Public saunas in Finland- Finnmark tests “löylys” at 4 venues
Sep 04, 2023
Finnmark travelled to Finland last month to visit our local suppliers and some of the well-known public saunas within the capital region and Tampere. In a country of over 3 million saunas, our picks for the limited time included a balanced mix of modern and traditional designs, as well as city and rural locations. The four public saunas we list in this blog post are unique but obtain similar elements that define an authentic sauna experience. We started at Löyly Helsinki, onwards to Lake Kuusijärvi and Lonna, and finished off at Pereensaaren sauna at the sauna capital, Tampere.
Löyly- Modern and acclaimed, Helsinki seafront
Our first public sauna visit was Helsinki’s Löyly, recognised by the Time Magazine as one of the 100 greatest places in the world.
The stylish exterior encloses a restaurant, terrace and the sauna area. You can enjoy a sea view whilst enjoying food and drinks or experiencing the local sauna culture. Sauna visitors can dip into the sea year-round, which generates the health benefits and invigorating feeling from alternating between hot and cold. The sauna area includes a smoke sauna, a traditional sauna with a wood burning stove, showers, a small bar, terrace and a fireplace with seating around. There are also two private-hire saunas, one of which is located outside by the pier as a standalone and the other inside the main facilities.
Löyly is located by the seafront close by the capital's centre.
When entering the sauna area, you are greeted by the staff and given a locker key, towel and a seat cover. As with many public city saunas where the main areas are mixed, guests are asked to wear bathing suits.
The smoke sauna is first on our list. We spot birch whisks by the entrance and bring some in to complement the "löylys". The large, dark lit smoke sauna is almost full. A steep staircase opens at the front with the massive stove next to it. The two-tiered, u-shaped benching is high at the top of the steps where the heat rises to. It seems like there’s a good mix of locals and tourists from all around enjoying the smoky heat in the heart of the capital.
Whisks complement the smoke sauna experience.
After the smoke sauna we head to the terrace and the sea. The drizzly early August evening is ideal for cooling off. Once we are done with swimming and starting to feel slightly chilly, it's time for the second sauna round. The roughly 20-person sauna with a wood burning stove is quieter in comparison to the smoke sauna. The heat feels soft, and the steam doesn’t get too intense when water is thrown onto the hot stones. Afterwards, we order some refreshing drinks and sit by the fireplace.
Löyly's relaxation area inside has a cozy fireplace.
The entire sauna area at Löyly is tidy despite the high-turnaround of bathers. There is plenty of space to socialise and cool down in, with stunning views and an overall cozy atmosphere. If visitors don’t feel like swimming in the sea, there is also a bucket shower and regular showers at the center of the facilities. To top of the visit, we enjoy local food at the restaurant.
You can have a look at what else Löyly offers by clicking the link below:
Lake Kuusijärvi- Traditional smoke saunas in Vantaa
The next day we head to Lake Kuusijärvi, which is a 20-minute drive from Helsinki-Vantaa airport. Kuusijärvi is a popular outdoor area for locals, offering cross-country skiing facilities in the winter and a sandy beach during summer. The recreational centre has a café that is open daily.
Lake Kuusijärvi is located near Helsinki- Vantaa airport.
The lake area is quiet and out of the way from the main road. Lake Kuusijärvi has separate electric saunas for men and women, and three smoke saunas- “savusaunas”, which are mixed. The electric saunas are within the restaurant building, right next to the changing rooms and showers.
We make our way to the first smoke sauna, which is one of the two smaller saunas at Kuusijärvi. The dark room has a pleasant smoky aroma and the heat hits you as soon as the door opens. A local Finn joins us on the benches and mentions that he usually prefers visiting the smoke saunas later in the day when they are not quite as hot. In any case, it is relaxing, peaceful and the heat feels enjoyable. Afterwards, you can head straight to the pier and jump into the cool lake.
Fresh lake water after a smoky "savusauna" tops off the experience. Image from Unsplash.
The large smoke sauna we save for last is clearly a crowd pleaser. The heat is quite intense, and we sprint back to the lake within the next 15 minutes as an eager co-sauna goer pours a generous amount of water onto the hot stones.
