The best candles don’t merely smell delightful. They can encourage someone to slow down, set an intention, and maybe even relax and refocus—something we could all use a little (or a lot) of help with. Aside from looking great, the candles you purchase should be somewhat heavy, so you know they won’t burn up in one sitting, and good enough quality that you aren’t concerned about the chemicals they send into the air. Soy wax, coconut wax, and beeswax candles are some of the cleanest-burning options out there, and candles scented with essential oils tend to be free of synthetic fragrances, so be sure to seek those nontoxic options out, if that’s important to you or your recipient.
And when it comes to scent, there’s a world of options. Go for rustic relaxation with D.S. & Durga’s Tomb of the Eagles Candle, or something bright and uplifting like Maison Margiela’s Springtime in a Park. Whether you pick one cute candle to gift your votive-loving best friend or buy a selection to bring some love to multiple corners of your own house, you can’t go wrong. Some of our favorite candles even come in their own little gift boxes or patterned tins—and who isn’t a sucker for adorable packaging?
Below are the 51 best candles from a variety of retailers to create a relaxing ambiance at home or to give as a present—because the best gifts also smell really, really good.
We love P.F. Candle Co. for its rich, long-lasting scents, and the brand’s newest scent of 2023 is no exception. The scent is herby, as the name suggests, but less “kitchen” and more “dewy morning walk through the garden.” While earthy, there are some refreshing kicks of lemon and orange rind, which will keep you guessing (in a good way).
Made in the United States and housed in a reusable glass jar, this scent is intimate and cozy. Notes of sandalwood, mint, fig, and patchouli will fit right in any room, but we suggest keeping this one as your bedroom candle. Plus, it’s got a 40-hour burn time.
If you love classic scents and wish you were into edgier fragrances, look into Malin+Goetz’s take on a traditional floral. Touches of clove, black pepper, and cardamom open up into rose, peony, and geranium. With up to 60 hours of burn time, this natural wax candle packs major spring vibes you can bust out to pull you right out of the dreariest of days.
From first look this bold blue vessel is one step ahead of the rest thanks to a lid that immediately transforms this candle into a beautiful piece of home decor once the wax is gone. Fans of patchouli, iris, and suede will love this rain-inspired scent.
This three-wick candle is a shot of aromatherapy straight to the head, thanks to its cheery grapefruit scent. Not entirely unlike sunshine in the form of a candle, this one is strong—perfect for a kitchen in between meals or a corner that needs a bit of shine.
Inspired by Tom Ford’s private garden, this candle is a little bit woodsy and a little bit spicy. Rose is at the heart of the scent, but it’s also hugged by patchouli and Sichuan pepper. It’s sharp and warm at the same time—and it makes the perfect gift for your BFF who loves to host.
Don’t let the paint-splattered jar fool you—this candle is all about hygge-inspired nights by the fireplace watching the snow fall outside. This unisex scent was inspired by fireplace mornings in Chamonix in the 1970s. Groovy.
Created by a family-run business based in Reykjavik, Iceland, this scent is for serious candle fans. I could sit here and try to explain how it smells, but Fischersund’s in-house copy for the candle simply cannot be beaten: “Brand new sneakers, crushing fresh flower stalks against hot asphalt. Mouth full of lemon candy and fingers sticky with motor oil. Stolen rhubarb from a neighbor’s garden— peeled, slathered in honey and chewed on. Orange cake crumble in the pocket of freshly washed clothes. Arctic wind blowing through hair in a damp pine forest.”
Yankee Candle is known for attaching a scent to just about anything, from “Whiskers on Kittens” to “Black Sand Beach.” This particular candle is much more basic in concept, but they really manage to nail the fragrance that smells fresh and wind-blown. A single sniff will take you from mandarin and lemon to water lily and lavender to cedarwood and musk.
We consider Mrs. Meyer’s the queen of budget candles. Or if you’re a person who wants to match your dish soap to your hand soap to your candle scent, well, you can do that too. While “Iowa Pine” is marketed as a holiday scent, clove and cedar give off “freshly cut tree vibes” that make it versatile enough for year-round use.
The name of this candle doesn’t speak to packed bars and half-price drinks—no, we’re talking about a different kind of happy hour. A calming mix of citrus and cedar will fill the room and a deep breath will reveal touches of rosemary and eucalyptus as a beautiful afterthought.
