There is something in our DNA about feeling a need to rehydrate, rejuvenate and restore not only after an indulgent Christmas but also the dark days of winter. What better way is there to start the New Year than by going on a trip by train – as travelling by rail gives you a stress-free start to your break with a smooth ride. 

Whether you want to realign your chakras through yoga and meditation or focus on your well-being and fitness with activities such as running, hiking, cycling or swimming, there are plenty of options to choose from.

Train Geeks Loco2 have hand-picked some of their favourite healthy breaks in the UK and Europe, which you can access by train  Many of the suggestions are eco-friendly too, right from the start of the journey, to the resort.

Best for a country adventure

Healthy Holidays by Train
Walker surveys Elegug Stacks (Stack Rocks) on the Pembrokeshire coast in Wales

Pembrokeshire Coast, Wales is easily accessible by train. Head to Fishguard and walk straight out onto the magnificent Pembrokeshire Coast Path, 300km of headlands and head-space. Book one of many glorious cottages with sustainable and totally sussed Welsh experts Under the Thatch or jump into 2019 by hiking into the sea with eco-friendly lodge and adventure centre, Preseli Venture.

Getting there: Book a train to Fishguard, Milford Haven, Pembroke Dock and Tenby for the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. Or Haverfordwest for Preseli Venture.

Why not follow Mark Bibby Jackson’s footsteps Walking the Pembrokeshire Coast Path?

Best for peaceful meditation

For truly peaceful time out after the festive chaos, try a Buddhist retreat in Devon. A Grade II listed Georgian building surrounded by elegant parkland, Gaia House is a wonderful place, with an eco ethos, to experience the simple life and is open to everyone at any life stage, whether you know how to meditate or not. Retreats feature manageable, expert-led, daily sessions of silent sitting and walking meditation to help calm your mind.

Getting there: Take a direct train from London to Newton Abbot, followed by a short taxi ride to Gaia House, West Ogwell.

Best for an eco-escape

Healthy Holidays by Train
Scarlet Hotel Hot Tub, c. Scarlet Hotel

Award-winning eco-resort Scarlet Hotel in Cornwall is not only an eco-escape but also one from children, as this is an adult only place to breathe deep. Be it the sea air from their terrace hot tub overlooking Mawgan Porth beach or the healing seaweed emanating from their spa’s copper bath. (). Scarlet Hotel also offers 10% off your first night’s accommodation if you use the train to get there.

Getting there: Train to Newquay or Bodmin stations, taking a taxi on to the hotel.

Best for fresh spring water

The town of Spa in Belgium’s Wallonia boasts a large number of springs which are called pouhons in Walloon. With famously curative properties, it is considered to be way up there with Bath and Vichy and is awaiting UNESCO World Heritage Status. Just one of Belgium’s well-kept secrets that appears like a surprise extra layer in one of their chocolate boxes. And like so much of Belgium, it is easy to access by train.

Getting there: Take the train to Spa from Brussels, a journey of just over two hours. Of course, classic spa towns in the UK like Bath and Leamington Spa, Cheltenham and Harrogate are also easy by train.

Best for long-distance cycling

If you received a new bike for Christmas and you are desperate to escape onto a long distance cycling route, but don’t want to go down the triathlon route, take a train to Bordeaux and explore a Tour de France of a very different kind. Between the stations of Bordeaux and Sète you can cycle along the River Garonne, Canal de Garonne and then connect with the Canal du Midi. With plenty of stations along the way to hop on and off.

Getting there: Train to Bordeaux (5 hrs 25 mins from London with just one change in Paris).

Best for swimming

Healthy Holidays by Train
Swimming in the crystal clear waters of Lake Annecy

Open water swimmers have so many aqua delights within easy access of a UK or European rail journey. Start training to take on a stunning swimming holiday on Lake Annecy, France guided by expert open water guides at Swimquest. Or stay a little more local and take on one of the walks and wild swims described in the book, Wild Swimming Walks: 28 Lake, River and Seaside Days Out by Train. Treat yourself to the book and plan a few dips for the year ahead.

Getting there: Train to Annecy takes 7 hours with one change in Paris.

Best for running

If you have vowed to take on Park Run during 2019, but you love to get out of town at weekends, how about setting yourself a target of one different Park Run each month? They are all over Europe now, so you could run in Fontainebleau, Firenze or Fort William, Berlin or Brighton. All easily accessible by rail. This way you can really get into some serious training.

Getting there: See Park Run’s website for all their Europe wide events.

Best for full mind & body transformation

Healthy Holidays by Train
The canal du midi in Toulouse

Enjoy a late spring in the warmth of south-west France at this country-chic chateau in the commune of Homps, just an hour from Toulouse. Whether you’re looking for a detox retreat, a fitness holiday or a chance to lose weight, the in:spa health retreat in Puyssentut is the perfect sanctuary. It has a team of personal trainers, yoga teachers, nutritionists, chefs and massage therapists who will cater to your personal needs, making sure you achieve your goals. You’ll be a healthier, happier person when you leave this place.

Getting there: Take the train from London to Toulouse-Matabiau by Eurostar and TGV Atlantic. From Toulouse, it’s a one-hour taxi ride.

Best for skin-soothing and soaking

Everyone knows Budapest is the dream destination when it comes to bath culture and there are plenty to choose from, catering to every taste: from a Spa-rty at Schienzy to the low-key relaxation of the ancient Rudas Baths. The first choice for those on a New Year winter city break, however, has to be Gellert Baths, a stunning art nouveau mansion. As well as a effervescent swimming pool, there’s a range of small pools with water rich in minerals from the hills behind the building.

Getting there: A rather long but scenic train journey from London to Budapest by Eurostar and TGV Lyria, followed by a 10-minute taxi ride.

Read about Mark Bibby Jackson’s annual Isle of Wight Holidays: Walks, Pubs & Victoria.

Best for an island fix

Carisbroke Castle Isle of Wight Holidays
Carisbroke Castle Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight is one of the most restorative places imaginable. Especially if you want to escape the south of England urban zones quickly and easily. Eco experts Tiny Homes Holidays also offer cute and quirky accommodation, as well as a series of creative and cool workshops. There are up to 200 ferry crossings a day operating from Portsmouth, Southampton and Lymington.

Getting there: From London, for example, you can get to the island in around two hours and head out straight away onto the island coastal path.