Top Romantic Destinations for a Culinary Vacation

Top Romantic Destinations for a Culinary Vacation

“There is no love sincerer than the love of food.” – George Bernard Shaw

 Good food creates memories, and makes the heart grow fonder. Food is an intimate affair and many couples make it a big part of their travels. Whether you plan to head to the beach together, explore a cultural destination, or plan a weekend getaway, finding a destination which offers excellent food choices and romantic things to do may be a bit challenging.

To assist food loving couples around the globe, we put together a guide featuring the best romantic destinations for a culinary vacation. We hope that it will come in handy in helping you plan your gastronomic adventure of a lifetime,

Cuba

churro- chocolate -sauce
Churros with chocolate sauce

After more than 50 years, US citizens can finally travel to Cuba more easily. With a lot of US airlines fighting for routes to fly to the island, the destination is getting busier every month and is likely to become the TOP  romantic destination for 2017.

Colorful, full of life and charm, Cuba offers wonderful cities, stunning scenery, culture, history, art, and beaches. Plan your culinary and culture vacation in Havana or Santiago de Cuba, during February or June. Or go snorkeling off the sandy beaches of the Isla de la Juventud.

If you prefer a romantic vacation in the mountains, trekking on the highest peak in Cuba, Pico Turquino, located in the Sierra Maestra Mountain Range is quite an interesting adventure. It’s not an easy trek but the scenery is worth the effort.Extremely affordable and featuring a variety of fruits, the Cuban food is a blend of many influences, including Caribbean, African, and Spanish cuisines. Typically, you will find comida criolla , which is a dish including a source of protein (chicken, seafood, etc), fried plantains, rice, beans, and a salad. Traditional dishes to try in Cuba include tamales, similar to the Mexican ones, but here the meat is mixed with the dough; congi, which accompanies comida criolla is rice and beans, cooking with garlic and other spices; vaca frita, literally translated to “fried cow”, comprises beef that is marinated in lime, garlic, and salt, then seared until it is almost crispy, paella, the Cuban version of the popular Spanish dish featuring rice and seafood; ajiaco, which is a stew made from vegetables, meat, and spices or yuca fingers, which are large chunks of yuca fried in oil. For dessert, or even breakfast, try churros, the Cuban version of the popular Portuguese dessert.

India

The seventh largest country in the world, India is a mix of interesting cultures, stunning landscapes, and bustling cities.

Forget the busy city life of Mumbai or Delhi and choose to explore the tastes of Kerala. If you are looking for a hidden destination, places such as Mashobra and Mararikulam can offer a respite from the noise of a major town.

Although crowded, the amazing Taj Mahal in Agra is one of the most beautiful places to visit in India.

The majority of India has a tropical climate, so your best bet is to avoid the monsoon season. January is a great month to visit, but anytime between October and March can be a good choice.

India is a heaven for those who enjoy the vegan cuisine. Try vada pav, which is made from mash potatoes and onions, deep fried, and eaten in a type of bread or aloo parantha,  which is roti or chapatt stuffed with a potato filling. Meat lovers can enjoy tandoori chicken, fish curry, chicken curry, rogan josh, consisting of lamb curry cooked with Kashmiri red chili or butter chicken.

USA

Big, bold, and beautiful. That’s the United States for you. From lively cities to sandy beaches, from mountains to canyons, there are plenty of romantic destinations to choose from in the USA.

A California vacation allows you to enjoy a wine tasting experience combined with a romantic escape. And while you are in the area, you can check out Los Angeles or San Francisco, as well.

If you are looking for a great beach experience, then head to Hawaii. With 392 beaches to choose from, there are plenty of options to have an amazing time. And in case you plan to go stargazing or want to check an amazing sunset, Hawaii offers these as well.

With a climate varying considerably between the States, the best time to visit depends on the area you decide to go for your culinary vacation. California and Hawaii, for example, are excellent choices for a romantic destination during February, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

As for the food to try in the USA, start with the typical American favorites: key lime pie, tater tots, cobb salad, pot roast, meatloaf, hot dogs, cheeseburger, or buffalo wings. And you can also try the ethnic cuisine foods which are among the favorites of Americans, such as Indian fry bread, jambalaya, or fajitas.

The Maldives

Photo Credit: lhongchou’s photography Flickr via Compfight

The Maldives have been off the tourists’ radar until the 1970s. The islands are now one of the most popular all-inclusive romantic destinations in the world.

With a tropical climate and an average temperature of 86F (30C) year round, the Maldives offer incredible diving and snorkeling spots, an underwater aquarium restaurant, a bio luminescent beach (Reethi Beach) and plenty of all-inclusive resorts to choose from. Spend some time exploring the capital of Male and visit a traditional village.

