Best Honeymoon Destinations in Europe
By Jane Anderson, Editor of 101 Honeymoons
Europe is such a rich honeymoon playground with so much choice, it can be difficult deciding where to go. It has iconic cities, countryside and coastlines all waiting to seduce you both. You’ll never have to fly more than four hours or so, and sometimes you don’t have to fly at all if you choose to honeymoon in the UK. Of course, if you want sunbathing weather, it’s best to travel in summer, although the further south you go, the better chance of finding year-round winter sun.
A good tip is to honeymoon in some of Europe’s most popular destinations in the shoulder seasons, which usually means May/June and Sept/October when the crowds have gone and it’s not so blazing hot. Of course a wintery Arctic honeymoon will be the ultimate in romance for some.
Here are some suggestions of the best places to go and where to book it. And remember to tell your hotel or tour operator that this is your honeymoon as there may be extras that they will include for you such as flowers or champagne in the room or perhaps a private dinner for two.
Europe’s cities are sought after by travellers worldwide, but here they are right on your honeymoon doorstep, so why not take advantage of them. What could be more straightforward than booking Eurostar (first class if you can after a night at the ultra romantic St. Pancras Renaissance London Hotel) right to the heart of Paris. This selection of luxury hotels includes the five-star boutique Lancaster in a former private residence and the charming Relais Christine hidden away on the Left Bank.
Venice is another classic example of a city that never disappoints. Take a gondola ride, sigh over the Bridge of Sighs, tour the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and sunbathe at The Lido. Italy specialist Citalia has all the insider knowledge you need to make this ultra special.
As well as the iconic cities, there are so many incredible ‘secondary cities’ that are often even more rewarding. When visiting Rome, why not add in Florence and Siena too? Andalucía in Southern Spain is a particularly rich in this respect with Seville, Cordoba and Granada to explore. Kirker Holidays offers great city combination honeymoons staying in historic boutique hotels that are infused with style and romance.
See my pick of the best honeymoons in Italy.
The UK has raised the stakes over recent years in terms of countryside accommodation. Rural Retreats has romantic country cottages the length and breadth of the UK.
Ireland offers lush countryside, warm hospitality in country house hotels, dolphin watching, whiskey tasting and moonlit kayaking. Take a Classic Irish Honeymoon in County Wexford and County Cork or an indulgent our Luxury Honeymoon in Dublin, County Clare and one of the Aran Islands.
In the French countryside, i-escape has a wonderful collection of boutique hotels that are ideal for honeymooners looking for something a bit quirky and individual. Check out Villa Arguibel, a chic budget place near Biarritz, or this peaceful adults-only B&B in Provence, or this hillside retreat where you can sleep beneath the stars.
The Mediterranean has long been a honeymoon playground. France’s southern coast continues to be one of the most sought after destinations in the world – and rightly so for its natural beauty and cosmopolitan yet very French charm. The Cote d’Azur has been beguiling couples ever since Brigitte Bardot graced the town of St Tropez. Classic Collection has a great range of honeymoon ideas all along the coast.
Italy’s Amalfi Coast is perfect for honeymooners with iconic towns like Sorrento to explore, craggy coves and delicious cuisine, not to mention incredible history, culture and natural sights from Pompeii to Mount Vesuvius. CV Travel offers a fantastic range of honeymoons on the Amalfi Coast in hideaway apartments and villas.
Lesser known regions such as Puglia in the southwesterly part of Italy has unspoilt beaches, fairy-tale villages and fabulous places to stay including refurbished masserias and elegant five-stars such as the Borgo Egnazia Hotel where honeymooners will be spoilt rotten.
The Italian island of Sicily – the largest island in the Med – combines ancient history with glorious countryside and lovely beaches. Best hotels for honeymooners include The Ashbee in a spectacular location overlooking Taormina and Villa Athena, which has just 25 exquisite rooms.
The Adriatic is fast becoming a more affordable rival to France’s Cote D’Azur. Croatia is beloved of yachties who sail between the unspoilt islands, the stunning walled town of Dubrovnik and fashionable spots like Hvar Town with great four-star resort such as Hotel Podstine. Completely Croatia is a fabulous tour operator which has the low down on this region.
Turkey has been climbing up the honeymoon hit list steadily as its hotels improve and the world wakes up to its authentic charms and value for money. It’s a four-hour flight with a reliably sunny year round climate, stunning coast and heritage to rival any Mediterranean destination. Turkey has a range of charming places to stay such as Mandarin Boutique Hotel in the unspoilt countryside just a short drive from the resorts of Fethiye and Oludeniz.
