Alternative Health & Wellness Activities In Spain

If you are searching for a quirky wellness activity to do on your holiday to Spain, look no further. Spain is embracing the weird and wonderful ways in which we can improve our health, heal ongoing ailments and have fun in the process. Some of these ideas originate from ancient medicinal practices and others are modern initiatives, each one tailored to soothe either body, mind or soul away from conventional massage spas and yoga retreats. 

Beer spas in Spain

Bathing in beer is not a new phenomenon, in fact, this practice can be traced back to the middle ages. Beer contains healing properties that can aid muscle tension, rejuvenate the skin, improve blood circulation, relieve toxins, reduce stress, prevent wrinkles and more.

At the end of 2017, Spain's first beer spa opened its doors in Granada. Due to its success and the health benefits attributed to bathing in beer, spas are popping up all over the country. Located in Granada, Alicante, Cadiz and Tenerife the baths contain ingredients such as yeast powder extract, Humulus lupulus powder, Hordeum vulgare seed, cinnamon and water. 

The range of beer circuits on offer (choose from basic and premium packages as well as experiences tailored for couples and private tours) have been expertly designed so your body can reap all the benefits. The adventure starts with an immersion in a bubbly barrel of beer for 20 minutes, whilst bathing, enjoy beer degustation (beer tasting). After the bath, you will head to the sauna to help the ingredients penetrate deeper into your skin. Then (wrapped in a towel) you can relax on a bed of barley to complete the process of the beer extraction into the skin. With premium packages, you can also enjoy unlimited beer on tap, a beer baptism, massages and a goodie bag containing face and body lotions, body peels, shampoo and more beery treats. 

Suggested reading:

Wellness activities with animals in Spain

If you are renting an apartment in Barcelona, why not try cat yoga. Yoga encourages body awareness and being in the present moment. At Suara Cat House, they recognise the synergy between yoga and the therapeutic benefits that the company of cats can bring. What's more, the proceeds go towards helping stray cats at the Suara Foundation - a non-profit organisation offering better living conditions for street cats in Barcelona who aim to help cats adapt in order to be adopted into a loving home. 

From cat yoga to dog cafes, spending time with animals can bring so much joy. The Husky House in Barcelona is a place where you can enjoy a coffee in the company of Siberian huskies. They charge 5€ to enter this playful space where you will be met by excited husky puppies. You will have the opportunity to feed them, cuddle them and play with them in a comfortable setting. 

Being around alpacas is said to relieve symptoms of anxiety and stress. They are very smart animals, gentle, and easy to handle, each with its own personality.  They are shy but very curious, quiet, and intelligent. There are a few alpaca farms dotted around Spain, nestled in the countryside which you can visit for the day.

Alpacas Cantabria offers day trips where you can bring your family to hang out with these curious creatures. Set in a small town Llanos de Penagos, just outside of Santander see how alpacas are farmed, learn about the shearing and weaving process and enjoy a picnic in the grounds that surround the farm. 

Experience Alpacas in Andalucia offers weekend breaks to spend time in a quiet rural setting in the company of alpacas. The Olive Mill is located in Cordoba where the alpacas are free to roam. Take the alpacas on hikes through the Cordaban countryside, disconnect from the outside world and get to know these friendly animals.

Mud baths in Spain

The mud that can be found in many coastal areas around Spain is known for its therapeutic, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This mud is believed to promote collagen production, improve circulation, eliminate toxins, relieve muscle tension and improve skin tone. This alternative wellness activity is free, simply visit these locations, apply the mud to your skin and let it dry before washing it off to reveal soft and supple skin. 

If you are renting holiday accommodation in Murcia, Las Charcas de Lo Pagan is probably the most famous mud bath in Spain as well as one of the largest outdoor lodge areas in Europe. The greyish mud that can be found here attracts thousands of visitors every year for its healing properties believed to help ease skin issues such as psoriasis, joint and muscle pain and has exfoliation effects leaving you with smooth skin. As part of San Pedro del Pinatar Regional Park, it is free to bathe in the mud at Mar Menor, simply walk down the steps and bask in the medicinal properties. 

If you are staying in Cadiz, visit Playa Bolonia - a virgin beach made up of a spectacular dune system, miles of soft sand and section of rocks where mud baths have formed. The mud is the consequence of the natural seawater hitting the slate rocks producing a mud rich in mineral salts, magnesium, copper, zinc and silicon. These properties combined can help eliminate toxins, reduce excess oil on the skin, improve circulation and promote the production of collagen, the natural way. These baths are a little harder to get to than those of Mar Menor, the mud is only accessible when the tide goes out and it requires a walk along the shore to reach the rocks. 

The Balearic Islands have a few locations where you can reap the natural benefits of immersing yourself in mud. If you are renting a holiday villa in Ibiza, take a trip to the mud cliffs at Playa de Aigües Blanques located on the east side of the island in popular resort Santa Eulalia. Simply wet the walls of the cliffs and apply the mud directly onto your skin. At Playa Es Bol Nou, located in Sant Josep, Ibiza you will find an intimate cove with red clay. Many locals come here for the exfoliating and invigorating practice of taking water from the sea and mixing it with the red clay to form a mud which they then slather all over their bodies. This particular concoction is said to relieve mosquito bites as well as heal other skin conditions. 

