and even reenact some scenes.” (Dragons not included.)
- Visit wineries on the Pelješac Peninsula. “You can tour the vineyards, then go sample wine and olive oil with the owner in a private winery,” says Ciancolo.
- Enjoy the bucolic scenery of Krka National Park in southern Croatia. “It has multiple waterfalls, a winding river, monasteries, and old mills.” Meandering walkways make the park a relaxing day trip. “You’re doing something active, but not overly exerting.”
- Learn about oyster production in Ston. “It’s interesting to see the whole process of it, how they harvest them, and how they prepare oysters and mussels. The smell is fantastic!”
- Go hunting for precious truffles in the northern countryside. “They have dogs that are trained to sniff out these truffles,” notes Ciancolo. “You have to search for them in the woods. You’re going to get a little dirty! It’s definitely an authentic experience.”
Best Months to Visit?
Ciancolo suggests September and October. “If you go in the summer, you’ll have crowds. After mid-September, the prices go down, and that’s a really great time to go.”
Ibiza and Balearic Islands, Spain
When you think “honeymoon,” you might not think of Ibiza, a hub of international party culture. However, “Ibiza is definitely more than meets the eye and what people read about,” says Baltimore-based travel agent LaDell Carter. “If you want a whole bunch of parties, you can have that, but then there’s also the tranquility. It’s very flexible. I’ll put young couples on one side of the island to rest, but take them to the other side for more upbeat, fast-paced people watching and party atmosphere.”
Carter praises the island’s emphasis on wellness, encouraging newlyweds to unwind and recuperate after hectic wedding preparations. Depending on where you stay, instead of shots of liquor in your hotel room, you’re more likely to find tonics and vitamins! The fresh food makes healthy living a pleasure. “Most of the restaurants, even the party places, have organically grown farm-to-table items,” says Carter.
- De-stress at the Hacienda Na Xamena. “It’s perched on the cliffside, so it’s very far removed from everything, a great honeymoon spot,” says Carter. “It provides that quiet and calm after the rush of a wedding. For tapas, they have an organic garden that they pick everything from. They have a choir that comes in and sings. It’s different from what you might think about Ibiza.”
- Go to an open-air movie screening. Whether you’re into arthouse classics or adrenaline-rush action flicks, you can enjoy a movie you love by the pool. Cinema Paradiso Ibiza shows movies ranging from Breakfast at Tiffany’s to The Big Lebowski at outdoor venues around the island.
- Discover the quaint charms of Ibiza Town. Walk the promenade, browse around the boutiques, and wander the cobblestone streets—all against the backdrop of swaying palm trees and shimmering blue waters.
- Party like a celeb at the island’s famous clubs. While Ibiza offers much more than nightlife, it doesn’t disappoint if you’re looking for dancing and music. Carter suggests the Ushuaïa Ibiza Beach Hotel—“It’s upscale wild.”—and the exclusive Nikki Beach Club. As Carter points out, a travel agent can arrange a VIP experience, with no lines, table service, and insider tips about where the best DJs are playing.
- Soak up the sun on the beaches of Formentera. Take a private yacht to the nearby island and get tips on the best spots to relax. “The captain will say, ‘When I was sailing, I found this little place...’ You can jump off the yacht, and there’s a beautiful, uninhabited cove to snorkel in.” Afterwards, a small boat will drop you off in port for a locally-sourced meal with rosé or cocktails.
Best Months to Visit?
June, July, and September. Carter advises honeymooners to arrive in early June: “You’re already there when the rush comes, so you get the best rates.” September is another strong option: “It’s starting to cool off. There’s just the right amount of crowds and you’re getting a favorable price, as well.”
Unpack once, see the whole country. That’s one of many reasons to love Iceland, notes New York City-based travel agent Ashley Les. “Whereas in other European countries, Italy for example, you can’t see the whole country while staying in one hotel, in Iceland you’re able to do so,” Les explains. “Within a few hours’ drive of Reykjavik, you have waterfalls, hot springs, snorkeling on the Continental Divide, and the Blue Lagoon.”
Iceland allows savvy honeymooners to cut out weary hours of air travel. For East Coasters, “it’s closer than the Caribbean or the West Coast.” Currently free from mosquitos, Iceland offers additional peace of mind for couples: “If they’re looking to start a family soon after, there’s no Zika in Iceland,” according to Les.
- See the wonders of the Golden Circle. “It’s a really cool way to drive around the West of the country and see the natural landmarks there,” Les says. The Gullfoss (or “Golden Falls”), massive geysers, and the geothermal steam vents that help keep Reykjavik warm are all on the itinerary.
- Chow down at the Hamburger Factory and celebrate Iceland’s growing families. Right in the heart of Reykjavik, the Hamburger Factory serves up gourmet comfort food. “They have a population clock,” explains Les. “Every time a baby is born in Iceland, the hospital calls the restaurant and everyone cheers and buys a drink. They get really, really excited about adding more Icelanders to the population.”
- Meet some of Iceland’s most adorable residents: puffins. “Whale watching is seasonal, but there are always puffins,” says Les. “Who doesn’t love puffins?”
