Top 10 Romantic Places You Might Not Have Heard About
Romance is where you find it – a breath of air heavy with the scent of roses, a shared glass of wine at an outdoor café, a warm rain falling on dry desert. But you can nudge the odds in your favor by traveling to faraway places that open your eyes to the beauty of life.
We’ve gathered 10 off-the-beaten-primrose-path experiences that are probably not on your romance radar, but should be. Bring your sweetheart and romance the world with us!
1. St. Petersburg’s White Nights, Russia
St. Petersburg, Russia is about the same latitude as Anchorage, Alaska. This far north, during the long nights of summer the sky never gets completely dark, but holds the glow of the sunset until the sunrise starts the process all over again. It is a mysteriously beautiful phenomenon that Russians call White Nights, and it happens every year from late May to early July.
Stroll the Neva embankments along with hundreds of local people, savoring the oblique rays of the midnight sun. Every summer night at 1:30 AM, the lighted drawbridges over the Neva are raised and stand open until morning, creating a festival atmosphere of camaraderie and strange beauty (and sometimes trapping revelers on the wrong side of the river with no way to get home). St. Petersburg couples take advantage of the perpetual sunset to promenade hand in hand, meet friends and drink coffee or vodka at the coffee shops and riverside bars that remain open all night. Strangers can become friends, and friends can become more than friends during St. Petersburg’s White Nights.
Celebrate the exuberant White Nights with your loved one on one of these itineraries:
2. Shiraz, Iran
The fabled city of Shiraz has a remarkable history stretching over 2,500 years. It is the capital of Fars province where the Persian language of Farsi originated. A major artistic, religious, and academic center, the city is famed for its poets, its luxuriant gardens, learning centers and extravagant architecture. Beautiful, romantic, and hospitable, Shiraz is the favorite of many travelers, and remains one of the most enjoyable places to visit in all of Iran.
An especially romantic spot is the Tomb of Hafez, Iran’s favorite poet, surrounded by a lovely garden. Hafez was born and died in Shiraz in the 14th century, and his famous love poems are memorized by many Iranians. The teahouse by a cooling pool is a wonderful place for the two of you to sit, sip tea and people-watch.
3. Sunset in Khiva, Uzbekistan
The view over the Khiva rooftops is magical any time of day, but it’s during the “golden hour,” when the rays of the setting sun are slanting in from the west and lighting up the mudbrick walls so they glow like amber, that you can almost see the caravans of dusty camels arriving at the end of the road, at the end of the day.
Your local guide can point you to a set of stairs that takes you up to a private overlook where you and your favorite person can admire the luminous medieval panorama spread out at your feet.
Why end might the rooftops of Khiva in Uzbekistan with your loved one on a small group tour, rail journey by private train or on a hand-crafted private tour, customized to your interests, pace and dates.
4. Siberian Winter Banya, Russia
Enjoy the wonderful feeling of well-being that you get while steaming in a Russian banya, especially after a winter’s day outdoors. The combination of playing in the snow, drinking cold shots of vodka and then steaming out the kinks in a banya results in an extremely pleasant jelly-like state. It’s like having a romantic spa day with your significant other – except that the spa is in Siberia, making it either a romantic adventure, or an adventurous romance. Or maybe both.
5. A Georgian Table Feast in Svaneti, Georgia
Spend a celebratory evening in Georgia at an extended feast that includes free-flowing wine, free-spirited toasts, and the freewheeling polyphonic songs of a Georgian ensemble. The Georgian Table experience can last several hours, with dozens of dishes and countless toasts.
The table is covered with plates of delicious edibles balanced on top of each other – there might be chicken in crushed walnut sauce, khachapuri (Georgia’s famous cheese pie), little meat dumplings called khinkali, crispy fresh-caught fish, salads and marinated vegetables. And that’s just for starters.
A large feast, or supra, will have a sort of toastmaster, called a tamada, who is charged not only with toasting and inviting others to toast, but with telling stories and leading songs. You’ll come away from a Georgian Feast filled to the brim with food, wine and song, and overflowing with love.
