Once in a Lifetime: The Full Finnish Sauna Experience

Finland | World of Wanderlust
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Not so fresh off the plane from Helsinki, the minute I landed in Kuusamo I was whisked away to experience none other than the quintessential Finnish ritual – The Finnish Sauna. In the Western World we would consider sauna and spa time an indulgence… but this couldn’t be further from the truth in Finland. The Finnish Sauna is a mandatory part of your existence – a staple in any Finn’s daily life. So here I was, fresh off the plane from Helsinki and ready to experience my first real sauna experience…

Finnish Sauna Finland

Wellbeing in the Wilderness say it themselves on the homepage of their website –

The people of the North are no ordinary folk.

Sitting in 100 degree heat for long periods of time, swimming in freezing cold lakes, being beaten with a stick of birch tree? No ordinary Folk? Yeah, no kidding!

Before I arrived to the Sauna Tour, I had already tried my hand at the Finnish sauna in Helsinki. Tried being the operative word. It is truly no exaggeration that Finnish saunas are everywhere – I even had a private sauna in every hotel room. At first I thought it may have been a room upgrade, but later I discovered that no Finnish house or even apartment would be without a private sauna. But my attempts to experience and understand the Finnish sauna were dismal – so luckily for me I had a full introduction to the sauna experience here in Ruka, a ski town close by to Kuusamo where I would be staying for the next 5 days.


The Finnish Sauna Experience

BeingΒ that I had just stepped off the plane from Helsinki, I was first treated to a ‘light lunch’ before the sauna experience began. It would appear we had differing interpretations of light, as the table soon became filled with open rye sandwiches, creamy mushroom soup, drinks, and an indulgent creamy dessert.Β 

Following the lunch we made our way downstairs to begin the sauna experience. Today I would be experiencing the Wild Rose Therapy Treatment – a combination of traditional sauna, marinating and exfoliating in rose leaves and oil, as well as a bold dip in the freezing cold lake.

After some time in the sauna, we made our first run to the lake for a dip. According to the Finns there are significant health benefits to this leap of faith (further backed up by a quick google search by yours truly), so I decided to bite the bullet and take a dip. On my first attempt however, I simply couldn’t progress further than knee-deep…. it really was just so cold!!!!

finland sauna finland sauna finland sauna tour finland sauna tour

On my second round (after more time roasting in the sauna), I finally made the full dip into the lake – brrrrr! It was certainly worth it for the bragging rights and that (almost) instant sigh of relief when you step out of the lake.

For the wild rose therapy we then covered out bodies in rose exfoliator and cleansed our bodies of impurities. Afterwards we indulged in some light snacks and detox tea to really make ourselves feel cleansed from the inside out!

As my first full Finnish experience, I couldn’t have left feeling more alive and excited for the next 5 days ahead in Ruka. Be sure to check back for forthcoming posts on the rest of my time in this beautiful and isolated part of the world as I meet reindeer, huskies, as well as going hiking and canoeing in the wilderness!

brooke saward in finland

Thanks to Visit Finland, Visit Ruka and Sauna Tour for welcoming World of Wanderlust to Lapland for this fantastic experience! My opinion is as always my own.

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    October 18, 2015 at 10:01 pm

    Thanks for sharing your experiences with Finnish Sauna! I tried or better: was forced to try ‘Sauna + Ice swimming’ in Helsinki. πŸ™‚
    More you find here:

    Aino Boho Chic
    July 14, 2015 at 2:35 am

    We even have this tremendously trendy Sauna Yoga in Finland nowadays! It’s done in 50 degrees, not 100 though (thank god :)) Thank you for your huge inspiration which you bring us though World Of Wanderlust Brooke.
    Xx Aino

    December 22, 2014 at 6:19 am

    Nice to have authentic experience in the country !

    November 5, 2014 at 7:57 am

    Regretting not adding Finland onto my list of go-to places!

    October 22, 2014 at 9:03 am

    It’s nice to see how others see our country and culture, I guess we could be more proud about it. Glad to hear you enjoyed your time here in Finland!

    Your blog is awesome, keep it rockin!

    Christine King
    October 20, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    What an amazing experience. Thanks for sharing Brooke.

    Christine King
    Photography, Travel, Lifestyle

    Best holiday destinations
    October 18, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    nice pics with full on enjoyment. nice experience I will plan to visit there.

    October 18, 2014 at 3:57 am

    Sounds so dreamy & yummy!

    October 17, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    That looks wonderful. I wish I could experience that sometime.

    October 17, 2014 at 7:30 am

    So nice to read about your sauna experience! I am from Estonia (if you havenΒ΄t visited us yet, you should definitely come πŸ˜‰ Sauna is also very popular here. The best feeling is to jump into deep snow after a good sauna! Also, it is very common to have mix sauna, meaning men, women and children all together. Estonian traditional sauna is smoke sauna, with that kind of smoke that makes your skin dark πŸ˜€ But of course “normal” sauna is much more common nowadays.

