Vacations are a peculiar phenomenon. We spend months planning our next getaway, rifling through catalogs with spectacular photos and tantalizing amenities. It seems like there are so many things to do and see, and we find ways to pack it all in. We return home elated but exhausted—with that oft-quoted phrase on our lips: “I need a vacation after my vacation!” At Country Walkers, we work hard to ensure your vacation really is a true vacation—one where you can relax and recharge in the midst of exploration and discovery. Forest bathing is a wonderful way to experience the natural world at a relaxed pace that fosters inspiration and invigoration.
Health Benefits of Forest Bathing
Forest bathing, also known as shinrin-yoku, was developed in Japan in the 1980s. According to numerous clinical studies, the act of immersing oneself quietly in a natural environment with trees, such as a forest or park, can positively benefit your health in a number of ways:
- Reduce stress: Studies have shown that forest bathing can help calm the mind and lower stress.
- Boost immune system: Forest bathing increases immune system activity to help defend against infections and viruses.
- Improved mood: Forest bathing is fun! Spending time in nature also reduces feelings of depression and anxiety.
- Better sleep: Fresh air and exercise are known to promote quality sleep and regulate sleep cycles.
- Increased creativity and focus: Spending time outdoors promotes clear cognition and stimulates creativity and imagination.
- Reduced blood pressure and heart rate: Forest bathing has been shown to lower blood pressure and heart rates.
Quiet Walks: The Perfect Spots for Forest Bathing with Country Walkers
Mindful forest bathing is one of our favorite ways to restore and invigorate a tired body and soul through the simple act of walking quietly among the trees. Here are some of our top forest bathing spots:
Italy: Sicily Guided Tour—On the vibrant island of Sicily, you may choose to go forest bathing in one of the island’s most innovative olive groves—and the home of veteran forest bather Daniela Adamo. As you stroll through the quiet groves of lovingly tended trees, you may spot the tree Daniela calls l’albero dei desideria, or the wishing tree, named for the sturdy horizontal branch on which the young Daniela would repose, daydreaming beneath a canopy of silvery leaves.
Greece: Athens, Delphi & Meteora Guided Tour—You’ll experience a wealth of natural diversity on this splendid Grecian tour. Stroll through a unique landscape of pine, pear, walnut, and plane trees as you discover the Aroanios River valley, and relax in the tranquility of the rich pine woods in Galaxidi.
Lithuania & Latvia: Vilnius to Riga Guided Tour—The forests of the Baltics are renowned for their natural beauty. On this stunning walking tour through the diverse Baltic landscape, you’ll find opportunities to go forest bathing under a rich canopy of ancient pines—afterwards, perhaps you’ll enjoy a relaxing stroll along the nearby sand dunes to dip your toes in the invigorating waters of the Baltic Sea.
Ireland: Cork, Killarney & Dingle Guided Tour—There’s something about the sound of waves crashing against a rugged, wild shore that conjures a feeling of peaceful tranquility. As you explore the forests of Ross Island off the coast of Killarney, you’ll find relaxing opportunities to mindfully meditate in forests that run right up to the water’s edge.
Italy: Matera, Otranto & the Puglia Coast Guided Tour—What better space for forest bathing than the silvery-green olive groves of Puglia? As you explore this unique landscape peppered with whitewashed trulli dwellings and flanked by the blue-green sea, take some time to relax under the graceful branches of olive trees, breathing in the floral aroma of the Mediterranean macchia.
Spain: Balearic Islands, Mallorca & Deia Guided Tour—If your ideal forest bath involves mindful meditation in groves of ripe oranges and lemons, then look no further than Mallorca. This lush Spanish island is heavy with the aroma of blossoming flowers and ripening citrus. A quiet walk in the orange groves, followed by a locally crafted orange ice cream with almond cake, sounds like an ideal way to relax and rejuvenate.
Iceland: Reykjavík, Borgarfjord & Lake Mývatn Guided Tour—Among Iceland’s otherworldly landscape of waterfalls and volcanoes, there are wonderful opportunities to pursue mindful meditation in green spaces. The Akureyri Botanical Gardens feature many native plants and trees—and a visit there is an excellent way to stimulate your mind while relaxing and engaging your senses.
Portugal: Minho & the Douro Valley Guided Tour—Enjoy a rejuvenating walk in the forested valleys of Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês in Portugal’s northern Minho region. Later that day, the Count of Calheiros will introduce you to the splendid gardens at Paço de Calheiros during your stay at this lovely 17th century manor house. There, you’ll find time for mindful meditation beneath the shade of the estate’s ancient chestnut trees.