The popularity of saunas grows around the world, with people discovering many health benefits of controlled exposure to hot and cold temperatures. As winter approaches, Lithuania Travel—the country’s national tourism development agency—has released a video inviting travelers to boost their immune systems for the cold season and reap the stress-reducing and mood-enhancing properties of heat and cold. This winter, travelers are welcome to experience a variety of sauna bathing methods, including Lithuanian sauna herbal rituals, natural bath brooms, and more.
As scientists continue to find positive effects of thermotherapy, the world is rediscovering the ancient art of sauna bathing. Meanwhile, in Lithuania, sauna-bathing is an integral part of the culture with centuries-old traditions offering a wide range of different types of sauna experiences.
As most Lithuanians would agree, the perfect sauna adventure begins with the right atmosphere. Although some people might already have a mental image of the sauna as a wooden hut near the lake, many locations around Lithuania completely redefine the sauna experience. For example, Angels’ Mill is a steam sauna offering its visitors a chance to bathe in a reconstructed water mill at the Varniai Regional Park. Meanwhile, Brazylija Rural Tourism Homestead is another notable example, with a sauna perched 2 meters high in a tree. In fact, this is an ideal choice for adrenaline-seekers as they can rope-swing directly from the tree sauna to the lake below for a refreshing plunge.
Bath brooms, or vantos in Lithuanian, are an essential part of sauna bathing. Getting whisked by an experienced sauna master with a bundle of carefully selected twigs exfoliates the skin, improves circulation, and—similarly to a deep tissue massage—relaxes the muscles. In addition to that, being whisked raises body temperature and fills the air with natural aromatic particles, making the experience even more enjoyable. At Saulės slėnis, a homestead in Samogitia National Park, tourists can try a selection of bath brooms—that changes depending on the season—as well as treat oneself to a dried oregano or mint salt scrub. After the procedures, the bathers are welcome to refresh their bodies with cucumber juice or organic milk ice cubes and nourish the skin with raw Lithuanian honey.
For those who are not particularly fond of the dry heat of the classic sauna, the steam herbal ritual at Etno Spa provides an opportunity to enjoy the benefits of sauna at lower temperatures. Here, the bathers are exfoliated in the steam saturated with medicinal herbal compounds followed by a deeply relaxing head massage, performed while the rest of the body is enclosed in a futuristic sauna capsule. After the procedure, the bathers can opt for a quick dip in crushed ice, relax with a cup of thyme tea and raw Lithuanian honey, or take a nap in a bed infused with traditional aromatic herbs.
One of the most unique Lithuanian infrared saunas is Saulė—the first sauna in the world made from natural amber. Three tonnes of natural Baltic amber were used in the construction of this place, closely reminiscent of the legendary amber room at Catherine Palace in St. Petersburg. To experience the full range of its stress-reducing properties, the local sauna masters recommend staying in it for at least 30 minutes. Afterward, the bathers are invited to partake in the exclusive ritual of tasting amber water—a substance that is purported to produce a sense of wellness and support harmonic functioning of the body.