Do you want to know which is the best public sauna in Helsinki you should go to? Before you read further, let us tell you a little bit about Finland and the importance of sauna in Finn’s life.
For most people, a sauna is a privilege, but for the Finns, the sauna is a way of life. In fact, Finns go to the sauna with their friends and family as their mutual way of socializing, and this can also include a small feast, like a barbeque party in summer, and a lot of drinking (preferably a cold beer).
Finnish sauna holds a very important part of their culture, Finns frequently say that important decisions are made in the sauna more often than in the meetings (true story). Perhaps they are not exaggerating since you can find saunas just about in every corner of the country, and it is perfectly normal to find a modern private residence to have one in their homes. Also, some office buildings and even the Parliament House is the home of one important sauna in Helsinki.
On a funny note, the most unbelievable place in which you will find a Finnish sauna in this Nordic country is in Pyhäsalmi mine as the sauna is located at the depth of 1400 meters beneath the surface!
Since sauna is an essential part of their daily lives, there are some basic etiquettes that you need to pay attention to related to the Finnish sauna. First of all, when a host invites you to the sauna, it means a lot for them as they are not only offering you their time but also to be part of an intimate moment of their life. Therefore, if you are thinking of declining the invitation, make sure you have a solid reason to do so.
Another thing that you need to know is that Finns go to the sauna fully naked and it is perfectly normal but if you’re new to the culture, wearing a bathing suit is, of course, encouraged if you don’t feel comfortable sitting butt naked in front of strangers who hardly say anything fully clothed.
Since there are a lot of public saunas in Helsinki, you might want to know which one is worth a visit, so here’s a list of some of the best ones in the city. Ole hyvä.
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Which is the Best Public Sauna in Helsinki to Relax?
Yrjönkatu Swimming Hall
As the oldest public swimming hall in the city, Yrjönkatu Swimming Hall is, of course, one of the Helsinki highlights. Opened on June 4, 1982, this Helsinki indoor swimming pool showcases a beautiful classical architectural style.
The beautiful Yrjönkatu Swimming Hall is equipped with a 25-meter long pool on the first floor and some sauna rooms on the first and second floors. They also provide several types of saunas, and you can try several ones such as the ordinary electric sauna, the old-fashion wooden sauna, and a steam bath. There are some private sauna rooms available for rent if you wish some privacy.
Since the pool welcome nude swimmers (in fact the option to wear a swimming costume has just become available since 2001), different swimming schedules apply for the different gender.
Women are welcome on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, while men can use the facility on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. On Sundays, men can enter Yrjönkatu Swimming Hall from 7 to 8 am, while women can go there afterward.
The last traditional wooden-heated sauna in Helsinki, Kotiharjun Sauna, is, of course, the gem of Helsinki. Opened in 1928 and is one of Helsinki points of interest because not only you will experience the classic Finnish sauna, but you may also ask for a massage and a scrub down if you wish. There are some other treatments available here too that can help you to wind down.
Since the Finns often go to the sauna naked, here, you will find a separate sauna room for men and women. You can bring your own towel, or you can rent one. Since there is no cafe here, you should bring your own drink and food if you wish.
The Finns love to have a beer while they are in the sauna, and it is common to see them drink after a session in the winding over 40°C of extreme heat.
Please note that you should not go to Kotiharjun Sauna on Mondays since the sauna is closed on that day. But, it is open for the rest of the week.
Kulttuurisauna (Culture Sauna)
Another highlight of the sauna Helsinki scene is the Culture Sauna, or the locals may call it Kulttuurisauna. This is the best sauna to go if you are looking for a sauna with the view of a calming sea.
The construction of this wood-heated sauna was carried out from 2012 to 2013 under the design made by Tuomas Toivonen and Nene Tsuboi, and it was open for the public for the first time in May 2013. The name Kulttuurisauna was taken from architect Alvar Aalto’s book, which was published in 1925.
The entrance fee includes a seat cover that you can use, but towels are not included, so you either bring your own or you rent one – whichever you prefer.
