Could your next romantic getaway be a trip around the world with a stop in Cape Town? Megan and Mike Jerrard have the perfect itinerary. (Photos: MappingMegan.com)
Traveling as a couple is a lot different than traveling solo. But if you can find the perfect travel companion, it’s a magical experience to have someone to share your trip with. Nothing beats taking on the world with your perfect partner in crime!
And while there’s nothing more romantic than traveling to exotic locations with your significant other, we’re the kind of couple who enjoy living on the edge. Our idea of romance is holding each other for dear life while locked in an underwater cage with a circling Great white shark.
We traveled round the world, and took in 9 cities over 35 days. For couples like us who enjoy off-the-beaten path experiences and adrenaline activities, or couples looking to venture outside their comfort zone, we hope our recent adventures will act as inspiration to give your upcoming trip an adventurous spin.
Singapore is a spectacular city, and there is plenty here to excite adventurous couples. A city of sharp and constant contrasts, which perfectly blends old and new, temples and mosques sit in the shadow of skyscrapers, luxury condos back onto the jungle, and wild monkeys roam nature parks and reserves.
For romance, head to Gardens by the Bay for the Garden Rhapsody light and sound show. A nature park in central Singapore well known for its grove of supertrees, it’s a magnificent and dazzling sight to see the gardens glow. The show is free and runs at 7:45 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. daily.
For adventure, head to MacRitchie Reservoir Park. This is an 11km nature trail which winds through the tropical rainforest and may see you bump into long-tailed macaque monkeys, squirrels and monitor lizards. On the day we visited, wild monkeys were on the boardwalks in droves!
Tip: The weather in Singapore is warm and humid all year round. You should plan to change clothes a couple of times per day if you’re participating in active activities. Nothing kills the romance more than going to cuddle in sticky clothes!
Cape Town offers an abundance of wildlife experiences which you won’t find anywhere else in the world, and it’s here (from Simons Town) that you can head out on the water to witness one of nature’s top apex predators, the Great white shark. We were amazed at the sheer size of these giants. Jumping in a cage to be in the same water with such a powerful creature is something every visitor to Cape Town should do.
Trekking throughout Table Mountain National Park will also be a highlight of your trip, not only for the spectacular coastal views, but knowing that you might end up sharing the trail with ostrich, penguins, and baboons. We were lucky enough to spend an afternoon with a troop of baboons along the beach as they went about their daily lives raising their young. It was an experience right out of a National Geographic film.
Tip: Rent a car in Cape Town to make the most out of your trip. With so much to see and do, and so many amazing experiences spread out, having access to a vehicle will make a huge difference in terms of freedom and flexibility throughout your trip. It will also save you money on joining tours.
Istanbul is one of those cities where both the romance and adventure are covered by the act of just being there. There is an extraordinary cultural experience waiting for you around every corner, all you have to do is step outside the door.
The city stimulates every sense, and every experience is exotic and new. For a truly romantic experience, head to the old quarter at sunset with its spectacular skyline of palaces, mosques, and minarets. Monumental architectural works reflect the cultural influences of the many great empires that once ruled here, and those seeking adventure will be transported back in time as layers of history unfold at your feet.
Don’t miss Aya Sofya, Basilica Cistern, the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, or the Galata Bridge. Spend the rest of your time the plan to simply explore.
With its historic charm and romantic waterways, Venice is an inviting destination for couples. Though sadly, the floating city is a little too inviting, and it’s difficult to maintain the air of romance while sharing your vacation with some 20 million other tourists too.
The secret to a romantic location in Venice is to avoid the tourist hot spots, and get lost with your partner among the cobbled alleyways, backstreets and charming canals. The magic of Venice is a feeling and a way of life, and not defined by a list of attractions you should see. So don’t bother buying a tourist guide – plan on getting lost and discovering the real neighborhoods of Venice away from the crowds.
Of the many wonderful parts of Venice we discovered which are lesser known, be sure to include Isola delle Rose (a private island run by JW Marriott Venice with views of the skyline of St. Marks Square), and Cannaregio Sestiere (the northernmost district oozes with character and authentic Venetian charm).
Regardless of whether you’re religious, we recommend all couples visiting Barcelona make time for church. The main event of our time in Barcelona was the Sagrada Familia. Designed by Antoni Gaudi, this is one of the most famous churches in Spain; an unfinished masterpiece which started construction in 1882 and isn’t scheduled to finish until 2026.
It’s a gothic church with an otherworldly appearance – honeycomb spires and towers with colorful Venetian mosaics and stories from the bible etched into the façade. Inside are fantastical stone columns, stunning stained glass windows and ornamented cloistered and doors. The building will leave you awestruck and take your breath away.
End your evening under the stars with a romantic dip in the Mediterranean. And depending on how adventurous you’re feeling, we were quick to realize that topless beaches are quite common!
When you think of Panama City your mind might go straight to the canal, Bridge of the Americas, or maybe you picture yourself picking up a Panama hat. But a city literally built on top of the rainforest, jungle trekking is where the adventure is at!
You don’t need to venture far to feel as though you are in the Amazon. We took in destinations such as Monkey Island at Lake Gatun where we caught sight of howler monkeys, capuchins, tamarins, and owl monkeys, and Soberania National Park which was a true wilderness experience, and offered sightings of toucans, sloths, agoutis, snakes, and saw us become stuck in a bat cave. While we didn’t see any jaguars it was exciting enough just to know they were out there.
If you could discover an ancient civilization, would you? Cancun is known for its spectacular white sand beaches, azure blue water and some of the best restaurants and bars in the Yucatan. By all means it’s one of the world’s top honeymoon destinations. Though travelers who can set down their beach towel and cocktails to venture out and explore will reap the rewards – Cancun is also the gateway to the ancient Mayan world, with many significant Mayan ruins to explore.
We highly recommend renting a car for the freedom and flexibility of exploring at your own pace. Chichen Itza is the main event here, a three hour drive from Cancun. The previous capital of the Mayan Empire, this is the most impressive ruins that still exist, with hundreds of buildings, art and architecture still preserved today.
Though we personally preferred Coba; a unique Mayan site which you can visit on the drive back from Chichen Itza to Cancun. Most of Coba is still largely undiscovered, with many of the ruins still covered by dense jungle. This is one of the last remaining sites which allow you to climb the pyramids, and you can take in spectacular jungle views from Nohoch Mul which is the tallest pyramid in the Yucatan.
Megan and Mike Jerrard were solo travelers that met and fell in love. Now, they blog about their romantic adventures together at MappingMegan.com.
Where to Stay:
- Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel
- Protea Hotel Cape Town North Wharf
- Arabella Hotel & Spa
- Renaissance Istanbul Polat Bosphorus Hotel
- Boscolo Venezia, Autograph Collection
- JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa
- Imperial Riding School Renaissance Vienna Hotel
- Renaissance Barcelona Hotel
- JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa
- Marriott Executive Apartments Panama City, Finisterre