10 great places for summer romance
Machu Picchu, Peru
For a Mystical Experience
Sunrise. The light breaks over the deep green of the Andes Mountains, 8,170 feet above sea level. Slowly the mysterious ruins of Machu Picchu appear through the morning mist. If you are brave (and have booked in advance), you can tackle the somewhat challenging climb up the green sugarloaf-shaped mountain, Huayna Picchu—the one you’ve seen on all the travel posters—for incredible views as the sun rises. Plan a full day exploring what many scholars now believe was the great estate of an Incan emperor, rather than a fortress. Stay at Inkaterra’s Machu Picchu Pueblo Resort in Aguas Calientes, the village below the ruins. This eco-friendly, 12-acre property, offers cozy white-washed casitas with fireplaces and thick alpaca blankets for chilly evenings. Guided bird watching and orchid walks are part of the package. Dine in the casual Fusion or the more formal Dining Room, both with views of the roaring Vilacanota River. Book a soothing couples massage, but most of all, bask in the silence.
The Gower Peninsula, Wales
For Glorious Seaside Walks
Wales’ Gower Peninsula, an official “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty” in Britain, offers glorious cliff top walks, views of serene horseshoe-shaped bays, postcard-pretty villages—and except on summer weekends—a delicious sense of peace. Book a room in the 18th-century mansion Fairy Hill, in Reynoldston, with a restaurant that features only locally sourced food. Head for the Cliff Walk, part of an 850-mile walking path that will encircle all of Wales. At Rhossili, the farthest reach of the Gower, hike out to Worms Head, a narrow peninsula stretching into the sea (mind the tides, so you don’t get trapped). Baby lambs—destined for local restaurants where salt marsh lamb is a delicacy—will give curious glances as you walk by. The rather basic Worms Head Hotel has a restaurant, and an unbeatable location. At Cefn Bryn, Gower’s highest point – and the site of a giant boulder known as “King Arthur’s Stone”—you can look over the Llanrhidian salt marshes and see as far as neighboring Carmarthenshire.
The Galilee, Israel
For Gentle Pleasures
Book a room at the quietly elegant Hotel Spa Mizpe-Hayamim, outside the lovely hill town of Rosh Pina (where, rumor has it, Madonna has purchased a home). The pretty hotel’s 37-acre grounds includes walking paths, streams, views of snow-capped Mount Hermon in the distance, as well as the abundant gardens and barns that supply its excellent organic restaurant. Spend a morning in nearby Nazareth to tour the Christian sites and enjoy great Middle Eastern fare at Tishreen, just steps from the Basilica of the Annunciation. Another day, drive north for a tour and tasting at the impressive Golan Heights Winery. Don’t miss the Jewish holy city of Safed, its winding streets lined with art galleries. Be sure to also visit the 16th-century Synagogue Isaac Loria, with is Kabbalistic art. Just below lies the serene Sea of Galilee, also called Lake Kinneret, where you can take wind-surfing lessons, dine on St. Peter’s fish, and view the traditional site of the Sermon on the Mount, marked by a small Franciscan Church.
Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada
For World-Class Scenery
Canada’s Cape Breton Island is a bit like a journey back in time, with its cozy country inns, farm-fresh fare, and such low-tech pleasures as birding, moose spotting, trout fishing and whale watching. In fact, the whales are so prolific that boat captains guarantee sightings. The island’s vast 370-square-mile Cape Breton Highlands National Park provides dramatic views of both the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the wild waves of the Atlantic. Drive the 190-mile-long Cabot Trail, flanked by towering mountains on one side and sheer cliffs above the sea on the other. If your base is in Pleasant Valley, you will be close to the lovely (but steep and a challenging) Pollett’s Cove Trail, with extraordinary views, as well as places to camp. The pretty Broadwater Inn, 10 minutes from the Cabot Trail, offers rooms in private log cottages or in its main lodge. The adjacent Bell Bay Golf Club provides views stunning enough to distract you from your game.