It may be one of the world’s smallest nations geographically, but the dynamic hub of Singapore offers a wealth of things to see, do, and EAT for visitors. Known for its towering skyline, world-class shopping, vibrant food culture, and refreshing green spaces, this busy and beautiful destination needs to be on your bucket list. Wondering what to see and do in Singapore? Our four-day Singapore itinerary for couples of all ages will highlight the best places to visit in Southeast Asia’s Lion City.
Singapore is a captivating destination that seamlessly blends modern architecture and a 24/7 vibe with a rich cultural heritage. Comprising the main island of Singapore and over 60 small surrounding islands, this compact city-state punches well above its weight when it comes to a stopover, short break, or romantic getaway.
Its multicultural roots, influenced by China, Malaysia, India, Indonesia and England, give the city its unique charm and feed its diverse and ever-evolving culinary scene. If food is your love language, Singapore is your holiday destination!
Couples can eat and shop their way around the city, toast their love story in a sky-high rooftop bar, and recharge in one of many green spaces and parks. Then slip away to their private haven in a boutique Singapore hotel or five-star urban hideaway.
Singapore is also known for being easy, safe and clean to explore, making it an excellent destination for first-time visitors to Southeast Asia and more seasoned travellers.
If you only have four days to see Singapore, here’s how to maximise your visit. Be sure to read to the end, where we’ve offered plenty of suggestions for those staying in Singapore longer or for travellers who prefer to follow their own path.
Getting around Singapore
It’s astoundingly easy to get around Singapore. Despite so many cultures living in this dynamic city, English is prominently spoken and displayed, making it simple to roam freely. If you want to experience the city like a local, take advantage of the public transport system, which includes the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) and buses. We primarily use the MRT — it’s safe, fast, efficient, and affordable.
Our travel tip? Purchase an EZ-Link stored-value card, providing unlimited rides on the MRT and public buses for up to three days at a time. This option is cheapest, too, costing only $20 per card. Or tap your Eftpos card or phone at the fare gates in and out. The bus may be more economical, but the MRT truly is the fastest way to get around.
While Singapore can be more expensive compared to other countries in Southeast Asia (it’s more often compared to destinations in Europe, Australia, Japan, and the USA), its food and transport remains relatively affordable.
Starting from your Singapore hotel, here’s how to make the most of your first day in Singapore.
The Marina Bay area — morning & afternoon
You can’t visit Singapore without a trip to the endlessly entertaining Marina Bay area (home to the incredible Gardens by the Bay) and a photo-op at the iconic 8.6-metre Merlion statue. Presiding over the bay, this half-fish, half-lion is a nod to Singapore’s fishing village past and to the word ‘Singapura’ meaning ‘lion city’ in Sanskrit.
Along the Waterfront Promenade you’ll find the Red Dot Design Museum, home to over 500 award-winning inventions and gadgets and a brilliant gift shop. The ArtScience Museum is also worth a stop. The museum is designed with two main parts: the base, surrounded by water and a lily pond, and a flower-like structure that appears to float above the pond. Each petal has a skylight that allows natural light to illuminate the galleries within. A sensory treat!
Gardens by the Bay
And now the piece-de-resistance: Gardens by the Bay. Fusing horticulture with architecture to breathtaking effect, this expansive area is easy to explore — but we recommend at least half a day to experience it fully. Pick up a free map at the visitor information centres or a self-guided trail map for a small fee. And try for a weekday as weekends and public holidays can get very busy.
Gardens by the Bay has done a jaw-dropping job of recreating plant habitats from around the world, with changing themes throughout the year. Stroll the aerial walkways of the Cloud Forest, home to one of the tallest indoor waterfalls in the world along with a mountain bedazzled with plants. Or take a break from the city heat in the cool conservatory domes of the Supertree Grove.
And while you’re in this part of Singapore, be sure to pop into the spectacular Marina Bay Sands, one of the most famous hotels in Asia. The 57th floor has a stunning infinity pool, and while it’s only open to guests, you can go up to the rooftop bar and have a drink or a bite at the restaurant. Or pick up a swanky souvenir in the precinct’s luxurious shopping mall.
Sip on a Singapore Sling at Raffles before dinner — evening
Tonight, you’ll be heading to Chinatown — but first, treat yourselves to a couple of Singapore Slings at the iconic Long Bar at world-famous Raffles hotel. Ngiam Tong Boon, a talented bartender from Hainan, created the famous gin-based cocktail now widely regarded as Singapore’s national tipple. The story goes that Ngiam wanted to invent a drink women could enjoy in public (when etiquette dictated they refrain from alcohol). He crafted a beverage resembling fruit juice; thus, the colourful Singapore Sling was born.
