Travelers heading out this year or next on a European vacation often are retired, but perhaps still managing a business or doing part-time corporate project work. Other travelers are younger and still fully employed, but have the ability to work remotely. So where are the best wellness workcation cities?
The Meandering Traveler finds it intriguing that among American professionals doing work remotely, a quarter plan to do so from different countries. That “intel” comes from Icelandair, which recently updated its annual Wellness Workcation Index.
The airline emphasizes that a wellness workcation, which combines work and vacation in a relaxing remote location, has soared in popularity with U.S. travelers since 2020.
(Shown above is a historic waterfront area of Copenhagen, Denmark, which ranked number two on Icelandair’s list of best wellness workcation cities.)
Best Wellness Workcation Cities
Without further ado, here’s Icelandair’s “Top 10 European Destinations for a Wellness Workcation in 2024.” Here’s the link to that annual airline study.
- Vienna, Austria
- Copenhagen, Denmark
- Amsterdam, The Netherlands
- Luxembourg, Luxembourg
- Helsinki, Finland
- Valencia, Spain
- Reykjavik, Iceland
- Oslo, Norway
- Madrid, Spain
- Zurich, Switzerland
Evaluating Seven Factors
The top cities were selected based on seven factors. They included quality of life, internet download speed, pollution index, climate index, cost of living, health care index and safety index.
Below is a graphic that the airline distributed. Click here for more about the Wellness Workcation study results and what was evaluated. Scroll to the very end and click on the “Ranking Methodology and Sources” header to find out more about how to interpret this chart.
Vacation Destinations with High Quality of Life
Icelandair says that American travelers are increasingly looking for workcation destinations that don’t simply offer a change of scenery. So, in addition to enjoying the historic architecture of Vienna and the tranquil lakes of Zurich, they also seek vacation spots with a high quality of life.
In the rankings, Vienna tops the list. Known for its rich history, beautiful architecture and vibrant culture, the Austrian city offers a unique blend of work and wellness opportunities.
In addition, Icelandair’s survey found that Vienna’s moderate cost of living is coupled with top-notch healthcare. That makes it an ideal destination for those seeking a balance between productivity and wellbeing.
Copenhagen and Amsterdam rank second and third, respectively. Both cities are celebrated for their high standard of living and safe environments. Copenhagen, in particular, is cited as having the fastest internet speed. That’s a big plus for remote workers.
Amsterdam, on the other hand, stands out with the second-most favorable climate. That creates an inviting and comfortable environment for both living and working remotely.
Best Wellness Workcation Cities: Fourth and Fifth
Despite its small size, Luxembourg ranks fourth. It’s praised for its safe environment, excellent healthcare, and high-speed internet.
Helsinki, Finland’s capital and a charming seaside city, ranks fifth. It’s renowned for its beautiful landscapes and high standard of living. With the lowest pollution levels, it also stands as the cleanest city in the ranking — great for work and play.
Rounding Out the Top 10
In Spain, Valencia and Madrid, are great for remote work due to their climate, internet infrastructure, and high healthcare index. Valencia is affordable and ranks sixth, while Madrid, ranking ninth, offers a seamless work-from-home environment. Both cities are ideal for a wellness-oriented lifestyle.
Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavik ranks seventh. Despite a higher cost of living, it offers a unique blend of natural beauty and urban amenities. With a high-speed internet infrastructure and low pollution levels, Reykjavik provides a clean, healthy, and connected environment.
Oslo and Zurich, both renowned for their high living standards, excellent climates, and fast internet speeds, hold the eighth and tenth positions, respectively. These cities are top choices for those seeking a blend of work and leisure in a high-quality environment.
Tips for Best Top Wellness Workcations
In some cases, travelers might take a cruise or tour, and then enjoy a one- or two-week “wellness workcation” in a European city. One spouse, partner or friend might have total free time to explore in-depth. The other might participate in top activities and dining, while coupling that with remote work time too.
Icelandair gives these tips — gathered from wellness experts — for travelers considering a wellness-focused workcation in one of the European cities mentioned above.
- Connect with Nature: Regular mindful walks in green and blue spaces can enhance mental health and wellbeing.
- Take Mini-Breaks: Remote workers should schedule buffers between Zoom calls and emails for stretching, nourishment, hydration, and fresh air.
- Use the Buddy System: Have a wellness check-in partner to keep each other accountable for health and wellbeing.
- Get Moving: Regular physical activity, whether it’s running, swimming, cycling, walking, or yoga, can greatly improve your mood.
- Treat Yourself: If available, massages can reduce stress levels and muscle tension. Elevate the experience with essential oils.
- Practice Mindfulness: Becoming aware, without judgment, of the present moment can improve the immune system, sleep patterns, and focus.
Best Wellness Workcation Cities: Parting Thoughts
“If you’re a reader interested in a European cruise or tour for a ‘workcation’ and then spending more time in a European city for remote work and further exploration, contact Pavlus Travel,” suggests Shelby Steudle, Pavlus’ president.
She notes that the agency has European experts who can assist with planning that type of vacation, so check out the contact information below. For instance, in Vienna, the agency’s personal travel planners might book a Danube River cruise for a guest and then a post-cruise stay at the luxurious Hotel Imperial; that storied hotel celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2023.
Other cruises and tours begin or end in some of the cities listed above including Reykjavik or Copenhagen. Or they begin or end in the region, making travel to the city relatively easy.
For instance, Regent Seven Seas Cruises has several cruises that end in Copenhagen in summer 2024, plus Abercrombie & Kent offers a “Small-Group Luxury Journey: Spain and Portugal” tour. The latter could create an opportunity to add on a post-tour hotel stay in Valencia or Madrid.
Happy travels in 2024 or beyond!
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