Playa Roja on the north coast of Menorca is a beautiful cove where the sand is almost entirely deep red in colour. Many visitors make their own scrub by mixing the seawater with the red-coloured sand and apply it all over the body. As it dries you will start to resemble a piece of old-oak furniture, but the result of soft exfoliated skin is worth it once you wash it off. 

Suggested reading:

Thermal springs in Spain

Hot springs have been used for religious purposes by numerous cultures throughout history. Natural springs symbolised purification and renewal and were associated with spiritual significance. Far beneath the soil stream piping-hot, mineral-rich thermal waters that travel to the surface in the form of hundreds of natural hot springs throughout Spain.

Nowadays, these natural pools are used less for religious rituals but more for their unique minerals said to cure all types of ailments such as rheumatism and gastrointestinal problems as well as accelerating the bodies metabolism, relieving muscle tension, stress, eliminate toxin and treat skin conditions. 

Ourense in Galicia is considered the thermal capital of Spain with numerous hot springs along the Miño river. Some are private but there are many open to the public. Pozas Muiño de Veiga is a free, open-air hot spring with temperatures of 65-70°C. Set in a stunning lush landscape, the water in these pools are said to help cure skin conditions such as dermatitis and eczema. This location is family-friendly, but also the perfect setting for couples to relax.

The thermal spas at Outariz are split into two and divided by a pedestrian bridge. Pozas de Outariz and Burgas de Canedo springs are surrounded by beautiful gardens and are free to access by the public. Both parts have a pool of cold water and three pools of hot water at 60°C. These waters are said to relieve the symptoms of those who suffer from rheumatism and arthritis. 

The healing powers of the waters at Fuente O Tinteiro also located in Ourense have been recognised for many years. The waters flow at a temperature of 43°C and have been known to heal scars, treat oral conditions, treat acne, atopic eczema and varicose ulcers. 

Just 20-minutes from holiday accommodation in Granada city you will find Las Pozas Termales de Santa Fe thermal baths. With natural temperatures between 38 and 43°C the pools are in a unique location surrounded by olive and pine groves. These sulphate waters are rich in minerals and have medicinal properties and are believed to help musculoskeletal diseases, rheumatisms, dermatological conditions. 

Also in the province of Granada is the Zújar thermal pool. Free to enter, it is located in the stunning setting between Mount Jabalcón and the Negratín reservoir. The hot springs that nourish this pool emanate from Cerro Jabalcón and can reach up to 40°C, large underground fractures allow the hot water to flow to the surface. The water is bright turquoise in colour and is a mix of therapeutic sulphates and minerals. The remains of an ancient Roman spa lay beneath the waters here, the use of the hot springs has been documented over 2000 years ago. 

The thermal baths of Alhama are some of the oldest in Andalusia and were an integral feature in the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada. These thermal pools played a big role in Moorish culture and you can still see the remains of old bathrooms with the iconic domes at the spa located near the free pools. The water flows at a temperature of 40°C and many locals visit these pools daily to take advantage of their medicinal properties. 

Las Pozas de Arnedillo thermal pools are located in the region of La Rioja. Set on the banks of the Cidacos River, these pools are free for the public to use all year round, day and night. There are three pools, each one a slightly different temperature. The first pool reaches temperatures of 52°C and as the water flows down to the other two, the water loses a bit of heat. The water here is said to help those suffering with skin conditions such as dermatitis and psoriasis and the heat mixed with the minerals can soothe bone, joint and muscle pain. 

Silent hikes & meditation retreats in Spain

During your holiday to Spain, why not take a few days and go on a silence and meditation retreat? This is the ultimate wellness activity to disconnect completely from the outside world and reconnect with yourself. Choose from 2 to 21-day retreats, from those hidden in tranquil forests to those on the coast. 

Tushita is a meditation centre with more than 20 years of experience and a solid foundation in the Buddhist tradition. Set among the rolling hills of Girona, the courses and retreat packages have been adapted to suit the society and culture that we live in today. This is the place to go if you want to completely switch off as the area has virtually no phone reception and no internet - the perfect place for a "digital detox". The retreat is powered only by solar energy meaning there is limited electricity adding to the overall experience of taking a break from the outside world. 

MasQi Energy House can be found in the heart of rural Sierra de Mariola, between Alicante and Valencia. They offer an array of activities and therapies to help people reconnect with their sense of self, stimulate ideas and improve their lives through the practice of meditation, reflection and silent walks in nature as well as yoga and a conscious diet. With many different programs on offer spend from 2 days to 21 days here. 

Secret Garden Personalised Retreats is located in the mountains of Malaga. You can design your own wellness package including a silent retreat with meditation and contemplation. Relax in this tranquil setting and explore the stunning nature, taking the opportunity to swim in the two rivers that flow past the retreat. Escape for just two days with their 'Unplug package' which focuses on sleep, silence and meditation designed to allow any stress to melt away and bring great peace and inner balance to your body, mind and life.

Away from retreats, there is the opportunity to really connect with yourself and nature by embarking on a mindfulness hiking experience. Walkinginspirit is a seven-day walking holiday incorporating mindfulness, meditation and spiritualism. Relax, learn and embrace mindful meditation as you walk paths still used by bears and wolves in the breathtaking forests and mountains of Somiedo Natural Park in Asturias.

Suggested reading: