Visit Helsinki

Helsinki Highlights: Visit a Local Sauna

Discover the quintessential Finnish experience by visiting public saunas in Helsinki, from traditional wood-fired saunas to modern seaside complexes, perfect for relaxing and immersing yourself in Finnish culture.

Saunas are good for just about everyone. According to an old Finnish proverb, “If sauna, liquor and tar don’t help, the disease is probably fatal.”

Sauna is a fundamental part of Finnish culture. Almost every house has a sauna, some electric and some wood fire heated. It’s estimated there are between 2 to 3 million saunas in Finland.

Saunas can be found in Finland in all types of locations, from corporate boxes in sporting stadiums to airport lounges in Helsinki, and even a sauna gondola at the Ylläs ski resort.

Below are a few of the more unique saunas you might find in Finland.

Helsinki Sauna Options

In Helsinki, where most people live in apartments, you will find communal saunas within most apartment blocks. However, there are quite a few public saunas available as well.

If you are staying at one of our favourite Helsinki hotels, you can use the sauna at the hotel's spa area. Most larger Finnish hotels have several saunas to choose from, such as eucalyptus-fragranced grotto steam saunas, Turkish hammams, and of course, traditional Finnish saunas. It’s the perfect way to relax after long flights and cure jet lag.

Kotiharjun Sauna is a traditional wood-fired sauna in central Helsinki, located close to the Sörnäinen metro station. The sauna has been operating since 1928 and is perhaps the most well-known sauna in urban Helsinki. No reservations are needed. Shared and private saunas are available.

If you are travelling in winter and would like to try ice swimming,Kultuurisauna in the Merihaka area is the place to go. Open from Wednesday to Sunday, 4 pm to 9 pm. No reservations are needed.

Yrjönkatu Swimming hall, opened in 1928, is a beautiful 1920s classicism building in the heart of Helsinki. You will find a full-size pool here, along with an electric sauna, a wood-heated sauna, and a steam sauna. The building itself is historically and architecturally significant, and the pool was the first public indoor pool in Finland.

Löyly Sauna is a must-visit, having opened in May 2016. The striking Löyly public sauna complex is in the seaside district of Hernesaari, right in front of the main harbour and a short walk from our main hotels. This new venue is easily the showiest of Helsinki’s public saunas, with three different saunas to choose from, a spacious and sleek restaurant/café, and several terrace areas for lounging. Think of it as a small sauna version of the Sydney Opera House.

If you are travelling to Helsinki in March, consider planning to coincide your tour with the Open House Day for saunas around Helsinki. Helsinki Sauna Day involves opening private residential and business premise saunas to everyone interested in enjoying a warm, relaxing steam bath.

Sauna Etiquette in Finland

In Finland, it is customary not to wear swimsuits in the sauna (towels are acceptable), and bathing suits are also optional when swimming. Generally, in public saunas, there are either separate times for women and men or separate saunas for each gender.

Image credits: Visit Finland, photographers: Harri Tarvainen, Jari Kurvinen, Vastavalo, Eetu Ahanen / Visit Helsinki

Further Reading

We also recommend exploring some 50 Degrees North tours that include a visit to Helsinki as well as the following travel blog articles by our destination specialists:

What to do in Helsinki

Nordic Design and Food Tours

Things to see and do in Helsinki with kids

Experience summer time in Helsinki with the locals

Countdown to Christmas: Magical Helsinki Christmas Markets

Our guide to Restaurants in Helsinki

May Day Celebrations in Helsinki