In most countries saunas are seen as pure luxury, and only the happy few have one of them. In Finland it is almost considered a basic right, as almost every vacation cottage, each and every house and all apartment blocks have one or more.
Public saunas are therefore not really present in large numbers. Fortunately there are some to choose from, especially in the metropolitan area of Helsinki. And they are not only popular among tourists, because locals seem to love them as well!
Besides the traditional saunas, it seems nowadays that Helsinki is keen to introduce the designer saunas for luxury lovers to its visitors. The saunas itself stay the same, but the total feeling is quite different. They are made more accessible and they have several luxury packages which offer a more pleasant overall experience.
I personally really loved Löyly, a sauna in Helsinki that lies about twenty minutes from the city center.
For €19 you can enter the sauna for two hours and enjoy its spa facilities.
Personally, I didn’t make a reservation, but in busier periods (spring and summer) it’s advised to schedule an appointment through their website.
At the entrance you get a key for a locker, a towel and a sweat towel to put under your butt once you are seated in one of the saunas. This sauna is for both men and women, so a swimsuit is always required.
There are two saunas that you both definitely should try.
After the obligatory shower -with amazing smelling Finnish shampoos!-, you can just stay inside and walk down the main hallway, through the glass door leading to the regular sauna.
Evaporating for about ten or fifteen minutes were usually enough for me. Especially when the Finns came in and splashed one spoon of water after another over the fire. The more water, the hotter it gets! And it really can get painfully hot!
I myself thought that the best sauna was the smoke sauna or savusauna. When I pulled open the door to this separate cubicle, I climbed the wooden platform and I was immediately aware of a smoky smell. The scent is not too strong, so it actually is quite a pleasant sensation.
I occasionally bumped against the brick wall with my back, and I soon saw why it was called a smoke sauna. The black ashes turned my back darker and darker the longer I sat there.
The sauna experience was lovely but the nicest part of it all was definitely the icy splash afterwards.
After I got out of the overheated sauna, I opened the door to to stroll outside, in my swimming pants on a platform covered in ice and snow. At first it seems as if you’re completely evaporating, because the freezing temperatures seem to absorb all of your body heat at once. Even then, I could easily stay outside for quite a long time. Even when it was -9°C (16°F), because after such a hot sauna it really takes some time to cool off.
Instead of just waiting and standing around, it is a lot easier to just swim a little, right?
I actually hesitated, but a woman who went before me encouraged me and said. “Just don’t think about it! Once you’re out again the feeling is heavenly!”
And she was right… because after this I did it at least ten times more!
Personally, this was my favorite sauna in Helsinki and I couldn’t resist to come back a second time!
The one and only real smoke sauna of Helsinki can be found in Kuusijärvi. This place is located about an hour away from Helsinki when taking public transportation.
For a single ticket, you’ll pay €5.50 and if you don’t just want to visit the sauna you can stroll around in the beautiful surroundings as well.
Kuusijärvi is far less known to tourists (perhaps because it’s so far), but because you can still experience a genuine Finnish sauna experience I feel you should try to get there.
Again, the saunas are for both genders, so swimsuits are necessary year round.
The big smoke sauna opens only (winter) at 3 pm (the little one does so at 1 pm), but the electric saunas are opened from morning til evening. To make sure, it’s a good idea to look up the opening hours for this sauna at their website.
During the winter I found it a less pleasant experience than Löyly, because you need to walk a lot further if you want to get to the icy water from the sauna.
Moreover, the road leading to the water is filled slippery ice and tiny -auch! – pebbles… Not ideal to stroll around almost naked!
For the electric sauna you pay €6 and for the smoke sauna €12.
Other saunas in Helsinki
There are several other public saunas in Helsinki, but of course I couldn’t visit all of them during my visit. Moreover, quite a few were closed when I was there…
Fom fellow travelers and some locals I heard that Sauna Arla, Kotiharju Spa and Sauna Hermanni are definitely worth checking out as well.
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Hi, I'm Sam Van den Haute. The last three years I've been traveling the world almost constantly. Heading out for an adventure and visiting the most beautiful places are what I love to do! Let me inspire you with great stories, beautiful pictures and handy tips from my adventures and travels. On my facebook page and instagram account you'll get to see the latest updates and photos to inspire you for your next vacation.