Wedding planning can be really stressful! You need to decide on a guest list, hire caterers, a photographer, a DJ, write a prenup, plan seating arrangements, book a venue, and pay bill after bill. After the whirlwind of the big day, you deserve (and are going to need) a getaway…but entertaining all your family and friends is expensive, and the last thing you need is to spend your honeymoon somewhere overpriced, worrying about how to cut corners financially. Here’s our hand-picked list of unique, magical, and affordable honeymoon destinations you probably haven’t heard of. If you’re someone who prefers adventure and cultural immersion on a budget to a cookie-cutter style resort with an inflated price tag, this list is for you. Or, alternatively, if you simply want to make your friends and family jealous with the gorgeous photos you’ll take and exotic stories you’ll tell them when you come back, read on.
You’ve probably heard of Bali, but have you ever heard about Bali’s little sister, Lombok? Lombok is like Bali ten or twenty years ago. It’s quiet, but with plenty to do, it’s insanely cheap (think $2-$4 for a meal in a local warung), and it is virtually untouched by mass tourism. Don’t confuse Kuta, Lombok with Kuta, Bali (a playground for drunk Aussies); Kuta, Lombok is something entirely unique.
If you rent a scooter (around $4 USD per day!!) and drive out of town in the hills along the coast, you’ll find dirt road after dirt road leading down to paradisiacal near-empty secret beaches. Each beach is a different version of postcard-perfect, with some featuring mountains rising out of the water, some with calm waters for swimming, and some with waves for surfing. Can you think of anything more ideal for a romantic honeymoon?!
In Kuta itself you’ll find an abundance of laid-back travelers from around the world, cute cafes, a smorgasbord of local and international food (none of which will break the bank), Balian massage for $5-$20, and yoga shalas galore, each with a better view than the last. In many ways, Kuta is the best of both worlds: It’s cheap, but comfortable. It has mountains and ocean together. It isn’t very touristy compared with most honeymoon destinations, but you’ll still meet plenty of other travelers and vacationers. There’s a reason why we gave it the #1 slot on the list!
Ometepe Island, Nicaragua
Picture an island shaped like an infinity, with twin volcanoes in the center of each part of the infinity, surrounded by fresh water. It sounds like the stuff of legend, no? That’s because it is, except it’s also real. One ancient Mayan myth actually describes their version of heaven just like this, and they’re not wrong.
Ometepe Island lies smack dab in the middle of the biggest lake in central America. Hippies will tell you that its unique and symmetrical figure-8 shape creates some kind of energy vortex that makes the place especially magical, but even folks who don’t buy into this ideology consider the Ometepe to be exceptionally beautiful.
Lovers of personal development workshops (cacao ceremonies, breathwork, acro or kundalini yoga, circus arts, and more) will enjoy hopscotching between the free or super low-cost classes hosted by numerous eco-hostels on the island. Chocolate connoisseurs will love the island’s tree-to-bar lakeside chocolate factory, El Pital. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy swimming, paddleboarding or kayaking in the lake and climbing the island’s volcanoes. Both volcanoes are wildly different, with one offering a jungle-y and muddy hike and the other boasting dry, rocky slopes.
Ometepe Island is the perfect place to come to relax and recharge post-wedding, and your wallet will thank you.
Despite being home to some of the most breathtaking and world-famous trekking, Nepal and in particular Pokhara is one of the most affordable holiday destinations in the world, with private lakeside fully-equipped rental units starting from around $20 US per night. Pokhara is situated at the base of the Himalayas and perched right on the edge of a lake, with the town built around the lake and well-connected to both day hikes and multi-day treks.
Although Nepal is a mountainous country, it’s also at the same latitude as Florida, so one can expect tropical vegetation throughout much of Nepal. If you venture west up towards Mustang, the landscape turns to high-elevation hills without vegetation and a big, open sky as far as the eye can see. Despite being a geographically small country of only 29 million people, 122 distinct languages are spoken in Nepal (Translators Without Borders, 2021), making it one of the most culturally diverse countries in existence.
Spiritual seekers will particularly appreciate Nepal’s many temples, meditation classes, and rich Hindu and Buddhist traditions.
