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Ditch Paris and the Amalfi coast for these under the radar honeymoon destinations

Where is on your list of dream honeymoon destinations?
Where is on your list of dream honeymoon destinations? Copyright Andreas Rønningen via Unsplash
Copyright Andreas Rønningen via Unsplash
By Saskia O'Donoghue
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Want to honeymoon away from the crowds? Head to these lesser known European destinations.

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If you think of honeymoon destinations in Europe, chances are you’ll have the likes of the Amalfi Coast, Paris, Santorini and Barcelona on your list.

While those well-trodden hotspots are popular for a reason, there are countless other options across the continent where you can escape the crowds.

Whether you’re getting hitched this year, or your wedding day is a distant dream, why not add these more unusual choices for honeymoons to your potential post-wedding break?

Skip uber-expensive Capri and the Amalfi Coast for nearby Ischia and Procida

Capri and Amalfi Coast towns like Sorrento, Positano and Ravello are tried-and-tested destinations for a honeymoon. They are also often extremely expensive - and crowded.

Italy is a perfect destination for honeymooners, though, thanks to its climate, delectable food and relaxed vibe, so don’t rule it out just yet.

Head to the Phlegraean Islands - specifically Ischia and Procida - to enjoy the clear waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea with southern Italian hospitality and far fewer visitors.

Ischia is packed to the brim with historical sights, including the now-iconic Aragonese Castle, countless restaurants along the waterfront and a huge number of natural hot springs.

The striking Aragonese Castle is one of Ischia's must-see spots
The striking Aragonese Castle is one of Ischia's must-see spotsPronto Ischia via Unsplash

The hydrothermal parks of Negombo and Poseidon are among the most popular paid options, but the most famous - and free - natural hot springs on Ischia are located on the Bay of Sorgeto.

Ischia also boasts a number of vineyards, including the well-liked Cenatiempo in Serrara Fontana, offering wine tastings. If possible, try to avoid the island in August - while it’s still relatively undiscovered by many Europeans, it’s a favourite of Italians who head there on their annual holidays in their droves.

We’d also recommend heeding that advice for a visit to nearby Procida, a much smaller island just a 20 minute boat trip away.

La Marina di Corricella in Procida is one of the most picturesque spots in all of Italy
La Marina di Corricella in Procida is one of the most picturesque spots in all of ItalyVincenzo De Simone via Unsplash

Stay in the historic centre, home to one of the most spectacular views in all of Italy. At sunset, head up to the top of the island to get the very best view of La Marina di Corricella, the oldest fishing village in Procida, famous for its pastel buildings which look like they’ve been haphazardly placed, making for a true Italian masterpiece.

While away the hours with limoncello-based cocktails at bars along the water’s edge before sampling fresh seafood spaghetti at a nearby trattoria.

In 2022, Procida was named as Italian Capital of Culture so it’s gaining in popularity - but still far quieter and more unknown than many other spots in the country.

Rather than Barcelona or the Costa del Sol, why not try Gran Canaria?

Many tourists assume the Canary Islands are cheap and cheerful destinations more suited for family holidays.

Gran Canaria, though, has a different side to it. One of the most popular islands of the Spanish archipelago off the coast of Morocco, it’s significantly less touristy than Tenerife and offers natural wonders rarely seen in mainland Europe.

It’s also romantic, with plenty to do, whether you’re an active couple or more laidback.

The majestic dunes of Maspalomas Beach are a favourite on Gran Canaria
The majestic dunes of Maspalomas Beach are a favourite on Gran CanariaDaniele Franchi via Unsplash

Start with a walk around Doramas Park in the centre of the capital city of Las Palmas. Stroll around the various, palm-shaded paths and then pay a visit to the Museo Nestor, home to the famous Canarian artist Néstor Martín-Fernández de la Torre’s works. Currently undergoing restoration, it will reopen in June.

Gran Canaria is also known for its beaches - some of the very best in all of the Canaries.

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The 2,750-metre-long Maspalomas Beach is one of the most popular on the island, recognised for its impressive oceanside dunes.

The water below is calm and warm and flanked with sunbeds and umbrellas for hire.

If you’re more into high energy activities than relaxing on a beach, be sure to take a hike through the Agaete Valley.