Often ignored by honeymooners, the Algarve is a great destination for its year-round weather and charming hotels.
Though you don’t think of Europe as being an island nation, it does have an incredibly diverse amount of island destinations. And I always think there’s something ultra romantic about honeymooning on an island.
For something different, honeymooners can find romance in the Scottish islands with McKinlay Kidd who can send you off on an island odyssey to Arran, Islay, Iona, the Outer Hebrides, Orkneys or Shetlands.
Madeira is a great option, and surprisingly hip with everything from extreme sports to traditional quintas (manor houses) converted into boutique hotels, all with romantic garden settings. Sunvil Discovery has a great choice of honeymoons here.
The Greek Islands take some beating when it comes to honeymoons. Easy to get to and yet exotic, laid back and yet exciting, there’s an island for every kind of couple. For romance it’s hard to beat Santorini while party people should check out Mykonos. For under the radar hideaways in the Greek Islands, head to i-escape.
I’m a big fan of the Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera) as they all combine old school Med with innovative design and a happening vibe. They have that exciting feel you get from an island destination and all have strong cultures all of their own. Mallorca is the perfect honeymoon island where you can combine the hip capital of Palma with a rural idyll by the sea. Vintage Travel has a great collection of villas for two.
The Italian island of Sardinia is closer to Africa than Italy and a tried and tested honeymoon spot with all singing all dancing resorts like Forte Village to contemporary boutique hideaways such as Coluccia Hotel and Beach Club. Find out more from Sardatur Holidays.
Capri off the Amalfi Coast is one of those chichi islands known as a hangout for celebs and millionaires. You’re not going to find a bargain here, but you are going to find a classy, memorable honeymoon with superb service and style. Exsus features ones of the most elegant hotels in the Med, the Capri Palace Hotel & Spa with sensational views across the Bay of Naples. Book a suite with a private pool and garden for ultimate honeymoon luxury.
The French island of Corsica has a sophistication and old world charm. Add in powder white sand, dramatic mountains and historic towns, and why would you bother flying long haul? Simpson Travel is one of the leading specialists on the island offering hotels, villas and apartments across most budgets.
Europe has a long tradition of touring holidays. The Grand Tour was an aristocratic institution in the early 20th century. These days, what better opportunity to take an extended tour of Europe than your honeymoon.
For something active, book a cycling honeymoon round Italy. Headwater has some inspiring routes, some off-road. Romantic itineraries include gastronomic routes in Piedmont and Chianti. And the best thing is, your bags are taken from hotel to hotel for you.
And of course if you really fancy exploring destinations, a great solution is a honeymoon cruise. Star Clippers is one of the most romantic with its tall sailing ships. Itineraries include the Greek Islands, the turquoise waters off Turkey’s coastline, mini moons along the Riviera Coast and cruises to Italy, Corsica, Sicily, Montenegro and Croatia. As these ships are much smaller and more intimate than mega liners, they are able to drop anchor in picturesque bays and harbours. Find out more.
For some serious luxury, you should look at the new generation of small high-end cruise ships that are more akin to luxury yachts than hulking ocean liners. My recommendations include the SeaDream Yacht Club which has just 57 cabins, all for adults only, and 96 crew, and Seabourn, where all the cabins are suites with a private balcony. Details from The Luxury Cruise Company.
If you want to push further north, an Arctic honeymoon will have you oohing and arrhing at the snowy landscapes of Finnish Lapland, Sweden, Norway and Iceland. Artisan Travel arranges wintery honeymoons in surreal and deeply romantic hideaways. Stay in a glass igloo and marvel at the Northern Lights above or chill out in a luxury tepee with a private hot tub after a day’s husky sledding. Regent Holidays also offer some fabulous honeymoons in Iceland where it recommends the Hotel Ranga, a cosy four-star rural retreat with great views of the Northern Lights. In Reykjavik, try the gorgeous art-deco Hotel Borg.
Europe is great for mini moons – romantic getaways of about two to four days when you don’t have enough time for a fully blown honeymoon or are saving your big trip until later. Of course the UK is a great choice. See my full list of mini moon ideas.
Last updated: 11 November 2016
More great honeymoon advice from Jane
Need help with arrangements? Read Jane’s advice on honeymoon planning.
Need more inspiration? Here’s a selection of honeymoon packages.
See Jane’s 20 tips on how to make your honeymoon extra special.