4. Oaxaca de Juarez, Mexico
Oaxaca de Juarez is the capital of the state of Oaxaca and is also usually just referred to as ‘Oaxaca’ for short (pronounced wah – HA – kah). Owing to its unique blend of various indigenous cultures with Spanish influences, Oaxaca is one of the most culturally stimulating and vibrant cities around. Oaxaca’s downtown is filled with stunning colonial architecture, intriguing museums showcasing its history, and pedestrian areas bursting with color and activity. Oaxacans absolutely love parades for any and every occasion; walk down Macedonia Alcala (the main pedestrian street) and odds are fairly high that you’ll catch a festive procession, probably sporting a mojiganga (a large paper-mache puppet) or two.
The state’s terrain varies widely; in three hours you can drive from a chilly mountain town 8000 feet high to a long strip of coastline full of tropical beaches. Surfers flock to Puerto Escondido, free spirits to the queer-friendly and nude-friendly Playa Zipolite, and anyone seeking simply a picturesque seaside vibe will love Playa Mazunte. To watch the afternoon clouds roll in literally from above, check out enchanted-feeling San Jose del Pacifico, high in the sky. Bonus: The city is also famous for some of Mexico’s best street food! Oaxacans are known throughout Mexico for taking great pride in their cuisine, and for good reason.
An idyllic old city on a river, Dresden offers western European standards at eastern European prices. Because Dresden is planted squarely in the former east Germany, the cost of living differs substantially from that of west and south German cities such as Munich, Hamburg, Cologne, and Frankfurt. A decent airbnb (entire private apartment) in Neustadt, Dresden’s trendiest neighborhood, will cost you as little as $65 US per night. A quality local beer in a bar will set you back around 3-4 euros. A delicious Durum or Doener Kebab (invented by Turkish immigrants and beloved by all of Germany) is only about 4-6 euros.
Dresden’s Neustadt (new town) and Altstadt (old town) are separated by the Elbe river and a series of beautiful bridges across which one can walk. Neustadt is the center of young, progressive culture; it’s densely-packed with cafes, pubs, and art galleries, and one can go “shopping” just by browsing the boxes of free items residents routinely put outside their houses for passerby to upcycle. Altstadt, on the other hand, is everything that comes to mind when you imagine old European cities: baroque architecture, a big market square, and cobblestone streets. In fact, the Christmas market which takes place annually in Dresden’s old market square was the first Christmas market in the world, dating back to 1434 (My Best Place, 2015).
Up until the early 2000s, Dresden was still full of remnants from the second world war, when it was famously carpet bombed. Residents of Neustadt born in the 80s will tell you that they grew up playing in rubble. However, the old town was restored impressively well, with many of the old stones re-incorporated into rebuilt churches and historical sites, while the new town is sometimes called “the next Berlin”.
But, the best part of Dresden is neither Neustadt nor Altstadt–it’s a 19-square-mile forest full of walking trails and wooden bridges over calmly burbling brooks, part of which is situated right inside of Dresden itself. Outside of the city, there are the nearby Erzgebirge (ore mountains) and Saechsische Schweiz (Saxon Switzerland) which have relatively easy hiking and some extremely unique landscapes (google “Bastei Bruecke”). You’re welcome!
The Most Important Part of Wedding Planning
So, now that you’ve seen this list, what do you think is the #1 most crucial part of wedding planning? If you answered ‘choosing the right honeymoon spot’, sorry, you’re wrong, it was a trick question 😉 The #1 most important thing is…(drumroll please!) to invest in your relationship by carefully preparing a well-thought-out prenuptial agreement. It doesn’t sound as juicy and enthralling as planning the honeymoon, but you will thank yourselves for this. It will help you to set and understand expectations, make financial agreements, and consider financial decisions you may not have thought about before. This will help you to get any uncertainties about the future out of your head, onto a paper, and stashed deep in a filing cabinet somewhere.
We know that planning a wedding is a tremendous undertaking, and a prenup might seem like just one more complicated thing to add to the list. However, it is extremely important. Give yourself some incentive–as soon as your prenup is signed and squared away, buy tickets to one of these honeymoon destinations from the list. Don’t forget to send us a postcard 😉
My Best Place. 2015. Dresden Striezelmarkt, The Oldest Christmas Market in the World.
Translators Without Borders. 2021. Language Data for Nepal. Retrieved from: