Four facts about Finnish sauna bathing
1. The length of a sauna visit can vary from 5 minutes to 5 hours (or longer).
There is not a defined length for sauna bathing. Take a communal swimming pool for instance: many people might stay in the sauna only for a few minutes on their way to the swimming pool. At home going to the sauna might take them 30 mins to 2 hours. In older apartment buildings every resident can book a weekly sauna time in the shared sauna, and a very common lenght is one hour. And then again, at a summer cottage or in a party, sauna bathing can take many, many hours. But of course, that doesn't mean that one stays in the sauna all that time. In between it's common to cool down in the sauna veranda or in a lake.
2. Sauna can take place any time of the day.
Traditionally, sauna is heated in the evening, usually on weekends. But you can go into the sauna any time during the day (or night). Morning sauna might fresh you up if you have had a long party the evening before. Day sauna is a good idea if there is a need to go somewhere in the evening. For example, Christmas sauna can take place during the afternoon on Christmas Eve, before the festivities start.
3. The Finns have two favourite sauna drinks: Beer and Original Long Drink
Sauna drink can technically be whatever but there are two definite favourites among the Finnish people: lager beer (such as Lapin Kulta) or Hartwall Original Long Drink (called also lonkero in Finnish) which is a mix of premium Finnish gin and grapefruit. In addition, sparkling and still water are safe bets for a sauna bathing session. When it comes to stronger spirits, Jaloviina is also a traditional sauna drink. If there is a bigger party and sauna is organized as a part of it, it is common surprise to hide a bottle of Jaloviina somewhere in the sauna premises for the guests to enjoy.
4. Helsinki's public sauna culture is booming.
Originally, sauna has been a place to clean up which is why Helsinki has always been filled with public saunas. One of the oldest saunas still in operation is Kotiharjun sauna in Kallio which was opened in 1928. During the recent years, new, public urban saunas have appeared in the city and the sauna culture is certainly booming. Here is a list:
- Löyly: Helsinki's modern sauna experience has gained international attention worldwide. It is a design sauna by the sea. After a sauna and bathing, stay on the terrace to enjoy the evening sun.
- Sauna Hermanni: Built after the second world war. In the locker room you can enjoy your own refreshments or buy on-site.
- Arla's Sauna: Located since 1929 at the corner of Kaarlenkatu and Helsinginkatu. The steam room is heated by natural gas and trees.
- Kaurila's sauna: This is an idyllic and quiet place very close to the center of Helsinki. Tickets are pre-purchased online.
- Culture Sauna: A very urban spot in the hip northern downtown Helsinki. Offers an ice swimming opportunity during winter time.
- Lonna Island Sauna: Lonna is a public island located between Kauppatori and Suomenlinna, only a 10-min waterbus ride away. The island is open to everyone and there there is a restaurant and a café. It is advisable to book sauna time in advance.