Kulttuurisaun is open all year round, but you will probably get the best experience during the winter as you have the option to jump into in the icy water after or before the bath, things that many Finns traditionally do.
With the availability of this unique activity, Kulttuurisauna is definitely one of the most interesting things in Finland and, specifically, Helsinki.
Another authentic sauna Helsinki spot is Arla Sauna. As one of the oldest public sauna in Helsinki, Arla Sauna is famous for its traditional wood-heated sauna. Located in the Kaarlenkatu neighborhood in Helsinki, this sauna also offers you traditional massage and bloodletting to put you back in your top condition.
If you come here on Thursdays, you can also get a back-scrub treatment. In this old-fashioned sauna, please do not be surprised to know that swimming costumes and underwear are not allowed to be worn inside the sauna rooms. You have to enjoy the sauna without any piece of clothing on your body, just like how the Finns do it.
Due to its being old, you may find that the building is not that charming, nevertheless, you will find the fact that Arla Sauna is one of the most favorite saunas in Helsinki because of its friendly staff and down-to-earth atmosphere.
Löyly Helsinki Sauna
A famous destination mentioned in many travel guides to Helsinki, Löyly, is, without a doubt, one of the best places to visit if you happen to be in the capital. An amazing place with a unique design located in a mesmerizing natural setting, Löyly is like an oasis in the middle of Helsinki city life.
Löyly has two kinds of saunas: smoke sauna and a wood-burning sauna. Here, you can choose to have a private or public sauna room. Thoughtfully designed, Löyly sauna rooms have big windows from which you can have a calming view of the sea. After enjoying the steam, if you want to cool your body off, you can relax in Löyly’s large terrace, or you can jump to the sea and go for a swim.
Please notice that Löyly does not allow bathers to bring their own drink from outside. You can order an alcoholic drink, soft drink, and snack in the sauna reception. Or you can also enjoy your meal and drink in the restaurant available on the premises. And, since there are no separate sauna rooms for men and women, where bathers are required to put on swimming costumes while enjoying the sauna.
Located in the Hermanni neighborhood of Helsinki, Hermanni Sauna is the perfect place to go if you want to feel the local warmth. This Helsinki sauna is best known for its retro 50s look and Iki Kiuas stoves.
Hermanni Sauna has different sauna rooms for men and women. Here, your time to enjoy the heat is not limited. You can bathe in the sauna for as long as you want. Drinks and snacks are available for you to order here, so you do not need to bring some from outside.
What makes Hermanni Sauna is the perfect place to chat with the locals is that because the outdoor area is often used as a party or live music venue.
Famous as the most public sauna in Helsinki, the story of Sompasauna, a unique Helsinki tourist attraction, began in 2011. It started when a group of friends found a neglected sauna stove. Afterward, a group of volunteers decided to build a sauna in the Kalasatama neighborhood of Helsinki.
Run by a group of volunteers, this water-front sauna is totally free of charge. However, you need to bring your own necessities, such as a towel, beverages, and food. Feel free to put on a swimsuit if you do not feel comfortable to show your uncovered body in this public Finnish sauna. And since this run by a non-profit group, please respect them by keeping the place clean and tidy.
After the heated steam bath in Sompasauna, you can refresh your body by sitting on the shore or dip yourself in the water. Please do not swim too far since there is no lifeguard in this sauna.
So, which one you should go to?
Well, this absolutely depends on you now, isn’t? If you want a more classic experience, then Kulttuurisauna is perhaps the best one to visit in winter as there’s the option of jumping in the icy water – a must-try if you’ve never done it before as it is an exciting experience.
However, if you want to chill out with the locals, then Sompasauna and Sauna Arla are the popular options for young locals who want to get their sauna moment fixed.
Nevertheless, a fancier and more conservative option is Löyly, and the sauna you’ll find at Yrjönkatu Swimming Hall are good options for you. Otherwise, the idea of having a sauna remains with all of the options listed here, and that is to socialize and relax at the same time.
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