“One of the Quietest Trips I’ve Ever Been”: Readers’ Best Wellness Breaks

Gentle countryside, gentle yoga, Norfolk

Yoga at the Mill spends a wonderful vacation to relax in the Norfolk countryside at Fishley Hall. Accessible by train to Aikle, on the Norwich Great Yarmouth Line, the four-day retreat with Lucia and Vicki offers plenty of gentle movement, mindfulness and the opportunity to relax. The focus is on yoga practices that are influenced by contemplative aspects of the broader yoga tradition such as nidra. Beautiful local walks will fill your free time, while delicious vegetarian food will nourish the body and spirit. We left rested and full of energy.
Julia Wunderlich

Llandudno is my quiet place

View of North Shore Beach from Great Orme.
View of North Shore Beach from Great Orme. Photograph: Heidi Stewart/Alami

Needing space to recharge after Christmas, and not wanting to go on vacation where I would feel pressured to do something every day, I bought the cheapest train to the cheapest accommodation by the sea. For me it was Llandudno. I bought books, visited a charming Mostyn Gallerywalked along its two embankments and looked down from Great Orme. The combination of Llandudno’s quiet natural beauty and its proximity to Manchester made it perfect for me to get away from the air and noise pollution. Just like the first Victorian visitors did 150 years ago.
Tim Moss


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Special offa clears the mind

Offa's causeway path near Llanthoni.
Offa’s causeway path near Llanthoni. Photograph: James Osmond/Alami

In 2019 and 2022, we walked the Offa Dyke trail in two one-week holidays, a total of 177 miles along the border of Wales and England. We traveled by train and took camping equipment, staying at pubs, guesthouses and campsites every night. We walked about 15 miles a day and despite the bad weather it was one of the most peaceful rides I’ve ever been on – I just had nothing to worry about other than putting one foot in front of the other until you reach your overnight stop. The path is simple, well marked and not particularly technical. It passes many pubs (especially in the south) and some of the scenery is impressive.
Susie Ward

Pods on the edge, Land’s End

Sea and sky at the End of the Earth.
Sea and sky at the End of the Earth. Photograph: Adam Burton/Alamy

Winter standalone pods Lands End Campground (£255 for three nights, sleep 4, max 2 adults) feel like they’re at the end of the world. Just a few hundred meters from the westernmost edge of the rocky coasts of Cornwall, the pods offer an off-season retreat from the noise and high speed of modern life, as well as a view of the sky and sea from the stands as they oscillate between serenity and fury. Seabirds fill the sky, and the colors of the setting sun illuminate the waves, rocks, and fields. The pubs are empty but offer friendly smiles and fun conversation as you step back from the elements for chips and ale. IN Sennen Cove you can detect a faint echo of the summer crowd. Your feet may get wet in the inevitable downpour, but your heart will be warm and light.
Amy Martin

Returning home to the Highlands

Dhanakos Center.
Dhanakos Center. Photo: Patricia Phillips/Alami.

Every visit to Dhanakosa in the southern highlands of Scotland it feels like coming home. Center located in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Parkoffers a range of wellness treatments. It is not necessary to be a Buddhist or have any knowledge of meditation – just a willingness to be open to what is being offered. Retreats include walking, nature, yoga and, new to the menu, wild swimming (beautiful Loch Voyle is right on your doorstep). There is no fee for retreats: payment is made by donation (recommended £400-600 for one week). Retreats are fully catered for.

Massages in the outback of the Algarve

A typical village street in the western Algarve.
A typical village street in the western Algarve. Photo: Antonel/Alami

While Lagos is a famous party city in the Algarve, last spring I had a fantastic solo trip to an eco-friendly guest house near a town called Monte Rosa Portugal (doubling from €70). I stayed in a nice white apartment in a permaculture garden with my hammock. It has a communal outdoor kitchen, a swimming pool, indoor chickens, and an amazing yoga studio where you can also book amazing massages. The onsite chef prepared breakfasts and dinners, all local dishes at reasonable prices, and catered for my gluten free diet. The site is in the countryside, but about a 20 minute walk is a cozy village with a great market and a vegetarian cafe. It was a relaxing and inspiring place to draw and write. The house also works weeks of yoga and massage from €545 in low season.
Sara Collings

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Health Walks, Cornwall

Walker on his way to the southwest coast near Boscastle.
Walker on his way to the southwest coast near Boscastle. Photograph: David Forster/Alamy

No wellness activity compares to a walk. Path to the southwest coast. There is nothing to remember, no one to rely on, except for your feet and the need to watch the road. I would advise booking accommodation in advance so as not to waste time planning during the walk, but of course, take into account the pace of walking, the ability and desire to tire. Turn off your phone during the day to enjoy the beautiful scenery, exchange a few words with the friendly passers-by you meet, appreciate the beauty of the little things in life, and arrive pleasantly tired at your next B&B. Return to normal life relaxed, with a rested mind and many new, rich experiences.

I feel healed, Montenegro

Massif Durmitor, near Zabljak, Montenegro
Countryside Durmitor near Zabljak. Photo: Alami

Forests, gorges and high peaks listed by UNESCO Durmitor National Park in Montenegro – an ideal remedy for the bustle of the city. Many of the hotels here have excellent spa facilities such as Hotel Soain the city of Zabljak, but we stayed in a pleasant simple Tourists Den dormitory. It’s managed Alex and Ginawho are really friendly and knowledgeable and help people with advice and even equipment. They held daily morning meetings to inform tourists about the conditions in the mountains. This is a great place for swimming, hiking and cycling.

Detox on the Danube, Romania

Danube Delta, Romania.
Danube Delta, Romania. Photo: Mihai Andritoiou/Alamy

On the advice of a ticket inspector from Bucharest, I went to resort Lebada (doubling from around £100) in the Danube Delta last year. Inland from the Black Sea, in a vast swampy area, Lebada can only be reached by boat, which gives it a natural, calm atmosphere, completely immersed in nature. Home to over 300 species of birds and wild horses, the idyllic UNESCO-protected delta landscapes are enough to relax your shoulders and open your mind. Sauna, poolside gym and detox programs are available for as little as £10 per session, as well as sports and kayaking on the river. I was ready to travel to Transylvania to meet Dracula in a few days here.

Victory tip: Wonders of West Dorset

View of the Golden Cap from Charmouth with Burton Bradstock in the distance.
View of the Golden Cap from Charmouth with Burton Bradstock in the distance. Photograph: Vic Pigula/Alami

With fresh local produce, simple rooms and great views of the Jurassic Coast. Othona West Dorset, between Burton Bradstock and Abbotsbury, offers a variety of courses, community holidays, professional breaks and family reunions that are truly physically and spiritually nourishing. Everyone is welcome, regardless of religious beliefs or lack thereof. Whether it’s walking, singing, yoga or just relaxing, Othona offers great opportunities for relaxation. Places like Charmouth and Lyme Regis are also nearby. If you’re especially lucky, you might even see a dolphin swim past or the stunning murmur of a starling from the shore path that runs down the garden.
Charlotte Marples

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