Evelyn Cools rounds up the best spots in Europe for meditation and mindfulness retreats
Holy Isle, Scotland
Situated in the Firth of Clyde off the west coast of central Scotland, Holy Isle has a spiritual history that dates back to the sixth century. Rooted in Buddhist traditions and beliefs, the Holy Isle Project aims to promote world peace and health. It welcomes visitors during the summer season (April to October) to take part in personal or group meditation, discover the island’s protected wildlife (including native Eriskay ponies), walk along the coastline trail, and develop and experience inner peace.
How to do it: Accommodation at the Centre for World Peace and Health includes three daily vegetarian/vegan meals. holyisland.org
The birthplace of St Francis, one of Italy’s patron saints, the medieval town of Assisi is nestled amid hills and forests in the Umbria region of Central Italy, known as the country’s ‘green heart’. As well attracting legions of Christian pilgrims, Assisi has become a popular meeting place for people of various faiths from around the world.
How to do it: Simple Peace Retreats offers all-in-one packages, which include heart-centred meditation and meditative movement classes, massage therapy and guided pilgrimage walks. assisiretreats.org
Surrounded by turquoise waters and clear blue skies, the island of Lefkada, off the west coast of Greece, is a hidden gem for travellers wishing to engage in meditation and mindfulness. Despite being connected to the mainland by a narrow causeway, the island remains largely untouched by mass tourism. Lefkada’s white sandy beaches, olive groves, and expansive views over forested mountains and the Ionian Sea make it a tropical paradise for meditators seeking complete serenity.
How to do it: The Serenity Retreat group organises spiritual retreats aimed at solo travellers, including various guided programmes on meditation and mindfulness. serenityretreat.co.uk
Concentrated around the glaciers and mountains of Snowdonia National Park, this region boasts a diverse landscape, ranging from sandy beaches to Wales’s highest peak, Mount Snowdon. With its abundance of lakes, gorgeous views, and occasional mist blankets, the park presents a magical window onto the natural world. Many retreats and B&Bs grown their own produce, taking advantage of the region’s fertile soil.
How to do it: Dru Mountain Lodge provides year-round guided meditation retreats that focus on movement and breathing techniques. druyoga.com/info/venue/snowdonia-mountain-lodge
Gorges du Loup, France
The picturesque River Loup flows for 30 miles through the foothills of Gourdon, in the Alpes-Maritimes region of Southern France, before emptying out into the Mediterranean Sea. The area is riddled with stunning hiking trails, wild swimming spots, and gorges tucked away amid the rugged landscape. Gorges du Loup also has scenic lookout points and hidden waterfalls, which are ideal for individual or group meditation sessions.
How to do it: Alison Prideux’s Mind and Body Retreat aims to restore life balance through healthy food, relaxed hikes, hatha yoga and mindfulness meditation. omindfulness.com/courses/4-day-mindfulness-retreats
Assisi meditation. Image: Flickr
Holy Isle Centre for World Peace. Image: Sarah Lionheart, Flickr
Meditation in Lefkada. Image: Flickr
Want to find out more? Read Tamsin Wressell’s review of a yoga and meditation retreat in Sussex