TOP 5 health and wellness tourism destinations in Estonia

Source: Aron Urb, Visit Estonia

TOP 5 health and wellness tourism destinations in Estonia

Author:

NGO West-Estonia Tourism

Pärnu was chosen as the best Estonian health and wellness tourism destination in the competition “Estonian undiscovered treasures 2019. Health and wellness tourism”. The winner was chosen by an international committee as part of the pan-European EDEN (Destinations of Excellence) competition. In addition to the winner, Haapsalu, Saaremaa, Narva-Jõesuu together with Narva, and Setomaa together with Värska also made it to the final.  All of these five areas are destinations with long traditions where health and wellness tourism products are based on the region’s natural, cultural and historical heritage and spiritual resources.

Pärnu – leading Estonian resort

Pärnu  is rightfully the favourite place of health tourists and wellness seekers. Here you will find romantic wooden villas that are the masterpieces of resort architecture, plenty of beautiful sand beaches, and great spa and health centres. Spa visits have been a valued experience in Pärnu for already several centuries – the city that developed into the best-known resort during the first Republic of Estonia opened its first mud baths already in 1838. Pärnu is currently a member of the European Historic Thermal Towns Association, which brings together over 50 member towns and regions from 16 European countries.

In addition to high level spa hotels, be sure to also enjoy the special and authentic earth saunas and rural spas of Pärnu county. Jumping into cold water after a whisking séance in a hot sauna will provide an unforgettable experience and already the ancient Estonians knew that sweating, whisking and sauna vapours are energising for healthy people, and treat the body as well as the mind.

Vacationing in the nature and active exercise constitute a relaxing experience and are an important part or a must-be of wellness for health boosters. Take a walk in the historic Pärnu beach park with fountains and rollerblade along the spectacular beach promenade. Take a moment for yourself and enjoy exquisite scenery, and bird and animal watching in the Soomaa and Matsalu national parks, re-vitalise yourself in the bog or on hiking trails, make your way around the Kihnu island which is also an UNESCO cultural heritage site.

In Pärnu county, you will also find the best beginners’ surfing beaches  and surfing centres in the Scandinavia, the nearly 600 km long Ranniku hiking trail and numerous cycling trails, two great golf courses, and the racecourse Auto24ring, which attracts car enthusiasts from across the world.

The local city cows that spend their summers on the coastal grasslands of Pärnu have won the hearts of visitors. Combine your spa vacation with beautiful nature and active exercise, and you will surely find wellness in Pärnu!

Haapsalu – historic resort town with romantic architecture

Haapsalu, the one-time favourite summer resort of Russian tsars and celebrities, still charms visitors with its fresh sea air, spectacular wooden old town, promenade, and castle.

The Estonian mud bath tradition originated from Haapsalu and the medicinal properties of the local mud have been thoroughly studied and its benefits have been scientifically proven. Spa Hotel Laine offers modern treatment services and Fra Mare Thalasso Spa Hotel is the only hotel in Estonia to offer thalassotherapy which entails using seawater for therapeutic purposes. The Paralepa beach in Haapsalu is one of the warmest beaches in Estonia, whereas the Africa beach, i.e. the Chocolate Promenade, received its name after the locals who smeared curative mud on themselves to alleviate joint pains.

Haapsalu Kuursaal and promenade

Photo: Olev Mihkelmaa

Haapsalu is the best place for simply taking a walk or for bird-watching, all narrow old town roads ultimately lead you to the sea. Paralepa forest trails offer great opportunities for fitness or you can improve your wellness at the annual Yoga Festival.

Spa Hotel Laine in Haapsalu

Photo: Silver Raidla

Saaremaa – spa haven on Estonia’s largest island

The eight spa hotels in Saaremaa make it a true spa haven and the most spa-dense city in Estonia, offering a wide variety of health services from treatments to medical procedures and from mud baths to luxurious wellness. For instance, the GOSPA hotel has also developed special local KENA range body treatments, whereas the relaxing wellness procedures at the luxurious Pädaste manor spa are based on local and centuries old Estonian tradition of using medicinal herbs.

