One of the must-do things in Finland is experience a sauna. It’s a quintessential part of the culture and makes for a unique experience.
After a long hike, where we were lost a good part of the way (separate post coming up), a sauna felt like the perfect way to relax. Driving up towards Tampere, we found it was right by lake Kaukajarven, which was great! Also there were lots of people outside, cooling off, wearing swimsuits. This had been another fear – none of us felt brave enough to be a part of a naked sauna just yet.
Try the hot saunas!
Paying 7 EUR per head, we went off into the separate male and female changing rooms, hoping we could meet outside once ready. The changing rooms led to two saunas of different temperatures, both were mixed sex. Likely this explained the swimsuits, but it was great, since we could now sit together. There were mats and sitting pads outside each room for you to help yourself and a water fountain to stay hydrated.
Take a dip in the ice cold lake!
10 mins of 60C felt like enough, so we stepped out to cool off. All the locals would, at this point, walk into the lake. The water, we read, was at 2C and there was still ice on the surface a few feet from where we stood. Jumping into this felt like madness! Still, when in Finland….
Conserving all the heat we just acquired, we rushed to the steps leading into the lake and before there could be a change of heart, climbed down into the water. The cold water was a shock to the system and in a couple of seconds we were all gasping for breath and clambering out. However once out, the air, which itself was about 12C, felt comfortable and we were happy to stand outside – something that had felt really difficult sometime back. The water not only dramatically cooled the body making going back into the sauna possible, it also created an adrenaline rush, which could become quite addictive!
Chat with the locals at a sauna
The locals, from whom this is really no big deal, were very amused at our excitement but were pleased to see that we were embracing their culture and actually spoke to us about it! This was surprising too, since everything we had seen and heard said Finns are normally quiet and reserved and will not go out of their way to initiate conversations with strangers. It seemed like the sauna relaxed them enough to allow them to speak to us!
Invigorated and excited, we did this hot-cold cycle a few times more, until it was time for the sauna to close for the evening. It was 9 pm for this sauna.
Overall a great experience, our skin felt refreshed, bodies relaxed and minds ready to take on the next challenge!
Definitely recommend this!