In a country where there are likely more saunas than cars, a person doesn’t have to go far to find a steamy room to warm away the winter chill. Devotees both young and old flock to saunas—essential to Finnish culture—to restore themselves mentally and physically with the hot löyly (steam). However, don’t be shocked to see people rolling around in the snow or taking a dip in arctic waters to cool down and elongate the healing practice.
Traditionally set in semi-dark rooms with temperatures often rising above 150°F, saunas can be found anywhere from Parliament to private homes. But for Finns—and visitors feeling a little more adventurous—here are 10 surprising places to get your steam on.
Burger King Sauna
Experience sauna culture like fast food royalty at the Burger King sauna in downtown Helsinki. For 280 euros (U.S. $322), you and 14 of your friends can enjoy a three-hour sauna experience that includes towels, locker room access, and a TV with an entertainment system. If the photos you take aren’t enough of a souvenir, upgrade your package and take home your own Royal Burger King bathrobe. As a word of caution, any food eaten inside the sauna may end up a tad bit sweaty.
Descend underground below the small fishing village of Herrankukkaro to experience one of the world’s largest underground smoke saunas. With enough space to seat 124 visitors across six levels, this sauna follows the ancestral tradition of burning birch wood. Occasionally, local bands perform live music for entertainment.
Kesän Floating Sauna
Drifting leisurely along the Gulf of Bothnia, the Kesän Floating Sauna is a rare find in the world of saunas. Completely run by volunteers, this sauna sits on a small wooden raft and is one of the few unisex public saunas, meaning bathing suits are required. While not rentable for groups, anyone can enjoy the floating sauna during the summer months for five euros (U.S. $5.77).
Rukan Salonki Ice Sauna
A perfect contradiction, the Rukan Salonki Ice Sauna combines the heat from the sauna and the cold from the ice found in surrounding lakes to create a unique steamy effect. To keep from overheating, the resort provides a hole in the ice for visitors to take a refreshing dip in the lake before toddling back inside to warm up. The sauna is open from late December to late March, depending on the weather, and can fit 10 people at a time.
Elevate your sauna experience with the Saunabussi as you take in the sights along the open road. Travelers can custom-plan their own quests around the Kussamo area. When you need a break from the wood-heated sauna, break out the karaoke machine to keep the party going.
Enjoy epic views of modern Finland and the Baltic Sea on the Helsinki SkySauna. For 240 euros (U.S. $277) per hour (with additional hours at half price), four people snag unlimited rotations between the private lounge, hot tub, and Ferris wheel sauna. Added bonus: You’ll have some brag-worthy selfies.
Ylläs Sauna Gondola
Gaze down on the winter wonderland of Lapland, Finland, during an Ylläs Sauna Gondola ride. Ideal for people who love heights and scenic views, the 20-minute ride starts at the top of Ylläs mountain before dropping off the group of three to four people to explore the resort’s other saunas, fireplace, and outside hot tub. The fixed price of 1,350 euros (U.S. $1,558) includes a two-hour experience for up to 12 people.
Sauna at sea on the warship, Vartivene 55. Built in 1959, the ship served in the Finnish Navy for 40 years before being renovated for private charter. Below deck, the sauna can accommodate up to 15 people at a time. Guests can combine their sauna experience with a cruise around Helsinki, a karaoke fiesta, or dinner party.
Iniskin Bay, Alaska
The Iniskin River resembles a reflective ribbon of glass as it flows into its namesake bay.
Whether you’re a devout hockey fan, want to impress your business clients, or both, Skybox 270 at the Hartwell Arena provides a tasteful sauna experience everyone can enjoy. Prices range from 400 to over 2,500 euros (U.S. $400-$2,886) depending on the stadium’s event calendar, and the box can hold up to 30 people at a time.
If you find yourself needing a bit of sauna time in the Finnish wilderness or by the sea, consider purchasing a sauna tent. Compact and portable, they’re ideal for mobile adventurers. Depending on the tent, the sauna stove can also be used to a cook a hot meal before bed.
- Nat Geo Expeditions