- Take a tasty journey through Icelandic history with a brewery tour. Despite decades of prohibition, Iceland’s beer industry is thriving today. “The best bang for your buck in the whole country is the brewery tour. What’s neat is that the tour takes you through the whole history of alcohol in Iceland. You’ll see a lot of T-shirts that say, ‘Making Up for Lost Time,’” laughs Les. “You try all these different beers. That’s always a fun way to start a night.”
- Go snorkeling in the Silfra fissure. The exquisitely clear water gives you 100 meters of visibility. “It’s the Continental Divide, so you’re snorkeling in between Europe and America, which is really cool.”
- Snuggle up at the Ion Adventure Hotel. Although it’s just 40 minutes from Reykjavik, “you feel like you’re out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by lava fields, mountains, volcanoes, and lakes. It is out of this world.” Futuristic on the outside, the hotel greets you inside with a “very cozy atmosphere—big fluffy pillows, fur blankets, and floor-to-ceiling windows.” As Les reports, “you can see the northern lights from the hotel. And it’s right by a natural hot spring.”
- Soak in the geothermally heated waters of the Blue Lagoon. “That’s usually how I like to end the trip,” says Les. “A lot of the flights out of Iceland aren’t until 4 or 5 in the afternoon. Check out of your hotel, get to the Lagoon, spend 2 or 3 hours really relaxed, then take a quick 20-minute ride to the airport.”
Best Months to Visit?
Les recommends September, October, and November to catch the northern lights. Plus, “to see Iceland when it’s white and full of snow is magical.” But don’t worry, Iceland isn’t frigidly cold in the fall—more snow-capped and chilly.
North Carolina-based travel agent Lori Rogers gets excited whenever couples mention Ireland to her. She knows they’re in for a treat: “Ireland encompasses adventure, romance, culture, and friendly people.”
From big cities to tiny villages, Ireland buzzes with heritage that newlyweds can share in fun ways. Explore the urban pleasures of Dublin and Galway with walking tours and whisky tastings. Get an intimate view of history in opulent castle hotels. Drink a toast to centuries of tradition in rural pubs and inns. Rogers suggests moving from location to location every few days: “You have to get out and see the countryside and all the different areas.”
If you’re looking for an active vacation, Ireland gives you ample opportunity to go biking or hiking through the fabled emerald-green landscape. You can golf on famous oceanfront courses and sail around the idyllic coast. “They have everything covered, and on top of it you get to experience the beautiful scenery and welcoming people of Ireland.”
- Stay in a real castle. Ashford Castle is a particular favorite for Rogers: “You get to stay in a room that makes you feel like a king or queen with the 4 poster bed and the canopies, looking out at the moat and the water on the other side. It’s like being in a fairy tale.” Rogers also recommends Dromoland and Ballyfin for luxurious castle accommodations.
- Drive along the Ring of Beara route for spectacular coastal views. “It’s a narrow road, right along the ocean and there’s a waterfall that you can see along the way,” says Rogers. “You can get a driver or rent your own car and stop as you like along the way.”
- Soak up the convivial ambiance in village pubs. “People are so fun to sit in the pubs with,” says Rogers, recalling a recent trip to Ireland. “We were just sitting in a little pub and the locals start playing their music with the spoons or singing. It happens all the time.” Pub cuisine, like traditional stews with brown bread and butter, is simple but scrumptious. “The food is so fresh everywhere with no preservatives. ”
- Take walking tours, whether in town or country. Around Dublin, “Pat Liddy does wonderful walking tours where you can see some more of the things that are off the beaten path,” like Dublin’s first movie theater and the crypts of St. Michan's church.
- Trek through the woodlands in Killarney National Park. Hop on a bike or wander along sparkling rivers, rocky mountains, stone bridges, and vivid green expanses in the park, home to primeval forests and protected ecosystems. “There are trails all around the forest that they can hike,” notes Rogers. Or take a pony and trap ride and pretend you’ve time-traveled to another century.
- Don’t miss Kenmare for a taste of small-town life. Stay at the Sheen Falls Lodge where the rooms face out onto the waterfalls.
- Visit Cobh, perhaps best known as the last stop of the Titanic. Come for the Titanic Experience in the old White Star Line ticket office; stay for the salt air and postcard-worthy views of brightly-colored houses. “It’s a cute seaside town where you can sit and look out at the water and walk around the little shops,” says Rogers.
Best Months to Visit?
Any month from April through October would be a fine time to go to Ireland, according to Rogers.
After 20 years of specializing in travel to New Zealand, San Diego-based travel agent Roseann Iovine can vouch that the destination doesn’t disappoint. “People always come back and say, ‘It was even better than we expected.’”
A perfect destination for road trip-loving couples, the different regions of New Zealand beg to be experienced through scenic drives. “Young honeymooners tend to self-drive,” says Iovine. “They’re not on a bus. They’re not on a train. They’re part of the landscape and exploring on their own.”
Wherever you go, a hearty welcome will make you feel right at home in the midst of natural marvels. “The Kiwis are such warm-hearted people that along the way, if you stay in a B&B, guest house, or lodge, you end up having a very local experience.”
