The world’s 14 most romantic destinations
Whether your idea of romance is a beach, the Big Apple or consuming your body weight in cheese and wine, there are parts of the world where you can practically smell the love in the air. It’s no wonder so many of these destinations are popular around Valentine’s Day. Luckily, hostels mean these luxurious dates don’t have to cost a fortune. So grab bae, pack your bags and book a private room with HI in one of these 14 lovey-dovey places around the globe.
1. Paris, France
How could you begin a list of romantic destinations anywhere other than the City of Love? Amour flows through Paris’ streets, from the banks of the Seine to the top of the Eiffel Tour. Stroll through Versailles’ immaculately curated gardens, stop and smell the flowers of the Luxembourg Palace and visit the Wall of Love in Montmartre, which translates “je t’aime” into 250 languages.
Where to sleep? HI Paris
2. New York City, US
On the other side of the Atlantic, the Big Apple attracts lovebirds from around the world for a horse-and-carriage ride through Central Park and a selfie at the top of the Empire State Building. Landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Botanic Garden mixed in with Broadway shows, the leafy High Line and a galaxy of bars and restaurants only adds to New York’s romantic appeal.
Where to sleep? HI New York City
3. Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
The Romantische Straße—or Romantic Road—connects Würzburg and Füssen in southern Germany, winding through dozens of quaint chocolate box towns along the way. The most charming is Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a medieval gem where colourful timber houses and narrow cobblestoned streets are surrounded by picturesque walls and defensive towers.
Where to sleep? HI Rothenburg ob der Tauber
4. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
From the golden sands of Copacabana to the pulsing samba clubs of Lapa, Rio de Janeiro sizzles with sexiness. Couples love catching the sunset from the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, sipping on caipirinhas at Ipanema, admiring the views from the Christ the Redeemer statue and shaking their hips (although not quite as well as the locals) at the beach bars and clubs that Rio is famous for.
Where to sleep? Mango Tree Hostel Ipanema
5. Uluru, Australia
The remote Central Australian landscape glows red as the sun sets over the outback, and the spectacular scenery doesn’t disappear after dark. Uluru has always been a dazzling stargazing destination for couples to enjoy, but the Field of Light installation has taken it to a new level, illuminating this ancient landscape with 50,000 solar-powered bulbs that glow throughout the night.
Where to sleep? Ayers Rock - Outback Pioneer Lodge
6. Reykjavik, Iceland
Freezing Iceland is a mighty long way from the scorching red earth of the Australian outback, but this wintry wonderland puts on an equally mesmerizing display under the moonlight. Snuggle up with your partner and witness the Northern Lights dance across Iceland’s winter skies, either on a tour from Reykjavik or from a secluded vantage point in the rugged north of the country.
Where to sleep? Reykjavik - Loft Hostel
7. Kyoto, Japan
The iconic Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine, Arashiyama’s bamboo grove and the lantern-lit Kiyomizu-dera temple provide a beautiful backdrop to your romantic stay in Kyoto, Japan’s cultural capital. Visit in springtime (March or April) for hanami, or cherry blossom viewing, when pretty pink petals blanket Maruyama Park, Shirakawa Canal and the Philosopher’s Path linking the Ginkaku-ji and Nanzen-ji temples.
Where to sleep? Kyoto - Utano Youth Hostel
8. Zanzibar, Tanzania
Known for its spice trade, rare monkey species and pristine white-sand beaches, this archipelago off the coast of Tanzania is as exotic as it sounds. Escape to Zanzibar to snorkel in the turquoise water, meet giant tortoises on Changuu Island, stroll through magical Stone Town and feast on seafood at the Rock restaurant, an intimate eatery bobbing in the Indian Ocean.
Where to sleep? Youth Hostel Zanzibar
9. Tuscany, Italy
The romance flows as liberally as the Chianti in this renowned Italian wine region. Explore Tuscany’s elegant capital Florence, tick the Leaning Tower of Pisa off your bucket list, take a dip in the area’s natural hot springs, tour the castles sprinkled across the countryside and of course, treat yourself to a wine tasting… or seven. Hey, even the HI hostel sits among the rolling vineyards of the Chianti region.
Where to sleep? Florence - Ostello del Chianti
10. Lake Bled, Slovenia
Combining the snow-capped peaks of the Julian Alps, a dramatic hilltop castle and a 17th Century church surrounded by the tranquil waters of Lake Bled, this spellbinding slice of Slovenia has been a local honeymoon hotspot for years—and now the rest of the world is finally catching on. Sitting in the shadow of a 900-year-old castle, Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana is another part of the country that looks like a chapter straight out of a fairytale.
Where to sleep? Hostel Radovljica
11. The Coromandel, New Zealand
New Zealand is one of the world’s most romantic destinations… and not just for lovers of Lord of the Rings. There are wine regions, ski slopes and awe-inspiring alpine scenery for miles, but the golden coastline and lush rainforest of the Coromandel Peninsula might be the best spot for a romantic break. Don’t miss Cathedral Cove, a natural stone archway framing this unspoiled stretch of sand.
Where to sleep? YHA Whitianga, On The Beach Backpackers
12. Lijiang, China
The old-world villages, atmospheric alleyways and soaring mountains of Yunnan province supply the setting for a charming Chinese getaway, and the Old Town of Lijiang is the jewel in the crown. Head to the Black Dragon Pool for a view of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain towering over the Five Phoenix Tower and white marble bridge that’ll take your breath away.
Where to sleep? International Youth Hostel Lijiang
13. Quebec City, Canada
Canada’s most romantic destination feels like a little portion of Paris transplanted in North America. Take a carriage tour through Old Quebec, eat your body weight in fromage and croissants, admire European architecture like the opulent Château Frontenac, skate in Place D’Youville during winter and book an intimate private room at HI Quebec sitting among the cobblestoned streets of the old town.
Where to sleep? HI Quebec
14. Essaouira, Morocco
With a bustling medina shielded by thick fortress walls jutting out into the Atlantic, the sultry port city of Essaouira offers couples a laid-back North African escape. Ride a horse along the beach at sunset, stroll along the ramparts, sink your teeth into bohemian eateries, and spend the night in a HI hostel designed in the traditional riad style around an internal courtyard.
Where to sleep? Essaouira Hostel