Saaremaa is part of UNESCO’s biosphere reserve, valuing sustainable lifestyle and combining traditions with innovation. Get to know the island’s unique cultural heritage or take a trip to pristine nature to smell the scent of junipers or walk along pebbly beaches.

Nearly all restaurants in Saaremaa use local products in their menus, local food has been marked with the “Authentic” quality label. There are as many as nine restaurants worthy of the White Guide prize in Saaremaa. However, the best thing to do in Saaremaa is to just rest. Fresh air, seawater, the sound of splashing waves, and the smell of junipers are the best stress medicine.

Narva and Narva-Jõesuu – distinct border town and the Nordic Riviera

The two languages and two cultures, as well as the colourful history of Narva are sure to provide an exciting vacation, combining the visit to the Narva city located at the Estonian-Russian border with an invigorating health vacation at the historic Narva-Jõesuu resort, which has the longest sand beach in Estonia.

Narva city attracts visitors with one of the mightiest castles in the Baltic and Nordic countries, where one can enjoy the views overlooking Russia and feel the East and the West meeting. Walk along the Narva river promenade, visit historic Narva bastions and discover the Kreenholm complex. Stay active on numerous health trails and the recreational and sports areas of Äkkeküla and Joaoru.

In addition to the beautiful beach, Narva-Jõesuu also offers a chance to admire buildings decorated with laced wood, enjoy the sounds of the sea and birdsong or the silence of a pine forest. The numerous spas and health centres of Narva-Jõesuu meet the expectations of even the most demanding clients and offer distinctive health and wellness services.

Setomaa – unique cultural heritage and Estonian mineral water

Setomaa is a great wellness tourism destination thanks to its distinct culture and pristine natural environment. The Värska sanatorium with its mud and mineral water treatments form the heart of local health and wellness tourism. Värska is the only place in the Baltics where one can enjoy full body mud baths – approximately one tonne of medicinal mud is used every day, which is later returned to nature. In Värska, three types of mineral water obtained from a depth of around 400–600 metres are used in medical procedures in addition to drinking.

The most common home health therapy in Setomaa is the sauna, the smoke sauna tradition originating from Võrumaa – part of UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage along with the Seto Leelo – is highly valued among the Seto people. There are various practices and beliefs related to the smoke sauna. It is a place to spend quality time with family, friends and, first and foremost, with oneself and to increase mental wellness and enjoy its cleansing effects.

In addition to health and wellness offers, you can hike and enjoy the healing effect of the pine forests that are rich in mushrooms and berries in the pristine natural environment of Setomaa. Setomaa is also known for its distinct cultural heritage. Visit the tourist attractions of Setomaa, learn about archaic singing traditions, folk clothing and culture, and enjoy great food in local tourism farms, eateries, and home restaurants.

These five special destinations do not only attract tourists with their saunas, treatments, and procedures. All of this is also accompanied by the sun, the sea, sandy beaches, clean air and clean healthy food, as well as health trails or ski tracks suitable for sports, hiking or bird- or nature-watching.

A health vacation is suitable for the whole family, for instance, you can enjoy it with children at the children’s pool or by shooting down the water slide at the water park. High-quality wellness and beauty treatments offer business tourists a chance to relax during a stressful day. After all, Estonia provides an opportunity to combine work with a routine-free, healthy and invigorating vacation, as the e-state of Estonia makes it possible to conduct business as usual in the forest, at the beach, on the golf course or by the side of the pool.

What to purchase from a health tourism destination?

  • A set of mud creams and scrubs
  • Special soaps made from local natural resources – mud soap, mineral soap, sand soap, tar soap
  • Värska mineral water
  • Juniper products – bath brooms, creams.
  • Estonian natural cosmetics
Last updated : 04.06.2020

In category: South Estonia, West Estonia, Islands, North Estonia, Health & Wellness

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