Amalfi Coast, Italy
This divine stretch of Italy’s 50k coastline is considered Europe’s – if not the world’s – most romantic destination. Stretching from Sorrento to Salerno just south of Naples, it’s dotted with pastel-coloured, picture-postcard villages stacked like wedding cake tiers into the hillsides. Even the history of the place is romantic.
According to legend, Hercules loved a nymph called Amalfi and when she died, he buried her in the world’s most beautiful place. Best of all is the drive along the snaking coastal road that climbs and dips with the cliffs and offers breathtaking views of the sparkling Mediterranean Sea. As well as discovering scenic towns such as Ravello, there are also the chic islands of Capri and Ischia just off the Amalfi coast to explore.
Italian Connection 01424 728900
Indian Ocean islands
The coral-ringed islands dotted like stepping-stones across the Indian Ocean are a mecca for lovebirds seeking the honeymoon idyll of palm-fringed, deserted white-sand beaches. Mauritius, off the east coast of Africa, is the cosmopolitan hub of the Indian Ocean, with glitzy hotels, great restaurants and buzzy nightlife thrown in alongside pristine beaches and crystal-clear ocean.
For scenic beauty head for the 115 islands of the Seychelles, home of the sexy Coco-de-Mer palm and a magnet for celebrities such as Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills who honeymooned on Frégate and Cousine islands. The 1000-plus islands of the Maldives are the current hot spot of the Indian Ocean thanks to a rash of fashionable new one-island-one-resort retreats that are perfect for couples seeking total privacy.
ITC Classics 01244 355527
Nothing prepares you for the sheer expanse and beauty of South Africa. Newlyweds stepping off the plane for the first time in this incredible country are always enchanted while those making a return visit find somewhere new and fascinating to explore each time. The safari lodges are off-the-richter-scale romantic – think four-poster beds with white muslin drapes, infinity pools and sexy outside showers – while the Stellenbosch wine region with its pretty Dutch-Cape houses, dramatic mountain range backdrop and picturesque vineyards is a visual treat.
Throw in cosmopolitan Cape Town, beach-babe paradise Camp’s Bay and whale-spotting hideaway Hermanus and you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to dream places to honeymoon. Best of all there’s only one-hour time difference, so you don’t even get jet lag.
Steppes Africa 01285 650011
Laid-back, deliciously warm year-round, a riot of primary-coloured houses and home to some of the world’s best beaches – what’s not to love about the Caribbean? The 30-plus islands, which lie off the coasts of Florida in the north and Venezuela in the south, have long attracted honeymooners from all around the globe and the opening of some swish new resorts will ensure they continue to flock there.
Celebrity favourite Barbados – Jodie Kidd and Naomi Campbell are both regulars – has a string of five-star hotels on its west coast to keep honeymooners happy, while St Lucia’s lush rainforest will delight eco-couples. Jamaica, home of reggae, is the musical heart of the Caribbean, while quieter islands such as Anguilla, Turks and Caicos and the Grenadines are for serious sun- and sand-worshippers.
Caribtours 020 7751 0660
Honeymooners continue to jet off to Australia despite the 24-hour flight because it’s a real once-in-a-lifetime destination. The isolated isle halfway around the world from the UK is bursting with natural wonders; the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s oldest rainforest, spectacular Ayer’s Rock and the vast outback.
Then there’s the city and surf chic of Sydney with its vibrant hotels and bars to enjoy and the famous harbour bridge to admire or even climb. Australia also makes the perfect twin-destination honeymoon when combined with another blissful destination to break up the journey such as Bali, Dubai or Singapore.
Austravel 0870 166 2020
Fiji, South Pacific
The 330 lush islands in the South Pacific archipelagos make a deliciously tranquil and adventurous place to hide away on honeymoon. The islands are incredibly unspoilt. Dotted in isolation across the vast South Pacific, they’ve escaped rapid development and tourism booms and remain the tropical utopia that nature intended, with fragrant flowers, waving palms and pristine beaches.
Celebrities such as Britney Spears and Tom Cruise adore Fiji, in particular Turtle Island, a resort that caters for just 14 couples and is considered one of the most romantic spots in the world. And for those who worry that the tropics are a little too wild, the good news is that there aren’t any poisonous snakes or spiders or Malaria here.
Tailor Made Travel 0845 456 8006
The exotic appeal of Thailand continues to draw couples eastwards. There are lots of other trendy destinations emerging in Asia, such as Cambodia and Vietnam, but it’s still Thailand, with its combination of great beaches, lively nightlife and cultural diversity, that attracts newlyweds.
Divided into four regions that include the mountainous north, the central plain with bustling capital Bangkok, the sandy beaches of the east coast and the southern peninsular with its unspoiled beaches and idyllic islands, newlyweds tend to gravitate towards the islands, particularly Koh Phi Phi, Koh Samui and Phuket. Here the renowned Thai friendliness and service can be enjoyed in boutique retreats overlooking gorgeous stretches of golden sand.
Kuoni 01306 740888
South of France
Okay, it’s close to home, but the beautiful cities of the South of France have a timeless elegance that make it a splendid place to head for a sophisticated honeymoon. The legendary Côte d’Azur, which includes Monaco, St Tropez and Nice, is a world-renowned playground where the likes of Mick and Bianca Jagger honeymooned in the 1960s.
You can splash around in the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean and sunbathe on the pebble beaches before enjoying leisurely dinners in some of the world’s best restaurants then strolling around the harbours to admire the glistening yachts. Inland is just as romantic. Explore picture-perfect medieval villages, sample the wine from local vineyards and gaze in wonder at fields of colourful sunflowers and scented lavender that inspired artists such as Van Gogh.
Thomas Cook Signature 0870 443 4449
There are many reasons why Maui tops best honeymoon destination lists year after year. For a start it’s unbelievably beautiful, the air is filled with the fragrance of tropical flowers, the beaches are golden, pristine and uncrowded and the water is warm and clear. The laid-back, friendly attitude of the locals is another major attraction for celebrity couples such as Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake, as are the vibrant bars and restaurants and the dramatic Haleakala Crater, an extinct volcano that is one of the coolest places on earth to watch the sunrise.
Steer clear of the touristy areas and head for Hana, which can only be reached on a winding road carved through hillsides carpeted with lush rainforest. On arrival you’ll discover dramatic waterfalls, palm-fringed beaches, bamboo forests and excellent spots for surfing.
Hawaiian Holidays 020 7001 9130
For a refreshing alternative to the sun, sand and sea honeymoon look no further than New York. The enduring appeal of the Big Apple is the endless amount of romantic things for couples to see and do. There are the obvious attractions such as strolling through Central Park, shopping for trinkets in Tiffany & Co, reaching the top of the Empire State Building, catching the ferry to Staten Island and taking in a show then dinner in one of the glamorous restaurants off Fifth Avenue.
If you’re looking for more offbeat romantic locations, however, head to SoHo or Greenwich Village to hang out in the dark coffee shops and people watch, wander around the amazing Museum of Modern Art or enjoy some jazz from the likes of Woody Allen at Carnegie Hall. Throw in fine food, movie-set locations and some of the best hotels in the world and you’ve got a dream destination.
Virgin Holidays 0871 222 1232
Photo Hotel Santa Caterina