Light this candle and you’ll practically smell the sea salt spray hitting your face off of the ocean. If you’re on the market for a budget-friendly candle that packs a ton of punch, your money would be well spent here.
The cheeky LA candlemakers at Boy Smells have teamed up with pop star (and AD cover girl) Kacey Musgraves to make this candle that conveys a harmonious mix of incense, black pepper, ginger zest, raspberry, and cedarwood. Just this week, the brand also launched an intoxicating candle with the legendary Grace Jones.
With their tasseled, toile-covered pagoda packaging, Seda France’s candles are a gift before you’ve even unwrapped them. This one smells like spring, featuring a blend of Japanese quince, rhubarb, white peach, passion fruit, and white jasmine.
We’d be remiss not to include this ever-popular pick from Diptyque. Baies is a blissful mix of blackcurrant leaves and fresh roses. Don’t let its petite size fool you, this baby will burn for 20 hours.
Homesick makes candles inspired by each state, and even a few cities. Their take on New York plays on spring days spent in Central Park and the overall buzz found in every borough, translated through notes of bergamot, jasmine, lemon, grapefruit, water lilies, oak moss, sandalwood, musk, and—we kid you not—concrete.
From Instagram-famous candle brand Otherland comes plenty of one-of-a-kind and kitschy options. Take Chandelier, a coconut and soy wax blend of Champagne, saffron, and leather that you’ll hope never finishes out. Fortunately, it promises 55 hours of burn time.
All of Spoken Flames’ candles emit a soft crackling noise when burned for a relaxing and distinct experience every time. The Fearless candle fuses a bright mix of orange, clove, and cedarwood to bring a bold energy to your space.
With notes of clover, island moss, and sea pinks (which is possibly the cutest plant name we’ve ever heard), this refreshing D.S. & Durga candle will conjure up good vibes wherever it fits in with the rest of your home decor.
And, once the holidays roll around, you could also pick up something ultra-festive from D.S. & Durga’s holiday candle collection. They’ve got a plethora of options—like this citron and laurel Chanukah scent, or the brand’s Portable Xmas Tree candle with notes of fresh spruce and cardamom.
This designer candle is crisp, delicate, and fruity, with notes of lily, jasmine, and pear to bring the sensation of springtime strolls alongside budding greenery right to your own home.
Young Victorian women were apparently forbidden from inhaling the scent of tuberose lest they have a spontaneous orgasm (!), so gift this ultra-sultry candle very wisely.
You know the fresh smell of a new leather bag or pair of shoes? This is that, but with no animals harmed in the making. These sleek candles by Marie Hunter Beauty are made of soy and coconut wax and burn for up to 90 hours.
Literie’s candles are inspired by the scents of New York. This particular pick pays homage to the roasted nut carts located throughout Times Square. Caramelized sugar wafts through the air every time you pass them, and this candle brings that scrumptious smell right into your living room.
This sweet blend of citrus, berry, and lemon smells exactly like Fruit Loops. It’s a pleasant, invigorating scent that immediately transports you to childhood mornings with a spoon in hand and cartoons blasting in the background. Not only do we love this candle, we love Mala—it’s an eco-friendly brand that’s partnered with Trees for the Future to have a tree planted for every purchase made. Mala is responsible for more than 56,000 new trees around the globe.
There’s something so satisfying about a candle that’s the same hue from the inside and out . The scent is one part trendy (palo santo) and one part classic (white roses).
For a decidedly grown-up vibe, the Speakeasy candle is meant to evoke illicit nights out and the pleasure of breaking the rules with its tobacco, bourbon, and palo santo notes.
Cope, a homewares line by the Calico Wallpaper founders, has a few refreshing candles inspired by the seascapes of New England where they grew up. Each candle is packed in a box of its signature splatter wallpaper.
AD editor in chief Amy Astley highly recommends this splurge-worthy candle from Loewe: “I love the chunkiness, the heft, [and] the jumbo size,” she says. Bonus: When the candle has burned down, “you can keep the vessel for anything you want—and it’s nice that this one isn’t delicate and teeny.”
This jar candle from up-and-coming brand Partaje is relaxation in a jar. By combining notes of red cedar, dried green herbs, and firewood, you can bring the calming feel of a spa to your living room any time.
