There are many myths surrounding the Finnish sauna, and some of them are half-truths. So how do people in the motherland of the sauna really sweat? What are the differences between German and Finnish sauna habits? In this article, I’ll tell you all about it and give you tips on where you can experience Finnish sauna culture in a particularly authentic way.
Photo: Visit Finland
The sauna is deeply rooted in Finnish culture
The sauna is deeply rooted in Finnish culture. For generations it has been an integral part of everyday life in every family. It is estimated that there are around three million saunas in Finland – a more than decent number considering that the country has just 5.5 million inhabitants. In the past, even the children were born in the sauna. In view of these facts, it is understandable that the whole thing in Finland has less of an “event character” than is often the case in Germany and Central Europe.
Saunas at home and at the Mökki
Most Finns have at least one sauna at home. In earlier times, it was the first building erected – even before the residential house. Today, the sauna is not necessarily found in its own sauna house, but often integrated into the main house. In apartment buildings, shared saunas have a tradition that each family is allowed to use on its own at a certain time. This is called “saunavuorot”. Then, of course, there is also the sauna at the summer house, the Mökki. It is usually located right on the water, so you can cool off in the lake after sweating. Still many saunas at the summer houses are equipped with wood-burning stoves.
Photo: Visit Finland
The new trend of public sauna
In addition to the very private sauna experience, Finns have also (re)discovered their love of public saunas in recent years. This is evident in the trend toward modern sauna-restaurant complexes, which can now be found in several major cities. The best-known spot of this kind is probably Löyly in Helsinki, which is backed by actor Jasper Pääkkönen (“Vikings”), among others. Other recommended venues include Kuuma in Tampere, Sataman Viilu in Jyväskylä and Saana in Kuopio. If you prefer original and traditional, Rajaportin sauna in Tampere is a good choice. This is the oldest public sauna still in operation in the country.
Differences between German and Finnish sauna culture
While in Germany there are a lot of rules around the sauna, in Finland the whole thing is handled rather more relaxed and looser. There is no hourglass that sauna-goers should follow, but everyone stays in as long as they feel is right. A towel-waving sauna master, responsible for the infusions in German saunas, is also completely unknown in Finland. Here, even in public saunas, everyone is allowed to throw “löyly”, that is, to make infusions. While in Germany women and men bath in sauna naked and together, most public saunas in Finland are gender segregated and/or sauna in swimwear.
Buy original Finnish sauna products at Little Finland
Do you have a private backyard or home sauna and want to make it a little more Finnish? Then you will find in Little Finland online store a wide range of original Finnish sauna fragrances, which are characterized by their naturalness. Whether it’s birch scented infusions or a blueberry sauna honey, the choice is yours. Funny sauna hats or seat covers with Moomin motifs round off your authentic Finnish sauna experience at home. Or perhaps one of the incredibly comfortable Ecofurn wooden chairs for relaxing in the outdoor area afterwards?
Dive with us into the authentic sauna culture in Finland
If you now feel like getting to know the real Finnish sauna culture on site, then I have another tip for you: Just come along on one of my Sauna Cult Tour trips to Helsinki and Tampere, which I organize together with my friends and travel specialists Finnfloat Green Travel. The six-day wellness trip of the special kind takes place consciously in a very small group (7 to maximally 12 participants), because we would like it to be totally relaxed and familiar. During the trip we will not only visit several Finnish cult saunas in the capital Helsinki as well as in the world sauna capital Tampere, but there is also plenty of room for city walks, coffee together at the market and enough time for free activities. After all, we want to go home relaxed and with a pleasant grin on our lips. All information about the trip, dates and prices can be found here.
Text: René Schwarz
About the Author:
René Schwarz is half Finnish and grew up bilingual. The self-employed copywriter and author travels regularly in his second home country and loves to share his passion for Suomi with others. Since the beginning of 2016, he has also been doing this on his blog FinnTouch, where you can expect, among other things, numerous Finland travel tips, interviews with Finnish artists and also very personal stories. Take a look at www.finntouch.de !
P.S. Extra bonus in Little Finland Hanau!
Did you know that we have many popular Finnish sauna products in our Little Finland store in Hanau? In the charming store you will also discover the best-selling sauna drinks such as Finnish beer and long drink. In addition, you can enjoy a cup of Finnish coffee and Korvapuusti in Hanau and test and order the original EcoFurn wooden garden chairs.
Now we have a great bonus for all friends of sauna and Finland: we offer -10 % on all sauna products in the Hanau store until 17.06.2023. Welcome to find out how you can make your Finnish style sauna experience even more enjoyable!