Over the road on Seah Street is a humble but authentic destination, Sing Swee Kee restaurant, the perfect way to finish a busy first day in Singapore. This popular eatery can get super busy with locals, so be prepared to wait (but it moves fast) unless you only have one Singapore Sling at Raffles and get there reasonably early!
The star dish, Chicken Rice, consists of tender slices of poached chicken, fragrant rice cooked in chicken stock, and various dipping sauces. They also offer a wide range of sides and accompanying dishes including Sweet and Sour Pork, Shrimp and Onion Omelette, Kailan with Oyster Sauce, and Cordyceps Flower Chicken Soup. A must-eat for couples looking for an affordable and unique Singapore foodie experience. Dinner here will offset the money you spent on your Singapore Slings, is right across the road from Raffles and, most importantly, is delicious!
Head to the Indian Quarter — morning & lunch
Start by roaming through Little India. The main thoroughfare is Serangoon Road, where you’ll find the Tekka Mall and the Little India Arcade. There are great shops for browsing and plenty of temples, mosques, and places of worship like the Sri Veeramakaliamman Hindu temple in the heart of Little India. Don’t forget to sample some authentic Indian cuisine while you’re there!
Explore Kampong Gelam — afternoon
One of the best ways to see everything in one of Singapore’s oldest urban neighbourhoods, Kampong Gelam, is to lace up your trainers and take the Kampong Gelam Walking Trail. You’ll see the main attractions of an area once a hub for the Muslim community but now a trendy spot with boutiques, quaint restaurants, and bars.
Walk the trail, and you’ll see the Sultan Mosque, a treasure from 1824 for the first sultan of Singapore. The tour will also take you down Bussorah Street, Arab Street, Bali & Haji Lane, and onward to the Malay Heritage Centre.
Head for the quays: Boat, Clarke & Robertson — evening
The Singapore River has a rich history as a bustling trading hub, but in recent years it has transformed into a scenic boundary between the Colonial District and the Central Business District. Today, it’s also home to beautifully decorated boats for sightseeing tours.
Boat Quay, Clarke Quay and Robertson Quay now serve as commercial and entertainment centres, adding to the lively atmosphere and attracting both locals and tourists. Tonight, you can go big or small — the choice is yours! Visit one quay for dinner or make a night of it and move between the three (we like to walk but you could taxi between).
Boat Quay was once the busiest part of the old Port of Singapore back in the 1860s. It was thought to resemble a carp’s belly, which the Chinese believed was where wealth and prosperity could be found. These days, this historic slice of land has been converted into shophouses, conserving them while carving out new homes for various restaurants and bars.
If you feel like a more glamorous night out, head to Clarke Quay: the area’s largest and most developed quay is known for its vibrant atmosphere, sleek bars, trendy restaurants, and lively nightclubs. You won’t be far from one of Singapore’s favourite rooftop bars, Smoke & Mirrors, located atop the National Gallery with a fabulous drinks list and city views to match.
Robertson Quay (just a short walk from Clarke Quay) is the perfect destination if you’re looking for a more relaxed night out in Singapore. While it may not be as well known, it’s a favourite among locals and expats with a good selection of restaurants and pubs.
The jungle breakfast at Singapore Zoo — morning
Experience a unique Breakfast in the Wild at the Mandai Singapore Zoo. This popular attraction includes a delicious ‘planet-friendly’ buffet breakfast and the chance to get up close and personal with the zoo’s animal ambassadors, including macaw and orangutans. Get there early and stay on to explore the rainforest zoo at your leisure afterwards.
Afternoon & evening — Chinatown
Chinatown is a vibrant district showcasing the country’s rich Chinese culture and heritage. With its historical monuments, museums, and food markets, it offers a unique and immersive experience for visitors — and the best way to explore it is with a self-guided walking tour.
The neighbourhood’s colourful shophouses and historic buildings provide a vibrant photo-op while the bustling Chinatown Complex Food Centre is perfect for fuelling up on local street food. Visit the magnificent Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and the oldest Hindu temple, Sri Mariamman Temple, to appreciate the religious diversity in the area. Be sure to visit Mohammed Ali Lane where you’ll see a quirky scene of Singapore’s street vendors from Singapore’s early years of independence in the 1960s.
