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Finns and their Sauna: a Dive into the Finnish Sauna Culture

Finns love their sauna. The sauna experience is a deep dive to Finnish culture and mentality and you absolutely shouldn't leave Finland without trying it. 

What’s the magic of sauna about and how is the perfect sauna experience achieved? Read on and we’ll tell you and share our best sauna tips and also one unforgettable arctic thrill!

If your Finnish friend or guide invites you to the sauna, don’t think twice, just say I’m in! In the atmospheric dim dusk of the sauna you’ll learn a lot, both about your fellow sauna mates and about the Finnish mentality and psyche. Some like their sauna hot hot hot, while others prefer to reserve a seat on the lower benches. Others wish to pour their heart while others enjoy the relaxing heat in silence.   

The sauna is in the core of the Finnish culture. There are 5,5 million inhabitants in Finland and more than 3 million saunas. This means one sauna per household, on average. Saunas are found in private apartments, on the shores of Finland's countless lakes, in company buildings, floating on water and even underground, like the Storfinnhova underground sauna. We also have for example the concept lenkkisauna (the sauna we take after a good and sweaty run), Culture sauna (a special and atmospheric public sauna in Helsinki, which in fact is Japanese onsen inspired) and of course the classic, the atmospheric Christmas sauna, enjoyed often on Christmas Eve. And wait, there's also the bridal sauna with its rituals and many detailed traditions: for example salt, honey, flour and spruce branches can all be included in the occassion.  

The magic and enchantment of the whole thing is that sauna cleanses us both physically and mentally. In sauna we are naked, there’s no need to pretend anything or try to be more or less of something. Sauna is about utter relaxation and after the purifying steam life becomes simpler, clearer and lighter. An important part of the sauna magic is also the sauna & dip in the lake/sea combo. In the summer the lake gives wonderful cooling where as in the winter the dip into the frozen sea or lake is a thrilling adrenaline filled arctic experience, both terrible and addictively fantastic at the same time. Imagine a thousand small needles tingling on your skin as you step out of the freezing water. It’s an ultimate arctic thrill, purely awesome. 

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Our sauna tips to you

By now you must be all ready and eager for the full sauna experience. Before you head to the soothing heat, take our sauna tips with you.

•    Most Finns go to the sauna naked, even with strangers. But, if you wish, you can wear your swimsuit or towel. But, for example at the summer house by the lake it is purely liberating to run to the lake from the sauna butt naked and free as a bird. 

•    Throwing water on the rocks will increase the humidity in the sauna and the steam will make you sweat more. If you’re going to the sauna with a bunch of others, you can ask if it’s ok to throw more water (löyly, in Finnish). Most often it is, of course, but it's polite to ask. 

•    Vihta is a bundle of fresh birch twigs with which you can whip yourself. Gently! The vihta extracts a unique scent and your skin will feel smooth afterwards. 

•    You can repeat the cycle of sauna & cooling of either on the terrace or in the lake as many times as you wish. Some sauna lovers do it for hours and hours. The daring ones roll in the snow in the winter time and after this refreshing thrill run back to the sweet warmth.  

•    After the sauna remember to drink cold water as you have sweated quite a bit. Having a cold sauna beer or a cider is popular while cooling of. Also cooking sausages either above the sauna stove or by a fireplace is both traditional and delicious. 

And then, enjoy, both the sauna and the post-sauna bliss!  

Explore the beautiful Now/here sauna experiences:

Get Cleansed and Enjoy the Traditional Sauna  

Sauna Tour: SUP Fitness & Saunayoga 

And discover more of the handpicked Now/here experiences!  

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