In 1996, Pärnu was nominated the Summer Capital of Estonia for the first time. Pärnu is truly green – parks, tree-lined alleys, flowerbeds and bushes in the front and back gardens of private homes make up one-fifth of its total area. Enjoying a walk in and around the city and combining it with curative treatments in the spas, is an idea of a perfect holiday which has proved successful through centuries.

Get acquianted with functionalist resort architecture masterpieces, admire romantic wooden villas, choose from nine excellent spas and wellness centres, enjoy high-class golf courses, surf centres and a racetrack, visit two National Parks and a truly unique Kihnu island. Pärnu´s attractions are plentiful and varied, catering to every taste.

Pärnu Visitor Center

Uus 4 Pärnu 80010 Pärnu maakond Estland

+372 447 30000

visitparnu.com/

Historical Background

The first town emerged on the left bank of the Pärnu River no later than in 1251 when Hendrik (Henricus), the bishop of Ösel-Wiek, ordered for a dome church and a town around it to be built at the site of modern day Old-Pärnu. The town was destroyed already in 1263 when Treniota, the Prince of Samogitia, and his troops burnt down the church as well as the town. It is likely that a town was also emerging on the right bank of the Pärnu River because a commandery was appointed in New-Pärnu merely two years later, and there was probably also an active Town Council.

 

Medieval New-Pärnu was one of the biggest towns in Old Livonia according to its area (62,000 m2) and population, falling behind only Riga, Tartu and Tallinn. Hypothetically, New-Pärnu may have been home to around 1,100 people during the 16th century, 600 of which lived inside the town walls. The economy of the town was largely based on the activities of Hanseatic merchants and artisans. Dwellings were initially mostly made of wood, however, stone houses had already become dominant by the beginning of the 16th century. In addition to dwellings, there were also taverns, stone granaries with cellars, stables, garden plots and artisans’ shops. At least 25 artisan trades existed in the town at the start of the 16th century.

 

The birth of the resort was complicated. The idea emerged at the beginning of the 19th century. In 1838, at a time of economic instability, the number of visitors was modest. During the peak season around 150 summer visitors at most, stayed in Pärnu. However, in 1889 Pärnu saw a revival of the idea of the Resort . The growth of the resort became a key aspect, which shaped the development and the image of the town for the years to come.

 

In the 21st century, thanks to the vision of the Municipality of Pärnu, pursuing sustainable development of the resort, Pärnu has entered the world destinations map as a top-ranking resort by the Baltic Sea.

The waters

Springs & Spas

Pärnu was the first city in Estonia where water of high-grade mineralisation was found 500 metres deep in bedrock particles in the city area substratum. Curative water from a nearby borewell (130 metres deep) was used for medical treatment by Pärnu mud bath establishment. Calcium ion (Ca 2+) content in groundwater was 40.1 mg/l and magnesium ion (Mg 2+) 36.5 mg/l. Today mineral water is provided by a bore-well at Häädemeeste (Goodmen’s Mineral Water). The history and traditions of Goodmen’s mineral water date back to 1967. It was back then that the production of Goodmen’s mineral water started which later became widely popular in Estonia and Latvia. However, the factory did not survive the Soviet period and the production was ceased for decades. In 2012 a completely new factory was built in Häädemeeste, where the production of unique-quality mineral water, comparing to the one which decades ago had attracted many people, was restored.

Goodmen’s mineral water which is extracted from the depth of 610 metres is known for its high content of minerals.

Goodmen’s mineral water which is extracted from the depth of 610 metres is known for its high content of minerals. One litre contains 5.2-5.5 grams of minerals. It is the minerals that give the water its unique taste and healing properties. The Goodmen’s mineral water belongs to the group of chloride calcium-sodium waters which give the water many salutary advantages. The temperature of the water is 13°C.

© Innervisionteam

Springs

Goodmen’s Mineral Water

Earliest known use

1251

Hottest Spring

13ºC

Chemical Elements

Goodmen’s mineral water belongs to the group of chloride calcium-sodium

Cultural Heritage

More than water

Pärnu Mud Baths

(www.hedonspa.com)

The neoclassicist building of the Mud Baths is one of the most important symbols of the Pärnu resort. The building was designed by Olev Siinmaa and the Baltic German designers Erich von Wolffeldt and Aleksander Nürnberg; it was constructed in 1926-1927 in place of a bathing house that burned down in World War I. The history of the Pärnu Mud Baths can be traced back to 1838, then the bathing house by the sea offered warm sea baths in the summer and hot sauna in the winter. In the Soviet era, the Mud Baths started to serve the working people’s health; after Estonia regained its independence, it was left deserted and lost its function. In 2014, a cosy boutique spa (probably the best in Estonia) was opened in the historic mud baths building.

Pärnu Beach Hotel

(www.rannahotell.ee)

Pärnu became a fashionable resort town after the completion of the grandiose Beach Hotel in 1937. This building is a brilliant example of modern holiday resort architecture. Drawing upon the ideas of the architecture competition, held in 1934, Olev Siinmaa and Anton Soans drew up the final project. The building, located in the Beach park, is elegant and presentable from all sides. The balconied seaside facade is open to the sun and the sea and the inland facade is enclosed, with its narrow strip windows in the passageways. An appropriate allusion to a ship, heading for the sea, is accomplished by the rounded finish given to the central part of the building. The south annex was completed in 1938.

