The Steam of Finnish Culture

3,3 millions! This is the most recent number of existing saunas in Finland. Ain’t that enough to express how important the Finnish sauna culture is for Finns?

Our modern urban way of life has changed the way we resource ourselves. But from Helsinki city center to Nuorgam, the northernmost village in Finland, every Finn remain loyal to one thing: The Finnish sauna tradition.

Do you want to know more about it?

The Steam of Finnish Culture – The Importance of Finnish Sauna Culture

Photo: Visit Finland

Sauna rituals and traditions

Contrarily to what you might have heard, there are no rules set in stones regarding how long you have to sit into a sauna or how many times per week you have to go in. You can enjoy Finnish sauna in many ways. It is purely up to you and how you feel about it. And the great thing about it is that Finns will respect that.

You have many traditions around the sauna like making a birch whisk, chopping wood, lighting up the stove(for wood and smoke heated sauna) and not forget storing a few drinks in the fridge. The most traditional, but not so common anymore, form of sauna is the smoke sauna. It can take from 6 to 8 hours to be ready. But believe us, the experience is worth the wait!

In urban neighbourhood, don’t be surprise if you come across or see people walking outside in their bathrobe. They are either going to or coming from sauna. This is very usual in areas where people live in buildings where there is common shared sauna for its inhabitants.

The Steam of Finnish Culture – The Importance of Finnish Sauna Culture

Photo: Visit Finland / Harri Tarvainen

Ever enjoyed a sauna in unexpected places?

Did you know that we can build a sauna in many different ways and here only the imagination is the limit: a car or a bus, a simple tent in the wilderness, an ice igloo, an old phone booth, a ski lift gondola are some of the best out-of-ordinary examples. In Finland, you can basically enjoy the pleasure of steam heat almost anywhere.

During summer time the Finnish Archipelago, is accessible by boat. There, a great number of small islands can be visited and it is possible to book a sauna like on Pihlajansaari or Kaunissaari, to name a few.

The Steam of Finnish Culture – The Importance of Finnish Sauna Culture

You can build a sauna anywhere you want – even inside ice walls! Photo: Visit Finland / Harri Tarvainen

Sauna traditions are evolving

The positive effects of sauna on health and well-being are undeniable. Today, you are able to combine sauna with a jooga session or a body treatment to get an amazingly relaxing and purifying experience.

In Helsinki city center, the recently opened Allas Sea Pool is a brand new facility equipped with 3 pools. Right beside the Market Square (Kauppatori), you have access to two heated fresh water pools at 27˙C and one with sea water. The temperature of the latter is changing with the seasons. Along with the access to the pools, you can enjoy a sauna with a view on the sea in the beating heart of the capital.

Another great spot, not to be missed, is the Löyly Helsinki Public Sauna and its modern wooden architecture, located in Hernesaari, only 2 km from the city center. You can easily reach the place by tram and bus.

This public sauna offers also access to a smoke sauna, a rarity in urban areas.
Its unique location provides as well a superb view on the outer archipelago from their large terrace. It is definitely a place to hang out with friends all year round!

And remember, pretty much every single cottage in Finland has its’ own sauna.

Now, get your towel, we are going to sauna!

The Steam of Finnish Culture – The Importance of Finnish Sauna Culture

Photo: Visit Finland / Harri Tarvainen


Have you already tasted the Finnish sauna culture? Share your most memorable sauna moment on the comments below—or let’s discuss about it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Written by Bruce Deschamps
French Travel Blogger & Wilderness Guide in love with the great outdoors. The Finnish Lapland is my favorite playground!