Anyone can jet to the Bahamas or Paris for a romantic getaway for two, but with the whole world at your disposal, why settle for some ordinary destination? We rounded up five unique vacations for couples – trips that you will still talk about on your 50th wedding anniversary. We also dug up some information on when you might be able to find cheap tickets to these incredible destinations.
If your image of a perfect vacation for couples involves stretching out on a pristine beach as topaz water laps your toes, then set sail for the Seychelle Islands (honeymoon destination of William and Kate). There really is no bad time of year to visit this island archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, but you can tailor your visit based on your interests. Swimming, snorkeling and diving conditions are perfect April through May, and October through November, because of warmer waters and calmer trade winds. Additionally, you will find ideal sailing weather May through September. As with most island destinations you will find beautiful beaches, in addition to other activities, including bird-watching, hiking, golf and horseback riding. Accommodations range from five-star resorts to more rustic beachside bungalows. You will find international cuisine with plenty of Creole influence. Peak seasons are December through January, and July through August, so visiting in early fall or spring might land you the cheapest airfare to Seychelles.
2. Ice Hotel
Nothing says romance quite like the Northern Lights and a parka, right? If you are so over beach getaways, then consider a stay at Jukkasjarvi, Sweden’s famous Ice Hotel, an ever-expanding art project made entirely out of ice and snow. The temperature inside the hotel hovers between 17 and 23 degrees Fahrenheit. Just put on your thermal underwear and a hat and snuggle up with your honey in a cozy sleeping bag. When you need some heat, there are warm rooms available, as well. The Ice Hotel also offers a bar, sauna and spa and there are plenty of nearby winter excursions (think dog-sledding and snow mobile tours) to complete your stay. Just do not go looking for sunny days: from December to mid-January, the sun does not shine at all. The hotel is open from December to April (this year, a smaller version was built for the summer months). Since Sweden’s peak travel season is during the warmer summer months, you should be able to find cheap flights to Stockholm for your visit to the Ice Hotel during the winter months. From Stockholm, you will either need to book a connecting flight, or a take a train to Kiruna, the airport closest to the hotel.
3. Borthwick Castle
Treat your lady like a queen (or your man like a king) by booking a stay at an authentic castle. Check out the 600-year-old Borthwick Castle outside of Edinburgh, Scotland, where you can sleep in a room once occupied by Mary Queen of Scots. And you can leave your chamber pots at home; while the castle is medieval, the accommodations are not. Each room has central heating and en-suite bath or shower rooms. The castle is within a half-hour of downtown Edinburgh, where you will find marvelous architecture as well as plenty of shopping and dining. Take a walk through the ancient forest of Currie Wood or play around of golf (you are in Scotland, after all). Tourism is busiest in July and August, but May, June and September offer the best weather.
If you’re looking for a unique island couples getaway, but can do without the requisite pina coladas and cabanas that come with tropical retreats, consider a visit to the Azores, a nine-island archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic. Populated by the Portuguese, the Azores are known for volcanic scenery and a variety of landscapes that inspire quiet walks and reflection. Sao Miguel, the largest island, features enchanting Sete Cidades twin lakes, food prepared on hot volcanic rock and baroque architecture. Couples should stay at the beautiful Terra Nostra Garden Hotel, where guests can enjoy the unique landscapes, geysers, steam vents and springs. The Azores are known for their festivals, including the Holy Spirit Festival, and whale-watching. A writer for GoLisbon.com called the islands “a destination to be discovered but not to be shared, as its essence and pristine beauty should be kept unchanged and as perfect as it is.”
5. Denali National Park
For the truly adventurous, no once-in-a-lifetime vacation for couples list is complete without a visit to Alaska. And no visit to Alaska is complete without setting foot in wild and breathtaking Denali National Park. Home to North America’s highest peak (Mt. McKinley) and scores of wildlife, lovers of the outdoors will find a host of activities here, including hiking, fishing and cycling. Or you can take in the park’s sites onboard a shuttle. Escape the crowds at the park entrance and stay at the Denali Backcountry Lodge – located at the end of the park’s 92-mile road. The six-hour drive to get to this secluded lodge will offer you the opportunity to see much of the park’s famed wildlife, including grizzlies, caribou, wolves and moose. May and early September are considered the park’s shoulder season and would be the best time to go to avoid the summer onslaught (and score less expensive airfare). We found cheap flights to Anchorage in May for around $500 roundtrip.