There's no denying the romance factor of cities like Paris, New York or Rome, but sometimes the best intimate escapes happen off the beaten path. We asked a panel of romance travel gurus to nominate 20 global destinations where the romance factor is under-hyped. Our readers have been voting for the past four weeks, and the results are in!
Taking home the title of Best Under-the-Radar Romantic Destination (by a landslide) is Porto, Portugal, known for its wine, medieval architecture and Old World charm.
Known not only for the wine produced here, Porto also gave the country its name, derived from its history as the Roman settlement of Portus Cale. Sprinkled like medieval jewels on a rocky gorge carved out by the Rio Douro, Portugal's second largest city combines the best of Old World charm with modern-day comforts. Designated a World Heritage City in 1996, the 2,000 year old city offers a host of sightseeing options - best seen on foot as most of the monuments are located in the hilly city center. History buffs are sure to enjoy a tour of the Baroque churches, museums and a walk through the ancient Ribeira district, where laundry is still washed in the river and hung there to dry. Wine tours are offered at several wine distilleries. Porto's sleeping scene offers a wide selection, from venerable city center hotels, boutique gems and a 5-star resort with a unique wine theme throughout. Evening entertainment can be found in Fado clubs, wine bars and Jazz and Blues clubs.
The top 10 winners in the category Best Under-the-Radar Romantic Destination are as follows:
Mackinac Island, Mich.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
A panel of experts picked the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. Experts Ivy Jacobson (TheKnot.com), Susan Moynihan (The Honeymoonist), Betsy and Warren Talbot (Married with Luggage), Michelle da Silva Richmond (10Best Travel Expert) and Lydia Schrandt (10Best Editor) were chosen based on their extensive knowledge of romance travel.
Other nominees for Best Under-the-Radar Romantic Destination included Bainbridge Island, Wash.; Block Island, R.I.; Chiang Mai, Thailand; Istanbul; Lake District, England; Langkawi, Malaysia; Lijiang, China; Mendoza, Argentina; New Caledonia and Out Islands, Bahamas.
3000 - Trams in Oporto
2739 - Codeçal and Guindais Stairs
2691 - Caminha
2661 - Vila Praia de Âncora
2486 - Batalha Square
2401 - Viana do Castelo
2228 - 36 Hours in Porto, Portugal
2212 - São João National Theatre
2163 - Vila Nova de Cerveira