The Maldives has a tropical climate, dominated by the monsoons. If you are looking to spend time in the sun, then December to March is the best time to visit the islands.  The best time to visit if you plan to snorkel or dive is between May and November.

Fish, mainly tuna, is the staple of the Maldivian cuisine, which is an interesting mix of Indian, Arabic, Sri Lankan, and Oriental dishes. Alongside the fish, coconuts are also present in the dishes. The foods you should not miss include garudhiya, a fish broth served with rice, lime, and chili; mas huni, which is shredded smoked fish served grated coconuts and onion; or fihunu mas, which is barbecued fish.

Bali

Photo Credit: JULIAN MASON Flickr via Compfight

You simply cannot go wrong with a culinary vacation for couples in Bali. The island has all the ingredients to be your romantic destination of choice for 2017: romance, unique activities, lovely scenery, secret spots and adventure.

The Island of the Gods is one of the most popular travel destinations and its superb and varied scenery makes it a very good choice for your vacation. Escape the cold weather of the Northern Hemisphere and come to Bali in January, following the peak season.

If you come here for scuba diving though, you should plan your trip between April and June, during the dry season. It is also a good time to engage in some light trekking, such as the The Campuhan Ridge Walk, which takes you through rice fields and sleepy villages.

When it comes to the Balinese cuisine, you should not miss trying mie goreng, fried noodles served with chicken, shrimp, or pork; nasi goreng, fried rice with chicken, shrimp, or pork and sometimes a fried egg on top; sate, mashed chicken, spiced and barbecued; nasi campur,  steamed rice with vegetable and fish or meat, spring rolls; or gado-gado, a vegetable salad with peanut sauce. For dessert try pisang goreng, fried bananas.

The Caribbean

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Couples cannot get enough of the sandy beaches and laid back lifestyle of the Caribbean, making this area one of the most popular romantic destinations in the world.

With more than 700 islands in the area, choosing the suitable one for your romantic culinary vacation in the Caribbean can be quite a challenge.

St. Kits and Nevis are frequented by the celebrities, the Cayman Islands offer excellent diving and Anguilla is the place to find amazing luxury accommodation.

Grenada is the best option for an active couple, while St. Martin is great for the daring couples, offering plenty of clothing-optional beaches.

St. Lucia is another good choice, especially if you are looking for a relatively unknown, picture-perfect island, where the amazing beaches and the lush rain forests create a superb natural environment.

Enjoying tropical and subtropical climate, the Caribbean is best visited between December and March when the area enjoys the dry season.

Influenced by the Indian, Chinese, Dutch, French, British, and Spanish cuisines, the Caribbean dishes include key lime pie, barbecued ribs, jerk chicken; ceviche, seafood marinated in lime juice; paella, the Caribbean version of the popular Spanish dish, and coconut shrimp. Of course, there are differences between the islands and they depend on the influences that island had.

Thailand

Photo Credit: drburtoni Flickr via Compfight

Thailand is the most visited country in Southeast Asia. The lush jungles, the great beaches with their warm water, along with the excellent choices for accommodation recommend the country as a great culinary destination for couples.

The most popular romantic destination in Thailand is Ko Samui. The incredible beaches offer a variety of things to do and there is no shortage of luxury resorts either.

If you prefer to avoid the popular Ko Samui and Phuket, Krabi is a great alternative. It is located on the mainland but offers quick access to secluded places such as Railey Beach.

Mostly tropical, the best time to visit Thailand is between November and February when the weather is great for outdoor activities.

The dishes to try in Thailand include phat thai, rice noodles stir-fried with tofu, egg, and shrimp; tom yam, sour Thai soup, green curry; yam, a salad which combines seafood, fresh herbs, and dressing; and khao phat, fried rice.

 

Greece

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Landscape of Mykonos Greece

The blue waters of the Aegean, the majestic landscapes, and the incredible cuisine, make Greece one of the best romantic culinary destinations in Europe. The tourist season kicks in around mid-April when the ferry companies start to offer more connections between the islands.

Take advantage of the lovely weather in late April or early May and plan your Greece vacation before the heat of the summer and the wave of tourists. Santorini remains the place to go for amazing sunsets, while Crete is the destination of choice for nature lovers and those who prefer an active honeymoon.

June is another good month to visit Greece. If you are looking to party all night long, then the island of Mykonos is a great choice.

Food wise, Greece offers all the bounty of the Mediterranean cuisine. Start the meal with mezze, such as tzatziki, saganaki, or dolmades, then try fassolatha, a hearty while beans soup, or moussaka. For dessert, try loukoumades, honey puff, or kataifi.

