By: Gigi Manukyan
Despite being a singleton, I have been to some romantic AF places. No, I don’t mean overpriced luxuries like Bora Bora, but low-key budget-friendly gems like the island of Bora Bora in the Rosario Island chain. As a favor to all the couples out there in need of a vacay on a budget, these are MY TOP 5 PLACES to travel to with your boo:
Although not as popular as its neighbors, Italy and Croatia, Slovenia is not a country that you should be sleeping on. If you want to have a summer European getaway with bae, but don’t want to be stuck in the overpriced, overcrowded streets of Paris, then Ljubljana is your city. The city has the same European charm as its Italian equivalents, but at a more affordable rate. Plus, the country as a whole, is covered in castles! The Ljubljana Castle hosts not only the best views of the city, but also amazing concerts. So you can live your best princess life while jamming to some catchy tunes.
To achieve prime romance, you must, must, MUST visit Lake Bled. Lake Bled is about a 40 min. drive from Ljubljana. There is a gorgeous church in the middle of the lake that you can actually canoe to. How romantic is that? While there, I witnessed a gorgeous Scottish wedding; hence, the reason I had to include Lake Bled on my list. If church isn’t your thing, you can visit the castle on the cliff, overlooking the lake. Or, you can take a hike through the enchanted woods, which offers the best bird’s eye view of Lake Bled.
Herceg Novi, Montenegro
Montenegro is slowly becoming more of a tourist destination. This is thanks, in part, to cruise ships that are putting cities like Kotor on the map. Herceg Novi; on the other hand, is not as frequented by tourists outside the Balkans. Here, you will barely find any English speakers, besides the occasional Balkan diaspora that comes alongside their parents. That’s why learning a few phrases in Bosnian-Serbo-Croatian is crucial before coming here. The small city hugs along the Adriatic Sea and has the same charm as it’s more popular Croatian counterparts. The water is quite refreshing and you can easily access Croatian coastal cities, like Dubrovnik, if you want to experience a more livelier nightlife. All in all, Herceg Novi makes for a nice romantic, relaxing getaway, with bae.
Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia has an extra special place in my heart so that’s why I had to put it in this list. Mostar is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited. Not only is it perfectly situated near the Croatian seaside border, but is near some of the best vineyards in the country. The old city dates back to Ottoman times, and the iconic bridge, Stari Most, makes for such a beautiful backdrop for a selfie (kidding, kinda).
Mostar makes for an amazing weekend trip or stop when in the Balkans. If you love chasing waterfalls like me, you have to stop by Kravice Waterfalls that’s about 40 min. outside Mostar. Kravice is nothing like the other waterfalls I’ve seen on my travels. Not only is it easily accessible, but it’s also not as overwhelming. Unlike Plitvice in Croatia, Kravice is not as frequented by tourists, and it’s just as scenic.
I have such a bad habit of accidentally visiting romantic cities with girlfriends. Cartagena was another such city. I came here for a New Year trip kicking off 2019 with two of my best friends. We wanted to meet cute Colombian boys to go dancing with. Instead, we were met with cute Colombian couples enjoying the warm Caribbean waters.
Cartagena is extremely affordable and accessible from the US. It’s a short flight from Miami, and you can easily find roundtrip tickets from LA for as low as $400 roundtrip. The city boasts a lively nightlife, especially for couples that love to go dancing. For maximum romance, stay in Bocagrande along the beachfront. Although the beaches do get quite crowded with many street venders, you can get a stay at a private resort in the Rosario Islands. My friends and I chose the island of “Bora Bora.” It was the closest we’d get to Bora Bora on our college budget. This is the perfect getaway for couples as you’ll be on your own beach bed, so no need to secure your stuff as you take a dip in the crystal clear waters. Let’s just say, we were the only single trio there, and everyone noticed.
Hoi An, Vietnam
The beautiful city of lanterns. Hoi An is, without a doubt, my favorite city in SEA, and one of the most romantic cities I’ve ever visited. What makes Hoi An outshine other Vietnamese cities is its mass display of lanterns. Lanterns first appeared in Hoi An in the late 16th century after Chinese and Japanese settlement. By day, Hoi An looks like any other Vietnamese town, but by night, the whole city lights up like a Christmas tree. Picture this: you are hand-in-hand with your boo taking a nighttime stroll through the city trying out all the delicious street food. After, the two of you, lanterns in hand, take a rowboat down the river to release your love into the world. It sounds like a cliche rom com moment, doesn’t it? Well, I did it with one of my best friends, and I can confidently say, it most definitely was.
Now, go out and start planning that new adventure with your boo. The world is waiting!