Top 10 wellness experiences in 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.
For period charm with a side of pampering, The Merrion's refurbished Spa and Health Club offers an escape from the hectic pace of the city. 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.
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.
Keen to align your chakras? The Space Between on Dublin’s Fenian Street is a cool sanctuary-come-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, plus your pooch, and enjoy one of their speciality teas.
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.
Sea and sauna
Warm up after a bracing sea swim in a traditional Finnish wood-burning sauna with a panoramic view of the Irish Sea. The Sea Sauna is beside Tower Bay Beach in Portrane and can fit up to ten at a time for shared sessions – of either 30 or 45 minutes – in either their box or barrel sauna options. There's no need to worry about getting the best seat as one end of the sauna is made entirely of glass and everyone has a great view. On clear days, that view includes Lambay Island.
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.
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.
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 pretty 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.
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.
Massage on a barge
What could be more soothing than relieving aching muscles to the gentle sway of Dublin’s canal waters? Thai Massage Ireland 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 Gáis 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.
Wellness and relaxation are ongoing pursuits – find new ways to unwind in Dublin's great outdoors.