The first thing to do when you go to an Estonian sauna is get completely naked, though in mixed saunas wrapping a towel around you is at your own discretion. Once you get used to the heat, scoop some water onto the hot stones; it evaporates instantaneously, raising the temperature. Once everyone is sweating profusely, some might gently swat themselves or their friends with birch branches; this increases circulation and rids the body of toxins. Don’t overdo it – ten minutes should be long enough, but get out immediately if you start to feel dizzy. Locals normally follow up with a plunge into a cold lake, although a cold shower will suffice. A good place to start is Kalma at Vana-Kalamaja 9a (Mon–Fri 11am–10pm, Sat & Sun 10am–11pm; public sauna for men only €9–10; private sauna for both sexes €14–20/hr); t627 1811) – Tallinn’s oldest public bath (built in 1928), containing private saunas for rent as well as men’s and women’s general baths (complete with swimming pool).

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