Top Finnish Saunas

Join the Finns in the Sauna

If you want to understand Finland and its people, getting familiar with the sauna is a good place to start.

Sauna is such a big part of Finnish culture, it can’t be compared to anything else. For Finns, it’s a must at regular intervals, and if they go too long without it, they’ll start feeling incomplete. For centuries, it has been a place for physical and spiritual cleansing, for getting bare in all senses of the word and entering the core of humanity. Sauna is a way of life in Finland – toddlers take their first bath in a sauna at only a few months old, and from then on, never stop.

Sharing a sauna with someone is about bonding, about discussing real issues – no small talk. In Finland, major decisions are made made in saunas, not boardrooms. Throughout history, there has been no Finland without sauna.

It’s said that there are enough saunas in Finland to easily accommodate all 5.4 million Finns simultaneously. It’s true, since estimates place the number somewhere between two and three million. Here’s a quick ten-item list to introduce you to the culture.

About Finland

Full of interesting contrasts, such as the four seasons, the Midnight Sun and winter darkness, urban and rural, East and West.

10 Things About the Sauna

  • 1. There are several types of saunas, the most common being electric, wood-heated and smoke saunas. Smoke saunas are dark and don’t have a chimney – the smoke is allowed to fill the room, then the fire is killed and smoke ventilated out.

  • 2. In public saunas, the fee is paid at the reception and clothes are changed in dressing rooms, which are separate for men and women. Swimsuits are required in some public saunas, but not all.

  • 3. You should bring a towel, swimsuit and toiletries. Usually these can also be rented.

  • 4. Men and women go separately in public saunas. This is usually the custom everywhere, but mixed groups are also an option if everyone feels comfortable with it. Families usually bathe together.

  • 5. ‘Löyly’ is the word for the wave of steam and heat which is produced by throwing water on the stove stones. It is good for your body and mind, as it relaxes you. Anyone can enjoy the sauna every day, from kids to seniors. Only those with open wounds or health issues, such as heart conditions, should avoid the sauna.

  • 6. Finns usually go to the sauna in the nude, even with strangers, and there is nothing awkward about it. It’s natural. If you want to wear a swimsuit or towel, Finns will understand that as well. Staring is considered impolite.

  • 7. A ‘vasta’ or ‘vihta’ (the name depends on the region) is a bundle of fresh birch twigs that you gently whip yourself with. It sounds strange, but is really good for your skin – you’ll feel the smoothness afterwards.

  • 8. You can throw more water on the stove whenever you feel like it. When it gets too hot, people either move to lower levels, take a shower or go for a swim.

  • 9. Remember to enjoy the blissful post-sauna feeling of having cleaned both your body and your mind. To the Finns, the correct way to behave in a sauna is as if they were in church. You can relax too – just kick back and take it easy.

  • 10. There are no real rules when it comes to sauna – it depends on the occasion. The most important thing is to relax, socialise, have a couple of drinks and enjoy the moment. It is a place for physical and mental cleansing – and a very important part of Finnish culture.

Top Finnish Saunas

Every single sauna is important for us, but here is a selection of the very best saunas around the country

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