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7 destinations for a wellness getaway

Jan. 25, 2013, 5:21 p.m.
Sauna by lake in Finland

Photo: anttiveikko/Flickr

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Saunas in Finland

One of the most popular wellness practices in North America has its roots in Northern Europe. Saunas, those sweat-inducing rooms found in hotels and health clubs around the world, were invented in Finland. Some Finns still use the historic method of heating rocks with a wood fire in an enclosed room for several hours before letting out the smoke and entering the room. Many locals also use vasta, a bundle of birch leaves and twigs that are gently slapped against the skin. Even without these traditional extras, the detoxification benefits of saunas are well-documented.

It's hard to find a lake in Finland without a sauna cottage nearby. There are also plenty of spas in Finland that offer various types of health and beauty treatment regimens that include sauna visits. The advantage of taking a sauna-themed vacation here is that virtually everyone visits saunas, so you can pay a few dollars and head to a public sauna without having to book yourself into a high-priced spa or resort.