After months of dealing with dress and tux fittings, dance lessons, flower arrangements, and seating charts, you and your new spouse definitely deserve a vacation. But honeymooning isn't always as easy as it seems: You've got plane tickets to book, rooms to reserve, and costs to consider, not to mention the daunting task of deciding where you want to go.

If you're looking for the perfect romantic escape, let U.S. News Travel's 2012-2013 Best Honeymoons rankings help.

While expert opinion plays a part in determining the best places for a post-wedding getaway, these lists factor in everyday traveler sentiment, too. While tallying the votes, we noticed that, according to many of our readers, a dreamy honeymoon spot needs three key ingredients: sun, sand, and surf.

Thanks to its honey-colored sands and cerulean waters, the mystical Greek island of Santorini appealed to the most travelers, claiming the No. 1 spot on our overall list of the Best Honeymoon Destinations, boasting an impressive 88 percent voter-approval rating. The trend continues with Maui nabbing second place, and Crete and Kauai stealing the third and fourth spots. Santorini, Maui, and Kauai's sunny demeanors also won over those who voted for the Best Beach Honeymoon Destinations.

But the Greek and Hawaiian islands are facing fierce competition from other high-profile honeymoon hot spots. For luxury-lovers, exotic islands like Bora Bora and the Maldives make for unforgettable romantically inspired vacations. Travelers voted for both of these glamorous getaways—known for their beautiful scenery and extravagant resorts—over Santorini on U.S. News Travel's Best Islands in the World ranking list. The Greek isle also competes with lavish destinations Bora Bora, the Maldives, and Paris for the title of "most luxurious honeymoon destination."

While a few nights on a secluded island may appeal to most newlyweds, not every couple finds romance on faraway shores. For those who would prefer a place close to home, U.S. News Travel has ranked the best domestic honeymoon spots. Without contest from Greece, Kauai and Maui garner the highest reader approval. But according to the votes, sandy shorelines don't always reign supreme. California's fruitful Napa Valley takes third place, while charming Charleston, S.C., claims fourth. Charleston also ranks highly as an Affordable U.S. Honeymoon destination, landing in the No. 2 spot behind the clear traveler favorite, Cape Cod, Mass. Following suit are Sedona, Ariz., (where even the rocks have adopted the color of love) and Puerto Rico (America's Caribbean paradise).

U.S. News Travel also ranks the best destinations in two popular honeymoon regions: Europe and the Caribbean. Santorini and Crete dominate the list of the Best Honeymoon Destinations in Europe, with travelers expressing more interest in an island escape than a big-city getaway (Paris moved from second to third place in the last year.) However, whether the Greek islands will be able to keep their top positions has yet to be determined: Travelers showed an overwhelming support for Tuscany (which moved from ninth place to sixth) and Hollywood-heavy Cannes, France, which appears on the list for the first time in 9th place. 

For budget-minded honeymooners, travelers recommend celebrating your nuptials on the lesser-known Greek island of Rhodes. The up-and-coming sands of Dubrovnik, Croatia, and the steamy hot springs of Reykjavik, Iceland, also enticed voters.

According to travelers, couples looking to kick back in the Caribbean should head straight for Anguilla, an island teeming with al fresco restaurants and luxurious resorts. St. Lucia—known for its romantic reputation—nabbed second place, with the Francophone island of Martinique stealing third. But in terms of voter endorsement, the refined British Virgin Islands poses the greatest threat to Anguilla's reign. The archipelago climbed from ninth to fifth place due to an 89-percent approval rating—that's only 4 percent lower than Anguilla's approval score.

Even if you aren't planning to tie the knot any time soon, nothing's stopping you and your significant other from a trip for two, and the U.S. News Travel audience is quick to offer up some advice. It should come as no surprise that Maui and Kauai were the fan favorites, beating out San Francisco, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Key West, Fla. as the Most Romantic Getaways in the USA. Although they say there's no better place to honeymoon than on a Greek island, travelers prefer Florence and Paris over Santorini and Crete on our Most Romantic European Getaways ranking list.

Where would you like to honeymoon? Vote for your ideal romantic retreat—and other U.S. News Travel rankings—here.


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