Sauna Etiquette 101: Top Tips For Foreigners in Finland

If you want to know about sauna etiquette, this guide is for you! Know more about the Finnish sauna culture and be fascinated by it.

Are you visiting Finland soon and would like to experience a traditional sauna but wondering what is the sauna etiquette when you go to one? In this post, I’m going to outline the basic things you should remember.

I love going to the sauna, it is my favorite time of the week when I relax and unwind after a long week at work. Most apartment buildings in Finland nowadays have a common sauna people can use throughout the week. A lot of the newer apart.

On top of all that, most houses and summer cottages also got one. In fact, there are more saunas in Finland than there are cars. Can you believe that? I can. Finns do love their saunas and even they can’t deny it.

Here are my top sauna etiquette tips to remember:


Sauna Etiquette 101: Top Tips For Foreigners in Finland

Top Tips For Foreigners in Finland
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Image by Dnipro Hotel from Pixabay

It is perfectly okay to go naked

Finns are naturally shy. They have a reserved personality, but saunas are one of those places they feel absolutely comfortable and relaxed that they do not mind going in naked even with strangers.

With all that said, don’t worry about this at all. It is odd at first, but you’ll get used to it quite fast, plus if you don’t have to go naked, you can always throw a towel as a cover-up.

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You should shower first before going to a sauna

It is customary to shower first before going to a sauna to clean your skin off dirt and other icky stuff you might have encountered to keep the sauna rather clean. It also feels better to go in after a nice shower and sweat off anything that is stuck in your pores.

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Don’t start awkward conversations

Finns are, in general, not very chatty individuals, and although chatting in saunas between friends is normal, striking a conversation in public saunas can come off a little awkward. I’m not saying that you should avoid this, I’m just saying that you should take this fact into consideration.

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Typically, men and women go separately, but families go together

This actually depends on the people and the group of friends who goes to the sauna. Some friends do not mind going in with the opposite sex while most groups of friends would take turns – girls, first and then men.

However, in some public saunas, men and women have separate sauna rooms while some have a schedule for either gender.

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Sit on a towel

First of all, it is a little bit unhygienic to just sit on the bench without any barrier, so it is a really good idea to bring a towel you can sit on. You can also buy a special mat specifically used for saunas you can sit on.

That said, a lot of public saunas have these towels you can borrow for a small fee.

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It is okay to wear swimsuits if you are not comfortable going nude

If you do not feel comfortable going in naked with strangers or your Finnish friends, it is perfectly okay to wear your swimsuit inside. Just make sure that it is clean and you showered beforehand.

Do not let people pressure you to go naked if you do not want to. Please remember that clearly.

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Top Tips For Foreigners in Finland
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via Wikimedia Commons

Don’t feed the stove too much water without asking if it is okay

This is honestly one of my personal sauna etiquette tip for all of you, I personally like the sauna really hot until I feel the burn on my skin. However, not all people like it that hot and prefer it more on the comfortable side. If you’re like me, it is best to ask the people in the room first if it is okay to throw more water on the stove out of respect.

However, not a lot of people do this. Normally they would put a lot of water in till the room is super hot and when this happens, you can just go out for a little bit till it is not so hot anymore.

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If you go in, make sure to close the door properly

I think this is very logical but believe me, in public saunas, a lot of people tend to forget it. It is not really a big deal, but it does bother some people, so it is best to make sure that when you go in, you close the door properly behind you.

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Do not stare!

Again, this is perhaps logical because staring is rude, but just in case you forget, do not stare at strangers in a public sauna. It really makes people feel uneasy! This is a very basic sauna etiquette rule.

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Hydrate a lot!

Since you sweat a lot when you go to the sauna, do not forget to hydrate and drink a lot of water (or beer, like how the Finns do it).

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