Editor’s Note: This post is part of the Viator Travel Awards, an annual awards competition where we – along with our readers, travelers and fans – select the top things to do and see in each of the major regions we serve, the top things to do in our most popular tour categories, and more.
* * * * * *
Welcome to the 2016 Viator Travel Awards: Romantic Travel Edition! Whether you’re planning a trip around a special occasion – an anniversary, perhaps? – or simply looking for a way to incorporate a romantic element into your next trip, we’ve got you covered with our list of the Top 25 Romantic Experiences Around the World.
The tours and activities we’ve highlighted were chosen based on traveler reviews, data from the millions of people who check out Viator.com during the year, and information on which tours travelers book most often. We think there’s something for everyone here, no matter what destination is next on your list, and it might be the best place to start brainstorming your next trip.
You’ll find all kinds of activities listed below, including helicopter rides, sunset cruises and wine-tasting trips near and far. Join us for this tour of the top 25 most romantic things to do!
1. Savor a Dinner Cruise
Sometimes going on a boat tour when you’re traveling just isn’t a romantic enough experience. To take it to the next level, why not book a table on a dinner cruise? You’ll dine in style while the scenery drifts by. Step aboard a La Marina de Paris Seine River Cruise for either lunch or dinner. Float down the Hudson River while enjoying gourmet cuisine on a New York Dinner Cruise. Get to know the Bay Area at dusk with a San Francisco Bay Sunset Cruise complete with hearty appetizers, or embark on a Budapest Danube River Dinner Cruise.
2. Feel on Top of the World
For those of you thinking of proposing, you know you only have one shot to do it right. Flash mobs are passe and hiding a ring in dessert has been done, so why not make your sweetie literally feel on top of the world? Enjoy the dizzying feeling of being together at the Skydeck Chicago. Pop the question to your Liz Lemon at the Top of the Rock Observation Deck. Share a beautiful private moment on the the High Roller at The LINQ in Las Vegas. Surprise him or her at the Burj Khalifa ‘At the Top’ observation deck. Zoom straight to the top by skipping the line at the Empire State Building and writing your own Nora Ephron movie ending.
3. Escape to a Tropical Paradise
Escape to the paradise of Hawaii together, and surrender to the warm, sultry atmosphere of one of the world’s favorite vacation spots. Start with a Paradise Cove Luau in Oahu, or an Old Lahaina Luau in Maui. Rock out to a Waikiki ‘Rock-a-Hula’ Show. Discover the spirit of “aloha” at the Polynesian Cultural Center, where you can try your hand at the ukulele, take a canoe ride or learn to throw a spear before enjoying a luau with traditional foods and customs.
4. Taste the Nectar of the Gods
Forget snacking on oysters – the easiest way to get in the mood for romance is care of an afternoon sipping wine in a variety of idyllic settings in California wine country. Drive through the charming town of Carmel and feast on gourmet treats on a Carmel Small-Group Food and Wine Walking Tour. Combine beautiful views with a gastronomic journey on a Healdsburg Small-Group Food and Wine Walking Tour. Explore one of North America’s premier wine regions with a Napa and Sonoma Wine Country Tour from San Francisco, or kick it up a notch with an Ultimate Wine Lovers Day Trip to Napa and Sonoma.
5. Find Romance Down Under
For the ultimate in romance, go Down Under! With its enormous skies, vast spaces and gorgeous waters, Australia feels as big and full as your love for each other. Sail down the Yarra River during a Spirit of Melbourne Dinner Cruise. Stargaze and watch the sun set over Ayers Rock in the open-air Sounds of Silence Restaurant. Taste exciting local wines on a Yarra Valley Wine and Winery Tour from Melbourne. Discover the romantic past on a Colonial Tramcar Restaurant Tour of Melbourne. Reach the stars with a Sydney Tower Restaurant Buffet.
