Over the years, certain locations in the world have fallen foul of the dreaded cliché honeymoon label. Paris, Hawaii and Venice are all beautiful destinations, but don’t you fancy something tailored to you as a couple? You’ve just married the love of your life and your post-wedding holiday spot should match up to this life-changing moment. If all goes to plan you won’t be doing this again. It’s time to escape the cookie-cutter honeymoon ideal.
Whatever your religious beliefs, there is a holy respect engraved into the soul of Jerusalem. Jerusalem’s Old City is one of the world’s most visited pilgrimage destinations. It unites Jews, Christians and Muslims in one sanctified city. The city is a rare example of living history and honeymooners will find themselves immersed in spirituality and rich culture.
Granted, Jerusalem has not cemented itself as a traditional
honeymoon destination. This is why it is so special. Sacred buildings and relics are interwoven with souks, and the streets are heady with pungent smells of spices and incense.
In the Old City, you can walk in the footsteps of prophets and pray in buildings constructed by caliphs and kings of centuries gone by. A relic visited by many and the cause of a 1,000 year-long battle is the Wailing Wall. The site is powerful and emotional, as Jews and visitors flock to place their hands on the cold brick. Many pray and place prayers on slips of paper into the wall cracks.
Every few days, a caretaker collects all the prayers and lays them to rest in the Mount of Olives. He places them in a 2,000-year-old cemetery; making every single scripture an eternal prayer.
Just outside of Jerusalem is Bethlehem and an excursion to this biblical city is a must. Visiting the sacred Church of the Nativity is a moving experience for any visitors. The crypt beneath marks the traditional place of the birth of Jesus.
Kyoto has embraced modernism without restrain. But the cherry blossoms, red maple leaves and traditional architecture echo quintessential 1920s Japan. Furthermore, an image of Kyoto cannot be complete without the magical site of a geisha. Rumoured to only be around 200 true geisha residing in Kyoto, they are illusive women who glide graciously around the city.
The narrow streets of Kyoto are adorned with blood red and dove white lanterns. As night falls, the atmosphere is palpable as visitors and locals alike flood the streets. Many visit restaurants, attend shows and indulge in sake.
Kyoto boasts a plethora of UNESCO world heritage sites, including the famed ‘Golden Pavilion’, Kinkaku-ji Temple. This remarkable Zen temple is set amid a landscape of stunning gardens and is considered a must visit for newlyweds. Crowds can be rife due to the popularity and beauty of this site, so couples should visit the temple at sunrise.
Honeymoons in Kyoto can be spent enjoying the serenity offered by Zen gardens and Buddhist temples. Many also like to stroll the regal retreats of imperial palaces or visit traditional teahouses to experience the charm of Japanese hospitality. Kyoto is resplendent with beautiful culture which maks it a perfect honeymoon destination.
Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
The ancient Maya, novelists, explorers and philosophers, have all been captivated by Lake Atitlan. The azure blue waters of the volcanic lake are located in the Western Highlands of Guatemala. The shores are bequeathed by small towns, offering sanctuary for backpackers and honeymooners alike.
There are some buzzing hubs along the shores of the lake, but there are three stand-out areas for newlyweds. Santiago Atitlan is the biggest town adorning the area, but is the least visited town. The area boasts strong community ties and is an example of an area shrouded in Guatemalan traditions.
For those couples who are in to alternative therapies and yoga the pedestrian only town of San Marcos a Laguna is ideal. San Marcos is home to a melange of cultures; Maya communities, self-styled shamans, evangelical Christians, and Kaqchiquel farmers.
Due to this mix the place has a spiritual energy that’s conductive to learning and practising meditation. Culture ebbs into holistic therapies, reiki, and other spiritually orientated activities. San Marcos is an opportunity for couples to distance themselves away from the world.
Lastly, accessible only by boat, the paradise hamlet of Jaibalito. With only three clifftop hotels, the area is an escape and the least developed town on Lake Atitlan. The water is crystal clear and a day spent swimming and lounging on the volcanic rocks, with nobody in sight, is a simple joy.
Despite Yukon being the smallest of Canada’s three federal territories it is ruggedly beautiful and sparsely populated; ideal for newlyweds. The vast wilderness is home to more four-legged species than humans. The Yukon has a grandeur and beauty that can only be appreciated by experience. Those who do call the Yukon home, hunt and live a traditional lifestyle as their forefathers eked out before them.
For honeymooners who want unparalleled adventure, the Yukon territory boasts opportunities for white water rafting and kayaking down the Yukon River. There are a plethora of hikes and backpacking trails with staggering views. The largest ice fields below the Arctic can be found in the Kluane National Park.
For something more traditionally romantic, dog sledding across plains is popular. Couples can remain warm under a blanket as an expert guide steers the huskies. Miles of untouched snow and alpine forests lay ahead.
After a day of sledding, most newlyweds cast their eyes skywards. The best time to witness the mesmerising spectacle of the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) is from late August to mid-April. The darkness of the Yukon night is a perfect canvas for the emerald, blue, violet and rose hues to ignite the sky. Couples can then retire to a peaceful log cabin, complete with roaring fire.
Lamu Town, Kenya
Lamu Town is part of the Lamu Archipelago of Kenya and is the oldest inhabited settlement of the country. The destination takes the form of a traditional Arabian medina labyrinth, with balconied townhouses encroaching on narrow lanes. Alleys are crammed with souks selling wood, silver and leather. The coastal shopfronts and mosques are tarnished under the relentless kiss of the salt breeze from the warm Indian Ocean and houses are built of stone and coral. The chance to intimately witness centuries-old traditions is an unparalleled experience for couples.
Lamu is a Unesco World Heritage site and is often referred to as the most complete Swahili town in the world.
Just south of Lamu Town is Shela village. Here, on the eastern top of the island where the channel opens to the ocean, the beaches are deserted. Couples can walk uninterrupted and settle on the white dunes to bask in the sun and take in the beautiful Indian Ocean.
Just across the channel from Shela is the mostly uninhabited Manda Island. The island provides the perfect vantage point for honeymooners to watch the African sun setting in hues of rich amber and saffron yellow.
Lamu Town is the ideal place to adopt a ‘pole-pole’ attitude to life. The phrase, Kiswahili for ‘take it slowly’, permeates all aspects of life in Lamu. For newlyweds wanting to indulge and relax, Lamu and its pole-pole life is the perfect setting. Many comment that in Lamu life slows down and transports you to a land that time forgot.
A bizarre spectacle in the Anatolian plains, Cappadocia is a geological oddity. A landscape of honeycombed hills and otherworldly boulders creating a prehistoric vibe. The curious topography is matched by the dense human history of the area.
Volcanic eruptions blanketed the Göreme valley of Cappadocia in thick ash, which solidified into a soft rock. Wind and water went to work on the plateau, leaving the softer elements to ebb away. Erosion gave way to an ethereal landscape of cones, pillars, pinnacles, mushrooms and chimneys, some as high as 130 feet.
Humans decided to utilise the unique landscapes, carving a rocky wonderland of homes and places of worship into the stone. Some of the cave systems have been converted into exclusive hotels. They are decorated with traditional furnishing. Indulging in local cuisines can complement such a unique honeymoon experience.
A must, and an experience cherished by honeymooners, is a hot air balloon across Cappadocia at dawn or dusk. Often swarms of hot air balloons will take to the sky. The flamboyant balloons rise and fall against the horizon; a kaleidoscope of colour. Newlyweds can opt to take a journey alone, in their own private basket. The balloons weave amongst the sand formations deep in the valley, before soaring into the clouds for a spectacular view of the entire region.