When you think of the perfect getaway with your loved one, what comes to mind? White sand beaches and endless blue waters? Colourful streets and delicious dining? Or maybe something more exhilarating, like bungee jumping? Whatever your vision of an ideal retreat is, I can almost guarantee it doesn’t include a thousand other couples taking selfies right behind you as you attempt to enjoy a romantic sunset.
Unfortunately, what were once some of the most romantic and sought after cities for lovers, are now made unappealing due to the sheer volume of obnoxious couples that visit constantly. If you’re hoping to move your relationship forward, learn something new about each other and create memorable moments, there are 15 places you may want to steer clear of at the moment. Be it wedding photos, honeymoons, engagement shoots or actual destination weddings, they are completely overrun by couples who are not afraid to show their affections.
Don’t worry - there are still many destinations awaiting you and your significant other that can offer peace, solitude and epic romance. It might mean venturing a little further off the beaten path and maybe even reconsidering your dream honeymoon destination, but you can’t deny that your privacy and an authentic local experience, beat fighting for a lounger on the beach any day.
25 Overrun: Paris, France
The price for visiting the city of love is your privacy. Don’t let the movies fool you, if you’re looking to share an intimate moment in front of the Eiffel Tower in a world of your own with a picnic of baguettes and croissants, think again.
Paris’ major sites like the Eiffel Tower and The Louvre will unfortunately force you to vie for the best photo spot instead of simply enjoying the view. According to Press.parisinfo.com, 40 million people visited Paris in 2017, so as a top tourist destination in the world, you’re not likely to find a quiet moment to share here.
24 Overrun: Venice, Italy
Venice is supposed to be the pinnacle of romance, but as rampant tourism becomes an increasing problem for the city, so do the astounding number of couples competing for accommodations.
With the canals packed full of couples on romantic gondola rides, the rialto bridge at capacity during the summer months and rooms in the city centre difficult to come by, your ideal getaway here won’t exactly be one of a kind. Councillor for tourism Paola Mar speaking to Telegraph.co.uk says 26 million tourists visit Venice annually. She adds that it’s a city to get lost in - but it’s hard to get lost when you’re never alone.
23 Overrun: Rome, Italy
Italymagazine.com estimates that 1200 people visit the Trevi Fountain every hour. That might seem hard to believe, but if you yourself have been to throw a coin in the fountain it won’t sound like such a stretch.
Sure, it’s incredibly beautiful to share the moment with your significant other, throwing a coin in the fountain in the hopes that you’ll one day return to the ancient city. But when you’re standing shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of other couples taking alluring selfies or perhaps even posing for their wedding photos, the moment isn’t as magical as you might have imagined it to be.
22 Overrun: Las Vegas, Nevada
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas...unless you get married. That’s more of a long term commitment.
Each year roughly 120,000 marriage ceremonies take place in Las Vegas, according to Drrsvs.com (Document Recording and Retrieval Services). Eloping to Vegas to be married by an Elvis impersonator may not seem like something a lot of people are itching to do, but the statistics say otherwise. A weekend away at the casino here might be fun with your partner, but be prepared to share the city with lots of other lovers.
21 Overrun: Oia, Santorini
The island of Santorini, Greece is one of the most popular honeymoon destinations in the world with its picturesque white buildings and views of the Aegean Sea. The town of Oia is famous for its striking sunsets, but an overload of couples can put a damper on the romantic mood.
Sunset in Oia in peak seasons will leave you fighting for a spot to stand just to glimpse the horizon, and if you actually get a chance to enjoy the spectacle, you’re not likely to do so cozied up to your loved one. Chances of witnessing a wedding photo shoot are exceptionally high with this being such a popular backdrop - if privacy is your goal you’d do better to choose another Greek island.
20 Overrun: New York, New York
New York City is home to 8.6 million people and so you can bet that having any space to yourself is kind of a non starter. A picnic at Central Park certainly won’t meet any fantasies you might have of secluded afternoons in the sun.
Rather, you and a few hundred other people with the exact same idea will enjoy a view of each other’s picnics. Of course Central Park is so beautiful it’s always worth a visit, but save yourself the disappointment and set the expectation that you won’t have this green space to yourself.
19 Overrun: Honolulu, Hawaii
According to the Latimes.com, Hawaii welcomed 9.3 million visitors in 2017, which was a new record. While increased tourism can have benefits, it’s resulted in increased rates for accommodations, including a 1% room tax.
However despite an influx of couples visiting, there are some lesser known gems of Honolulu where you may be able to steal a romantic moment. Visiting the historically rich Chinatown and the Mikinola Outlet for shopping are just two options off the beaten path. Art galleries, markets and temples can be explored in Chinatown, as well as the Foster Botanical Gardens. A perfect chance to flee the tourist packed beach for a few hours and take in the culture.