6. Go to a Dinner and Show
Seeing a live performance gives insight into a culture – and that’s especially true when it’s a show that captures local flavor. You can, for instance, gain a better understanding of the steamy dance culture of Spain by going to a Flamenco Show at Corral de la Morería in Madrid, or booking a Barcelona Gourmet Tapas Walking Tour and Flamenco Show. You’ll see Vienna’s royal side during a Schonbrunn Palace Evening with a Palace Tour, Dinner and Concert. Or steep yourself in the traditional music of Vienna with a Johann Strauss and Mozart Concert Including 4-Course Dinner. And you can’t go wrong with a classic evening out – go on a tour encompassing the Eiffel Tower, a Paris Cabaret Show and a Seine River Cruise.
7. Cuddle Up for Winter
You don’t need an excuse to cuddle with your romantic partner, but we’re happy to give you one, anyway. Marvel at the urban winter wonderland of New York while Central Park Ice Skating at Wollman Rink. Soak in the gorgeous Austrian scenery at a Christmas Eve Dinner at Weikersdorf Castle from Vienna. Add plenty of holiday cheer to your winter night with a Vancouver Holiday Dinner and Carols Cruise. Be utterly awed by the spectacle that is the New Year’s Eve Times Square Ball Drop Party – something you’re sure to talk about for many winters to come.
8. Sightsee by Horse
Being romantic is often about slowing down and taking in the scenery, which is why equestrian activities are so much fun for couples. Leave the glitz and glitter of Las Vegas behind for a Morning Maverick Horseback Ride with Breakfast, or ride into the sunset with a Wild West Sunset Horseback Ride with Dinner. Commune in the peacefulness of centuries-old vineyards during a Horse Riding in Chianti Day Trip from Florence. Fulfill your dream of galloping down pristine beaches on a Horseback Riding Day Trip from Punta Cana. If you’d rather leave the actual horses to someone else, why not take a Romantic Horse and Carriage Ride through Paris?
9. Take a Helicopter Ride
What better way to rekindle those first-date nerves than by whisking your loved one away on a breathtaking helicopter tour? Sip champagne before your Las Vegas Strip Night Flight by Helicopter, then feast on unforgettable views of the glamour below. Take to the skies with a Big Apple Helicopter Tour of New York and see one of the world’s greatest cities from a new angle. Check out incredible architecture on a Helicopter Flight in Dubai. Make the trip extra romantic (or extra thrilling) with a Versailles Helicopter Tour from Paris, which includes a one-hour stopover to enjoy a drink. And for the ultimate combination of romance with sheer wow-factor, hop on board for a Grand Canyon All American Helicopter Tour on a side trip from Las Vegas.
10. Ride Off Into the Sunset
There’s something about putting your arms around a loved one as you watch the sun go down that brings a smile to your face. That’s why the Grand Canyon West Rim Deluxe Sunset Helicopter Tour is the perfect splurge. Not only is there nature and adventure; also included is a champagne picnic and flyover to see the Vegas lights twinkle and shine after the sun goes down. If you think you might get peckish after a day of sun and fun in Hawaii, you can opt for a sunset dinner cruise (or Atlantis Submarine excursion) on an Oahu Sky and Sea Combo.
11. Be a VIP
Nothing takes the romance out of seeing a famous attraction like a crowd. Get above the fray with a VIP tour and the special treatment you and your sweetheart deserve. Waltz past the line for priority entry at the Louvre and partake in a Champagne and a Gourmet Lunch under the Pyramid. Enjoy a Moulin Rouge Show with Exclusive VIP Seating and 3-Course Dinner from your private balcony. If afternoon in Paris is more your speed, then book an Eiffel Tower Visit with Picnic-Style Lunch, Champagne and Trocadero View Seating. Savor dinnertime views of the sunset after a Grand Canyon Sunset Helicopter Tour. You can also take in two millennia of history with an Exclusive Rome Rooftop Dinner and Colosseum Night Tour Including Underground Chambers.
12. Get Away From It All
An overnight side trip during a vacation is the ultimate splurge, and turns an already romantic experience into the memory of a lifetime. Delve into historic UNESCO World Heritage Sites on a 2-Day Trip to Delphi and Meteora from Athens. Discover the secrets hidden inside the Blue Grotto during a 2-Day Italy Trip to Naples, Pompeii, Sorrento and Capri. Hop on the bullet train and escape the big city on a 2-Day Mt Fuji, Hakone and Bullet Train Tour from Tokyo. Learn about a whole other France while on a 2-Day Normandy, Saint Malo and Mont St Michel Tour from Paris. Enjoy scenery like no other during your 2-Day Loch Ness and Inverness Small Group Tour from Edinburgh.
