Getting married is an expensive business. After all those celebrations, you just don’t feel like splurging.

Your first vacation as a married couple shouldn’t break the bank. Here are the nine best destinations for a budget honeymoon.

A young couple walk their dog near some colonial buildings in Merida, Mexico whilst holding hands
Riviera Maya, Mexico is affordable, relaxing and a great place to wander © Gerardo Huitrón / Getty Images

1. Riviera Maya, Mexico

For a leisurely dip into the delights of Latin America, you can't beat the Riviera Maya. This tantalizing shoreline between big resort Cancún and balmy beach town Tulum is the place to celebrate your new nuptials.

Discover Mexico’s best diving on the island paradise Cozumel. Home to the northern hemisphere’s mightiest reef, there are multiple swim-throughs and coral overhangs. Or bask on one of the myriad sandy beaches rimming the coast like Playa Morelos. If you're feeling more adventurous, foray into the fertile interior and plunge with your partner into mythical cenotes – sinkholes where you can swim amidst pristine blue-green waters.

Prices are high compared to other parts of Mexico but low by North American or European standards. Midrange beachfront accommodation can be less than US$150 per night for two.

Planning tip: For ease of travel, consider renting a car if you’re traveling around the Riviera Maya. Visit between December and May for the best chance of a rain-free trip.

A couple in love meets a sunset on the sea among the palm trees. Boy and girl at sunset. Honeymoon on the Islands. Man and woman meet sunset.
Goa and Kerala shows off India as its most accessible © Mikhail Sotnikov / Getty Images

2. Southwest India

India excels in potential romantic adventures that cost next to nothing. But both the southwest coast of Kerala and Goa offer an additional level of stress-free straightforwardness.

These two serene states are the places to head for balmy sandy beaches (Goa has India’s best, and there are more liberal attitudes to skimpily-clad tourists here) and wellness (holistic healing technique Ayurveda has its epicenter in Kerala, with double rooms at top Ayurveda retreats available for US$160 per night or less).

Alternatively, you can voyage with your loved one through the bewitching Kerala Backwaters, a latticework of tropical inland waterways. Stay in a houseboat for as little as US$115 a night.

Planning tip: The most settled weather in both states occurs from December through March and is much less hot and sticky.

A laughing Cuban couple walking along the streets of Havana in the sunshine
Havana‘s malecón (seaside promenade) is ideal for slowly sauntering newlyweds © Matt Porteous / Getty Images

3. Havana, Cuba

Forget the formulaic Caribbean. For a honeymoon full of surprises, choose Cuba. Nowhere else in the region can match the island for culture. It also specializes in spontaneous experiences and amorous activities.

Start by sipping created-in-Cuba cocktails like mojitos and daiquiris atop roof terraces. Learn to sway to the island’s sultry soundtrack of jazz, rumba, salsa and Buena Vista Social Club. Then wander Havana‘s malecón (seaside promenade) and its drop-dead gorgeous old town La Habana Vieja.

If you want some beach time head to Varadero, a paradisiacal sandy peninsula lined with hotels that match every notion of romantic.

Planning tip: Travel to Cuba between November and April, after hurricane season, for minimal rain and the most pleasant weather. Consider staying in casas particulares (local-run bed and breakfasts). Many are more lavish than the hotels and cheaper too.

Young loving couple hugging in Budapest City. Focus in background
Budapest, Hungary has some dreamy views for love birds © santypan / Getty Images

4. Budapest, Hungary

Relax. You’re in the only capital city in the world with natural thermal healing waters. Several ornate bathhouses across Budapest capture the toasty therapeutic currents of 118 springs. Soaking in them is sure to get couples all fired up – especially with private bathing for two for under US$50.

Make time to stroll to storybook Buda Castle or up to the turreted Fisherman’s Bastion atop Castle Hill. The romantic views overlooking the mighty Danube River don't cost a cent. Then after dark, seek out a cozy corner of a candlelit ruin bar that dot the Seventh District for a drink. Located abandoned buildings, the bars offer affordable drinks, alternative music, and a glimpse into Budapest's creative side.

Planning tip: June is a good month to visit, with warm temperatures and fewer crowds than July and August. The Danube Carnival, a colorful celebration of local folklore, also runs in June. Romantics can learn the classic couples’ folk dance, Csárdás.

Couple in love on Mediterranean holiday, happiness, affection, carefree kiss down alleywayt
Crete - like Santorini but cheaper and warmer © SolStock / Getty Images

5. Crete, Greece

If it's European sun and sea you're seeking, Crete turns up the heat on Santorini, Greece’s honeymoon hotspot, with warmer weather, lovelier beaches and generally cheaper prices. Check out Hania in the west. It has a comely Venetian harbor and gobsmacking nearby beaches, some speckled with pink sand. Plus you can still find lovely doubles in this most photogenic of Cretan settlements for under US$100.

