addo elephant park

Addo Elephant Park. (Photo: Getty Images)

Road Trips

Buckle Up, Lovebirds. These Are 5 of the World’s Most Romantic Road Trips

Half the journey is getting there, and whether you’re planning to pop a question or a cork, there’s freedom in taking your lovers’ trip on the road. From Mexico’s secluded swimming holes to Switzerland’s towering peaks, rent a car, go at your own pace and explore these five romantic destinations around the world.

As always, check for travel restrictions and closures before planning your trip.

For Animal Lovers: Cape Town to Addo Elephant Park, South Africa

Often called the “Mother City,” Cape Town’s glittering metropolis is the place to kick off a South Africa road trip. Get the lay of the land riding the Aerial Cableway to Table Mountain National Park. Soak up an African sunset and celebrate your love with a glass of bubbly overlooking this coastal panorama.

Cruise south to meet quirky penguins that call Boulders Beach home — one of few destinations where these tuxedoed cuties waddle about freely. Enjoy Cape Point’s gorgeous green hills and majestic coastline. Walk the shipwreck trails littered with ghosts from Cape Point’s maritime past. Finally, snuggle up for a selfie at Cape of Good Hope, Africa’s southwesternmost point.

Since there’s something romantic about watching wild animals traverse their native lands, wrap up this road trip with a safari. Drive to uncrowded Addo Elephant Park, South Africa’s third-largest national park, and see herds of free-roaming elephants, lions, hippos and giraffes on a self-guided tour.

For Cultured Couples: Osaka to Kurashiki, Japan

Dotonbori Canal in osaka at night
Osaka comes alive at night. (Photo: Getty Images)

Imagine if New York City and Las Vegas had a baby. That is Osaka. Foodies and urbanites love this Japanese hub, home to urban shrines, glam shopping centers and standing-room-only bars. Cozy up with a cocktail in these bars’ tiny nooks (made for as few as two guests) — an ideal date destination.

Escape the city on the Shikoku Islands, the udon capital of Japan. More than 600 restaurants specialize in this noodle dish, and you and your partner can ride an Udon Taxi to sample the best of the best.

Once stuffed, climb more than 1,300 steps to Kotohira-gu Shrine. Take a contemplative walk up its stone steps through manicured grounds, taking in the architecture and distant valley vistas.

Next, drive the Great Seto — the world’s largest road and rail bridge — to Kurashiki, the Venice of Japan. Step back in time on a traditional canal cruise or shop boutiques in this historic quarter.

For Classic Romantics: St. Moritz to Flims, Switzerland

snow covers st moritz
Get cozy in St. Moritz. (Photo: Getty Images)

Whether you crave a cozy ski trip or summer exploration, begin your Swiss road trip in the glitzy resort town of St. Moritz. Start with a ride up the town’s funicular to the Muottas Muragl summit, where Alpine vistas and a romantic starlit dinner await.

By day, ski or mountain bike Engadin-St. Moritz’s mighty peaks, pausing for coffee or cocktails at Alto Bar — a cable-car-turned-lounge with turquoise lake views.

Continue to Flims, a forested, fairy tale wonderland home to incredible bike trails and sparkling blue-green swimming holes. Pedal around Lake Cauma before a lunch break at a trailside oasis — Restaurant Conn — reachable only by bike or hike.

Unwind in the evening as the Swiss do: with a soothing soak in an outdoor spa. From aromatic steam baths to restorative pool plunges, these sauna escapes leave you both rested and rejuvenated.

For Ocean Lovers: Tulum to Playa del Carmen, Mexico

two divers at a cenote
Take a deep dive at a cenote. (Photo: Getty Images)

Home to spectacular Mayan ruins, soft sandy beaches and secluded swimming holes, the Mexican seaside town of Tulum is fast becoming a popular romance retreat. Venture first to craggy cliffs above the azure Caribbean Sea to explore the Tulum Ruins, a Mayan city dating back to the 13th century.

When you’re ready to cool off, take a 30-minute jungle drive to Cenote Caracol. This remote swimming hole’s extensive cave system and brilliant blue water make it a lover’s paradise.

Ignite your adventurous spirit 40 minutes northeast at Xplor, a jungle playground along the Yucatan Peninsula that is home to Riviera Maya’s highest zip lines. There, you can fly together above the jungle, off-road in an amphibious vehicle or raft among stalactites in an underground river cave.

For Outdoor Adventurers: Quebec City to Massif de Charlevoix, Canada

Experience French culture without the transatlantic flight in charming Quebec City. Set along the St. Lawrence River, its winding cobblestone streets, cozy café culture and 18th-century city walls make it one of North America’s most idyllic destinations. Appreciate it on a hand-in-hand walk through Old Town’s charming shops or a romantic sunset river cruise.

On winter days, embrace your inner child and race toboggans outside the famed Chateau Frontenac. Pamper your partner with massages and an evening soak at Strøm Spa, a Nordic spa boasting a warm lazy river and night sky views from outdoor hot tubs.

When adventure calls, drive 15 minutes to Quebec’s stunning outdoor wonder: Montmorency Falls, which is taller than Niagara Falls. You’ll be awestruck standing at its base, but you can get up close on a hike to the top.

Continue north for a ski day in Massif de Charlevoix’s winter wonderland — a river-view resort boasting the highest vertical drop east of the Rockies. Treat yourselves at the summit with maple syrup taffy, a quintessential Quebecois treat made from hot syrup poured on snow.