13. Treat Yourself to a Private Tour
Vacations are romantic – we’ve established that. Private tours are also romantic. When you combine the two, you’ve got something really magical going on. Enter a fairytale world on a private tour of the Royal Castles of Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau on a day trip from Munich. Discover picturesque seaside villages on a Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi and Ravello Day Trip from Naples. Customize a New York Walking Tour with a Personal Photographer and capture lifelong memories. Customize Your Perfect Day in Paris, ideal for a proposal or special occasion. Feel like royalty when you take a Private Horse and Carriage Ride in Central Park.
14. Gaze at Holiday Lights
The holidays are such a romantic time, with visions of sugar plums (and gifts!), twinkling lights and plenty of opportunities to cuddle by a warm fire. If Christmas is your favorite holiday season, then share it with the one you love! See the Big Apple at its best on a New York City Holiday Lights Tour. See iconic landmarks all gussied up on a Berlin Christmas Lights Tour. Visit a charming Christmas market after a Chicago Holiday Lights Trolley ride. Experience the height of romance on a Paris Christmas Lights Tour.
15. Remember Your New Year’s Eve Kiss Forever
It’s not too late to make spectacular plans for New Year’s Eve – the kind of thing you’ll both remember for years. Join the locals in Reykjavik for a New Year’s Eve bonfire and fireworks display, not to mention lots of street parties. Watch New York City’s fireworks at midnight on a New Year’s Eve cruise, including a champagne toast and desserts to snack on. Enjoy front row seats to the fireworks on the water during a New Year’s Eve Dinner Cruise on San Francisco Bay. Or head Down Under for a warmer introduction to 2016 with a Sydney Harbour New Year’s Eve Tall Ship Dinner Cruise.
16. Smell Pretty
Giving the gift of perfume is an age-old tradition so much so that it’s become clichéd to give perfume as a present for a romantic occasion. Still, olfactory memory is one that lastingly invokes a specific time and place, and what if you could design a personal perfume for your honeybun – while in France? At a Perfume Workshop in Paris, you can work with one of the top “noses,” or perfume experts, in the world and not only learn about the history of scents, but create a signature scent for you or a loved one. Down south, you can pick the brain of a professional perfumer during a Molinard Perfume Workshop in Nice to find out what makes your favorite scents so irresistible, and then make your own.
17. Relax Into a Spa Day
Sometimes all it takes to be romantic is slowing down – but that can be hard when you’re on a trip and determined to see as much as possible. Force yourself to relax by booking some time at a local spa. When in Dubai, that means a Hammam and Massage Experience for Women at Spa CORDON. Surround yourself with natural beauty during a Spa Day at Termas de Cacheuta with Transport from Mendoza. After a marathon day of shopping, rejuvenate with a Milan luxury spa evening, including aperitivo. Spend a day in classic luxury with a Private Entrance to Gellert Spa in Budapest or the Széchenyi Spa in Budapest.
18. Take a Luxury Tour
There’s nothing quite like treating yourself to a bit of luxury when you travel, and it’s even more wonderful to do so with your soulmate. Cruise around on a Romantic Sailing Trip from Barcelona. Hawaii offers lots of luxury options, including a luxury sunrise experience at Haleakala National Park, or a luxury small-group tour of the Road to Hana and Ka’eleku Cavern. Feel like an insider during a Rome Luxury Wine and Dinner Experience in a Private Cellar by the Pantheon. To really push the word “luxury” to its limits, however, you can’t do much better than an Eiffel Tower Gourmet Dinner. Yes, we think that’s a good representation of an unforgettable life moment.
