No matter where I travel these days I more often than not seek two things: some semblance of outdoor activity and some semblance of pampering goodness. “Wellness travel” is a term that likely means different things to different people, but to me it means just that: taking care of my body with exercise (ideally involving hiking trails) and a massage, hot-tub soak, or other treat to soothe sore muscles (from aforementioned activity). Healthy eats that fuel my body; yummy treats (because who wants to be deprived on vacation?); scenic views of coastline, mountain, forest or desert; and quality lodging that allows for restful sleep round out my idea of the ideal wellness vacation. I seek relaxed itineraries that offer a balance of seeing, doing and resting – trips that allow me to return home feeling refreshed and ready to tackle “real life” again.
In researching my Ultimate Family Road Trip in the Alps, and getting inspired by this Absolutely Alps video, I came across some sights and activities that are ideal for a pair of girlfriends set on adventuring through the mountains of Switzerland, Austria and Germany while fully enjoying the good life. These options might also be fun and fab for an outdoorsy couple that enjoys fine wine, dining and a stint in the spa, as well. Here’s my take on what I’d most like to enjoy on my two-week wellness road trip in the Alps, featuring a host of new-to-me Alpine villages, plenty of pampering, and tons of high-altitude exploration:
Stay at the Five-Star Fairmont Le Montreux Place: Fairmont hotels never fail in the luxury department, and it appears this property is no exception: within the Alps, with luxury amenities and services, including the stellar, 22,000-square-foot Willow Stream Spa. Day trips include forays into the nearby mountains (via cable car, cog railway or foot); a visit to the medieval village of Gruyeres (yes, known for its cheese!); a tour of a nearby Swiss chocolate factory; and excursions to the vineyards of Lavaux, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Get adventurous in Grindelwald and the Jungfrau Region: With remote, pristine lakes and massive, jagged mountain peaks coupled with adventures such as ziplines, scooter bikes and mountain carts, plus a railway to the “Top of Europe” (aka the peak of Jungfrau), the Swiss mountain village of Grindelwald seems to have it all for lovers of scenic beauty and those who seek an adrenaline rush.
Restore and refresh at Lake Chiemsee: The Chiemsee-Alpenland region, southeast of Munich, not only boasts Germany’s second-largest lake, for swimming and boating in the summer months, but also many opportunities for wellness treatments. Sebastian Kneipp was a Bavarian priest and one of the forefathers of the naturopathic medicine movement, and his “Kneipp facilities” abound in the Chiemsee area. You can walk barefoot on reflexology paths, and soak in natural pools found in local parks. With benches to rest and reflect amid mountain air, these restorative spots sound just lovely!
Soak at Baden-Baden: As a lover of all things spa-related, I wouldn’t pass up an opportunity to explore a European city whose spa culture dates back two millennia. Baden-Baden is located at the gateway of the Black Forest, so nearby hiking trails amid dense evergreens abound. After a vigorous hike, visitors have their choice of several mineral-rich thermal baths in Baden-Baden for a proper soaking. A perfect way to recharge batteries in the Alps!
Eat well in Salzburgerland: Any wellness trip (in my opinion) has to include an “eating well” component – and to me that means not only smart food choices that typically include some locally grown and raised products, but also some splurge-worthy indulgences of food items we just can’t get at home (i.e. some of these 9 must-try dishes). Salzburgerland, a province of Austria that includes the city of Salzburg, is the place to do just that. The area features numerous regional specialties and a communal commitment to putting regional products front and center. While touring the province, visitors can choose from eight different culinary pathways – for “Gourmets,” “Sweet Tooths,” “Cheese Freaks” and the like. Walk off any gastronomic indulgences by hiking on the 4,500 miles of marked trails in Salzburgerland!
Admire the beauty of Alpbach: Views that take my breath away (figuratively) are as restorative to me as a vigorous hike that literally takes my breath away at high altitudes! It appears as if the Austrian village of Alpbach – surrounded by meadows, mountains and pretty valleys and named “Austria’s Most Beautiful Village” – is the place to simply relax and take in the picturesque scenes.
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