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Five must-experience saunas in Finland
3 minute read
A woman stepping out of a hot smoke sauna

Credits:: Julia Kivelä

Amuse-bouche saunas across Finland

With an estimated three million saunas in Finland, it’s practically an impossible task to spotlight just five. Here’s a sampling of sauna experiences in different parts of the country – consider it an amuse-bouche for more in-depth explorations.

two women relax on the sauna benches
Credits: Harri Tarvainen

Classic: Rajaportin sauna, Tampere (Lakeland)

Located in the old district of Pispala in Tampere – the sauna capital of the world, Rajaportti is the oldest public sauna in Finland’s that’s still in use today. Dating back to 1906, the sauna was originally built by Hermanni Lahtinen and his wife Maria. Still heated by wood in the traditional manner, Rajaportti offers soft, pleasant steam and has the power to transport guests back in time. Pop by the cosy courtyard café for traditional sauna sausages, freshly baked cinnamon buns, comforting soups, and select artisan beers from local brewers. A traditional massage is a good way to complete the experience.

See all must-experience saunas in Lakeland.

people cooling off on the terrace
Credits: Laura Vanzo / Rajaportin sauna

Modern: Löyly, Helsinki

Löyly is one of the most iconic and well-known public saunas in Finland – and for good reason. Offering visitors sanctuary from the city in a former industrial area on the Helsinki waterfront, the sauna’s sculptural wooden building was designed by Avanto Architects Ville Hara and Anu Puustinen and features three wood-heated saunas, an outdoor swimming pool, and a welcoming restaurant that serves Finnish classics like meatballs and creamy salmon soup. On a summer day, there’s nothing better than soaking up the sun on the large outdoor terrace while enjoying a refreshing drink and stunning views of the Baltic Sea.

See all must-experience saunas in the Helsinki region.

an aerial view of an architecturally significant sauna in Helsinki
Credits: : Joel Pallaskorpi / Royal Restaurants
a sea view from the terrace of the large public sauna
Credits:: Pekka Keränen

Smoke: Kuurakaltio, Kiilopää (Lapland)

Surrounded by the mesmerizing Lappish landscape, Kuurakaltio sauna in Kiilopää is situated next to a crystal-clear streamperfect for a cooling dip after a stint in this authentic smoke sauna. What is a smoke sauna, you might ask? It doesn’t have a chimney; instead, smoke fills the sauna during the warm-up phase. Once the sauna is properly ventilated, guests experience an incredibly smooth löyly (hot steam). During the summer season, Kuurakaltio basks in the midnight sun, while winter nights might provide a glimpse of the Northern Lights, so it’s no wonder this sauna attracts visitors from around the world.

See all must-experience saunas in Lapland.

Traditional: Forum, Turku

Founded in 1926 and currently run by sauna therapist Mervi Hongisto, Forum Sauna in the coastal city of Turku is where time seems to stand still. With its old-world approach to health and wellbeing, Forum is the perfect choice for bathers looking for an authentic experience and traditional treatments like peat masks and cupping therapy. While this sauna doesn’t serve food or drinks, guests are welcome to bring their own.

See must-experience saunas on the coast and in the Finnish archipelago.

Intimate: Personal saunas, all over Finland

Get to know the locals, and chances are one will invite you to their home sauna. Not in the mood to chat? Book a private cabin with its own sauna. After all, Finnish sauna isn’t one thing, it’s a rich cultural phenomenon. Some saunas are heated with wood, and some with electricity. Some are by a lake in the woods, and some are in city apartments. In short, saunas are everywhere. And if you’re lucky enough to get invited to one, you’ll discover why Finnish sauna culture made UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Want to learn more? Explore 10 sauna tips for beginners.

a man carrying firewood to a sauna
Credits: Harri Tarvainen