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With the expensive cost of a wedding looming over your head, it may be difficult to imagine paying for a honeymoon, too. But even those on a tight budget can escape to an exciting destination abroad after the reception wraps — especially with our TPG expertise.
To curate this selection of romantic honeymoon destinations, we considered places where you can wander the road less traveled (the Peloponnese region in Greece, rather than Santorini; Sicily instead of overcrowded Florence), as well as outright dream trips to some of the most in-demand places on Earth (among them, Iceland and Bora Bora).
Organized on a sliding scale to accommodate budgets of all sizes, we’ve factored in everything from the price of activities on the ground to the average cost of accommodations and what you can expect to see on a bill after dinner for two.
Because airfare can often be one of the most expensive aspects of travel, we’ve included award flight options and flight deal tips so you don’t have to fret over the price tag for the “getting there” part of your honeymoon.
Check out the TPG guide on maximizing your points, miles and credit cards for your wedding and honeymoon.
Bargain: Sri Lanka
If touring tea plantations and relaxing on serene beaches sounds like your ideal honeymoon, Sri Lanka may be for you. And the best news? You really don’t have to spend much to have a fantastic trip. Once there, travelers can enjoy a number of free or cheap attractions such as exploring Buddhist ruins and watching for leopards in Yala National Park (a half-day Jeep safari here starts at only $40) or sunning and surfing at Arugam Bay. Make sure to take the scenic train from Ella to Kandy, which affords sweeping views of the lush, green landscape for just a few bucks.
Stay: The romantic bungalows overlooking the treetops at Hotel Wild Air in Sigiriya start at just $65 per night. Don’t be surprised to see elephants stroll by as you lounge poolside. This isn’t a points property, but using your Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card to book and pay through Hotels.com/Venture will earn you 10x miles.
Eat: Order hoppers (pancake bowls of Sri Lankan curry) for less than a dollar from a street cart on the Galle Face Green in Colombo.
Getting there: Emirates flies to Colombo (CMB), though you’ll have to connect through the airline’s hub in Dubai. Round-trip flights from the US start at 85,000 miles in economy; 170,000 miles in business; and 255,000 in first. You can transfer Amex Membership Rewards points and Starwood Starpoints to Emirates at a 1:1 ratio, and with SPG you’ll get a 5,000-mile bonus for every 20,000 points you transfer. Alternatively, you might be able to find a decently priced ticket flying on Air India to Colombo with a stop in Delhi or Mumbai. And with the announcement that WOW Air will be entering the India market, flights to New Delhi (DEL) will soon become much cheaper (starting at just $398 round-trip), meaning it’s never been easier (or cheaper) to reach Sri Lanka.
Portugal is a fairly small country, so it’s easy to venture beyond Lisbon and experience some of the lesser-known destinations. Rent a car (an easy $10 or so per day) for the most flexibility. After a 30-minute drive, you can visit the medieval castles of Sintra. Travel north instead to explore Porto, where you can take a short cruise (approximately 15 euro, or $18) along the Douro River to the sister city of Vila Nova de Gaia. This is where you and your significant other can wander unhurried between the numerous wine cellars specializing in tawny and ruby port. The further up the hill you go, the more affordable the tastings become: some spots even offer free tours and samples. Afterward, head back south to the Algarve. Don’t miss the village of Sagres, known for its eponymous beer and the rocky Cabo de São Vicente cliffs overlooking the sea.
Stay: The Ecork Hotel in Evora is an eco-friendly hotel made of (mostly) cork, positioned on a rural olive farm. Room rates run about $100 per night. If you’d prefer to use your points, award nights at the Sheraton Porto are 10,000 SPG points per night. Consider the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express if you’re short on Starpoints.
Eat: Order the bacalhau, or codfish — a Portuguese specialty — as part of a daily lunch menu at LSD restaurant in Porto. A multi-course meal (including a starter, main course, drink and dessert) starts at $26 for two.
Getting there: Transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United. Then, use 30,000 miles in economy or 70,000 in business to fly from New York (JFK), Boston (BOS) or Miami (MIA) to Lisbon one-way on TAP, Portugal’s national airline and a Star Alliance member.
Affordable: Sicily, Italy
If you’ve been dreaming of an Italian honeymoon since childhood, there are a handful of reasons to pick Sicily over more traditional choices like Florence or Venice. It’s easier to escape the crowds here, especially if you rent a sporty Peugeot or Fiat (from $30 per day) and trace a route along the turquoise coast, pulling off at your leisure to admire the ruins of the island’s ancient temples and mosaics. Take a detour to sample Nero D’Avola wines, or seek out extraordinary views from Mount Etna (accessible by cable car for 30 euro, or $36). Be sure to spend at least two days exploring the main city, Palermo, which was designated Italy’s Cultural Capital in 2018 for its strong historic and cultural relevance.
Stay: Agriturismos are small country house B&Bs. Typically, these lodgings are on farms that grow and cultivate their own food to serve to guests. Double rooms start at $150 a night at the Mandranova, an agriturismo located on a remote olive grove. Couples can also head to the beach, just 40 minutes away from Catania, and stay at the Hilton Gardini Naxos for 55,000 Hilton Honors points per night.
