Packages that perfectly balance active travel with relaxation. By Ella Shardlow
1. Pura Vida in Costa Rica
Making the most of the dramatic landscapes, head into the rainforest for ziplining, tubing and canyoning while the beach beckons for surf lessons, evening meditations and kayaking. Even yoga sessions have Arenal Volcano as a backdrop. G Adventures’ trip is designed to help travellers embrace pura vida (pure life), the laid-back attitude that makes Costa Rica so soul-enriching.
Book it: G Adventures’ eight-day Wellness Costa Rica trip, departing on June 17, starts at £1,349 (excluding flights). Private ground transport, most meals and all ‘Wellness Moment’ activities are included, with some adventures such as rainforest canopy tours and canyoning bookable for a surcharge.
2. Cycling & sun salutations in Spain
Yoga and biking get equal billing on Responsible Travel’s off-grid retreat in the Catalan countryside – the thinking is that these two activities complement each other by boosting muscle flexibility, coordination and breathing control.
Rookies, seasoned cyclists and yogis alike should see their skills improve through the hotel’s tailored training programme (covering the basics of gear control, turning and pacing for any beginners). A typical day starts with breathwork and yoga before rides to medieval towns or into the Pyrenees foothills, then an evening meditation.
Book it: Responsible Travel offers all-inclusive Cycling and Yoga Training Weeks in Spain from £1,010, excluding flights. The seven-day stay includes customised small-group, all-level coaching in cycling and yoga (maximum four people per instructor), for departures from July 1.
3. Finland’s wintery wilderness
The Nordic nations know a thing or two about getting active in the great outdoors and how to relax afterwards, thanks to their thermal bathing rituals. On a winter break in remote Oulanka National Park, adventurous types can try husky-sledding through snowy forest trails, cross-country skiing and nocturnal snowshoeing under the northern lights.
Back at Basecamp Oulanka – a complex of timber cabins – the Finnish sauna and hot tub beckon to soothe sore muscles. There’s also a wilderness skills trip that involves fire-making and building snow shelters.
Book it: Departing from December 9, the Finnish Wilderness Week from Exodus Travels is priced from £2,549, including flights, accommodation, daily breakfast, five lunches, seven dinners, local transport, all listed activities and specialist equipment.
4. Sri Lanka’s spiritual safari
Wildlife encounters and Buddhist wisdom make for an edifying mix on this teardrop-shaped island. Recognising that spiritual health is a key pillar of wellness, Wild Frontiers arranges a meeting with a practising monk in the hilltop temple of Bahirawakanda.
That’s in addition to eco-adventures across Sri Lanka’s hill country and coastline. Think Jeep safaris in Wilpattu and Maduru Oya National Parks – home to leopards and elephants – a sunrise nature trail through the Sinharaja rainforest, wild swimming in Belihuloya River and watching blue whales breaching off the southern shoreline.
Book it: Wild Frontiers offers 14-day group tour Sri Lanka: Hidden Treasures of the Sacred Island from £3,185. The price includes accommodation, meals, guides and entry fees but not flights, for departures from November 25.
5. Urban micro-adventure
Cities can deliver a dose of active travel, too – especially when, like Cape Town, they boast jaw-dropping topography. Scaling Lion’s Head and the plateau of Table Mountain is thirsty work, but worthwhile for the bay views.
Abercrombie & Kent combines the iconic hike with a surf session at the beachside town of Muizenberg and stand-up paddleboarding in Simon’s Town, bookending a pampering spa day. This bitesize trip is ideal for travellers who wish to add an active wellness mini break onto a South African safari holiday or winelands road trip.
Book it: Cape Town for the Active is a three-night, tailor-made package by Abercrombie & Kent, featuring accommodation at luxury hotel One&Only Cape Town. Guide price from £1,815 to £3,350.
6. Mindful running in the Himalayas
A child soldier turned champion trail runner and National Geographic Explorer of Year – what better guide could there be for an all-female running retreat than Mira Rai? This trip balances exertion and reflection, pairing runs with meditation, singing-bowl sound healing and monastery visits. There’s no need to be an ultramarathon veteran – runs span four to 10 miles, with rest days.
Book it: Departing October 12, Nepal Trail Running + Wellness Retreat with Mira Rai is priced £6,036 for double occupancy or £6,988 for single. All accommodation, private ground transportation, domestic flights between Kathmandu and Pokhara, and daily meals are covered, as are guided runs, meditation classes, sound therapy session and running clinics.
7. La Dolce Lycra
An epic bike ride across Italy’s far north links the Dolomite Mountains to the Venetian lagoon, with wellness activities to try in Trentino province – from alfresco yoga to forest bathing to barefoot walking.
Beginning at Brenner Pass, guests will pedal past South Tyrol meadows and ascend Passo San Giovanni for Lake Garda views. Then it’s onto the Euganean Hills, Europe’s largest thermal resort, where bathing in the volcanic springs will soothe saddle-weary limbs.
Book it: Headwater has multiple departures for its Brenner Pass to Venice Cycling self-guided tour. Priced from £2,029 in May, the seven-day package includes flights, B&B, GPS route directions and maps, bike hire, luggage transfers and ferry crossing on Lake Garda. Private forest bathing, yoga and barefoot walking can be booked through Visit Trentino.
8. All-female outback journeys
World Expeditions’ women-only adventure weaves wellness and cultural activities into Australia’s 139-mile Larapinta Trail. Morning meditation and yoga focus the mind before heading through the Northern Territory’s red centre. The first day clambers from Alice Springs to Euro Ridge’s jagged outcrop, before hitting the base of Mount Sonder on day two and ending at Ormiston Gorge.
Book it: The two-night Larapinta Goddess Walk in Comfort includes tented camp accommodation, meals, all national park and camping fees, yoga mat and off-road transport from Alice Springs, plus a professional wilderness guide, support staff and yoga instructor. A September 16 departure costs £1,120.
9. Icelandic odyssey
Who needs a spa when you have mineral-rich natural pools? Jokultungur’s rocky gullies are dotted with steaming hot springs and mud baths – blissful when trekking the Laugavegur Trail. National Geographic named this volcanic landscape in Iceland’s southern highlands as one of the world’s 20 best treks.
Lava fields, sulphurous vents and black-sand desert give way to birch woodland and cascading rivers. After dark, it’s all about campfire tales and stargazing at cosy mountain refuges.
Book it: An August 7 departure for KE Adventures’ five-day, guided Classic Laugavegur Trail Trek, which includes all meals and mountain hut lodgings, starts at £1,710.
10. Finding balance on Welsh shores
Clients needn’t jet off to foreign lands for an invigorating ‘Zenventure’ – the Atlantic-lashed coast of Pembrokeshire is the perfect spot for honing surf skills and finding inner calm.
St Davids – the UK’s smallest city, set within a national park – is the location for an eco-conscious group retreat from Adventure Tours UK, where the days are spent learning to paddle, ‘pop up’ and ‘shred waves’ with an expert surf tutor, before gathering for sunset yoga classes on the sand. Guests can also get involved in a beach clean-up for an added feel-good factor.
Book it: Adventure Tours UK has a four-day package from August 18 for £665. Three nights’ boutique hotel accommodation, breakfast and one evening meal are included, along with transfers, two surf lessons, two beach yoga sessions, plus surfboard and wetsuit hire.
PICTURES: Shutterstock/Kovop, Gorillaimages, Try_my_best, Richard Whitcombe, Stephen Bridger, Iaranik, Benny Marty; Milly Youngman; G Adventures