Leave the Phone at Home: Five Digital Detox Retreats in Europe

June 23, 2016

If you're in desperate need of a break from all your tech devices, we have rounded up five European digital detox retreats where you can fully switch off.

We don’t need research to tell us that our ‘always on’ culture makes us feel a bit crap, but the studies keep pouring in anyway. Recent experiments have found links between high levels of phone, tablet or internet usage with lacklustre concentration, poor sleep, depression, anxiety, narcissism and even brain damage. Oh dear.

We went in search of the best retreats to reconnect IRL. If they so happen to be in beautiful parts of the world, with amazing food and stunning scenery…well, it just helps to remind us that Facebook has nothing on face-to-face experiences.

1. Best for Relaxing

Relax and Detox at this Italian Retreat in Pulgia

In the heart of the Pugliese countryside, on a picturesque ridge of hills, sits a tastefully restored 18th century masseria (farm estate) set in over 20 acres of land with olive, fig, cherry and almond trees, a swimming pool, a sun terrace and views of the Italian landscape. At the beginning of the Time to Log Off retreat there’s a ritual ‘handing-in’ of phones, tablets, laptops, fitbits, kindles, game consoles – basically any digital device with a screen. For emergencies, there’s a landline (remember that?) and you’re sent the number when you book to distribute amongst your loved ones.

Embark on a daily routine engineered to reboot body and mind. Start with a silent ‘mindful walk’ at 8 a.m. to awaken the senses, or join the yoga class or bike ride. A healthy (and delicious) brunch with fresh juices and smoothies is served inside or out, then there are a couple of hours of downtime to read, swim, create, explore or just relax on the sun. In the afternoon, aromatherapy massages, reflexology and salt scrubs are all on offer, but if you’re not a big fan of pampering, you can get creative with various group activities. Finish the day with more restorative yoga or a guided walk before sitting down to a veggie feast at 8 p.m. 

We guarantee you’ll come back home with a clear mind, bounding with new found energy.

2. Best for Luxury

Luxury at Ti Sana’s Digital Detox Suite

Set within the Italian province of Lombardy, you’re bound to get a good night’s sleep in Ti Sana’s digital detox suite. During your stay you can choose from a choice of slimming, relaxing or energising insomnia programmes. Rejuvenate with deep tissue massage, yoga and other specialist treatments for some serious downtime. Through healthy nutrition, medical spa treatments and calming yoga classes, recover your sleep-wake rhythms and re-balance the stress hormone cortisol. Bliss.

With a team of qualified doctors, this picturesque retreat set in the hills will ensure you come back with a spring in your step, along with some Instagram-worthy pics to upload once back in the land of tech. 

3. Best for Activities

Offline Portugal Offers Plenty of Activities

Set in the stunning Costa Vicentina National Park in the Algarve the main activities at Offline Portugal include yoga, surfing, board games and music. Located just five minutes away from all the best surf spots in the south west coast of Portugal, there are eight bedrooms (a choice of privates and dorms), ensuites, a big garden & BBQ area, and a swimming pool to cool down. 

From weekends away to a seven day confinement, they have various programmes for the beginner to the more experienced detox-er. Don't fret though, you aren't held hostage. There are a plethora of restaurants to choose from and a mini market close by, plus various ways to get around the area from bikes to car hire. At Offline Portugal there's no WIFI connection, which helps to get you more connected with the people around you. Trust us, you won't miss your mobile phone. 

4. Best for Peace and Quiet

Detox in Torassieppi Reindeer Farm in rural Finland

Situated amidst lakes, deep in Northern Finland's countryside, Torassieppi, is a place of beauty enveloped in total silence. Fully disconnect from the rest of the world and connect with the surrounding landscape whilst staying at the Torassieppi Reindeer Farm, where guests hand over their phones on arrival.

With no internet access or TV available, spend a blissful few days completely cut off from the pings and alerts that make up our multi-media world. Torassieppi, Lapland Offline is a three-night short-break, includes activities such as snow-shoeing, cross-country skiing and a Northern Lights husky safari. Guests are also provided with cold-weather clothing for the duration of their stay.

One top tip: Depart in Jan, Feb, March and April for the best winter-y experience.

5. Best for a Weekend Away

Escape to Firefly's Cabin in Mawgan Porth

You don’t need to go far to completely disconnect. Embrace your inner nomad with Firefly’s earthy, back-to-nature appeal. With a rustic charm and natural swimming pond,  this self-catering woodcutter’s cabin near Mawgan Porth, offers a unique ‘into the wild’ experience, perfect for solo travellers with a four-legged friend in tow, or a romantic break with a difference. The real luxury here is the organic, natural beauty of the simple life.

With some of the best spas in Cornwall and stunning natural beauty like Watergate Bay in the vicinity, it’ll be easy to relax and unwind. However, one warning: this is a more self-led digital detox retreat, so you’ll need a little bit of willpower. We suggest leaving all gadgets at home.

Have any places to add to the list? Tweet us @travioor or comment on Facebook

Jenny McFarlane
Born in Belfast, Jenny’s lived in Albania and Washington DC. Now in London, she loves to plan trips away with friends and travels as often as she can. From joining a motley crew on a yacht in Croatia to walking on the wild side in Borneo, she's always up for new adventures. Follow her on Twitter @jennykmac