Gran Canaria is full of interesting villages to explore
Gran Canaria is full of interesting villages to exploreJoel Rohland via Unsplash

Known as one of the best hikes in Europe, it takes in tropical fruit and orange orchards alongside the island's many coffee plantations.

Whether you’ve spent your day swimming in the sea or hiking, spend the evening in one of Gran Canaria’s quaint villages like the inland Firgas or Puerto Mógan on the sea.

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All good honeymoons are about treating yourself, so you’ll want to sample local specialities like Canarian potatoes, tapas, fried and grilled seafood as well as mango and avocado-based dishes, ideally washed down with a little Spanish wine.

Head to Istanbul on the border of Europe and Asia, rather than the usual resorts

Istanbul straddles Europe and Asia. With a quick trip by boat across the Bosphorus Strait, you’ll be transported to another continent without leaving the city.

Honeymooners often plump for resorts in coastal destinations like Izmir, Bodrum and Antalya - but a break in one of the country’s most vibrant cities is well worth consideration.

Istanbul is the perfect blend of colourful culture and rich history - no trip is complete without a visit to the former centre of the Byzantine Empire, the Hagia Sophia, a former church and now a mosque with both a breathtaking exterior and interior, built around 1,500 years ago.

The Hagia Sophia is one of the most popular spots in Istanbul - and for good reason
The Hagia Sophia is one of the most popular spots in Istanbul - and for good reasonZen zeee via Unsplash

The Blue Mosque and the Basilica Cistern, both also centuries old, are well worth a visit - if you can drag yourself away from the food on offer. The cuisine blends European and Middle Eastern dishes - think mezze platters and fresh seafood.

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Leave Europe behind for at least one day of your trip, with a sunrise breakfast cruise along the Bosphorus, the body of water separating the two continents.

When you disembark, hop aboard the Kadıköy-Moda Tramway, a line that runs just 10 stops in a 2.6km circular loop, allowing you to take in all the sights, including the famed Taksim Square.

Back on the European side of Istanbul, honeymooners can treat themselves with a special afternoon tea at the Ciragan Palace hotel, a former residence of Ottoman Empire Sultan Abdulaziz in the 19th century.

Both sides of the city offer excellent shopping, with the largest being the sprawling Grand Bazaar. Head here at the end of your trip to pick up souvenirs like traditional spices and Turkish delight.

On the Asian side of Istanbul, hop onboard the Kadıköy-Moda Tramway to see the famous Taksim Square
On the Asian side of Istanbul, hop onboard the Kadıköy-Moda Tramway to see the famous Taksim SquareCharbel Aoun via Unsplash

Escape the crowds of Santorini and Mykonos with a stay on Antiparos, Greece

The variety of islands in the Aegean Sea really do have something to offer every kind of holidaymaker.

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The hugely popular Mykonos, Santorini and Rhodes all come complete with high price tags and busy streets and beaches.

Nearby Naxos is also getting busier, along with Paros, with visitors inspired by the Netflix smash hit show ‘One Day’.

Just a short ferry ride away, though, is Antiparos. It’s a world away from Paros’s cosmopolitan vibes and a real escape from Naoussa, the larger island’s party town, packed to the brim with pricey bars and waterfront clubs.

In contrast, honeymooning couples will discover unspoiled views of the Aegean, quiet streets flanked with bougainvillaea, perfect beaches and restaurants on the shore, with fresh food and laidback service.

Antiparos offers all the beauty of its neighbouring islands but with far fewer crowds
Antiparos offers all the beauty of its neighbouring islands but with far fewer crowdsDimitris Kiriakakis via Unsplash

Tranquillity is the word du jour here, with even beaches as tiny as Faneromeni never too busy. Fanari beach offers a well-rated beach club, which hosts mostly Greek holiday makers and is perfect for a romantic stroll followed by a lunch overlooking the picture-perfect water.

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For an even more peaceful and unique experience, charter a boat for the day and visit nearby Despotiko Island. It’s tiny and uninhabited and was once home to an important sanctuary dedicated to the cult of Apollo, which dates back to the late Archaic period of the 6th century BC.

There, you will find the sanctuary in the midst of its unearthing. Archeologists say its discovery is one of the most significant in recent times, meaning a visit will really give you something to tell your friends about when you get back home.

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