Eat: Pasta alla norma is the dish to order here. This hearty Sicilian specialty features rigatoni or penne piled high with tomato sauce, eggplant, basil and ricotta. Find it at Nuova Trattoria del Forestiero, where a meal for two starts at roughly $30.
Getting there: American Airlines offers nonstop flights from Charlotte (CLT), Chicago O’Hare (ORD), Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), New York (JFK) and Philadelphia (PHL) to Rome (FCO), and from New York (JFK) or Miami (MIA) to Milan (MXP). If you have a stash of AAdvantage miles, try to find a MileSAAver Off Peak economy award for 22,500 AA miles or 57,500 in business one-way. Then, hop over to Palermo or Catania on Ryanair. Admittedly, Ryanair is not the most romantic airline in the sky — but a round-trip ticket may only set you back $45.
Reasonable: Peloponnese, Greece
Santorini and Mykonos may get all the attention, but they’re not the only destinations in Greece fit for a fantasy honeymoon. The Peloponnese peninsula is delightfully free of tourists, who flock instead to the country’s better-known islands, unaware that a quiet, crowd-free paradise sits just a one-hour drive from Athens. Besides the must-have sugary white beaches and vibrant sunsets Greece is famous for, travelers can also take romantic excursions to the site of the first Olympic games, visit ancient Greek theaters and meander through the fortified castle town of Mystras. For a more daring day trip, explore the depths of the Diros cave (12 euros, or roughly $14 per person).
Stay: The Westin Costa Navarino has stunning sea views, and room rates start at $300 — or 12,000 Starpoints — per night.
Eat: Be sure to order savoro, a plate of fried white fish in olive oil with fragrant rosemary and fennel, at beachfront joints like Peroulia. Meals for two can run between $50 and 60.
Getting there: Getting to Athens from the US is easy, and keep your eyes peeled for 2-for-1 fares with Emirates. Remember, you can transfer Amex Membership Rewards points — earned with a card like the Platinum Card® from American Express — to Emirates to book awards. Just keep in mindq that the Newark (EWR) route to Athens (ATH) doesn’t have the new first-class suites on the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. Awards in economy start at 45,000 miles round-trip, 90,000 miles in business and 135,000 in first.
Pricey: Sacred Valley, Peru
Peru affords adventure-loving couples an opportunity to blend romance with exciting, adrenaline-fueled activities such as hiking, rafting and cycling. While Peru can easily pass for a budget destination, visiting the Sacred Valley, specifically — and the bucket list ancient Inca citadel, Machu Picchu — isn’t exactly cheap. Travelers are required to buy entry tickets ($45) and hire an official guide ($10), and the internal transportation to reach the Sacred Valley (a mix of domestic flights, train trips and bus or taxi rides) may be the most expensive part of the honeymoon. Balance the splurge with cheaper excursions to spots like Colca Canyon, famous for its giant condors, or homestays with local families on the islands of Lake Titicaca. Honeymooners can also ditch the throngs of tourists on the Inca Trail by traveling instead along the Lares Trek, Vilcabamba Trek or the Salkantay Trek.
Stay: Starwood’s Palacio del Inka Luxury Collection Resort is an upscale property that masterfully blends Inca artifacts with contemporary amenities. Rates start around $200 per night, or 10,000 Starpoints.
Eat: Sample fresh tiradito (raw fish in spicy sauce) from La Mar Cebicheria, in Lima. Prepare to spend around $40 on a meal for two.
Getting there: Fly on Avianca to Lima, starting at 15,000 Avianca LifeMiles one-way in economy or 30,000 in business. Getting LifeMiles can be easy (and cheap), especially as the program runs frequent sales where you can purchase them for as little as 1.39 cents each.
Still one of the most popular destinations for outdoorsy travelers, a honeymoon in Iceland can be extremely exciting — and expensive! Planning your trip during the winter can reduce your costs (and improve your chances of seeing the otherworldly Northern Lights) thanks to off-season rates, but don’t expect to return home with a short bill. You won’t want to miss any of the tours and attractions in Iceland, especially if you and your loved one have never been. Make arrangements to climb glaciers or explore ice caves (from $152 per person), venture into lava tubes ($95 per person), bathe in the geothermal waters of the Blue Lagoon ($60 per person) and snorkel between two tectonic plates ($124 per person). Travelers should also rent a 4×4 vehicle, which can be another significant cost, especially when you factor in the island’s astronomical gas prices. And if your ideal honeymoon includes lengthy dinners over multiple bottles of wine, this may not be the best option for you, because the price of alcohol is exceptionally inflated here.
Stay: Consider a room at the architecturally stunning ION Adventure Hotel, where rates start at about $400, or 20,000 to 25,000 Starpoints per night. For other points and miles options, TPG’s guide to Iceland hotels can help. Travelers not prone to sticker shock can check out Iceland’s newest luxury stay, The Retreat at the Blue Lagoon, which gives guests private access to the spa’s mineral-rich waters (for a tune of $1,727).