18 Overrun: U.S. Virgin Islands
An incredibly popular spot for honeymooners, the US Virgin Islands welcomes around two million tourists per year, and in 2017, when it was part of the United States for 100 years, tourists were given $300.00 USD to spend on their trip, according to Independent.co.uk.
It’s little wonder the crystal blue waters of Cinnamon Bay or the allure of the Cruzan Rum Distillery attract couples celebrating their nuptials on a regular. If you’re looking for a getaway surrounded by couples, this beautiful place could be calling your name, but if it’s a secluded rendezvous you want...head back to the drawing board.
17 Overrun: Bali, Indonesia
Bali, Indonesia is a blossoming tourism destination and it’s chalk full of adventure seeking couples looking for an exotic getaway. With picturesque villas and cascading waterfalls, Bali is definitely on the up and up. Hotelinvestmentstrategies.com has projected a 26.3% tourism increase to 18.2 million visitors annually by 2020.
While this is great news for it’s growing tourism infrastructure, it does not bode well for couples hoping to escape the business of everyday life and journey into the wild unknown together. With tour groups, yoga retreats and resorts popping up all over the place, it’s questionable just how much will be left unexplored.
16 Overrun: Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Bora Bora thrives on tourism and is the most popular destination of Tahiti’s islands. According to Travel.usnews.com it’s ranked #2 in Best Beach Honeymoon Destinations and #3 in Best Honeymoon Destinations in the world, which means a high volume of visitors.
Being such a small island, it’s incomparable beauty will have to make up for lack of privacy and personal space. You might decide it’s worth sacrificing seclusion for dormant volcanoes, vibrant blue waters and sunshine but don't be surprised if you end up witnessing someone else's destination wedding.
15 Overrun: London, England
London is a tourist hotspot receiving approximately 30 million people internationally each year. It’s not only a final destination, but acts a jumping off point for a lot of people going on longer trips throughout Europe.
If you’re hoping for a quiet holiday with your love, you’re not going to find it here in these bustling British streets. Rather, you’ll find couples taking selfies in front of the London Eye or kissing by Tower Bridge. Not to rule it out entirely - it’s got great budget flight rates from North America, so you can start out here but you’ll definitely want to add a more private destination to your route to really kickstart the romance.
14 Overrun: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai, Thailand has been called Thailand’s “Rose of the North” and is not always the first on visitor’s lists, but it really should be. Bangkok and Phuket might be more widely known, but Chiang Mai is a magical city like no other. However, it welcomes a whopping 9.6 million (as of 2016) tourists per year, and this number is on the rise.
Finding a safe haven here might seem simple from the whimsical photos we see online, but in peak seasons the number of couples flocking to the various sites is high, and getting a photo without other couples in the background, or watching a secluded sunset might be an impossible order.
13 Overrun: Cancun, Mexico
Cancun has long been a popular resort town, and if you and your special someone decide to venture here, you may enjoy the sunshine but certainly not the peace and quiet.
According to Travelagentcentral.com a recording breaking 10.6 million visitors entered Cancun in just the first quarter of 2018. As long as you prepare yourself to share the beach, the poolside and your patio time with other couples, Cancun is still fun in the sun. Perhaps upgrading your resort package is the way to go if you’re seeking a more exclusive experience with fewer prying eyes.
12 Overrun: Dubrovnik, Croatia
The overwhelming popularity of Game of Thrones has skyrocketed the tourism in Dubrovnik, Croatia in recent years. In 2017, an initiative to limit the number of visitors in Dubrovnik to 8000 per day was launched, according to Responsibletravel.com, in order to protect the city’s old streets.
As a couple, this may appeal to you as a romantic getaway with history, sea views and great food. It does offer all of these things, but as over tourism begins to plague the historic city, it’s important to consider whether or not you want to be surrounded by crazed HBO fans on your romantic getaway or not. Maybe hold off until the shoulder season if you’re dead set on coming here.
11 Overrun: Vatican City
Okay, the Vatican is only overrun by couples on Wednesdays...but you should still be looking for clever ways to skip the lengthy tourist lines the rest of the week.
For newly wed couples, skipping the line is as simple as sending an email to request a ticket for special audience with the Pope on his Wednesday public address. If the couple has been married for less than two months, according to Cns.blog.wordpress.com, they can receive a greeting and a blessing from the Pope by bringing their ticket and signed marriage certificate. Brides can even choose to wear their wedding dresses again, so this is certainly a couple heavy location on a Wednesday.
10 All To Ourselves: Burano, Italy
This gem of the Venetian Lagoon is the answer to the overcrowded Venice streets. Charming and colourful, Burano is famous for it’s lace production, as well as the striking houses that line the canals and streets. A fishing town, legend states that the houses were painted this brightly so that fishermen could find their way home in the fog.
Certainly less crowded than the main city of Venice, there are still plenty of restaurants and shops around Burano as well as accommodations. The streets may get busy during the day as boat tours from the city of Venice make a stop, but in the evenings you can enjoy living like a local.
