May 7, 2013

Sauna is the hottest place in Finland

If you visit Finland and leave without experiencing sauna even once, you have missed an essential part of the local culture. For many Finnish people sauna is a part of everyday life and it is enjoyed at least once a week.

Many Finns have a sauna in their own home. If they haven’t had it in the first place, they might have built it in their apartment – for example where their walk-in closet used to be! In apartments the saunas are electric, but in the countryside it’s often heated with wood and it gives the nice, softer heat.

If you get invited to a Finnish summer cottage you can be sure to find a sauna there. I’m not even sure if a summer cottage was considered a proper one if there was no sauna. At least the owners would be asked frequently “So, when are you going to build the sauna here?” It is expected.

Sauna by a lake. A place to relax and unwind.
Photo by Visit Finland Image Bank

It is quite magical in the summer when you can first enjoy the hot sauna and then go swimming in the clean waters of a lake or a sea. And then go back to sauna again. Back and forth!

Sauna in a Hostel

Many Finnish hostels provide their guests the real sauna experience. Many have included it in the price and you share the sauna with other guests (men and women bathe separately). Or then you can rent the sauna for yourself. Here is a complete list of all the hostels in our network that have saunas.

Smoke sauna

This gorgeous sauna building below is in the Lakeland area in the village of Joutsa at Hostel Vaihelan tila. It's a smoke sauna, so it takes a whole day to heat and therefore they are not used on daily basis. 

Joutsa, Vaihelan tila smoke sauna

Joutsa, Vaihelan tila smoke sauna

Here's another smoke sauna (in Finnish "savusauna"). This one is at SKO-hostel in Savonlinna, which is also in the Lakeland area.

There's a hostel called Hostel Ahopää in Saariselkä, Lapland. The hostel is part of Kiilopää Fell Centre and they offer you the experience of smoke sauna few times a week. They also have "normal saunas". Here's an introduction the all their sauna facilities.

Sauna at Kiilopää Fell Centre in Saariselkä, Lapland
Kiilopää Fell Centre is a home to Hostel Ahopää too in lovely Lapland.

Sauna by a Lake in Lapland

Hostel Visatupa is a real gem for anyone who loves nature and wants to experience the countryside in Lapland. They have a very good sauna too, it's right by a lake. In the winter you can even try ice-swimming!

sauna by a lake at Hostel Visatupa in Lapland
Sauna at Hostel Visatupa in Lapland

Let's have a look inside

Without people there though...

Koskelan lomatalo, Kaustinen
There's a log or two ready for the next time the sauna is heated at Hostel Koskelan lomatalo in West Finland

Toholampi, Hirvikoski retkeilyhotelli sauna
Cozy sauna at Hostel Hirvikoski in Toholampi

City saunas

Many city hostels offer the traveller a chance to enjoy this Finnish tradition too.

The pictures below are from two hostels in Helsinki. First there's Eurohostel that has just recently renovated their saunas to resemble a very traditional Finnish smoke sauna. It is electric though. And the morning sauna is included in the accommodation price.

Eurohostel sauna in Helsinki, Finland

Eurohostel sauna in Helsinki, Finland

Also Hostel Domus Academica, located in central Helsinki, offers its' guests a morning sauna. Plus a refreshing swim in the pool.

Hostel Domus Academica, Helsinki

Want to learn more about sauna? Start by reading an article '10 Sauna Tips for Beginners' on

And if you wonder about the health effects sauna has, here's some information at Visit Sauna website.

HI Membership goes sauna!

Hostelling International members, make use of your membership even outside the hostels while in Finland: Forum Sauna in Turku gives you a 10% discount on all sauna and spa treatments

See you in sauna!

by Kati

updated in October 2014