The sauna is a luxury in most countries, yet in its native Finland it is such an integral part of the culture and national identity that there are over three million saunas in the country, an average of one for each household. This abundance of saunas means you can find them in some weird and wonderful places. Here are some of the strangest and most unexpected places where you can take a sauna in Finland, many of which you can rent out for yourself.
In a Burger King
When ordering a meal to go at the central Helsinki branch of Burger King, you can also book a group sauna session to go along with it. The sauna’s importance in Finland has led to the fast-food chain opening its own sauna to rent out for business meetings, decorated in its own red, white and blue colour scheme. Perhaps they are hoping to sell more food as post-sauna snacks.
At the ice hockey arena
Sitting in a hockey arena may leave you feeling cold, but you can stay nice and warm in the VIP boxes at Helsinki’s Hartwall Arena, which also contain saunas. The venue is popular for ice hockey games and concerts, and the sauna boxes are often used by large companies to impress their important clients.
In the library
How would you like to relax in a sauna after a long study session in the library? You can do just that at Helsinki Central Library. The library made the addition in order to promote Finland’s sauna culture, although obviously the library books do have to be left outside.
An ice sauna
The people of Lapland have already built a castle, a hotel and a restaurant entirely from ice. The Ruka ski resort has gone one further and built an entire sauna out of ice. Despite reaching temperatures of 70°C inside, the walls and ceiling constructed from ice still hold, and it is regarded as one of the most unique sauna experiences to be had in Finland.
At the parliament house
The members of the Finnish parliament enjoy a relaxing sauna as much as any other Finn, which is why their parliament house has its own sauna, which cabinet members use at least once a week. It actually serves an important purpose in allowing MPs to discuss and debate matters in an informal setting. Finnish embassies throughout the world also tend to have their own saunas installed, so that diplomats can keep up their favourite pastime.
Inside a phone box
Finnish saunas come in all shapes and sizes, and there is even one as small as a phone box. This micro-sauna operated by the Mobile Sauna Society is made from a transparent phone booth, fits only one person at a time and is small enough to be transported in the back of a truck.
Down a mine
There is a long tradition of factory workers using public saunas to sweat it out after a long day at work. The workers of the Pyhäsalmi zinc and copper mine have their own sauna 1,402 metres (4,600 feet) underground, making it the deepest sauna in the world as recorded by Guinness World Records. Unfortunately, the mine is scheduled to close in 2018, so the sauna will likely be no more.
On a bus
The Ruka resort also allows visitors to relax after a long journey to Lapland and sweat out their travel stress with their own sauna bus, an actual bus containing a working sauna. The bus, which also contains a karaoke machine, travels between three of the nearest airports and allows visitors to take in the landscape along the way and stop to cool off in a snowdrift or lake whenever they want to.
Inside a duck boat
This is one of the quirkiest saunas in Finland, located inside a boat shaped like a duck that tours the Helsinki coastline. The small boat is powered by an outboard motor, with the driver sitting at the duck’s head, and the sauna is heated with a wood-burning fireplace. While it appears small from the outside, the Fin-Duck can fit eight people inside.
On a ski gondola
A hot sauna is inviting after a day of skiing, which is why the Ylläs ski resort has opened a sauna inside a suspended gondola car. While the journey only lasts around 20 minutes, it is time enough for the premium sauna experience, and offers stunning views of Lapland.