The iconic Old Bridge in Mostar, Bosnia // © 2015 Thinkstock
Feature image (above): Couples can say “I do” in remote destinations such as Dubrovnik, Croatia. // © 2015 Deborah Dimond
May 23rd marks our first year as a married couple for my wife and me, but it’s only one anniversary in our growing collection of special days — we’re on our way to 100 weddings in 100 countries. The decision to wed 100 times feels like an organic merging of our affection and admiration for each other and a true love of travel.
This past February, my wife and I marched through wedding No. 12 in Turkey. Undoubtedly, one of the great joys of a destination wedding is the built-in honeymoon. I have become more than just an expert in “I do” — I’m now a connoisseur of honeymoons, too.
Whether it’s romance and relaxation or adventure and activity that clients crave, an off-the-beaten-path honeymoon is growing in popularity, and a great area in which agents can help marriage-minded clients. Here is a short list of some of our favorite far-flung honeymoon destinations.
Our Croatian honeymoon started in Dubrovnik at Rixos Libertas Dubrovnik, a picturesque five-star hotel peering over the Adriatic Sea. I enjoyed its neo-funk decor and close location to Old Town, an absolute must-see for travelers, just a 15-minute walk away. The ancient city is in pristine condition and filled with cafes and museums.
However, some of the best food is found at esteemed Nautika, just outside Old Town’s Pile Gate. Additionally, much of the filming for “Game of Thrones” takes place in Old Town and around Dubrovnik, which is the main shooting location for the show’s fictional city of King’s Landing, and there are ample tours available for fans.
About two hours from Dubrovnik is Kotor, the tourism capital of the unassuming country of Montenegro. While we visited the city because it was so close, we were also treated to one of the more spectacular drives in Europe, as the road to Kotor runs alongside the only fjord in the Mediterranean. (Though referred to commonly as a fjord, it is technically a submerged river canyon).
Once we arrived, we stayed at stately Hotel Cattaro, perfectly located in Old Town by the main gate. We found rustic Robin Hood appeal and inspired medieval architecture in the city; tight, twisting streets and cobblestone walkways made every stroll an adventure.
Beyond its awful past, Bosnia and Herzegovina is an incredible country. Our adventure started in Mostar at the top floor of Motel Deny, which sits right in the center of the city, just minutes away from Old Bridge and the Old City of Mostar, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you have time, be sure to check out the nearby towns of Blagaj and Pocitelj, as well.
Our honeymoon continued in the capital city of Sarajevo, a decidedly cosmopolitan city that capably meshes East and West. What my wife and I loved most was the traditional comfort cuisine at our favorite restaurant, Asdz, located in the pedestrian area of downtown Sarajevo.
After being married by the mayor, I carried my wife up the 99 steps on Bled Island and rang the wishing bell — because that’s how traditional Slovenians roll. Our honeymoon accommodation, a wacky two-story tree house at Garden Village, was minutes from idyllic Lake Bled, which made hand-holding strolls as romantic as it gets. The area is fairy-tale charming, with Austria, Ljubljana and Venice all short drives away.
This tiny hilltop nation claims to be the oldest republic in the world, with all roads leading to it routed through Rimini, Italy. San Marino is perched high on three mountain peaks, with pristine, cliffside castles, such as La Rocca o Guaita, and high-end shopping around every turn.
Our honeymoon landed us in San Marino’s comfortable and charming Hotel La Grotta, which is just a one-minute walk from a spectacular panoramic view at Piazza della Liberta.
My wife and I married in the small town of Gesi, Turkey, for our most recent wedding ceremony and wore traditional costumes of the region. For our honeymoon, we spent two nights at Gamirasu Cave Hotel, a spectacular place about 15 minutes outside Urgup in the heart of Cappadocia.
Built out of a former Byzantine monastic retreat, the hotel holds 35 rooms and suites that are restored cave houses. Our Byzantine King Suite was carved between the 9th and 11th centuries and included a Jacuzzi, a sauna, a Turkish bath, heated floors and the biggest bed I have ever seen.
Be sure to explore the striking rocky landscapes of Goreme, Urgup and Zelve that make Cappadocia one of the most otherwordly honeymoon destinations ever.