couple in bamboo forest in kyoto

Stroll back in time in Kyoto. (Photo: Getty Images)

Romantic Getaways

From Cartagena to Kyoto and Beyond, All You Need Is Love — And a Romantic Getaway

The best romantic getaways mean more time relaxing with your loved one and less time traveling. Whether you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day or a milestone anniversary, or you simply want to spend a cozy weekend with your partner, think local rather than long haul and heat things up close to home with a romantic staycation in a nearby destination.

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

Kyoto, Japan

There’s something bewitching about Kyoto, the spiritual heart of Japan. It’s a city that can feel mysterious, no matter how many times you visit, and intimate, despite its size and popularity.

It’s a sprawling city, but you can easily feel as if you have the place to yourself by simply slipping down a lanterned lane, wandering around a quiet garden, exploring an off-the-beaten-path temple or dipping into a small teahouse. If you time it right, you can have a personal experience even at such heavily trafficked attractions as the Fushimi Inari shrine, Arashiyama Bamboo Grove and Kinkaku-ji, the temple with a splendid gold-leaf pavilion (hint: get there early). Book a room at The Mitsui Kyoto, a Luxury Collection Hotel & Spa. Adjacent to Nijo-jo Castle, this hotel has suites with private access to the Thermal Spring, a natural onsen pool sourced from the property’s on-site hot spring, which is the ideal setting for unwinding together.

Cairo, Egypt

cairo skyline
Discover hidden corners of Cairo. (Photo: Getty Images)

Intrigue and ancient history combine to make Cairo a top spot for a romantic — and sometimes intense — retreat.

Wander through the bustling and fascinating passages of the Khan El-Khalili; when the sights and sounds of the colorful souk threaten to overwhelm, stop into one of its many steamy coffeehouses for a potent Arabic coffee.

Head for the Citadel for some of the best city views — and to see why Cairo is known as the “City of a Thousand Minarets.” On a clear day you can spot the Giza Pyramids from here. Afterward, unwind and soak up the sights of the city on a private sunset cruise along the Nile in a traditional felucca sailing boat.

A day at the pyramids of Giza is a must-do. Escape the crowds and enjoy a more intimate experience by booking a room at the storied Marriott Mena House, Cairo, where you can enjoy views of the last remaining wonder of the ancient world from bed.

Edinburgh, Scotland

calton hill edinburgh
Take your romance to new heights in Edinburgh. (Photo: Getty Images)

Studded with cobblestone streets, narrow wynds (lanes) and dimly lit closes (alleyways), Edinburgh’s beguiling Old Town is the perfect landscape for romantic wanderings between warming drinks at cozy pubs.

After exploring the Old Town’s top attractions — including the sumptuous interiors of Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse — head to the bucolic neighborhood of Dean Village, one of the most beautiful areas of an impossibly beautiful city.

From there, take a long, slow walk along the quiet Water of Leith Walkway all the way to the port district of Leith. This is where you’ll find some of Edinburgh’s best restaurants, including The Kitchin, where a French-influenced menu showcases the best of Scottish produce.

When you’ve had your fill of the city’s charms, head north for a Highland fling. The heather-dappled hills and misty glens of the Scottish Highlands ooze romance and are an easy day trip from the capital.

Cartagena, Colombia

skyline in cartagena
Experience new and old charms in Cartagena. (Photo: Getty Images)

A heady mix of Latin and Caribbean cultures, Colombia’s seaside city of Cartagena has a sensual atmosphere to which you just have to surrender.

Ditch the map as you explore the beautifully preserved, UNESCO World Heritage–listed Old Town and let yourself get lost in the maze of cobblestone streets lined with candy-colored villas and palm-fringed plazas.

As night falls, watch the sun dip into the Caribbean Sea with a glass of wine in hand at the open-air Café Del Mar, which is perfectly perched on the city’s fortification wall. Afterward, head for the hip Getsemani neighborhood to find some of the city’s best restaurants before dancing the night away to live salsa music.

Montreal, Canada

Even if travel to Europe is not in the cards, you can discover a similar sense of romance without leaving North America — by taking a trip to Montreal.

Step into the city’s Old World atmosphere with a stroll through the narrow streets of Old Montreal, dipping into sidewalk cafés, galleries and boutiques along the way. Then explore the ornate interiors of the Gothic Revival–style Notre-Dame Basilica, which, with its brightly hued stained-glass windows and intricate carvings, was the setting for Celine Dion’s 1994 wedding.

Afterward, take a walk to the summit of Mount Royal, the mountain for which the city is named, for sweeping views of the city skyline and a secluded stroll around the surrounding park at sunset.

In the evening, reward your efforts by lingering over a bottle of wine at one of the Old Port’s cozy French bistros.