The Best Spas and Wellness Hotels to Book in Tartu, Estonia
Stroll down Tartu's charming streets before relaxing with a pamper session at one of these spas | © Yegorovnick / Alamy Stock Photo
Combine a trip to Estonia’s second city with much-needed pampering at the finest spa hotels and wellness spots in Tartu.
Known for its rich sauna tradition, Estonia is making a name for itself as a prime location for wellness breaks. Where better to take time out for connecting mind and body than Estonia’s spiritual capital, Tartu? After exploring 18th-century architecture in the Old Town and the lively nightlife scene – courtesy of the city’s student population – unwind with a massage, yoga class or stint in a floating sauna at the city’s most tranquil spas. These are set within, or strolling distance from, some of the best hotels in Tartu – now bookable with Culture Trip.
A sleek oasis of contemporary design amidst the timeless beauty of the Old Town, Hotel Lydia maintains a boutique feel across its 70 rooms – all of which have views over the historic Ülikooli Street or the hotel’s quaint courtyard. Thanks to its hard-to-beat location just behind Town Hall Square, you can go from admiring modern Estonian art at the Tartu Art Museum to enjoying some TLC in the Lydia’s variety of saunas in minutes. Feeling peckish? Make a beeline for the on-site Hõlm Restaurant to watch the chefs prepare contemporary takes on Estonian classics in the open kitchen.
A stay at Hotel Tartu is a chance to experience a piece of quintessential Soviet modernist architecture, while enjoying 21st-century facilities. In business since 1964, this is the oldest hotel in town – popular not least for its location next to the charming Tartu Market and the country’s largest science centre, AHHAA Teaduskeskus. Head up to the fifth floor to discover the benefits of three types of sauna – a Finnish sauna, steam room and sanarium – and take a dip in the jacuzzi, all with sweeping views across the River Emajõgi. Complete your relaxation session with a drink from the spa bar.
Art Hotel Pallas by Tartuhotels
© Art Hotel Pallas by Tartuhotels / Expedia
If you find your zen on the mat rather than in the sauna, the Tartu Yoga Centre should be your first port of call when visiting Estonia’s second city. Choose between group and individual yoga sessions, including Ashtanga and Vinyasa. A number of classes are taught in English, plus you can give your muscles some extra love with a restorative massage. Pair your downward dog with a stay at Art Hotel Pallas: a shrine to creativity, just a 15-minute wander from the studio. All rooms centre around a different work of art and offer views of Tartu’s town centre or a peaceful courtyard.
With past guests including the Swedish and Dutch royal families, Olympic athletes and legendary Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, you’ll be in good company at Hotel London. It’s in the heart of the Old Town, steps away from the grand buildings of Tartu University, and only a minute’s stroll from the ethereal peace on offer at Floating Tartu: the city’s only centre for floating therapy. With body and mind relaxed, lean into indulgence at the on-site Polpo restaurant, which is regularly listed among the top 50 eateries in the country. Want to take your R&R to the next level? Book into one of the swish suites, complete with private sauna.
© Aleksandri Hotel / Expedia
Beyond the rustic atmosphere, roaring fire and hearty international fare of its popular Aleksander restaurant, the Aleksandri Hotel is a top choice for its proximity to the Aura Waterpark, a nine-minute walk away. The park features nine different saunas – a veritable külmlaud or Estonian smörgåsbord of options – and a Japanese bath, while the outdoor terrace is home to two igloo saunas and two hot tubs. For younger guests, the Aura Waterpark is packed with pools and slides. To continue the spa experience at home, check into one of the Aleksandri Hotel’s two apartments with private saunas.
© Hotel Antonius / Expedia
If you’re looking for luxury, Hotel Antonius certainly won’t disappoint – this elegant boutique hotel is adorned with antique furniture that befits the building’s history, dating to 1811. In the winter, lounge by the fireplace in the library and savour sophisticated takes on traditional Estonian cuisine in the cosy cellar restaurant, while summer days are best spent in the Mediterranean-inspired courtyard. The hotel is only two minutes from the river, which is home to one of Tartu’s more unusual wellness experiences: the Uncle Jaani Onnike floating sauna. Unwind in the sauna while enjoying a boat ride past city key sights, before sitting out on deck for a barbecue.
These recommendations were updated on August 24, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.