9 All To Ourselves: Marrakech, Morocco
Marrakech is gaining popularity as a tourist hotspot in the North of Africa, but it’s still not the first stop on most couples’ bucket lists. So why not consider it for a honeymoon or getaway spot?
Staying in a riad, a traditional house with an indoor courtyard, is a cultural experience, and the vibrant nightlife won’t leave you bored for a second. There’s plenty of shopping in the Medina and while it might be busy, you’re more likely to run into locals than tourists.
8 All To Ourselves: Paros, Greece
If you’re looking for a true piece of paradise just for the two of you, look no further than Paros, Greece. With all of the beauty that Santorini or Mykonos could offer you and significantly less people to derail your romance, it’s a winning combination.
Paros is a larger island than Mykonos or Santorini, meaning there are more places for couples and tourists to spread out. For a more authentic greek experience and fewer people, venture inland to the small villages of Lefkes or Marpissa.
7 All To Ourselves: Petra, Jordan
It’s reported that tourism in Petra is on the rise, so if it’s a private getaway you’re hoping for then you should begin planning your trip soon. Foxnomad.com recommends staying in Petra the night before you plan to tour the historic site so as to arrive when it opens at 6:00 AM and beat the tourist arrivals from Amman.
Spanning 60 square kilometers, there is no shortage of space for people to roam freely and this should help in ensuring your photos aren’t interrupted by other couples.
6 All To Ourselves: Antigua, Guatemala
Guatemala doesn’t receive the tourist numbers that many other countries in South America do, and it’s rich Spanish colonial history generates a charming atmosphere from which romance is sure to spark.
A walk down Avenida Norte provides striking views of the city at sunset and you can venture outside the city into nature for a more secluded experience. Day tours of Pacaya Volcano and mayan ruins are sure to create lasting memories in your relationship.
5 All To Ourselves: Iceland
The exceptionally low number of people living in Iceland (338, 859) means that the vast landscape is largely unexplored by tourists and if you’re trekking the ring road without a tour group, you’re not likely to come across another couple all that often.
Major tourist attractions like Gullfoss, Geysir and Skógafoss will of course still be busy, but you’ll have time for two as you drive through the countryside, stopping at the many picnic tables with spectacular views for a humble and romantic lunch. The whimsical landscape of lava rock and waterfalls will certainly inspire both of you.
4 All To Ourselves: Madeira, Portugal
Previously known as a getaway spot for seniors, this archipelago off the coast of North Africa is slowly attracting a younger crowd, so the time is right for you and your partner to visit!
Exceptionally safe and warm all year round, Madeira offers you beach relaxation, adventure and great food without being totally surrounded by other tourists. If you want to get your blood pumping, hike Pico Ruivo, Madeira’s highest peak, or head out for a romantic boat tour in the hopes of spotting whales and dolphins!
3 All To Ourselves: Bergen, Norway
Experience all that Norway has to offer in the quieter setting of it’s “second city”, Bergen. While high prices could deter some tourists, it bodes well for your quiet retreat. The historic streets of Bryggen in dim evening light are atmospheric and the mountain views from the top of Fløyen (400 meters above sea level) are perfect for watching sunrise together.
Voted one of the most romantic destinations in Europe in 2015 on Europeanbestdestinations.com, it’s hard to think of a more peaceful place to enjoy each other’s company.
2 All To Ourselves: Cotswolds, England
A district in Gloucestershire England, the fact that you’ve probably never heard of it before is exactly the reason you’ll find what you’re looking for in a secluded getaway here.
Copse Hill Road in the town of Lower Slaughter was actually voted the most romantic street in Britain in 2011, so naturally that’s a necessary stop to make, as well as visiting Britain’s oldest pub, The Porch House, which can be traced back to the year 947 AD, according to Character-cottages.co.uk.
Let this quaint region of Britain enchant you with cherry blossoms at Batsford Arboretum in spring, and limestone cottages in Kingham and Blockley.
1 All To Ourselves: Cayo Espanto, Belize
You can’t get a place much more to yourselves than a private island. With idyllic blue and turquoise beach front villas, you’re promised your own private loungers, on a private dock. Battling for a spot on the beach is not even a consideration.
It is possible to rent the entire island, or just one of the villas. Even then, the distance between accommodations and shelter of the palm leaves ensures your privacy. Enjoy activities as a couple like private snorkelling tours, fishing trips or a deserted island beach picnic. It might be a struggle to come back down to reality after an experience like this.
References: Dailymail.co.uk, Italymagazine.com, Telegraph.co.uk, Latimes.com, Honolulumagazine.com, Theculturetrip.com, Independent.co.uk, Thecrazytourist.com, Hotelinvestmentstrategies.com, Travel.usnews.com, Thailand.prd.go.th, Travelagentcentral.com, Lonelyplanet.com, Escapeartistes.com, Nytimes.com