Croatia

Located on the east side of the Adriatic Sea, Croatia is a perfect destination for a romantic vacation in early spring. Crystal clear water, plenty of archaeological sites, incredible wines and gorgeous landscape, recommend the country as a perfect choice for a budget culinary vacation.

Although a bit too touristy lately, Dubrovnik remains the pearl of the Adriatic and a very romantic place to visit. Beat the crowds and plan your trip in March so that you have the city mostly for yourself. Rovinj and Pula are two great alternative destinations. And if you prefer a more active romantic vacation, then a hike at Plitvice Lakes or a dive near Zadar are your best choices.

The cuisine is based on seafood and you should not miss trying to include brodet, a fish stew made with mixed fish and served with polenta or rice;  hvarska gregada, a fish dish with different types of fish cooked with potatoes, herbs, and white wine; or Bakalars krumpirima, dried cod with tomatoes. Croatia is also famous for truffles and cheeses.

Italy

 Great weather, good food, historical places, and peaceful hillside villages recommend Italy as a culinary destination for any couple. Avoid the scorching heat of summer and visit this Southern European country in late spring.

Discover Apulia, with its white-washed houses, set against the azure backdrop of the Aegean Sea. The climate makes it a perfect choice for a March romantic vacation. Don’t forget to include Alberobello in your itinerary.

Or you can choose the secluded Amalfi Coast for an equally romantic getaway. Rent a car and enjoy the stunning coastal road, from Salerno to Ravello, the latter being considered one of the most beautiful small towns in Southern Italy.

If you prefer a culture and culinary vacation, Rome and Venice are both amazing choices. Plan to visit in April or June, when the cities are not as crowded as during the summer months.

Italian food is amazing no mater what region or city you decide to visit, but the staples vary a lot. Pizza lovers should not miss Naples, while if you love seafood, head to the Adriatic Coast. Pasta is popular in every region but what they are topped with or cooked in vary a lot. Start your day with cappuccino and cornetto, the staple breakfast. For lunch, ravioli, bolognese, gnocchi or lasagna are excellent choices. And don’t forget to enjoy gelato.

Iceland

Located between Europe and North America, Iceland is popular for the amazing mountainous scenery, its glaciers, and the Northern Lights. 

If you are looking to spend an active romantic vacation then the best time to visit is during July and August. Thorsmork valley, with its mountains, rivers, and excellent hiking paths is a great choice. Snaefellsnes peninsula, with its glacier, wildlife, and easy hiking treks is also a good option.

If Northern Lights are on your mind, February, March, September and October are excellent choices. And you don’t even need to drive far from Reykjavik to see them.

Icelandic food can easily be defined as weird and features many staples which haven’t changed since the Vikings time. Whale on the menu? Checked! Puffins? Yup, the cute birds, are also on the menu. Shark, dried fish, and blood pudding can easily rank high in the list of world’s bizarre foods.  Tamer options include the local hot dog, fish & chips, meat soup,  lamb, and skyr, which is a low-fat dairy product resembling yogurt. 

Vietnam

Vietnam has recently gained a lot of popularity among couples. Having been on the backpack trail for years, the country has grown to appeal to more than just budget travelers.

Exotic, home to incredible beaches, bays, and charming cities, Vietnam has all the ingredients to be one of the top romantic destinations in 2017. Take advantage of the best time to visit the country and plan to escape here in February.

Although quite touristy, Halong Bay remains of the most romantic (and iconic) images of Vietnam. A UNESCO Heritage Site since 1994, the area is particularly known for the incredible sunrises and sunsets. On the other hand, the charming city of Hoi An is a perfect choice if you are looking for a place to spend your culinary vacation on the beach but also soak up the history, while Da Lat, the city of Eternal Spring, is known for its gorgeous flowers and Western feel.

The Vietnamese foods you need to try to include bánh cuốn, steamed rice cake served with cucumbers, lettuce, shrimp, and ground beef; spring rolls; nánh xèo, sizzling pancake; bún bò huế, beef vermicelli soup; bún riêu, crab and tomato noodle soup; rice noodle soup; pho; canh chua, Vietnamese sour tamarind soup; porridge; fried rice; or sticky rice cakes.

Madagascar

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The world’s fourth largest island, Madagascar is the perfect place to spend a romantic vacation. Lush forests, vibrant coral reefs, and beautiful beaches offer plenty of activities for an active couple.

The ideal time to visit Madagascar depends on the things you want to do during your culinary vacation. April is a good choice for surfers, while if you want to see the baby lemurs, June and July are great for a visit. Beach lovers should plan the visit during December.

Madagascar is famous for the lemurs and the best place to see them is in the Anjajavy Nature Reserve, a protected area covering 450 hectares. If you are looking for a unique way to enjoy your vacation, then the volcanic island of Nosy Komba offers excellent scuba diving and wildlife spotting.

