Best Sauna in Helsinki – Public Saunas Part I

 

 

Sauna is a Finnish tradition – a hot room with stove. For stove you throw water and the room gets even hotter. Finnish word Löyly means the steam and heat which comes from stove when you throw water. Almost all Finnish houses have sauna – Finns like to visit sauna at least once a week – some people visit sauna almost daily. It is quite usual that apartments have shared sauna and one can book weekly time for visiting sauna. Also many apartments have tiny sauna by their own.

 

In history there were many public saunas in Helsinki since not so many apartments had bathrooms and definitely no saunas in apartments. For decades number of public saunas decreased (since people got saunas by their own) but laterly there has been new bloom of public saunas. I guess people like sense of community nowadays. For that need latest bloomer in public sauna field is Sauna called Löyly. It was just opened few weeks ago and it is situated next to see in Southern Helsinki.

Löyly is both, public sauna and restaurant. When you want to visit Löyly’s sauna, you have to have swimming suit with you. Otherwise you don’t need anything special – towels are included for the entrance fee (19 euros). Some instructions for first time visitors: first you pay entrance fee, then you go to changing room (there are also lockers where you can leave your stuff). There are separate changing rooms for women and men. After changing for swimming suit you go to shower and then you can choose which of two saunas you want to visit first: there is both “basic” sauna and smoke sauna. After being in sauna for few minutes, you probably want to visit terrace, pop in sea (there is possibility to swim but the sea is very cold so you don’t want to do that for a long time) or  buy something to drink. There is also a room with fire place for taking brakes. All that is possible before visiting saunas again. When I visited sauna some days ago, the day was pretty cold. However, that didn’t stop me visiting the sea several times! There were also some tourists passing by and taking pictures of us “crazy Finns” swimming even such a cold day. Entrance fee for sauna enables you to use sauna facilities for 2 hours.

To see this fascinting building and excellent views from terrace you don’t have to visit saunas – if you prefer, you can visit only the restaurant or terrace (no entrance fee then). Restaurant is not fancy in any means but anyway really nice. I tasted burger and it was tasty. Terrace is big and has truly excellent views as mentioned earlier. I can warmly recommend the place for everyone – you can experience Finnish tradition in downtown Helsinki! If you want to be asolutely sure to have sauna experience, I recommend you to make booking in advance. And how do you find the place? The address is Hernesaarenranta 4. It is situated in southern Helsinki – I guess around 2 kilometres from Railway station. You can take bus number 14 if you don’t want to walk there.

Great sauna-moments for all of you. You surely understand I couldn’t take pictures in sauna, so that you have to see by your own.

Anna

 

Ice-skating in Helsinki part 2

Inspired by an earlier post by Anna about skating in Helsinki, I thought I should share my extensive experiences on the subject.

Let’s start from one early January morning when the weather was perfectly wintery with some -20 degrees celsius and plenty of snow. This was a few years ago when we got to enjoy a couple of true fairytale winters in Helsinki with exceptionally plentiful snow and trees disguising in glimmering white ice. That morning I hastily grabbed the 1950s skates my father used to use back in the day and headed for Eläintarhan kenttä. This is the old nostalgic track & field stadium, where the 400 meters running track is frozen in winters for skaters to enjoy. A very fitting place for some speed-skating exercise, especially in early mornings when you get to be the first to mark the newly frozen ice!

 

This is one way to enjoy skating in Helsinki, a very good one but not the most typical one. Different, more common and somewhat more idyllic but much less exercise-oriented possibilities are the many small skating rinks in parks next to playing grounds. Helsinki municipal workers very kindly prepare these for kids and whoever wishes to slide a while on wonderful albeit often a bit bumpy ices. Very idyllic indeed, doing so in the middle of Helsinki. Especially good it is with small kids whom you get to teach how to skate. I so love these places!

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Then there are of course many more professionally maintained bigger rinks, where you might have to pay a few euros to enter. Ice’s going to be perfect, and if you’re into ice-hockey, bring your hockey stick, as you’re bound to find good games there. Just ask and the guys will let you in the game, where the rules are very simple: scoring only straight from a pass, no contact, no rising the puck. Not much protection on anybody and quite a crowd around you, so care is needed but somehow it all works smoothly and everybody’s extremely happy. I for one find it very, very enjoyable to sense momentary hints of my very much bygone days of junior hockey stardom. (Nice hockey gloves turned to vintage remain to witness those days.) The prime place for these games, for me at least, is Kallio ice rink, which is neatly located in the area where the nicest public saunas are to be found. Needless to say, it is absolutely blissful to go to one of these after a couple of hours of hockey. The most traditional Finnish sauna, and hence the most exotic for foreigners perhaps, is called Kotiharjun sauna, while the more hip persons should perhaps head for Kulttuurisauna, which even has a possibility for dipping into the sea. Not to be missed, that experience! Wherever you choose to take your sauna, why not hit the bars after that? Plenty of those in the area.

 


Another option is the most natural one: sea ice. This is very easy if you have a pair of those skates with long blades designed for natural ices, with which you can go whenever and wherever conditions allow. But beware! You should find out beforehand if the ice is thick enough and know what kind of places are to be avoided. Going under a bridge for instance might be risky and currents might mean thin ice in surprising places. Always carry proper safety equipment. Naturally this kind of skating means more preparation and special equipment, but it is said to be very enjoyable. Not my cup of tea, though, this kind of skating, but having said that I do enjoy going once in a while to one of the well maintained routes prepared on sea ice in certain place in winters cold enough. These should be skateable even with normal skates. The one most accessible from city center is in Laajalahti in the Munkkiniemi district.

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What else… I should perhaps mention the place Anna already wrote about, the Icepark in the very heart of Helsinki, where many tourists choose to give their very first try to ice skating. It’s a nice and well-maintained rink with a good cafe and background music. Not a bad place this one actually for early winter skating when there’s no snow or subzero temperatures but you already feel the itch to start the winter season. Kids seem to love this place, too.

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So many options for skating in Helsinki. What’s best depends on the occasion and company, I think. That brisk January morning it was solitude at Eläintarhan kenttä while last Saturday it was hockey with friends in Kallio with the full after-skating program. Anyway, give skating a try while in Helsinki in wintertime, it’s tremendously fun!

Eero