© Priidu Saart

Pärnu Beach Park

The green areas, boulevards and shady parks are an integral part of Pärnu as a resort town. The Beach Park was established in 1882 and was declared a nature protection zone due to is wide variety of plant species. The park is located right beside the beach and is a popular place for a walk or just to relax.

Since the summer of 2010, the traditional park area has been divided into different zones by themes and usage: main square, art square, party games and peace square. The park area adjacent to the sea has a modern and safe playground for children. A fitness trail passes through the park, and there are plenty of places to have a picnic.

The Kuursaal (Resort Hall)

 

Restaurant and music salon built in the 1880s has served as the centre of Pärnu’s cultural life for well over a hundred years. Popular with locals and tourists alike for its musical afternoons at the bandstand and dancing in the cavernous hall (lined with elk antlers) by night. Traditional food includes dumplings in mushroom broth and oxtail with roast beetroot, accompanied by cold beer.

Mole of Pärnu

Pärnu has always been an important harbour. To prevent the sand build-up in the mouth of the river, the moles made of logs were built there in early 19th century, as ordered by merchants.

After they collapsed, more permanent stone moles and shore reinforcements were built, in addition to dredging the fairway. Local farmers brought field stones for both moles from the surrounding area and the beaches of Kihnu Island. The construction work was completed in 1869.

The two-kilometre long moles have remained unchanged and become popular walking destinations for holidaymakers. The mole on the left bank of the river has become the symbol of Pärnu. You can walk there along the boardwalk from the beach park. At times, the mole completely disappears under the waves, but when the water level is low, you can even see the ends of the wooden poles of the previous mole. According to a legend, walking to the end of the mole and kissing there brings luck to couples.

City Cows

 

From 2012 every summer, 250 city cows dwell on Pärnu’s coastal grasslands. This is the historical way how to maintain these areas. They have become a popular sight among the visitors. An elevated hiking trail was built on the wetland, running along the coastal grassland, offering pastoral views.

Spas & Treatments

Mud Therapy

Mud is the product of long-term organic processes, a sediment that can be found in the bays and lakes of Estonia. Mud is rich in micro elements, humus acids and other bioactive substances. That is also what gives mud its distinct smell caused by hydrogen sulphide. We use naturally clean mud from a nearby lake with no preservatives nor perfumeries. The patient is covered with a 2 – 3 cm deep layer of warmed-up mud and wrapped in a foil, a sheet and a blanket. The area around the heart is left uncovered by mud. It is possible to have the procedure done for the whole body or only above or below the waistline.

Peat and Honey Body Treatment

Honey has been widely used and highly regarded for 2500 years. In Estonia, beekeeping started in prehistoric times. During the peat and honey body treatment, the body is covered with a peat and honey wrap. Peat eliminates toxins from the body. Honey refreshes and heals by transporting peat more deeply into the skin surface. That makes the wrap an efficient remedy against cellulite. The peat mask speeds up metabolism so much that with one treatment weight drops by 300 grams. Additionally, the body wrap improves blood circulation and enriches the body with beneficial bioactive compound, making the skin silky and soft. The body wrap also has a discernible relaxing effect, and after the treatment, sleep is especially good.

Silent spa

A cosy boutique spa is located in the Pärnu Mud Baths building. The Silent Spa observes ancient spa traditions and is meant for peaceful relaxation starting from the age of 14. The luxuriating and cleansing spa ritual lasts for about 2-3 hours. The boutique spa has 12 treatment rooms where modern methods of relaxation are combined with ancient wisdom and traditions.

© Estonia Resort Hotel & Spa

Mud Wrap Massage

The combined effect of a medicinal mud massage followed by a mud poultice gives excellent results. Ensuring intense moisturisation and rejuvenation of the skin, it also supports weight loss and toning of the body. Mud wraps are also known for relieving musculoskeletal and joint problems as well as radicular pain. The treatment begins with a relaxing full body mud massage. The warm creamy mud relaxes muscle tension while also exfoliating the skin. The massage prepares the skin for the improved effect of the active substances. Mud helps to relieve skin problems and gives you a smooth youthful complexion. Originally from the Gulf of Käina in Hiiumaa, it is the highest quality medicinal mud in Estonia – the cleanest, the most alkaline and with the highest concentration of minerals. The treatment leaves your skin silky and soft.

Rural spa at Maria Farm

The best way to restore the harmony between the body and the mind is to draw strength from the ancient Estonian nature, energise yourself (as our ancestors did) in a sauna, and enjoy the healing power of sauna therapy, bathing, and other procedures. In Maria Farm, you can take part in a unique and interesting sauna therapy. In an authentic farm sauna, you will see a sauna-man, who will perform an unforgettable whisking séance. Once your body is hot enough, you can refresh yourself in the cool pond water between the two saunas or in an ice hole during the winter. Even ancient Estonians knew that sweating, whisking, and going to a steam sauna invigorate those who are healthy and cure those who are sick.

Facts & Figures

Estonia’s Declaration of Independence was first openly read out to the people in Pärnu City in 1918. Pärnu City has been nominated as the Estonian Summer Capital since 1996. Lonely Planet chose Pärnu to be in the Top 10 lesser-known beach cities to visit in 2018.

Inhabitants:

Number of inhabitants of the basic unit are 51 272

Area:

Area (km2) of the basic unit is 33,15 km2

Altitude:

Altitude (m.a.s.l.) is 9 metres

Beds:

Number of beds are 5187