Hike together through Samaria Gorge, Europe’s longest. and journey east to discover the mighty ruins of Knossos, linked to the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. Then it's time to take your pick of the beaches. Spoilt for choice, these sublime crescents of sand don't cost a cent to explore.

Planning tip: Early and late in the holiday season (April–May and September–October) are good months to visit Crete without the holiday hordes.

Wide shot of smiling couple being served tea by waiter in courtyard of luxury hotel while on vacation
Marrakesh can offer affordable opulence for your honeymoon © Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

6. Marrakesh, Morocco

Stylish, yet traditional, beguiling Marrakesh is one of Morocco’s most appealing cities. Arguably Africa’s best budget honeymoon destination, the continent’s first Capital of Culture is a great place for newlyweds.

Whisk your other half off for a walk through one of the world’s most romantic gardens, the cactus-stippled Jardin Majorelle. Created by the French painter Jacques Majorelle, he centered the one-hectare space on a cobalt-colored villa. It became the trailblazer for an entirely new hue, Majorelle blue.

Alternatively, go on one of the most memorable (and affordable) shopping sprees ever in a labyrinthine souk like Souk Semarrine, or any number of high-end boutiques. You'll save even more if you bed down in a riad (a Moroccan mansion arranged around an interior courtyard). Such lovey-dovey seclusion starts south of US$150 per night.

Planning tip Spring and autumn are the best times to visit Marrakesh to avoid the sweltering summer temperatures.

A man takes a photo of his wife in front of some waterfalls at Luang Prabang, Luang Prabang, Laos, South-East Asia
The romantic waterfalls of Suang Si, just south of Luang Prabang, Laos © John Elk / Getty Images

7. Luang Prabang, Laos

Hidden amongst lush mountain foothills at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers in Northern Laos, Luang Prabang is a great budget spot for newlyweds.

According to legend, Buddha rested during his travels at Luang Prabang and smiled. So will you and your loved one once you see what you can get for less than US$25 per person per day (staying in no-frills accommodation).

Idyllic Indochinese villas. The UNESCO-protected architecture of richly decorated, pagoda-like Buddhist temples. Spiritually nourishing walks to religious sites, passing files of monks along the way. Treks to heavenly waterfalls such as the turquoise cascades at Kuang Si, southwest of town. Plus an overwhelming sense of calm.

Planning tip If you arrive in Laos after the end of the wet season in October or November, the lush green landscape glimmers entrancingly from the recent rains.

A waist-up shot of a same-sex female couple laughing under a multicoloured umbrella. The woman on the right is kissing her girlfriend on the side of the head. They are standing on the side of Loch Torridon near the village of Diabaig in the west highlands of Scotland.
The remote Northwest Highlands of Scotland offer an affordable and adventurous honeymoon © SolStock / Getty Images

8. Northwest Highlands, Scotland

Swerve Scotland's more conventional tourist spots like Edinburgh and Loch Ness and plot a course north to one of the remotest and most sparsely populated parts of Europe instead. With so few settlements in the Northwest Highlands, there are few temptations to part with your honeymoon funds.

Instead, intrepid newlyweds can go on fantastic, free hikes and save money by overnighting in a bothy, atmospheric wilderness shelters that allow guests can stay for one or two nights gratis.

Tie your hikes in with a visit to a romantic castle – such as causeway-linked Eilean Donan, a fortress so stunning it appears cut from a shortbread tin – to really feel the love. Or cozy up in a far-removed Highland hotel, embosomed in a vast estate of a rock-scattered moor, mountain and craggy shore.

Planning tip: A honeymoon here is always going to be outdoors-focused, so it’s handy to know that May and September are often drier, sunnier months than those in the tourist high season (July and August).

Happy couple taking a selfie outdoors below a tree in Buenos Aires, Argentina with brightly painted houses in the background
It's hard not to be seduced by Buenos Aires, Argentina © FG Trade / Getty Images

9. Buenos Aires, Argentina

Few cities scream ‘romance’ more than Buenos Aires. With super-seductive tango dancing as its lifeblood, the self-styled Paris of South America offers as much as its French cousin – but at a snip of the price.

Wander through the colonial streets of bohemian San Telmo with its antique shops and impromptu dance performances. Partake in the sweet tradition of merienda (teatime) with your partner in an elegant café. End your evenings with a fruity glass of oh-so-Argentine Malbec and toast your new life together. Built for wandering slowly, the seductive Argentinian capital marries passion with beauty and art with architecture, much of it all for free.

Planning tip Spring (September to November) is the time to visit before it gets too hot and locals leave the city for the coast. Combine a vacation with an intimate excursion out to one of the estancias (countryside ranches) outside the city.

This article was first published Jan 12, 2017 and updated Jan 10, 2024.

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