Public Sauna in Helsinki: Discover the Finnish Culture

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During my week in Helsinki I had a chance to experience a real public sauna. As you know, sauna culture is well entrenched within Finnish customs and most people have a private or semi-private sauna. Only 3 public saunas remain in Helsinki including the one I went to, the Hermanni sauna . Trying a public sauna is a must. If you go to visit Helsinki, you cannot miss it.

Finnish public sauna

Obviously the words “public sauna” lead you to think that you will be sharing it with people who do not know each other, and indeed you are. However, do not expect a kind of Finnish spa similar to those we are now used to. The Hermanni sauna is practically located in a basement, and there is one sauna for women and one for men.

I try to help you understand the situation: close your eyes and imagine the locker room of an old 70s/80s gym…wooden lockers, a central table with two benches, the most complete disinhibition toward nudity and…the smell of sausages! That’s what the public sauna experience is all about.

spogliatoi sauna pubblica finlandese
Public sauna locker rooms

What do sausages have to do with he locker rooms of a sauna you may ask…

It is simply a different basic concept than ours. For the Finns, the sauna is a time of both well-being and interaction with the people who share those moments with them. The locker room, although a bit spartan, is very welcoming and people tend to converse, compare, discuss almost as if they were at the bar. Effectively, as I told you in the previous post, it is little short of being at an aperitif.

In lieu of cookies and homegrown purifying herbal teas, you have the option of having beer and a sausage sandwich. This shows how different the significance of the sauna is.

Usually, if we happen to go to the sauna in our Countries, the main aspect we focus on is relaxation. We certainly don’t go to the sauna to make new friends. In Helsinki, that is not the case.

As I was changing, a gentleman in a bathrobe was slowly enjoying his steaming dish on the center table, all the while reading the newspaper and conversing with a completely naked man behind me. The nudity does not bother me in the least; for those who are more demure, know that in a Finnish public sauna, modesty takes a back seat.

The latest public saunas in Helsinki

If you are passing through the Finnish capital even for just a couple of days, you have to have this experience, which certainly turns out to be one of the most entrenched. The last 3 public saunas are:

  • Sauna Hermanni: in operation since 1950 features two separate saunas, one for men and one for women.
  • Arla: active since 1929
  • Kotiharju

Useful information:

Towel and slippers can be rented on site.


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