As much as we’re big fans of chunky knits and cosy pubs, there’s something a little gloomy about the arrival of autumn. For the past few months we’ve been able enjoy hazy evening runs along the river, outdoor swims in London's lidos and take our living room circuits alfresco, not to mention the countless park picnic we’ve taken delight in. Now with the evenings drawing in and temperatures falling, it’s time to put the shorts away for another year.
But before you get too sad, know that the end of summer doesn’t necessarily mean you have to take your workouts straight back inside. In fact, it’s a great opportunity to book a cheeky getaway and combine your fitness and wellness routine with the great outdoors - and with the whole of Europe right on our doorstep, we’ve got a few ideas about where you could head to.
The Ring Road, Iceland
‘Road trip’ and ‘healthy getaway’ aren’t necessarily two words you would usually put together, but Iceland’s glorious Ring Road might just prove the exception to the rule, dotted as it is geothermal spas, and offering the chance to get moving in ways that don’t feel like a workout (glacier kayaking, anyone?) and more fresh air that you’ll know what to do with.
At the start of your route, a visit to the famous Blue Lagoon will not only prove beneficial for your Insta-game but also for your body and mind too, as natural hot springs have been shown to soothe aches and pains and reduce anxiety (1). Travelling in autumn means the summer crowds will have headed home, but the journey-disrupting winter weather hasn’t quite set in yet.
Serra da Estrela, Portugal
Whether it’s surfing, yoga or epic fitness events that floats your boat, Portugal is already well known for its wide array of healthy getaways but it’s not only in summer that you can take advantage of these.
Visit the Serra da Estrela mountain range in October to see the vivid autumn colours before the winter snow sets in; the charming and delightfully homely town of Manteigas makes for a great base, the starting point for a wide range of day and multi-day hiking trails for all abilities. Our advice? Spend each day exploring a new one and each night in a cosy little mountain house.
Picture this: A fiery carpet of red, yellow and orange cascading down a steep Alpine hillside, interspersed with chocolate-box pine-fronted cabins and church spires, towards a gleaming mirror-like lake. All sounds a bit fairytale-esque, doesn’t it? Well, the good news is that this place really does exist.
Tucked away in the Salzkammergut region of Austria, a country with a solid reputation for lung-rejuvenating caves and sleep-boosting pine trees, Hallstatt is an adventure-lovers paradise. Take in the colours of the surrounding mountains on foot or try your hand at parasailing and mountain biking.
As much as we love Hallstatt, it’s worth remembering that you don’t have the leave the UK to enjoy that picture-postcard-perfect combination of autumn trees on misty lakes; a drive through the Scottish Highlands might just provide the break from city life that you’ve been craving.
With silence already proven to have beneficial effects on brain health, you can be assured that the vastness of this spectacular landscape and its relative remoteness means that this it shouldn’t be difficult to get your prescribed two hours of quiet time in. Top tip? For an extra dose of wellness, pay a visit to the UK’s first fully-vegan hotel.
Once you’ve put aside the stodgy sausages and Bavarian beer – well, maybe not entirely – this legendary region of Germany has much of offer the autumnal wellness seeker, with plenty of spectacular woodland trails to discover.
That's not it, however, because it's home to one of Europe’s biggest thermal bathing complexes, which comes complete with 27 different steam baths and saunas; not only are saunas delightfully indulgent, but their use has been proven to reduce the risk of stroke (2) and improve cardiovascular health.