With a cuisine influenced by the Indian, French, African, and Arabic culture, Madagascar offers some interesting dishes to try during your vacation: lasary, a side dish made of cabbage, carrots, onion, green beans and seasoned with a vinaigrette; smalona, stuffed eels; ravimbomanga sy patsamena, potato leaves stewed with dried shrimp and beef, served on rice; voanjobory sy henakisoa, Bambara groundnuts cooked with pork and served on rice; or akoho sy voanio, made with chicken boiled with coconut milk, onion, garlic, and ginger.

Singapore

A romantic culinary vacation in Singapore may not be an obvious choice for couples. For those looking for a lively city with a vibrant nightlife, tropical climate and delicious cuisine, the city-state has a lot to offer and can be an amazing vacation destination.

If you love to have your meals with a great view, then you’ll be super pleased to hear about quite a lot of choices:  the Esplanade Roof Garden, the 1-Altitude Gallery & Bar, the Marina Bay Sands tower, the Jewel Cable Car or the Singapore Flyer.

If you are looking for a place to enjoy a picnic on the beach, do some trekking or swim, then St. John’s Island is a lovely choice.

Thanks to its climate, Singapore offers excellent weather year round. If you want to take part in one of the many interesting festivals, then July to September is the ideal time to visit.

Singapore dishes feature a melting pot of different cultures: Indian, Malay, and Chinese. The dishes to try to include bak kut the, pork ribs soup, wanton mee, noodles with slices of pork drenched in a sweet sauce;  fried carrot cake, made with egg, preserved radish, and white radish flour; dim sum; crabs; laksa; bak chor mee, minced meet noodle; and satay, Turmeric marinated meat grilled on open fire. 

Argentina

Nothing says romantic escape more than learning to tango in Buenos Aires. Sensual, romantic and dramatic, tango began in the streets of Argentina’s capital. Why not pick up some steps during your vacation together?

If dancing is not your forte, then head into one of Argentina’s regions for some amazing hiking, cycling, paragliding, or even rafting.

Or maybe choose a culinary vacation for couples in Argentina and go on a vineyard tour and indulge in wine tasting. Other interesting ideas include visiting Iguazu Falls and taking a lovely glacier boat cruise.

The country can be visited year round but if you are looking to try the outdoor activities in Patagonia, it’s best to plan your trip between December and March.

While everyone knows how popular Argentina is for asado (barbecue), the foods to try also include empanadas, pockets of dough with a savory or sweet filling, then deep fried or baked; provoleta, the local variant of provolone cheese; carbonada, a stew made of meat, potatoes, carrots, peppers, and topped with fruits; and dulce de leche, made from condensed milk.

 

Mexico

Mexico has everything you need when it comes to a romantic getaway: beaches, shopping, spa, resorts, historical sites, and tasty food.

Easy to reach from the United States, Mexico is one of the most popular countries in the world to visit. Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, and Rivera Maya are excellent choices for any couple.

Take a break from the sun and sand to visit the incredible pyramids at Chichen Itza and Tulum, located close to Riviera Maya and Cancun.

Blessed with tropical weather, the best time to visit the country is between December and April.

The foods to try in Mexico include chilaquiles, a breakfast dish made of lightly fried tortillas, served with salsa and topped with fried eggs and/or chicken; tacos al pastor, a variant of tacos made with meat fried on a spit; tostadas, fried tortillas served with a variety of garnishes; elote, corn on the cob; enchiladas, tortillas filled with meat, cheese, or vegetables; tamales; and guacamole.

South Africa

South Africa is, without a doubt, very well known for its safari opportunities.  Add in world famous wines, varied landscapes, and tasty food and South Africa becomes an amazing option for your romantic vacation.

April to September are the best months if you plan to go on safari honeymoon or just plan to go on a safari during your trip. If you prefer to head to the Cape vineyards, avoid the hordes of tourists visiting during summer and choose, instead, the winter (June to August) for your trip.

The cuisine of South Africa has many influences by way of Dutch, French, Malaysians and Indians, making for very interesting and flavorful dishes. During your culinary vacation, make sure to try biltong & droewors, traditionally cured meat; boerewors, sausage beef, mixed with pork or lamb and a variety of spices; chakalaka & pap, a vegetable dish made with tomatoes, peppers, and beans, usually served cold; and bobotie, minced meat simmered with spices, herbs, and dry fruit, topped with eggs and milk and then baked.

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About the Author: Cris Puscas is a contributing writer at BookCulinaryVacations.com. She is a hopeless romantic, equally passionate about discovering new places to explore and new foods to try.

 

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