Why end might a Georgian Table with your loved ones on MIR’s small group tour, A Taste of Georgia: Wine, Cuisine & Culture, or one of our other small group tours though the South Caucasus. Or opt for a hand-crafted private tour, customized to your interests, pace and dates.
6. Former Jewish Quarter, Krakow, Poland
Krakow’s former Jewish Quarter, Kazimierz, is once again alive with music and buzzing with cafés. Its medieval streets were untouched by the bombs of war. Enjoy live klezmer music as you dine with your sweetheart in one of the restaurants on Szeroka Street, the heart and soul of the Jewish Quarter since 1335.
7. Odessa Opera House, Ukraine
The Odessa Opera and Ballet Theater in southern Ukraine is a wonderful place to take in a romantic evening performance. The round rococo theater with its warm Black Sea backdrop is a recognizable symbol of the city. Designed by Austrian architects in 1887, its baroque style with Renaissance features make it one of the most beautiful theaters in Europe today.
The interior is furnished with deep red carpets and plush seats, a heavy maroon curtain embroidered with gold thread, and three tiers of gilded boxes surrounding the horseshoe-shaped main floor. The theater has perfect acoustics and a stellar line-up of talent. Climb the grand marble staircase with your date on your arm.
8. Bohemian Quarter, Belgrade, Serbia
One of the most romantic streets in the Balkans is Skadarska Street in Belgrade, Serbia. It’s in Skadarlija, which was originally the Gypsy Quarter; now it’s known as the Bohemian Quarter. This small cobbled street became the center of bohemian life in the 1900s when writers, artists and poets began to live in its many inns. Today it’s a vibrant and busy area filled with traditional restaurants, cafés and street musicians, and it still gives you a sense of Old Belgrade. It’s wonderful to stroll arm in arm over the cobblestones, passing the houses and taverns where famous writers, poets, actors and painters congregated, and stopping for a glass of Serbian red wine.
Why end might the Bohemian Quarter in Belgrade, Serbia with your loved one our Balkan Odyssey: Crossroads of Cultures small group tour or on a hand-crafted private tour, customized to your interests, pace and dates.
9. Cricova Winery, Chisinau, Moldova
Bring your loved one to Cricova Winery, one of the largest underground wine cellars in the world, at the Moldovan wine producer. The miles of tunnels where the wine is stored were excavated in the 15th century and the limestone carted off to help build Chisinau, Moldova. Enjoy a wine-tasting of up-and-coming Moldovan wines after touring the winery. Toast each other and bring home a bottle or two so you can celebrate all over again next year.
10. Three Camel Lodge, Gobi Desert, Mongolia
Sheltered under a volcanic outcrop where ancient people carved their petroglyphs, Three Camel Lodge in the South Gobi Desert offers an authentic Mongolian experience. Local artisans followed the canons of Mongolian Buddhist architecture in constructing the main lodge without a single nail. Travelers sleep in traditional felt gers, each with an unobstructed view of the Gobi and the heights of the Gobi-Altai Mountains beyond. Sit together in the doorway of your ger sipping tea and gazing at the millions of stars hovering over the vast dark desert of Mongolia. Then duck inside and shut the world out.
Take a Romantic Journey with MIR
MIR has more than 30 years of travel expertise in tours to the crossroads of Europe and Asia. MIR’s full service, dedication, commitment to quality, and destination expertise have twice earned us a place on National Geographic Adventure’s list of “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth.”
30 years of travel expertise means that the specialists at MIR know how to get there, what to do while you’re there, and how to enhance your trip in each of our destinations.
Wondering which destination or itinerary is right for you? In addition to browsing the pages of our free catalog, you can narrow down your choices online using our Trip Finder and the Destination Map.
Top photo: Illuminated shrine of Shah Cheraq in Shiraz, “City of Roses and Nightingales” Photo credit: Peter Guttman
PUBLISHED: February 11, 2016