Saaremaa Island And The Estonian Spa Culture

Saaremaa Island

Saaremaa, the largest amongst the thousands of Estonian islands, is a popular holiday destination in the Baltic Sea. Its deserted beaches, fresh air, spruce and spa retreats make Saaremaa the perfect place for rejuvenation.

Estonia’s largest island is roughly the size of Luxembourg with a population of about 30,000 of which half live in the capital town of Kuressaare. Thanks to the early-radar system and rocket base stationed there in the Soviet era, entry to the island was prohibited to visitors including mainland Estonians. This resulted in the preservation of its fishing villages, windmills, lighthouses and nature, thus keeping its rustic charm intact. Junipers, dolomite, traditional cottages, art and the famous local home-brewed beer lend Saaremaa its unique identity.

Saaremaa Island

Saaremaa’s capital Kuressaare boasts of an impressive medieval castle that is an important part of the island’s history which manifests itself in various stories. Chiselled out of dolomite blocks, it’s one of the best preserved castles across the Baltics. Amongst other historic sights in this town are the medieval Saaremaa Museum, the Town Hall, the Weighhouse and the Kudjape cemetery with classicist chapels and dolomite chamber graves.

The untouched nature of Saaremaa makes it an ideal spot for lovers of the great outdoors. Hiking trails take you through bogs, wooded meadows, sandy beaches, pine and wild berry forests, and traditional farmhouses and campfire sites where you can rest. There are also interesting camp sites like the Dejevo bunker, a military underground building accommodating up to 60 people, surrounded by a camping and barbecue area. Seals, birds, butterflies and rare species of fauna and flora are aplenty on the island, a real treat for nature lovers.

Saaremaa’s capital Kuressaare boasts of an impressive medieval castle that is an important part of the island’s history which manifests itself in various stories. Chiselled out of dolomite blocks, it’s one of the best preserved castles across the Baltics. Amongst other historic sights in this town are the medieval Saaremaa Museum, the Town Hall, the Weighhouse and the Kudjape cemetery with classicist chapels and dolomite chamber graves.

The untouched nature of Saaremaa makes it an ideal spot for lovers of the great outdoors. Hiking trails take you through bogs, wooded meadows, sandy beaches, pine and wild berry forests, and traditional farmhouses and campfire sites where you can rest. There are also interesting camp sites like the Dejevo bunker, a military underground building accommodating up to 60 people, surrounded by a camping and barbecue area. Seals, birds, butterflies and rare species of fauna and flora are aplenty on the island, a real treat for nature lovers.

Estonia’s Spa Culture

Estonia Spa Culture

Infrared Sauna Therapy

Saaremaa is also a sought-after destination for its spa retreats. Carlsbad was one of the first spas to open in 1796 in Viimsi Manor. It had a guesthouse, bathhouse and a restaurant. In 1798, Löwenruh (Roosna) Manor saw a similar centre. Additionally, it had a ballroom, bowling alley, shooting range, bakery and a restaurant. After Wittenhof Manor in 1812, four new spas came up in Tallinn between 1813 and 1815.

Baltic sea mud was long believed to have therapeutic qualities. Carl Abraham Hunnius, a military doctor, was said to have first found a mud cure resort in 1825 in Haapsalu. It didn’t take long for this discovery to reach Saint Petersburg which helped draw in Russian aristocracy to these miraculous spas. Since hundreds of years now, the seaside towns of Pärnu, Haapsalu, Kuressaare and Narva-Jõesuu have enjoyed their status as important health tourism destinations of Estonia, an industry made all the more popular thanks to the hectic lives we lead today.

A high-quality spa treatment and therapy provides a refreshing break which goes a long way in ensuring good health. In 2008, a medical spa quality system was established in Estonia and the first therapeutic spas got accreditation. This has enabled clients to get quality assurance when they visit Estonia’s spas.

Mud wrap therapy

Mud wrap therapy

Nowadays, the local signature treatment includes Estonian peat, mud and mineral water, which are known for their therapeutic qualities. Wellness spas often tend to be located in the wilderness which lends to the healing power of spas. The spa culture today has taken on a dazzling new avatar, providing everything from pools and saunas to a la carte restaurants and live entertainment. The treatments are part of a wide range like water therapy, salt therapy, instrumental treatment, mud therapy, cold therapy, sauna and heat therapy. Accordingly, there are treatments like herbal pearl bath, infrared sauna, salt chamber, mud bath, magnetic therapy, Nordic walking and paraffin therapy etc.

The following are some of the most popular Estonian spa packages:

Mud Wrap

Mud therapy treatments in Estonian Spas using natural mud have powerful effects – the lasting thermal effect, bioactive effect and mechanical effect. Mud wrap treats inflammation by stimulating natural recovery and improving blood circulation. Mud treatment could prove beneficial in follow-up treatment, in case of arthritis and neural damages.

Infrared Sauna

An infrared sauna can be seen as quite mild with temperatures rising up to 40-60 degrees. However, it induces much more perspiration than a regular sauna as infrared rays penetrate tissues deep up to approximately 4 cm. It provides an outlet for residual substances and poisons, heavy metal salts, fatty acids and cholesterol residues to cleanse the system totally. This treatment relieves stress, chronic fatigue, muscle aches and destroys cellulite. One 30-minute session can burn over 600 calories.

Juniper Bath

This treatment uses juniper berries and essential oils to help the body detoxify any waste residues and take excess fluids out of the body. At the same time, jets of high-pressure water relax the body. According to a legend, juniper can cure as many as 99 ills! Many people enjoy ‘whisking’ their body during the bath, which actually translates to a healthy exfoliation with birch twigs, an integral part of the authentic Estonian sauna tradition.

Vichy Shower

An intense body care procedure which starts off on an energising note – 20 minutes of needle-sharp water jets of the Vichy shower with massage creams which excite the body and promote circulation in subcutaneous cells. The Vichy shower is especially effective to combat cellulite. The treatment ends with a soothing and moisturising massage. The Vichy shower treatment hydrates the skin, improves its tone and strength and leaves you with a glowing complexion.

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