Eat: Sample skyr, a creamy Icelandic iteration on yogurt, at Matur Og Drykkur in Reykjavík. Tasting menus with wine for two cost $350. Need a spending break? You can’t go wrong with hot dogs from Bæjarins Beztu (less than $10 for two).
Getting there: All three major US carriers offer (or plan to offer) regular or seasonal services to Keflavík International Airport (KEF). Plus, low-cost carrier WOW Air has flights from many US cities including Detroit (DTW), Cincinnati (CVG), Cleveland (CLE) and St. Louis (STL), to name a few, for as low as $69 per way. Combined with Icelandair’s rapidly expanding route network, travelers will find a number affordable flights. And definitely take advantage of the low fares, because this will likely be the most inexpensive part of your trip to the Land of Fire and Ice. Consult our complete guide to visiting Iceland with points and miles, for more options.
Expensive: Turks & Caicos
Lazy days lounging on the beach with a fruity, frozen cocktail in hand don’t come cheap in Turks & Caicos. This Caribbean destination is decidedly more polished and upscale than many of its neighbors. Though travelers can easily save money by staying on the main island, Providenciales, newlyweds will likely want to fill their days exploring the archipelago’s 40 islands and cays by charter boat. (A half-day private catamaran tour could run you more than $1,000.) The area is known for its incredible diving, thanks to 14 miles of barrier reef as well as an underwater wall soaring 6,000 feet high. And one of the destination’s most famous activities — swimming with horses on Long Bay Beach — can be added on to your honeymoon for $190 per person, for a private ride for two.
Stay: Yes, there are ways to do Turks & Caicos on a more affordable allowance. But one of the factors that tips this destination into the extreme high end for honeymooners is the absolutely stunning Amanyara, where private pavilions start around $1,800 per night. If that’s a bit too much of a splurge, rooms at the adults-only section of the Grace Bay Club hover closer to $600 per night. A stay at either of these luxury properties is also a great opportunity to use the Citi Prestige Card’s 4th Night Free perk, which gets you a complimentary fourth night on paid hotel stays when booked through Citi’s concierge.
Eat: Fresh conch starts at $36 for two at the popular Da Conch Shack, a casual joint famous for its fresh seafood and beachfront location. For something more refined, Fire & Ice at the Blue Haven Resort allows you to cook your own meat over a barbecue spit. Three-course meals for two with cocktails and wine run between $150 and $300.
Getting there: Get to Providenciales International Airport (PLS) on airlines like American Airlines from Charlotte (CLT), Miami (MIA) and, starting this November, from New York (JFK). It will cost you between 12,500 miles one-way in economy and 25,000 in business. Delta flies nonstop from Atlanta (ATL) with award rates starting at 19,000 one-way in economy and 44,000 in business; United from Newark (EWR) and seasonally from Chicago (ORD), starting at 17,500 miles each way in economy and 30,000 in business; and JetBlue from Fort Lauderdale (FLL) and New York (JFK). Southwest recently launched seasonal service from Fort Lauderdale (FLL). Since it’s a honeymoon and you’ll be traveling as a pair, read up on how to obtain the Southwest Companion Pass so one of you can fly for free. Both JetBlue and Southwest have revenue-based rewards programs, where the cost of your award ticket is tied to the cash price, points amounts will vary.
Splurge: Bora Bora
Perhaps unanimously agreed upon as one of the most expensive, exclusive and luxurious honeymoon destinations on Earth, Bora Bora is a utopian island in French Polynesia that stokes romance with sparkling turquoise waters and opulent overwater villas. It’s also a less developed alternative to the Maldives — but travelers will have to pay for that seclusion and privacy. To get to Bora Bora from Tahiti, for example, travelers need to be prepared to pay $300 each, in cash, for the 50-minute puddle jumper flight. But once you’re there, you can slip into a state of totally relaxed, worry-free wedded bliss. (Or splurge on a diving tour from $120 per person or a sunset cruise for two from $540.)
Stay: Travelers can book an overwater villa at the InterContinental Bora Bora Thalasso for roughly $1,000, or 60,000 IHG Points. Some of the overwater bungalows at the Four Seasons Bora Bora, meanwhile, have private plunge pools, and room rates start around $1,750 per night. But remember, using your Citi Prestige card can get you a fourth night free.
Eat: If you’re staying at a private island resort, your dining options are extremely limited, and you should expect to pay resort prices for meals. The Arii Moana at the Four Seasons, for example, overlooks the ocean and offers fresh seafood with a Polynesian twist. A three-course meal for two with cocktails or wine could run between $200 and $300.
Getting there: Your dream trip to to Bora Bora can be booked used AAdvantage miles on Air Tahiti Nui. The long-haul flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to Tahiti (PPT) can be reserved using just 40,000 miles one-way in economy or 80,000 miles one-way in business. Plus, starting in late October 2018, United will fly its Dreamliner from San Francisco to Tahiti, with awards starting at 35,000 miles each way in economy, 70,000 in business, and 90,000 in first.
Feature image by dislentev/Getty Images.
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