Getaways to squeeze the spring: wellness retreats, vibrant cities and ephemeral gardens

The longer days and more pleasant temperatures invite you to pack your bags after a winter of thermal shocks.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
18 March 2023 Saturday 23:55
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Getaways to squeeze the spring: wellness retreats, vibrant cities and ephemeral gardens

The longer days and more pleasant temperatures invite you to pack your bags after a winter of thermal shocks. Few remember at this point that a year ago, Spain -like some of its neighbors- still moved with the mask on. There is a desire for travel and experiences. The first spring of normality is quite a temptation, an appetizer of the big trips, which most reserve for summer.

Beyond the classic getaways to New York, the Canary Islands, Paris or London, alone, as a couple, with family or friends, it is time to taste nearby destinations, a short drive away, venture to discover corners in Europe or bet for the exotic luxury of the fashionable emirate, a few hours' flight away.

Located in Lisse, 40 kilometers from Amsterdam and The Hague and 20 from Haarlem and Leiden, Keukenhof has become the quintessential spring trip. The largest and oldest flower garden in the world – this year it will celebrate its 74th anniversary – opens its doors on March 23. It extends over 32 hectares dotted with jasmine, daffodils, irises, gladioli, orchids and, above all, tulips; in total, more than seven million bulbs that draw an impressive palette of colors.

Converted into one of the most famous tourist destinations in the Netherlands, during the almost eight weeks that this ephemeral park comes to life, it is visited by travelers from all over the planet. Keukenhof is designed each year based on a theme, so that its different gardens and pavilions are always different.

Disconnect from stress, break with the daily routine, immerse yourself in the peace of the most unknown rural Mallorca and, above all, take care of yourself in one of the best hotels on the island: Finca Serena, an exclusive five-star adults-only hotel surrounded by 40 hectares of olive, lavender, lemon and pine trees. Located 20 minutes from Palma, the establishment, which is part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World collection, offers multi-day yoga retreats that include, in addition to classes, meditation and sound healing sessions, cocoa ceremony and access to one of the best hotel spas in Spain.

The next Jivamukti Energizing Yoga Retreat is scheduled to take place between May 23 and 26. Finca Serena occupies a 13th century mansion, the setting for a wide range of activities that allow you to connect with yourself: pilates sessions, tai chi, massages and proposals to enjoy nature such as cycling, hiking, sailing or golf.

Less known from a tourist point of view than its neighbor Dubai, from which it is just over ninety minutes away by road, the capital of the United Arab Emirates is a bustling city, a destination on the rise dotted with state-of-the-art buildings built alongside to white sand beaches. Ideal for those looking for an urban escape and summer temperatures in the middle of spring, in Abu Dhabi you will find classical buildings, such as the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, an opulent temple of gigantic proportions known as the great mosque, and futuristic constructions such as the Etihad Towers complex, with a spectacular observation platform 300 meters high.

Cultural attractions such as the Louvre museum in Abu Dhabi, designed by Jean Nouvel, which houses 600 works of art; the national aquarium, with more than 300 species, or the Heritage Village, an old reconstructed Bedouin village that shows the way of life in the area before the discovery of oil are other attractions that surprise visitors. There is also no shortage of beaches, with Saadiyat, the Corniche, Hudayriyat or Albateen, amusement parks, such as the Ferrari World park -its mega roller coaster is the most immersive in the world-, nor a gastronomic proposal of height.

The most sumptuous palace in France celebrates four hundred years of history, one more reason to put Versailles in the spotlight of possible spring tours. Royal residence from 1682 -when Louis XIV, the Sun King, decided to move the Paris court here- until 1789 -with the outbreak of the French Revolution-, the palace reflects the splendor and French power of the late 17th and 20th centuries. XVIII, embodied through spaces as emblematic as the royal apartments, the gallery of mirrors, the royal chapel or the gardens.

Coinciding with the anniversary, from March 14 to July 16, Versailles brings together for the first time the nine paintings clearly influenced by Caravaggio that originally decorated the king's bedroom, on loan from the Louvre and the Tessé Museum in Le Mans.

Its unique hanging houses, constructions perched on the ledge of the rock above the gorge of the Huéscar river, attract thousands of visitors to this historic fortified city, a World Heritage Site. However, this year Cuenca has added a new incentive to its indisputable attraction by showing off as the Spanish capital of gastronomy. For twelve months, the town will become a paradise for foodies, that is, lovers of cooking and good food.

Tapas at popular prices; show cooking; gastronomic proposals based on the three historical cultures of the city -Jewish, Arab and Christian-, on mushrooms, or on recovered traditional recipes; food photography contests, exhibitions... Cuenca does not have starred restaurants, but it does have an interesting offer of traditional establishments and a growing proposal of establishments run by young people who prioritize the quality of their products, a guarantee to enjoy a succulent getaway spring.