Saunas date back 10,000 years in Finland, and today the country has wild versions from Ferris wheel saunas to floating sauna boats.
In Finland, the sauna is a way of life that dates back 10,000 years when the first Finns bathed and steamed in caves. Today, there are 5.5 million Finns and 3.3 million saunas—that’s about one per household. The sauna is considered a sacred space used for relaxation and healing (they’re particularly good for the skin, muscles, and circulation). In fact, the sauna is so important to Finland that the government is even nominating it for the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2019. Due to this important tradition, out-of-the-box saunas have popped up all around the country. From a Ferris wheel sauna to a floating sauna boat, these are the wildest saunas you can find in Finland.
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The Ylläs Resort in Kolari (near the Swedish border) is home to the world’s only sauna gondola. Take apres-ski to new heights by boarding the sauna lift that hovers above the Lapland landscape. Guests are escorted by snowcats to the mountaintop, where they’ll get three 20-minute rides on the sauna gondola. This experience comes as a package with the summit sauna at Café Gondol 718, which has a fireplace and a heated outdoor jacuzzi.
Sauna Ferris Wheel
Finland’s capital has plenty of surprises, including SkySauna. The Ferris wheel is one of the most iconic sights on the Helsinki waterfront, and one of the cabins is a special sauna with city and sea views. The sauna fits up to five passengers and each rotation takes about seven minutes. While you’re waiting for your turn, you can kick back in the hot tub on the ground or head next door to the Allas Sea Pool for a cool dip in the Baltic.
Ice Igloo Sauna
Pyhäpiilo looks like a winter wonderland—the trees are draped in snow, Lake Pyhäjärvi is frozen over, and quaint igloo saunas line the landscape. The blocks of ice used to build the igloo keep the heat in and create a steam effect for those relaxing inside the abode. You can also add a scrub or mask treatment using tar and peat.
Guests visiting Lapland can have a special Finnish welcome. Rukapalvelu Tailored Adventures arranges a sauna bus pick-up from the three airports—Kuusamo, Rovaniemi, or Oulu—to Ruka, one of the top ski resorts in Lapland. The sauna on wheels is a fun way to de-stress from a day of travel, and you can ask the driver to stop when you want to cool off by jumping in a snowbank off the road. Plus, there’s a karaoke machine inside so you can sing and sauna at the same time.
There’s no better way to catch a game or show than in a swanky VIP box. But at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, you can go even further and upgrade to a Skybox sauna so you can watch an ice hockey game or concert from the comfort of your private sauna suite. Note: It’s important to reserve the sauna boxes in advance as it’s very common for large companies to book them for their clients.