  • awanderlustblog@OUTLOOK.COM'
    October 17, 2014 at 5:13 am

    wow, don’t think i could handle the freezing, but at least it’s authentic! hope you had fun

    Virginie @ Writer In Progress
    October 17, 2014 at 4:50 am

    lucky! I would love to go to a spa one day, but they’re just so expensive! I love your blogs by the way, it really makes me want to visit those places!
    I’ve also just come back from a trip to the Adirondacks and I just love nature and anything to do with mountains! I just posted some pictures about it too, you should definitely look into lake Placid in the Adirondacks if ever you want to visit one day.

    October 16, 2014 at 10:38 pm

    It is interesting to hear your thoughts about Finland! (I’m a Finn!) Our summer lasts only about 3 months and from the end of October until the end of March it’s sooo cold that sauna is a must have. I live in a small studio flat (I’m a university student) and I don’t have a sauna of my own, but in our building we have a sauna that everyone living here can use. Some people/families have “a sauna hour” weekly just for them, but there is also ladies shift and men’s shift once a week. For example on Wednesdays 5pm all the ladies living in this building are free to go to the sauna.

    I hope you enjoy Finland!

    October 16, 2014 at 11:03 am

    This sounds like such a relaxing experience- definitely one i want to try someday!

    Lizzy at Nomad Notebook

    Betty J. Ogburn
    October 16, 2014 at 9:11 am

    …Kudos to you–I don’t know if I have enough chutzpah to step into the freezing cold water!!…

    Lucky Traveller Merja
    October 16, 2014 at 8:12 am

    I’m Finnish and we have a sauna at home, but not everybody in Helsinki has one. A normal temperature would be only 75-80 C, that’s much more comfortable and relaxing. And I’m certainly not crazy enough to jump into the sea now! It’s great you enjoyed the sauna and Ruka so much!

    Deepti @ Endless Postcards
    October 16, 2014 at 8:05 am

    Seems like such an amazing experience!

    October 16, 2014 at 7:41 am

    awww awesome! Looking forward to do the same. Every time I read your posts I feel to tempted to pick up my already packed luggage and leave for another adventure.

    Thanks for all the inspirations

    October 16, 2014 at 4:05 am

    Wow, you certainly make the cold look comfortable and inviting! Sounds like an incredible experience.


    October 16, 2014 at 2:12 am

    I really want to like sauna, especially because of all the health benefits, but I can never stay inside for so long πŸ™ I think I’m getting a bit claustrophobic while inside, even though I am not claustrophobic anywhere else. Good for you that you could enjoy it so much!

    Marie @ Marie Away
    October 16, 2014 at 1:38 am

    Looks like a unique luxurious experience! I love seeing your photos from Finland, they look so festive and remind me of the coziness of winter–making the prospect of it coming to Canada not look so bad.

    October 16, 2014 at 12:19 am

    Your experiences in Finland sound so amazing! I’ll definitely be adding Finland to my list of must see places. I’m going to have to build up the nerve to jump in a freezing lake first!

    October 15, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    i think itΒ΄s so funny that not everybody everywhere around the world go sauna.. im not the biggest fun of it even i am Finnish but itΒ΄s best thing after cold day outdoor. And when u go from sauna to ice cold lake u need to jump there – otherwise itΒ΄s not gonna happen πŸ˜€

    October 15, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    I’m impressed you managed to jump in for a second dip in the freezing lake – you go girl! πŸ˜› Can’t wait to read more of your posts about Finland. Your instagram photos look amazing! x

    Christie of The Butterfly Editions
    October 15, 2014 at 9:24 pm

    Sounds awesome! As a kid in the winter I could spend hours running back and forth between the hot spa pool and the freezing swimming pool – so I’m sure this would be right up my alley!

    Kaelene @Unlocking Kiki
    October 15, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    I recently tried a Finnish sauna and it was a fun, yet cold, experience. Here in Iceland going to the hot pools is a way of life, walking out to the pol in the dead of winter feels like an initiation test to us foreigners.

    October 15, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    That looks like such an amazing experience!! And the photos are so great!! Definitely a must do on my list in Finland now x

    21 year old travel blogger

    October 15, 2014 at 8:30 pm

    This sounds like such a cool experience. The place looked beautiful. xx

    Abby / EΓ€rendil

    Luc @ Skeeter and Scout
    October 15, 2014 at 8:16 pm

    That sounds epic! A must try – adding that to my bucket list i think!

    L x

  • Madelinefedmont@yahoo.con'
    October 15, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    The sauna looks really nice. I’ve been to a sauna once and want to try the Finnish sauna next time.

    October 15, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    wow! Certainly seems like a memorable experience x

    Department of Wandering
    October 15, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    What an experience Brooke! I recently experienced a traditional German spa in the Harz mountains in northern Germany — not for the faint hearted! More coming on The Department of Wandering soon. The Finnish sauna experience looks wonderful.