19. Get Married!
Anyone who loves to travel will adore the idea of combining a trip with a wedding. We all know Las Vegas is one of the top wedding destinations in the world – and yes, you can indeed have an Elvis Wedding at Graceland Wedding Chapel or go to the World Famous Drive-up Wedding. Or you can go the more traditional route with a Las Vegas Wedding at a Special Memory Wedding Chapel. You could enjoy the gorgeous backdrop of a Valley of Fire Wedding, with transport by limousine. Combine thrills with scenery with a wedding in the Grand Canyon with transport by helicopter.
20. Feed Your Passion
Sharing a food experience with someone we love can be as intimate as it is delicious. Make tasty memories with sweetheart – especially if her or she has a sweet tooth – next time you travel. Combine sightseeing along the Magnificent Mile with treats on a Chicago Chocolate Lover’s Walking Tour. Enjoy the quaint coziness of Georgetown as you partake in a Washington DC Chocolate Lover’s Walking Tour. With a New York City Chocolate Lover’s Walking Tour, you’ll taste decadent delicacies from some of the city’s most famous bakeries and chocolatiers.
21. Turn Up the Heat
Couples who cook together have way more fun, both in and out of the kitchen. Taking a cooking class together when you travel ups the romantic ante even more. Learn to make some of those famous Italian dishes with a Tuscan Cooking Class in Siena or an Italian Cooking Class in Milan. Take a Quito Culinary Tour and Cooking Class to find out what makes this cuisine unique. Learn some of the secrets of Balinese food with a Bali Cooking Class, which includes a private transfer for convenience.
22. Plan Something Special for Valentine’s Day
Don’t let Valentine’s Day come and go without fanfare – especially if you’re traveling in February. Make this holiday special with a memorable event. Perhaps you’d like to add some cabaret spice to your evening with a Lido de Paris Valentine’s Day dinner and show. Enjoy the views from your private table on a New York City Valentine’s Dinner Cruise. Make unforgettable memories on a San Francisco Valentine’s Cruise with Buffet Dinner and Dancing. Or simply book a Valentine’s Day Seine River Cruise with 3-Course Dinner and Live Music and celebrate in one of the world’s most romantic cities.
23. Just for Couples
While the tours on our 2016 list are amazing opportunities for romance, many of them are group experiences. But with our neverending romantic spirit, there are several tours we keep close to the heart as they’re absolute perfection for couples. A Couples Dance Experience with Choreographer in London is great for those who want to have fun together in a novel way. If you’d like some historical context, take Daily Waltz Dance Lessons for Couples in Vienna, the birthplace of the dance. Take a Nassau Couples Sunset Tour in the Bahamas, with a romantic picnic as well as snorkeling and paddle boarding. For the ultimate in sea romance, book a Private Sunset Sailing Charter for Couples from Corralejo. But the ultimate has to be a 3-Night Romantic City Break in Casablanca for Couples – to channel your inner Bergman and Bogart!
24. Greet the Dawn
Greeting the dawn of a new day together is undeniably romantic – and even more so with stunning scenery bathed in fresh sunlight. Visit St Catherine’s Monastery after watching a Moses’ Mountain Sunrise outside Sharm el-Sheikh. See the sun rise above the cloud line on a Spectacular Haleakala Maui Sunrise Tour. Take an Uluru Base Walk at Sunrise to watch this amazing piece of nature wake up and shine. Begin your Ein Gedi and Dead Sea Trip from Jerusalem with a Masada sunrise. Go Sunrise Ballooning in Alice Springs, and never look at a sunrise the same again.
25. Fly High
Speaking of hot air balloons and sunrises, it’s such a romantic activity that you’ll become addicted in no time to seeing the landscape come alive under the sun from such soaring heights. You’ll have to go to bed early – or just pull an all-nighter! – to enjoy a Las Vegas Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Ride, which combines desert and cityscapes. An Orlando Sunrise Hot Air Balloo starts your day off right, and puts Disney World to shame. The colors of the Southwest are stunning any time of day, but even more so during an Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Ride at Sunrise. For a fantastic urban ballooning experience, try out a Melbourne Balloon Flight at Sunrise. Also Down Under, you can take a Yarra Valley Balloon Flight at Sunrise, where you watch the mists recede from the vineyards before having a champagne brunch once you alight.
– Viator Travel Team