Why You Need to Visit Oslo's Amazing Saunas

For Norwegians, sauna is accompanied by a cold bath afterwards
For Norwegians, sauna is accompanied by a cold bath afterwards | Courtesy of KOK Oslo
Photo of Danai Christopoulou
20 April 2018

Although sauna is technically a Finnish invention, Scandinavians have all embraced the sauna culture, each country giving it its own twist. Norwegians love to combine a hot sauna session with a swim, preferably in the ice-cold waters of a fjord, but that doesn’t mean that there are not less radical options if you’re more into pampering than freezing. Below, we’ve gathered the most impressive saunas in Oslo from both categories.

The traveling ones

Oslo’s most famous saunas don’t like to stay at the same place for ever. Keep an eye out for them, while you can.

The nomadic sauna

SALT is Norway’s first slow, nomadic festival that promises to take care of your brain as well as your body. In the Bjørvika shoreline, towards Vippetangen Port, you’ll find a gigantic fish rack – that’s how you know you’ve found SALT. Here, they have three saunas, two of which can be rented out for private use, but the big one is the real game changer: as you soak in the therapeutic steam, you can also watch a movie or a lecture. Act fast, though, as SALT is probably going to leave Oslo at some point this year.

The main sauna at SALT | © Baard Henriksen, Courtesy of SALT

The sauna boat

Want to combine sauna time with cruising the Oslo fjord – and stopping for a swim when you feel like it? KOK Oslo, usually found across from the Oslo Opera House, is a sauna boat complete with a changing room, a wood-fire sauna that reaches more than 80° Celsius, and a wooden deck that’s spacious enough for you to suntan or even have dinner.

A swim in the freezing waters after a sauna at KOK Oslo | © KOK Oslo

The sauna raft

Of similar premise, but more low-key and also eco-conscious, is Sørengas Badstue & Helårsbadeanstalt. This sauna raft, docked at Langkaia, is 100% recycled, made from materials such as driftwood. You can book it in advance or just drop by with up to 12 friends – it’s available all year long.

Sauna and a swim with a view of Barcode | © Sørengas Badstue- & Helårsbadeanstalt

The ones where you can pamper yourself

Looking for something more grounded? Part of the offerings in some of Oslo’s best spas, these saunas will be a part of your 360-degree beauty and relaxation regimen.

The Well

Map View
Japanese sauna style at The Well | Courtesy of The Well
Japanese sauna style at The Well | Courtesy of The Well

A perfect place to spend a full day of pampering. Apart from a variety of massages and treatments (rhassoul clay, anyone?), The Well offers 15 different saunas and steam rooms. Oh, there’s also waterfalls and a Japanese bathhouse with onsen hot springs. It’s a bit outside Oslo, but there is a private bus departing often from downtown.

Artesia Spa

Map View
The sauna at Artesia Spa Majorstuen, Courtesy of Artesia Spa
The sauna at Artesia Spa Majorstuen | Courtesy of Artesia Spa

Artesia has two locations: one in Majorstuen (which also features a gym) and one in downtown Oslo inside Grand Hotel. Both offer a variety of luxurious treatments, from massages to makeup, but in the downtown location you’ll also find a sauna, a steam rom and a swimming pool. You may end up soaking for hours.

Thief Spa

Boutique Hotel
Map View
Thief Roof, Courtesy of The Thief
Thief Roof | Courtesy of The Thief

Thief Spa is Thief Hotel’s wellness hub, which claims to have “stolen the best ideas from spa cultures all over the world”. In this small but potent spa, you can enjoy anything from a Turkish hamam bath to a German sauna treatment. You can also swim in a cove-like pool and feel like you’re inside a fairy tale. After all, the hotel’s mission statement is to “steal you from everyday life”.