Romantic capitals of the world: Part two

Whether you love it up like the french or get amorous in the tropics, spending your honeymoon at one of the romantic capitals of world will give you an unforgettable kick-start to your life a deux – in part two of two, we explore the dreamiest escapes from eco lodges in Queenstown to India's Taj Mahal.

  • Story by Photo Ivy and Gold Photography & Words Caroline Botting

Whether you love it up like the french or get amorous in the tropics, spending your honeymoon at one of the romantic capitals of world will give you an unforgettable kick-start to your life a deux – in part two of two, we explore the dreamiest escapes from eco lodges in Queenstown to India's Taj Mahal. 

Cyprus, The Mediterranean
Situated in the sparkling Mediterranean Sea, Cyprus is known as the Island of Aphrodite, the Goddess of love, beauty, fertility and sexuality. According to legend, Aphrodite was born from the waves at the base of the Rock of Romios. This majestic stone is located near the picturesque white sand beach of Petra tou Romiou – a wonderful spot for newlyweds to get in the mood for love. 
To really enjoy the island, escape the touristy hubs of Pafos, Ayia Napa and Limassol and journey out to the golden beaches of the Karpas Peninsula. Stroll hand in hand through the grapefruit and orange groves at beautiful Morfou, or visit its spectacular Byzantine churches. And do take the time to see one of the nine medieval castles – preferably followed by a picnic of meze and Retsina as you’re enjoying the sunset. 
With your hubby in tow, conjure up a sense of adventure with a hike along the Aphrodite trail to Moutti tis Sotiras on the Akamas Peninsula. Legend has it that Aphrodite brought her lover, Adonis, to this region to make love and it’s here that you’ll take in breathtaking views of the entire island. Sweethearts who are after more of low-key wander might want to head to the peninsula’s picturesque mountain villages and enjoy Cypriot specialties such as haloumi cheese and grilled fish at one of the local tavernas hidden away on quiet back streets. 
What to pack Your contraceptive. With the Greek Goddess of love, sexuality and fertility looking over you, you might be blessed with more than just a romantic getaway.
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Agra, India 
Agra, a city based in the Uttar Pradesh province of India is home to the grand monument of passion, the Taj Mahal.
Just when you thought your wedding day was a massive declaration of love, wait until you visit this white beauty. Budget was clearly no object for the Mughal ruler Shah Jahan who built this impressive marble shrine over a period of 23 years. The mausoleum was constructed as a symbol of the Emperor’s eternal devotion to his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth to their fourteenth child! Set in extensive and beautifully manicured gardens, starry-eyed honeymooners might want to plan their visit to the immortal tribute during a full moon when the building sparkles in the nocturnal light. But be prepared for little alone time as around 25,000 people visit the masterpiece every day (on Valentine’s Day, add another 10,000).
After visiting the glistening shrine, don’t U-turn back to nearby New Delhi just yet. Rather venture 70km further north to the temple town of Bateshwar to admire the gorgeous hamlet of temples dotted on the banks of the Yamuna River. As it happens, this body of water is synonymous with love and romance in Indian mythology and history, so you’ll have your bases well covered. 
What to pack A copy of the blockbuster Taj Mahal: An Eternal Love Story – a history lesson Bollywood style. 
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Whitsundays, Australia 
In this tropical paradise, snorkel and dive lovers will witness Mother Nature’s most passionate gesture. But before you book your trip to the magnificent Great Barrier Reef, take to the skies first – for a bird’s-eye view of Heart Reef. This magnificent 17 metre-wide heart-shaped coral arrangement has risen from the ocean over thousands of years and was first spotted from the air by an eagle-eyed pilot back in1975. While divers aren’t allowed to explore this marine-protected spot hands-on, the 65-minute scenic flyover departing from the Whitsundays’ Airlie Beach is bound to take your breath away. Do remember to keep a bottle of champagne ready. 
Love birds looking for a truly private escape may opt for a chartered cruise and anchor at one of the totally unoccupied inlets of the surrounding 74 islands. Fall asleep to the gentle lapping of the water against the hull and wake up to stretch your legs on the white silica sands. It’s here that the two of you will dream of being cast away forever.
What to pack Sunblock, snorkels and very little clothing! With its tropical climate you won’t need much more than swimwear. 
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Otago Peninsula, New Zealand
The Otago Peninsula may be known as the wildlife capital of New Zealand, but it’s fast becoming a romantic hotspot, too. With its unspoilt beaches, fauna an flora, basalt cliffs and rolling hills it’s easy to understand why the US news agency CNN declared it ‘one of the world’s most romantic places’. A must-see is the Taiaroa Head lighthouse, a 127-year-old watch tower perched high above the dramatically craggy cliffs overlooking the peninsula. On a wild and woolly day it’s a great place to watch a storm brew out at sea – with your man close by your side of course. 
Alternatively, you could take one of the many short walks that criss-cross the area before getting cosy in front of the fireplace at a boutique resort such as Kaimata Retreat. Nestled into the peninsula’s raw natural landscape, the award-winning eco lodge is the ultimate post-wedding sanctuary. 
For a night that takes you back in time, stop over at New Zealand’s answer to the Taj Mahal – Larnach Castle. The impressive structure was built by baron and politician William Larnach for his adored first wife Eliza, who tragically died at age 38, not long after giving birth to their sixth child. The castle took more than three years and 200 workmen to build, plus another 12 years to create its magnificent interior. Dunedin, with its plethora of restaurants, bars and galleries, is located at the entrance to the peninsula, in case you and your beau feel like a touch of city life. 
What to pack A woolly blanket to snuggle under is a must in this rough, rugged and often chilly part of the world. 
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