We’re suggesting this as a late afternoon visit so you can enjoy a delicious dinner in the area. Our picks for a date-night feel are Esquina, a Spanish and Catalan restaurant, and French bistro Les Bouchons. For an authentic Singapore-Chinese culinary experience, stop by Maxwell Food Centre: an iconic hawker stall destination selling everything from famous chicken rice and oyster cakes to DIY dough fritters.
If you visit during Chinese New Year, you may be lucky enough to enjoy a dragon dance as part of your celebrations.
Day 4 – Spend the day at Sentosa Island
On your last day exploring Singapore, embrace the fun beachy vibes of Sentosa Island. Our tip? Take the cable car from the mainland, it’s the best way to arrive on the island and take in awesome views of the city skyline, Sentosa, Mount Faber and even Singapore’s southern isles.
Many couples flock to the island’s themed attractions including Universal Studios, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, and the S.E.A. Aquarium — just don’t miss Silosa Beach for lunch. One popular option for a casual meal is Flame, a cozy eatery located right on the beach and shaded by coconut trees. Silosa Beach is known for its water sports while nearby Palawan Beach offers a quieter beach experience.
Looking for a beach club vibe? Make your way a little further south to the Tanjong Beach Club, a popular sea-facing party destination where you can kick back by day and drink and dance your way well into the night.
Or soak up the sunset at 1-Altitude Coast: an adults-only alfresco pool deck with plenty of cushy loungers and day beds, chilled beats and cocktails, and stellar views. 1-Altitude Coast is part of The Outpost Sentosa, a stylish boutique hotel with a distinctively chic black-and-white design. Highly recommend if you’re staying on the island.
More to see & do in Singapore for couples
Mix & match – a Singapore holiday, your way
We get it … you want to do things your own way. Or, perhaps you have more than four days and want to include other highlights. And we say go for it! Here are 10 more things to see and do in Singapore to pop into your itinerary.
- See Singapore from above. There are heaps of options including the Singapore Flyer (a fancy giant ferris wheel where you can also enjoy dinner and cocktails), the Singapore Cable Car Network, and the 57-th floor Marina Bay Sands Skypark Observation Deck.
- Hit the shops on Orchard Road, a bustling shopping destination comparable to famous shopping streets like Oxford Street or Fifth Avenue. Whether you’re on a tight budget or looking to splurge, a visit to Orchard Road is a must during your stay in Singapore.
- Hire a bicycle on the serene island sanctuary of Pulau Ubin and turn back time to the days when village life dominated this island.
- Go to the National Gallery Singapore. Escape the humidity by visiting this visual arts institution, home to the largest public collection of Singaporean and Southeast Asian modern art in the world. You’ll find it smack-dab in the centre of the Civic District, right inside the City Hall and former Supreme Court, both lovingly restored to create this museum. As mentioned above, it’s also home to Smoke & Mirrors rooftop bar as well as a host of excellent dining outlets.
- Immerse yourselves in Peranakan culture (an ethnic group with ties to China, Malaysia and Indonesia) with a tour and tea experience at The Intan. This privately owned home museum is a labour of love for owner Alvin Yapp and a treasure-trove of colourful Peranakan artifacts, clothing and curiosities. Just remember to book in advance.
- Explore the former nutmeg plantation and military barracks turned vibrant lifestyle precinct, Dempsey Hill: home to galleries, bars, and Michelin-starred restaurants.
- Visit Singapore’s first wetland reserve, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, where you can find water monitors and crocodiles as well as plenty of shorebirds.
- Find a moment of peace at the Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery in Bright Hill. It is among the most renowned Buddhist monasteries in Asia and features impressive halls and statues and a tranquil garden and koi pond.
- We’ve suggested breakfast with the orangutans at The Singapore Zoo but you could easily spend more time at this popular tourist destination, boasting over 300 animal species. The zoo is divided into 12 zones, each representing a different ecosystem or region of the world. Its design seamlessly blends with the surrounding rainforest, creating seemingly open enclosures where animals like orangutans and lemurs can freely roam. Enjoy an up-close experience with tamarin monkeys, lemurs, mousedeer, and various exotic birds in the Fragile Forest, feed rhinos and elephants, or embark on a memorable Night Safari.
- Eat your way from Chinatown to Little India, looking out for all the local haunts. Singapore also offers hawker stations, which are like food courts, allowing you to sample all the flavours at affordable prices. Do not miss the chilli crabs for an iconic taste of Singapore.
Check out our Travel Guide to Singapore for a more comprehensive look at what to do and see in the Lion City.