Top honeymoon and romantic destinations of 2014

Top honeymoon and romantic destinations of 2014

Pulling together your 2014 honeymoon wish-list? Check out what new, enticing options are available for a romantic jaunt this year…

Panama

Panama Canal celebrates its 100th birthday this August, and is marking the milestone with the unveiling of its $5bn revamped network: new locks, wider shipping lanes and bigger ports. Now, I know what you're thinking, a construction project doesn't sound very romantic - even if there is a big anniversary involved. But there's more to it than a bit of ribbon cutting. When the expanded canal launches, it will be accompanied by festival events throughout Panama City - the most notable being the Panama Canal Centennial Celebration. Think traditional dances, drums, workshops, folk festivals and fashion shows. Not just that, but the changes will signal an important moment in history.

The modern 48-mile wonder currently manages 5% of worldwide shipments, in turn bringing together a network of more than 144 routes, 1,700 ports and 160 countries. Its impact on international commerce and the epic feat of its creation make it one of the most influential accomplishments of the century. Witnessing the waterway's reopening is something for the history books, and a once-in-a-lifetime memory for you and your partner to tell the grandkids about.

New Zealand

Calling all active couples! Are you a gentle pedaller? Tough off-roader? Or do you fall somewhere in the middle? Nga Haerenga - The New Zealand Cycle Trail (www.nzcycletrail.com), is set for completion in the spring, providing 23 'Great Rides' for native and international bikers. And each route is as diverse as the next, set against lofty peaks and dense forest or being lapped at by the ocean. They all have one thing in common, though: they showcase the best of the country's landscapes, environment, culture and heritage. For updates on the new routes, visit Wanderlust.

Costa Rica

There are few places that showcase the world's wildlife quite like Costa Rica. So if you're looking to honeymoon in a biodiversity hotspot, which is big on sustainable travel and conservation, then it's definitely the destination for you. Over a quarter of its land is protected in national parks and reserves. Explore the Tortuguero National Park, where natives fight to save endangered hawksbill and leatherback turtle species during nesting season.

"Today the country is home to an estimated 6% of the world's plant and animal species," says Wanderlust contributor Sarah Gilbert, who traversed this ecological treasure trove in 2013. "The sheer diversity of its flora and fauna is staggering: around 850 species of birds, 600 species of butterflies and almost 240 types of mammals, including humpback whales, dolphins, sea turtles and four species of monkey - all in an area two-thirds the size of Scotland."

Pick up a copy of Wanderlust - out now. Click here for more about what's in this month's issue.

Brazil

Football fever is set to climax this summer and plans for Rio 2016 are well under way, meaning 2014 is the year to spend your honeymoon exploring this Latin American giant. Avoid World Cup fans and extortionate price tags by steering clear of 12 June-13 July, or simply by exploring a destination that's a bit more off the beaten Astroturf. Search for jaguars and morph into Tarzan and Jane in the rainforest; glide down the Amazon; sand-surf in the country's north-east; or explore the riots of colour at Carnival. Whether you're an intrepid adventurer, calm observer or adrenaline junkie, there's something for every couple in this chaotic yet delightful destination.

Riga, Latvia

Bold fire sculptures, fairytale opera performances and vibrant art, set against the backdrop of Riga's wintry landscapes. 2014 marks the Latvian capital's turn as European Capital of Culture, and it is pulling out all the stops so it can shine under the EU's cultural spotlight. This cheap, cheerful and charming destination is often touted as a city for stag and hen weekends, but this year it's producing a buzzing programme of activities to help shake off its 'Beers n' Babes' image. It is now emerging as a thriving metropolis that offers miles more than a weekend break can handle - perfect for honeymoons.

Lose yourself on the cobbled streets of the UNESCO-listed Old Town, explore the city's grand parks, spot original Art Nouveau architecture and toast to your future with Riga Black Balsam - a traditional herbal liquor. Make time to track down the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia for a glimpse into the country's eventful past. Both the Swedish Gate and St Peter's church are worth a visit too.

Burma

If 2013 was the year to discover Burma's highlights, 2014 is the year to step off the tourist trail. The country's iconic sites - from the 19th century capital of Mandalay to Inle Lake and Rangoon - feature highly on most travellers' wish-lists. This year, we recommend you honeymoon in the undiscovered Myeik (Mergui) Archipelago - a collection of 800 mostly uninhabited, wild and intriguing islands.

Phoebe Smith, editor of our sister magazine Wanderlust, explored the area earlier this year and explains what to expect: "En route to our first anchorage we'd passed a number of islands and every single one of them would easily be able to play paradise in a Bounty advert, giving us a tantalising introduction into what lay ahead. Most were covered with a thicket of dense trees which rumour has it hides an enticing array of wildlife - from tiger to wild boar, python to elephant."

Tallinn, Estonia

As far as romantic movies go, Titanicis up there with the greats. Let's face it, every man wants to be like Leo, and every woman wants to be with Leo - it's an undisputed fact. Take your partner to the unlikely Estonia, home to the newly opened Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, and you'll discover the true story behind this tragic vessel. Featuring more than 150 original items salvaged from the shipwreck, and a number of reconstructed rooms, the Tallinn-based museum will transport you back to 1912 and aboard the 'ship that can't sink'.  

For more on Tallinn, check out our 'Romantic Tallinn on a budget' feature here.

East Africa

Mulling over a mega-moon? Thanks to a new joint-visa scheme spanning Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, taking the time to navigate East Africa will be a whole lot easier. The visa - which was due to launch on 1 January but got postponed - will open up the area and allow easy access across borders for travellers, who currently have to arrange separate visas for each country. At around £60 ($100), the new combination visa is also cheaper - giving you more spending cash to splash on your spouse.

Newlyweds or romance-seeking couples wanting to get in on the act will be able to apply for the three-country visa at any diplomatic office of Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, at immigration offices of the respective countries or online. See flamingoes flock, trek in thick jungles, meet tribes, safari in style - the options are endless.

A revised date for the visa launch has yet to be announced.

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