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This blog is about Finland, so there has to be the obligatory sauna post. And here it comes. We have our own sauna in the flat. That’s not out of the ordinary here, and in houses where not all flats are equipped with their own sauna, there often is a common sauna which you can book for one hour per week for a small fee. These saunas are quite handy, for example to dry your laundry when you haven’t got a drying rack yet. But of course also for taking a sauna.

As you know, Finns are very proud of their sauna culture, and it belongs to all aspects of daily life. At houseparties, the sauna will sometimes be warmed up, and guests tend to bring towels with them just in case. Some parties just happen at the sauna – at larger saunas, which are either public or belong to a society, and can be rented specially for the party. Sauna culture also makes it into business life, and during networking events it is not unusual to go to the sauna. Finns view German sauna culture with bemusement – water can only be poured onto the stones by the bath attendent, mysterious steam wafting ceremonies? Ridiculous. British sauna culture is not considered at all, thanks to the compulsory wearing of swimwear.

But sometimes they do go over the top just a little with their love of saunas. There are sauna trailers for caravaning holidays, floating sauna rafts, saunacars,… Here’s my top 10 weirdest saunas I have heard of so far:

1.  Sauna in the stadium. Helsinki’s Hartwall Arena has VIP boxes that are equipped with saunas. That way you can sweat while watching an ice hockey match or large concert.

Promotional image
Promotional image

2. Sauna in the library. Helsinki’s new central library comes with a sauna, to promote Finnish sauna culture. I just hope the books will have to stay outside…

ALA-arkkitehdit
ALA-arkkitehdit

3. Sauna in a phonebox. It’s transparent, it’s transportable, it’s… a sauna. Because they can.

Phonebooth sauna Credit: Oktober Oy
Phonebooth sauna Credit: Oktober Oy

4. Fast Food Sauna. At the end of 2015, Burger King Helsinki opened the world’s first fast food sauna (although apparently there is or has been a sausage van sauna in Tampere). Perfect to sweat off all the calories you just ate.

Image: Restel Oy
Image: Restel Oy

5. Sauna gondola. If you’re bored of just having a sauna or stunning views, why not have both at the same time. You can do this in Lapland in the sauna gondola. If you want to cool down halfway through the journey it is not recommended to leave the sauna though.

visitsauna.fi
visitsauna.fi

6. Ice sauna. There are some ice saunas which are “cold saunas”, but also some which are regular hot saunas. Floor and walls are made of ice, but still the room is heated up to around 70°C. This must be Finland’s reply to Britain’s separate hot and cold water taps.

Image: Rukan Salonki
Image: Rukan Salonki

7. Sauna duck. If cruising around Helsinki on a giant duck isn’t cool enough yet, you’ll be relieved to know that this one also comes with a sauna.

Fin-Duck Rent
Fin-Duck Rent

8. Warship Sauna. Let’s stay on Helsinki’s water, as there’s another sauna worth mentioning: On board the warship Vartiovene 55 is a sauna with space for 15 people. I highly doubt it was part of the interior when the ship was still in service though. EDIT: I have now been made aware that at least some of the larger Finnish warships in service do indeed have saunas for officers and soldiers to use!

Vartiovene 55
Vartiovene 55

9. Combined Harvester sauna. The word “combined” gets an entirely new meaning. Although I’m pretty certain that harvesting with this thing won’t be very successful anymore. I’m not a farmer, but somehow I struggle to imagine one thinking “oh, this is a bit chilly harvesting here, I wish I had a sauna in in this thing”.

Copyright EPA
Copyright EPA

10. Portable sauna. If despite all these sauna options you’re still scared to be left out in the cold, simply invest in a portable sauna.

theatlantic.com
theatlantic.com
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20 thoughts on “Sauna Nation – The 10 Weirdest Saunas in Finland

  1. Re #9: I guess you’ll have to clean the harvester before saunaing, and let it properly dry off after saunaing, so saunaing during harvesting will be much less fun… Having a portable sauna nearby would make much more sense 😉

    And sauna in the library sounds funny, too. I hope they have a good venting system to get rid of the steam so it won’t fill the library (and destroy the books) 😉

  2. I lived in Finland. I saw or was in sauna
    – in my bank
    – in an insurance company (complete with pool)
    – in my 4th host father’s tug boat (he worked in a port)
    – in a historic sailboat
    – in the hospital where my first host father worked
    – in a ski lodge
    In apartment buildings where there are shared saunas, each family has a schedule day and time for weekly sauna. It is not at all uncommon to ride the elevator with your neighbours in towel or house coat, heading to/from their sauna time. I miss sauna!

      1. Nah. It is just normal PR for the companies. They loan them to sports clubs, associations – as well as to firms that are their customers. No big dial.

      1. Nope. Sauna is a clean place and hot water readily available. In the past, that is. For same reason in the old times dead people were washed in sames saunas. That is why saunas are sacred places for Finns; they symbolize life cycle.

  3. Jo, die Bib-Sauna, hab ich schon drüber gelesen, da sind wir noch weit davon entfernt – andererseits weiß ich nicht, ob ich so manche Kollegen oder auch Benutzer in der Sauna treffen möchte…

  4. A great post about Finnish saunas, just one thing: it’s likely that the new library will be built without a sauna, at least that was the information they gave last year in the news http://yle.fi/uutiset/keskustakirjastoon_ei_tule_saunaa/7962244 – maybe you could replace that one with another one because, after all, there are over two million of them? Like the public saunas in Helsinki, or the one in the former prison http://www.hotelkatajanokka.fi/ravintola/tilaussauna.html, or the ones in Pihlajasaari, or Sompasauna 🙂

    1. Oh, I thought they had changed their mind again and approved it in the end… I’ll have a look at those others, thanks =)

  5. One more speciality, a sauna on wheels: http://www.vetosauna.fi/sauna_website/#english

    For the Finnish sauna culture, open ‘The official travel guide of Finland’ at http://www.visitfinland.com/article/join-the-finns-in-the-sauna/

    I’ve worked in quite a few office buildings in Finland – and so far each of them has had a sauna. So have the hospitals and fire stations. When children go to the swimming hall (and that they all do at least a few times a year), they first go the sauna. Some years later they chat sitting in the university student unions’ saunas. Whether you live in an orphans’ home or a nursing home for the aged, you’ll have a sauna there.

    I guess that 10 or 100 weird saunas could be found in many countries, not just in Finland. The real speciality of Finns is building a sauna everywhere. One at home, another at your summer cottage where you take your real friends, third at workplace where you take your business friends,…

    And the real sauna elite naturally have their own Sauna Association fostering the sauna traditions: http://www.sauna.fi/in-english/the-finnish-sauna-society/welcome/

  6. When the Helsinki Music Centre or Musiikkitalo (concert hall) was completed in 2011, the sauna that was built in the dressing rooms of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra made the news, even internationally. I can’t find a picture of it right now, but it was shown in a video clip on the Yle website at least. It’s a tiny sauna in a windowless, underground part of the concert hall building, so maybe not so much to look at. The other symphony orchestra housed in the building, the Finnish Radio Symphony, did not request a sauna, so their dressing rooms apparently don’t have one.

  7. Since 70’s (May have been 60’s) sauna has actually been mandatory in ships under Finnish flag! This should also be the case with navy too. Finnish seamans union is responsible of that

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