Helsinki is a city that will find a way to make you fall in love with her no matter for what your purpose of visit is. It is one of the few cities in the world that has established her own way of blending the marks of history with the phase of the modern day. While feeding your soul with the beautiful architecture, design, clean streets, breath taking nature, nice people and its one of a kind atmosphere, Helsinki does not forget to serve you well with its cozy cafes, elegant restaurants, and stylish boutiques and much more. However one unique experience that is special to this city can be added on the top of this list; the Finnish Sauna.
On the contrary to the general perception of the modern day people that live out of Finland, or let’s say not Nordic, sauna is a necessity rather than a luxury according to Finnish people. That is exactly why most houses across the country have got their own saunas which are used as places to relax with close circle of friends and family.
To understand why Finnish people care this much about these steamy part of their culture, it is enough to take a closer look at their history. Although saunas’ origin in Finland cannot be tracked clearly, there is proof of Finnish people used the saunas for variety of aims including cooking and giving birth since the place was considered to be the most sterile part of their house. Taking advantage of the wood abundance in the land, it was common for Finnish people to start building their house from the sauna part. When the climate conditions are also taken into consideration, the passion for saunas throughout the country becomes even more reasonable.
Although they are not used for the same varied purposes, saunas are still the favorite part of their culture for most of the Finnish people. Not only in rural areas, but also in big cities such as the capital Helsinki, Turku and Tampere saunas are still in use as an everyday part of life.
As a busy traveler, a sauna experience might (let’s say should) be the thing to try out after a couple of days that are filled to the brim with meetings in Helsinki. Besides, you don’t have to wait to make a Finnish friend and get an invitation to their house and relax in their sauna thanks to a couple of public saunas (mostly referred as spas today) that are as clean as the personally owned ones. In addition, the service you will get may be more than what you expect and there is a high probability that you’ll leave the place relaxed, rested and glad that you have tried the experience.
Here are 2 Finnish sauna recommendations in Helsinki to choose from and enjoy the best form of steam in the best place could be.
Arla Sauna is the most iconic sauna in Helsinki. It was established in 1929 and has been serving the visitors since then. This typical Finnish sauna is wood-fired and guarantees you traditional sauna experience. The design considered to be old-fashioned in a good way because it eventually makes the visitors feel they are trying out something that has been a part of the culture for a long time. The saunas are separate for men and women. You can visit Arla Sauna only from Wednesday to Sunday; Mondays and Tuesdays are closed.
Address: Karlsgatan 15, 00510 Helsinki
Phone: +358 9 719218
Kotiharjun is another one you can try if you want to experience the sauna in an authentic way. There are a lot of people who changed their minds at the last minute and didn’t go in once they saw the place from outside however the ones who went in say it was the most relaxing moment of their life. Again, women and men have separate saunas and the visitors can rent or buy anything they may need, like towels and flip-flops. Kotiharjun is also famous for its “löyly”, the Finnish steam bath. Don’t forget to try it out.
Address: Harjutorinkatu 1, Helsinki 00500
Phone: +358 9 7531535
The Sauna Etiquette
The saunas are great but one must always keep in mind that there are certain things to keep in mind before trying one out. The first thing is of course is to be sure that your health condition favors the experience. Here are some other things that may be good to know in advance:
-Taking a shower is required before entering the sauna.
-You are encouraged to try the sauna nude but if you don’t feel comfortable in that way, you can use a towel wrapped around your body.
-You may be offered to use the Finnish "vihta" made of silver birch to massage yourself to improve the blood circulation; don't be shy, give it a try.
-Use a towel to sit on; both for hygienic reasons and because of the probable hotness of the wood you’ll sit on.
-You are the only one that is responsible from yourself. Watch your body and the signals it gives; don’t push yourself to stay longer than you feel you can.
-If it will be your first time in a sauna, try to stay away from alcohol.
-Sauna is not regarded as something associated with sex or eroticism and any behavior that contrasts with this is not being tolerated.