Top 10 wellness experiences in Dublin

A peaceful swimming pool at The Spa at The Merrion, Dublin

Escape from the daily grind and sink into total mind and body wellness with one of the best experiences on offer in Dublin.

The world of wellness has moved beyond juice cleanses and alternative medicines to include experiences that can help you relax and reset.

Dublin’s energy and hustle makes downtime hard to come by, so we’ve rounded up some of the capital’s best wellness experiences, from Finnish sauna experiences to day spas and barefoot wooded walks, that will leave you pampered, pummelled and personally trained.

1. The Spa at The Merrion Hotel

For period charm with a side of pampering, The Merrion hotel’s refurbished Tethra spa and health club offers an escape from the hectic city pace. This subterranean sanctuary still maintains its original 60-foot pool, decorated with a hand-painted mural, but has otherwise had a thoroughly modern makeover with soft lighting and Irish fabrics. The treatments on offer run the gamut from ESPA facials to every type of massage, from Indian head and hot stone to prenatal and deep tissue, plus signature treatments. Once buffed and polished, wander upstairs for their legendary afternoon tea in the pretty courtyard.

2. Forest Bathing

Despite its name, there’s no swimming involved. In fact, there’s no water either. The ‘bathing’ involves using all your senses to soak up the special atmosphere of the 33-acre forest in Kilternan by way of meditation. The Healing Forest invites city dwellers ‘to slow down and reconnect with nature’ on one of their guided walks in Ireland’s only forest dedicated solely for therapeutic practices. Who knew trees could be so restorative here.

Media captionTake a meditative walk through Irish woodland to reconnect with nature.

3. Yoga

Keen to align your chakras? The Space Between on Dublin’s Fenian Street is a cool sanctuary-cum-escape pod right in the heart of the city, designed to engage each of your senses. Classes range from yoga (hot, vinyasa flow, hatha, dynamic, or yin) and meditation to Pilates, core strength, cardio and Wim Hof breathwork. There’s even a dog-friendly tearoom. Come for a class or bring a book, and your pooch, and enjoy one of their speciality teas.

Media captionEngage the bhandas and recalibrate with a yoga or Pilates class.

4. Parkrun at Marlay Park

Growing from 13 runners meeting in London’s Bushy Park in 2004 to five million members worldwide in 2018, parkrun has become a global phenomenon. You can join the crowds at Marlay Park every Saturday morning at 9.30am for a 5km sprint, jog or walk. The park landscape is varied, with forests, a lake and inclines to get your heart racing. It’s free to everyone, including kids – just remember to register before you join. As Ireland’s biggest community-led physical activity movement, parkrun brings together over 300 people each week, so stick around for a post-run coffee at the café to meet and mingle with fellow runners.

5. Sea and Sauna

Warm up after a bracing dip in the Celtic waters in a traditional Finnish wood-burning sauna with a panoramic view of the sea. Fad Saoil’s award-winning mobile saunas have been heating sea swimmers along the Dublin Bay coastline since 2019. “The saunas help people overcome any negative experience they have with the cold,” says owner Steve Crosbie. He recommends raising your body temperature with a sauna first, then taking a cold sea plunge, followed by another essential-oil infused sauna session, and finishing with a final dip. Sessions last 30-60 minutes and pre-booking is required. Keep an eye on Fad Saoil’s website and social media for locations, from Seapoint to Greystones.

Media captionTry a traditional Finnish wood-burning sauna after an invigorating dip in the sea.
Media credit@cathyandjuno

6. Meditation

If you have a busy mind that won’t switch off or just fancy a rebalance, drop into The Dublin Buddhist Centre on James Joyce Street for one of their morning or lunchtime meditations. The centre is known as one of the city’s best ‘oases of calm and insight’, a refuge for busy business people who need to destress in an open, relaxed environment. The hour-long guided classes dip between mindfulness and breathing techniques and are free, although voluntary donations are welcomed. Pull up a chair and sit for five minutes or link in with a teacher, there to guide both novices and the more experienced.  

7. ParkHIIT

Let go of all that workweek stress with a 30-minute outdoor HIIT session every Saturday morning in one of five Dublin parks. ParkHIIT started in Ashtown in 2018 and has since grown to include pop ups in Donnybrook, Ballsbridge, Skerries, Poppintree, Stoneybatter, and most recently, a permanent weekly class at 10am every Saturday in Phoenix Park. All classes are free and, in some locations, there’s complimentary coffee and porridge post-session – a nice post-workout perk.  

Media caption Join an outdoor fitness class to destress and burn calories.
Media credit@parkhiit

8. Buff Day Spa

Behind the tiny doorway of the Buff Day Spa, next to the Gaiety Theatre, is a surprisingly large spa that unfolds like a Tardis into treatment rooms, a sauna, a relaxation area and a tranquillity room. Once you’ve dodged the crowds on Grafton Street, retreat inside and decompress with a warm spiced mud wrap, a hydra facial or a fabulous pedicure. Beauty and grooming treatments abound, with a huge range of transformative tweaks available from their highly qualified cosmetics team. It’s the perfect lunch break treat.  

9. Fitness bootcamp

A military-style fitness boot camp is not for the faint-hearted, but Bootcamp Ireland promises ‘civilian-friendly’ classes, even if their coaches are ex-military. The sessions run in various locations around Dublin to include Herbert Park, Bushy Park, St. Anne’s Park and Terenure College. Each class provides a full-body workout that focuses on cardio, strength conditioning, flexibility and core work, with no two classes being the same. You can choose to pay as you go or buy 10 passes up front to cover all the classes. Don’t forget a towel – you’ll be sweating. A lot.  

10. Massage on a barge

What could be more soothing than relieving aching muscles to the gentle sway of Dublin’s canal waters? Thai Therapy Centre in Sandyford have brought their traditional Thai massages to a new office: a beautiful red barge named Peggy Joy, on the lapping Dublin Docklands beside The Bord Gais Energy Theatre and The Marker Hotel. It’s not your typical massage environment, but the atmosphere is calm and relaxing, and their experienced therapists can ease out tense muscles with their full body, hot oil, deep tissue, herbal and foot massages.  

Explore Dublin's nature and wildlife

Wellness and relaxation are ongoing pursuits, so why not explore other ways to unwind in Dublin's great outdoors?