Lake Kuusijärvi is a must visit for anyone who is looking for a traditional sauna experience! Our tip is to try to schedule it closer towards the end of the day, especially if you prefer a slightly gentler heat.
Island of Lonna – Helsinki
Our third sauna destination is Lonna. Lonna is an island located a 10-minute ferry ride from the Helsinki Market Square. The island is a popular summer destination with a quaint restaurant serving local cuisine, a coffee shop, bar and of course the two saunas with a large terrace facing the archipelago view.
The ferry to Lonna leaves from the Helsinki Market Square.
As soon as you step off the ferry, it feels like miles away from the hustle of the city even though you can still see the market square. Lonna Island used to be a base for storing and clearing mines, now serving as a relaxing getaway for locals and tourists. The map at the end of the pier directs us to the café and terrace area where you can make a quick stop for a refreshment before the sauna.
Lonna Island has a café, restaurant, terrace and of course the saunas.
The sauna area comprises of two large loft saunas heated with wood burning stoves. As with many public saunas, a steep staircase takes you up to the benching. Underneath the benching is a washing area with water taps, buckets, and Osmia shampoos and soaps, which was a lovely touch to the sauna experience. The sauna pass gives you two full hours to enjoy the sauna, terrace and swimming in the sea. The sauna facilities have a small reception and bar that serve beverages visitors can take to the sauna.
Lonna has two log saunas that are heated with wood burning stoves.
After the first round of "löylys", it's time for a swim. This time plunging straight in isn’t an option and making your way into the water through the pebbles and rocks may pose a slight a challenge for someone who isn't keen on cold. However, once you get used to the water temperature and make your way back to the sauna, a refreshing feeling takes over any initial discomfort.
The saunas at Lonna Island are mixed, and guests are asked to respect general public sauna rules when visiting.
The saunas are mixed with separate changing rooms for men and women, and there is a unisex changing area as well. Swim attire is optional, and as Lonna describes it “you can enjoy our sauna the way you feel the most comfortable.” After getting your dose of sauna, the restaurant serves delicious food from locally sourced ingredients or a snack from the coffee shop.
You can visit Lonna here.
The ultimate lake sauna experience - Pereensaaren Sauna, Tampere
Pereensaaren sauna is a new public sauna that opened earlier this summer in Tampere, the sauna capital of the world. Located by lake Pyhäjärvi, the stylish, simplistic and modern building offers a truly authentic sauna experience with luxurious elements.
Pereensaaren sauna is located in the sauna capital, Tampere.
Walking in through the main entrance, there is a cozy café and bar you can stop at before, during or after the sauna. The shower area is modern and equipped with Rento cosmetics to use. The facilities are extremely clean, and guests are asked to rinse off before entering the sauna. This is the policy in all public saunas across the country.
Pereensaaren sauna offers Rento soaps to enjoy.
The sauna is large and quite busy in the early evening. The wooden stairs open up into a U-shape with two tears, similarly to the construction in the modern public saunas in Helsinki. This is the first public sauna during our stay in which electric heaters are at the centre point. Pereensaaren sauna is heated with two large electric heaters, which are powerful enough to heat up the 40-person area.
The large pier at Pereensaaren sauna.
To our surprise and delight, a mother brings her less-than a year-old baby to the lower bench. She seems to be enjoying the “löyly” time in a bucket filled with cool water. The new sauna facilities have attracted families with small children and the overall atmosphere is very friendly and relaxed. The time flies by alternating between the sauna, terrace and the lake.
Avantopool Kinos at Pereensaaren public sauna.
You can also hop into Avantopool’s Kinos cold water plunge pool if the summer temperatures of the lake are too tame. The saunas remain open during wintertime, when you can also dip into the renowned “hole in the ice.” If this inspired you to visit Tampere, have a look at what Pereensaaren sauna offers here.
The terrace has lounge chairs facing the lake, so you can relax and enjoy the nature view.
Out of the four public saunas we visited, there is no clear winner as the experiences were unique in their own way. We noticed many similarities between the saunas, including the bench layouts, surrounding nature, location right by water, cleanliness and food and beverages served within the facilities. Sauna from Finland have created eight core values of the authentic sauna experience, which you could spot in all the above public saunas.