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Sauna is one of the most beloved traditions of the Finnish way of life, which uniquely manages to gather business partners, friends and families of all generations around a hot stove, or ‘kiuas’. Here you can find a list of the best public saunas in the country, so you can relax in the true Finnish way. Hyvää löylyä!
Sauna is a traditional ritual that is deeply ingrained in the Finnish culture. With 3,2 million saunas in a country of 5,5 million people, it is often said that the entire Finnish population would be able to go to sauna at the same time at any given moment. Nowadays, a new generation of public saunas thrives together with the most traditional ones, merging tradition with urban culture.
Traditionally a sauna used to be small wooden hut or attachment to the main building, featuring a changing room, a shower, and a stove (called “kiuas” in Finnish) covered with rocks to which a löyly-master gently added ladlefuls of water (called löyly). The best part of the sauna experience is the peaceful feeling of being cleansed and relaxed inside and out, often called ‘post-sauna bliss’ by the locals.
In December 2020, the Finnish sauna culture was inscribed on UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
These are the top 10 saunas where to experience that unique culture and blissful sensation.
Löyly is one of the newest and most internationally featured public saunas in Finland. It is located in Hernesaari a former industrial waterfront area on the South West of Helsinki, but still pretty close to the city center.
While Löyly offers exceptional architecture in a unique location with and architectural wooden wonder building designed by Ville Hara and Anu Puustinen of Avanto, it is Löyly’s commitment to sustainability what truly sets it apart. Environmental conservation has been the priority during the whole project, involving all aspects of it: from the selection of FSC certified building materials to a seasonal menu that uses local products.
The building features three saunas, all heated with wood, an outdoor swimming facility in use throughout the year, and a charming and relaxed restaurant that serves Finnish classics dishes with a modern twist. During the summer season, the large outdoors terrace is the perfect place to enjoy a drink overlooking the Baltic sea.
Another new trendy sauna opened in the center of Helsinki in the recent years, Allas Sea Pool is a wooden oasis in the heart of the city featuring a large heated swimming pool, a sea water pool, a children’s pool, and magnificent saunas.
In addition to swimming and enjoying the sauna experience, Allas offers cafe and restaurant services and organises several events throughout the year such as concerts, yoga classes, skinny dip nights, candlelight swims, wine and stretching sessions and more.
Located in the very center of Helsinki, next to the Market square and overlooking the Lutheran cathedral, its permanent 27 degrees Celsius waters mean that Allas can be enjoyed any day of the year.
Rajaportin Sauna, Tampere
Located in the picturesque antique district of Pispala in Tampere, Rajaportti is oldest public sauna in Finland that is still in use. Erected in 1906 by Hermanni Lahtinen and his wife Maria, the main building with a bakery and a shop was built first, followed by a smaller cottage, the sauna and a so called “taylor’s house”. At the turn of the millennium, a café and massage premises were included in Rajaportti’s offer.
Still heated by wood, Rajaportti’s cosy courtyard is the perfect place to enjoy the slow pace of life of old-fashioned times, and maybe treat yourself with some delicacies from the café, an artisan beer from local brewers or a traditional massage.
Located in the Lake Region of Finland, the holiday resort Kuopion Saana combines Finnish sauna experiences, excellent restaurant services as well as numerous events and activities into one location.
The name Saana is the local dialect pronunciation of ‘sauna’, used in the Savo region. Located at the shore of Lake Kallavesi in Kuopio, Saana can be also accused by boat, as the complex offers a dock for recreational vessels.
Saana is another of the recent additions to public sauna scene in Finland. It features three saunas, including a traditional smoke one, spa facilities, two outdoor swimming pools, and the opportunity to try open-water swimming in the lake all year-round.
The restaurant offers seasonal and locally sourced food with a side of breathtaking views over the magnificent Kallavesi Lake.
Located in the pristine Lappish landscape, surrounded by untouched nature, Kiilopää‘s atmospheric Kuurakaltio smoke sauna and swimming place in the crystal-clear waters of Kiilopuro stream guarantee a complete relaxation of body and mind after a day of outdoor activities.
During the summer season, Kuurakaltio enjoys the nightless season of the midnight sun, while during winter it is possible to have a glimpse of the Northern Lights while taking a refreshing dip in the frozen waters.
The sleek and urban lakeside building is located at the Laukontori square, right in the city centre, not far away from the main street. It offers a wood heated sauna, a modern smoke sauna, a café, a big two-storey terrace, and a high-quality yet laid-back restaurant which serves seasonal Nordic-style cuisine, including a delicious tasting menu with selected wines.
On summer days, you only need to take a couple of steps to plunge into the refreshing waters of Lake Pyhäjärvi, in Kuuma’s own pool area.
Kotiharjun Sauna, Helsinki
Kotiharjun Sauna is one-of-a-kind: it is the last wood-heated public sauna in Helsinki, and has welcomed visitors since 1928. Located in Kallio, the north-eastern part of Helsinki’s downtown, Kotiharjun Sauna hardy washing ladies are still on hand to scrub you off if you wish. Massages, cupping treatments and manicures and pedicures are also available by booking in advance.
Kallio is a former working-class neighborhood which in recent years has sparked to life thanks to the opening of an array of hipster-esque restaurants, bars, clubs, movie theatres and art galleries.
Hotel and Spa Resort Järvisydän is the perfect destination for those looking forward for a luxurious experience in the heart of Lakeland.
Located in Rantasalmi, the resort’s design has been inspired by Finnish nature. The interior materials are mainly warm wood and large, natural rocks, and the spa has amazing views of Lake Saimaa, one of the biggest lakes in Europe and the biggest lake in Finland.
Forum Sauna, Turku
Forum Sauna is located in the old capital of Finland and coastal city of Turku, where time seems to stand still. Founded in 1926 and currently run by sauna therapist Mervi Hongisto, Forum is the only public sauna operating in Turku.
The facilities offer a more traditional approach to health and wellbeing, and they are highly regarded by those looking for an authentic bathing experience. In Forum Sauna you can find traditional treatments such as cupping therapy and peat masks. The sauna doesn’t serve food or drinks, but it is allowed to bring your own.
Located in the fast-growing district of Kalasatama, in Helsinki, Sompasauna is a 100% truly a public sauna. Totally free of charge, the sauna was built with recycled materials by a group of volunteers, who also maintain it.
The sauna has no staff, showers nor additional services to offer, although there are a few storage lockers where you can keep your valuables (you’ll need to bring your own lock pad). The philosophy if the sauna is to foster a sense of community, a place of encounter and relaxation, and a truly unique experience.
The sauna is mixed gender and it welcomes nudity as well as swimsuits. In summer, there’s often a grill on where you can prepare your own food and frequent free concerts and events. There are also wooden stairs to access the nearby sea for a quick dip and wash after the sauna, so bring your own towels, drinks, and snacks and enjoy your sauna!