Open since 1929 in the Kallio district of Helsinki, the Arlan Public Sauna is one of the oldest public saunas in the capitol and remains hugely popular to this day. Still carrying much of its old charm, the sauna offers birch twigs for visitors to beat against the skin in order to improve circulation and even continues to offer old-fashioned bloodletting. As a public sauna, it has a much more casual and laid-back atmosphere than high-class spas and is a good place to relax, speak to locals, and experience an authentic Finnish sauna.
Arlan Sauna, Helsinki, Finland, +3589719218
This is another old, traditional sauna with a rustic aesthetic. However, this one offers a slightly more boutique service. The building dates back to the 19th century, and the steam room still uses a wooden stove. While there are some public slots available, it is best to book a place in this sauna in advance as it can take a while to heat up.
Kaurilan Sauna, Helsinki, Finland, +358 50 597 33 59
An ‘urban oasis’ on the Helsinki waterfront, the Löyly Sauna Complex has a restaurant and both public and private saunas overlooking the Baltic Sea. You can even cool off in the ocean after your sauna. The building’s architecture combines modern and traditional design styles with traditional wood and smoke burning saunas. It all complements to create a relaxing and luxurious atmosphere. A little more expensive than other public saunas, this sauna has much more to offer. The accompanying restaurant also serves some authentic Nordic dishes such as reindeer and Finnish beef steak.
Löyly Sauna Complex, Helsinki, Finland, +358 9 6128 6550
The Sauna Ship combines two of Finland’s favourite pastimes—Saunas and sailing. The saunaship offers the chance to tour the islands of the Helsinki coastline while relaxing in an on-board sauna. Where else could you get a chance to see the sights in such a way? As well as the sauna, this boat trip can also organise fishing, wine tasting, meals, and barbeques.
Sauna Ship, Helsinki, Finland, +358 44 5955 811
This sauna has been open in Helsinki’s Hermanni district since the 1950’s. Another public sauna, it offers a more laid-back atmosphere, friendly service, and a chance to converse with locals. The outdoor area is used not only for cooling off but also for parties and live music. They also provide snacks such as sausages and potato salad on request and the sauna is also available for private hire.
Sauna Hermanni, Hermanni, Helsinki, Finland, 09 701 2424
A spa and hotel in the central city of Kuopio, the Rauhalahti Smoke Sauna holds the world’s largest smoke sauna as well as a spa, restaurant, and numerous other traditional activities. The more remote countryside location also provides a more naturalistic setting than Helsinki’s saunas. Those travelling in central Finland and looking for a traditional experience, a cultural education, or luxury treatment, add this sauna to your itinerary.
Rauhalahti Hotelli, Kuopio, Finland, +358 30 608 30
The Kesän Floating Sauna truly provides a unique experience—A sauna on a raft. Run by volunteers on the Gulf of Bothnia that separates Finland and Sweden, this small wooden raft takes visitors for a trip on the Gulf and offers the unique chance of a floating sauna hard to find elsewhere. A rare unisex sauna, it only operates during the summer months.
Finland’s oldest public sauna is located in the city of Tampere. Operating since 1906, it is still heated by a wood-burning stove. While a smaller, more low key sauna, the historical significance alone makes it worth a visit. The sauna block also contains a café which sells cheap drinks and snacks, and a masseuse.
Rajaportti Sauna, Tampere, Finland, +358-50-310 2611
In this luxurious spa on the Turku archipelago, Airisto Spa offers a range of both traditional and modern saunas including an underground sauna, an infrared sauna, and a new wood-heated sauna shaped like an igloo. During the winter, there is a chance to cool off with a swim in the frozen ocean, although this should be done with caution.
Airisto Spa, Turku, Finland, +358 (0) 20 734 8860
Another historic sauna, Ruukin Sauna offers a traditional atmosphere and an opportunity to experience a part of Finnish history Located in the harbor port of Dalsbruk in Southern Finland, local iron workers used the sauna’s in the early 20th century, and it has since been restored for tourist use. More expensive than some of the other public saunas, the experience and old-fashioned aesthetic are worth it.
Ruukin Sauna, Dalsbruk, Finland, +358 40 632 6646
A visit to these saunas, or any sauna in Finland, allows a chance to relax, rejuvenate, and take part in a Finnish custom and piece of history.