For many couples, nothing less than a cruise to St Kitts or an island break in the Indian Ocean will make their honeymoon dreams a reality, but in truth there are rich pickings if you choose a romantic trip in more continental locales. If you’re getting married this year, try a short haul honeymoon – the inspiring art of Italy, the sun-blessed islands of Spain or the stunning cities of Central Europe to kick-start your post-wedding bliss.
Bathed in year-round sunshine, Majorca holidays have long been the preserve of Brits looking for an accessible trip abroad, but a new wave of honeymooners have also been favouring this Balearic island for their first holiday together. Steer clear of Magaluf and instead explore the medieval charms of capital Palma, spending time in the shadow of the cathedral or soaking up the stories at the Arabian palace of Almudaina. Alternatively, rent a secluded villa near traditional towns like Selva or Pollenca, enjoying views of the Tramutana Mountains while you swim in your private pool.
It’s no surprise that Italy consistently makes the top ten for honeymooners the world-over, as a country with so much choice to offer those in search of a romantic retreat. From the floating city of Venice in the north to the Mediterranean vistas off the tip of the ‘boot’ on Sicily, the climate is well-favoured, culture is everywhere and the sights outstanding. Rome and Florence are worthy choices, but if you’re worried about fighting your way through tourists, head for Sorrento on the tranquil Amalfi Coast or discover your favourite wines in less-explored regions like le Marche.
If you’re dreaming of a water-bound escape, France’s answer to the rugged beauty of the Greek Islands is Corsica. Boasting white beaches, scenic coast roads and towering inner mountains that render this the Mediterranean’s highest island, it’s one for the more adventurous couple, should you wish to partake in windsurfing, hiking and scuba-diving. For those happy to wander round and enjoy the atmosphere, try the museums and churches of Bonifacio or Ajaccio.
At the far end of Europe, the Adriatic sea gifts Croatia with beautiful coastline, a peppering of desert islands and some of the most unusual cities you’ll find on the continent. The ancient city of Dubrovnik might have been carved and constructed for romantic holidays, with its flagstone plazas and World Heritage walls overlooking the ocean. Of the islands, Hvar deserves its popularity with an old harbour and rural charm but try the car-free Elaphites near Dubrovnik for some quality alone-time.
Your honeymoon may be the first chance you get to breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy the freedom from all that wedding planning, but it’s also about spending those first weeks somewhere special as husband and wife. Whether your brand of relaxation is more trekking up a mountain than stretching out on the sand, you can find the right mix on the European shores, within a few hours of flight-time and thankfully, without having to spend as much as for the wedding.