- Bike through the South Island’s glorious countryside on the Station 2 Station Cycle Trail. One of Iovine’s favorite activities, the trail is “a hybrid mountain biking trip that leaves from Queenstown. The Station 2 Station trip enables the client to do some biking, get out on a sheep farm, cycle around the lake and through some amazing mountain ranges, have a great lunch, and then take a steamer across Lake Wakatipu.”
- Spend time in the Gibbston wine area outside of Queenstown. “That’s a little off the beaten path,” says Iovine. “You can stay on a property with a tasting room. There are cottages, but you wouldn’t find them on your own, because there are only 8 or 9 rooms where you could stay in the vineyard.”
- Learn about Maori culture through a hangi pit oven feast or private tour hosted by New Zealand’s indigenous people. Ask your travel agent to find a smaller group for a more intimate, less touristy experience. As Iovine explains, “There are more small operators popping up that are Maori people doing local tours and food experiences. You go out walking, they tell you about the land and their history, then they prepare a meal for you.”
- Go on a Lord of the Rings tour and be inspired by landscapes that blur the lines between fantasy and reality. “Lord of the Rings tours are still really popular,” notes Iovine. Whether you’re a big Tolkien fan or not, “it’s just about getting out on the outdoor tours and seeing more of the back country for the scenery.”
- Take an excursion from Glenorchy to Milford Sound. “It’s the best experience of the whole trip,” enthuses New Jersey-based travel agent Samantha Hartman. “You can take a helicopter from Queenstown to Milford Sound. You’re flying over the Southern Alps, which are beautiful mountain ranges.” Then you can go kayaking in the fjord itself. “There are mountains on every side of you and waterfalls coming down all around you. It’s unreal.”
- Cruise around the Bay of Islands near Auckland. “That’s a low-key, romantic thing to do,” suggests Hartman. “Waiheke wineries are on a gorgeous island. You can walk or bike around, stroll through vineyards, and there are beaches and nice restaurants there as well.”
- Relax in a natural hot spring bath on the beach at Rotorua. “You can dig your own hot tub out of the geothermal water under the beach,” explains Hartman.
- Camp in Abel Tasman National Park. According to Arizona-based travel agent Jeanne Alspaugh, one of New Zealand’s most romantic pleasures is simply “being out under the stars together” at the coastal park. You can pitch a tent in a secluded inlet on Te Pukatea Bay or rent a homey little cabin—both perfect options for budget-conscious honeymooners. With beaches, hiking trails, caves, and stunning rock formations, the park’s varied terrain presents a nature-lover’s dream.
Best Months to Visit?
Summer in New Zealand occurs during winter months in the United States. Nevertheless, according to Iovine, you should “try to go in September, October, April, or May to avoid the crowds, because you’re still going to have good weather.”
Florida-based travel agent Lindsay Hardy recommends a honeymoon in Cape Town “because of the cost, the safaris, and the wineries." The sophisticated coastal city makes a great jumping-off point for adventure tourism and safaris in the surrounding region.
“The vibe in Cape Town is all about fashion, foodies, and wine,” says Hardy. Indeed, gourmands and wine-lovers will find plenty to love in this culinary mecca. For recent honeymooners, Hardy planned “a full-day tour to the different vineyards and wineries with private tastings.” South Africa allows honeymooners to savor luxury experiences on a reasonable budget. “The dollar goes a lot further in South Africa compared to many adventurous destinations.”
- Indulge in the meal of a lifetime at The Test Kitchen in Cape Town. Hardy reports that honeymooners she recently booked enjoyed a 22-course dinner at the acclaimed restaurant. “That was one of the highlights of their trip.” A travel agent can help you book reservations at The Test Kitchen, because it can be hard to find a table at the popular restaurant. As Hardy explains, “I have people on the ground in South Africa. It depends on who you know.” For another creative (but less lavish) dining option, Hardy recommends The PotLuck Club, a sister restaurant of The Test Kitchen, located in an old silo. “The clients said it was amazing.”
- Enjoy awe-inspiring vistas of Cape Town by land and air. Hike Table Mountain, which rises majestically above the city, harbors thousands of plant and animal species, and offers trails to suit a range of skill levels. For a bird’s-eye view of the area, take a hot air balloon ride just outside of the city.
- Get (safely) up close and personal with Great White Sharks. Shark diving excursions take you just a few hours south of Cape Town. After joining a group on a vessel, “you dive in a cage at the water’s surface and the sharks come right up to you,” Hardy explains.
- Visit the Winelands, just 45 minutes by car from Cape Town. Tour vineyards and taste the region’s sauvignon blancs and pinot noirs. Hardy suggests lingering a few days in this enchanting region. “There are beautiful properties and boutique hotels. You’re in the valley, so you have mountain views. It’s a gorgeous, romantic countryside setting.”
- Go on safari at Kruger National Park and the Sabi Sands Game Reserve. Hardy recently booked clients at the luxurious Ulusaba Safari Lodge. “They spent 3 nights there in one of the suites and took game drives every morning and afternoon. They were fortunate enough to see the Big Five: the African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard, and rhinoceros.”
Best Months to Visit?
Hardy mentions January, February, and December for the best weather conditions.
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