For the ultimate form of escapism, try Trudon’s Positano candle, made in collaboration with Giambattista Valli. Inspired by the designer’s love of the region, this delicate combination of florals and fruits is meant to capture Positano’s charm and transport you right to the coast.
This unique candle is a two-in-one gift: Once the candle has burned down, you can plant the seed-embedded dust cover and soil pod inside the attractive terrazzo vessel. Just water and watch your mini herb garden flourish—it’s really two gifts in one.
Perhaps you’re more familiar with A.P.C.’s excellent clothing basics, but we think this sweet-smelling jasmine candle from the quintessential French label is the perfect decor accessory to outfit your home while also making it smell perfectly welcoming to any guest.
Anyone (especially true bibliophiles) will appreciate this best-selling candle from Byredo that diffuses a woody bookish scent lined with notes of peach, plum, and vanilla.
Designed to mimic the smell of a vintage Hermès suede jacket, this candle from Nette exudes notes of cardamom, violet leaf, sandalwood, and amber. Pick it out to enhance your home fragrance scheme.
New York–based Keap is a zero-waste brand that even offers subscription options to have fresh candles delivered to your doorstep every month. Though there are tons of responsibly made options to choose from, we’d go with this Wood Cabin candle, which has notes of juniper, nutmeg, cedar wood, and pine.
Even if it’s cold and blustery outside, this orange blossom and honey candle from Catbird will transport your senses to the sunny Italian coast.
This seasonal scent is perfect to pull out during the holidays. It has top notes of balsam fir, bayberry, and rock rose, with an undertone of woody sage. Light it up, and you’ll feel like you’re in a majestic forest or sitting by a freshly cut Christmas tree.
The ultimate cozy night in wouldn’t be complete without Nomad Noé’s Dreamer in London candle, whose soothing notes of firewood, tobacco, and hint of vanilla give any room a warm and sophisticated feel.
Lime, eucalyptus, and violet leaves come together to create a peaceful scent that’s reminiscent of a herbal tea.
Another one of the best candles we want for winter is this earthy blend from Grant Street Candle Co. The candle will make your home smell like warm spice thanks to sandalwood, patchouli, amber, and musk, all topped with sage, tangerine, and mango. The hand-poured candle has an ample 60-hour burn time.
Relax and unwind with Alicia Keys’s calming, artisanal candle. Each of her hand-poured candles has a mantra, and the mantra for sage and oat milk candle is, “Shine at full wattage.” Light the wick, embrace the message, and then indulge in a subtle, sweet scent.
Gibson & Dehn’s Mood candle line, made of a signature coconut wax blend, smells good and helps inspire the best vibes. The Good Times candle features a scent full of eucalyptus, jasmine, mint, and thyme notes that are especially balmy and soothing, optimal for warmer months.
This gorgeous candle smells as good as it looks. The scent is a romantic mix of pink grapefruit, orange, and black pepper. The sprinkle of rose cinnamon on top of the soy candle is an added bonus.
Ever experience a nostalgia with movies that you wish you could bottle and keep forever? Like that one horror movie you watch every Halloween, or the rom-com that’s a familiar friend to you come a rainy day. Well, wish no more with the A24 and Brooklyn-based Joya movie genre candles collaboration. Now you can pick a candle inspired by your favorite movie genre.
One of the best duos for maximum comfort in life is a freshly brewed cup of tea and a freshly lit candle permeating the air. You can pick up both from Alexandra Winbush. Pair her refreshing pomegranate ginger Window Seat candle with some matching pomegranate ginger tea.
One of Le Labo’s classic products, the Santal 26 candle is known for its refined musky scent. This makes it the optimal wick you should light when you’re relaxing in your blanket nest to read a book or watch a movie.
Topped with dried eucalyptus, this candle emulates the smell and sensation of summer rain through top notes of lime and ozone, middle notes of coconut, and bottom notes of vanilla.
If you want a Sunday morning candle to go with your Sunday morning coffee, Sunday morning breakfast, and Sunday morning book, then look no further. Brooklyn Candle Studio has created just the candle to perfume your early-bird routine with smells of pear, bergamot, jasmine, gardenia, and amber woods.
A staple scent from Boy Smells, Cashmere Kush brings a musky aroma to any room with notes of pot flower, geranium leaf, tulip, cashmere wood, rhubarb, vetiver, white amber, and powdery musk. They also have a magnum 27-ounce size if you just can’t get enough of the smell.