Once in a Lifetime: The Full Finnish Sauna Experience

Finland | World of Wanderlust
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Google+
Share on LinkedIn

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

Being 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. 

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.

Brooke Saward

Brooke founded World of Wanderlust as a place to share inspiration from her travels and to inspire others to see our world. She now divides her time between adventures abroad and adventures in the kitchen!



  1. pitar@t-online.de'


    October 18, 2015

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

  2. aino.kalinainen@hotmail.com'

    Aino Boho Chic

    July 14, 2015

    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

  3. info@mysuitcasediary.com'


    December 22, 2014

    Nice to have authentic experience in the country !

  4. andreaata13@gmail.com'


    November 5, 2014

    Regretting not adding Finland onto my list of go-to places! http://lesvoyagesdumonde.wordpress.com/2014/11/04/no-money-will-travel/

  5. toistamaata@gmail.com'


    October 22, 2014

    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!

  6. christineking@hotmail.com.au'

    Christine King

    October 20, 2014

    What an amazing experience. Thanks for sharing Brooke.

    Christine King
    Photography, Travel, Lifestyle

  7. nancydavolio6@gmail.com'

    Best holiday destinations

    October 18, 2014

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

  8. allisoncflavio@gmail.com'


    October 18, 2014

    Sounds so dreamy & yummy!

  9. info@janacalifornia.com'


    October 17, 2014

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


  10. lauramaasalu1@gmail.com'


    October 17, 2014

    So nice to read about your sauna experience! I am from Estonia (if you haven´t visited us yet, you should definitely come 😉 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 😀 But of course “normal” sauna is much more common nowadays.

  11. awanderlustblog@OUTLOOK.COM'


    October 17, 2014

    wow, don’t think i could handle the freezing, but at least it’s authentic! hope you had fun http://thewanderlusthasgotme.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/10-tips-for-sailing-holiday.html

  12. v.desgreniers@hotmail.com'

    Virginie @ Writer In Progress

    October 17, 2014

    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.


  13. anna_sohvi@hotmail.com'


    October 16, 2014

    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!

  14. nomadnotebook@gmail.com'


    October 16, 2014

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

    Lizzy at Nomad Notebook

  15. bettyj.ogburn@yahoo.com'

    Betty J. Ogburn

    October 16, 2014

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

  16. luckytravellermerja@gmail.com'

    Lucky Traveller Merja

    October 16, 2014

    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!

  17. endlesspostcards@gmail.com'

    Deepti @ Endless Postcards

    October 16, 2014

    Seems like such an amazing experience!

  18. lc.lilly@gmail.com'


    October 16, 2014

    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

  19. lexiew7@hotmail.com'


    October 16, 2014

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


  20. pavla.walsh@gmail.com'


    October 16, 2014

    I really want to like sauna, especially because of all the health benefits, but I can never stay inside for so long 🙁 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!

  21. marieking32@gmail.com'

    Marie @ Marie Away

    October 16, 2014

    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.


  22. notruenorth@gmail.com'


    October 16, 2014

    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!


  23. hannaturkki@yahoo.fi'


    October 15, 2014

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

  24. endlesslyexploring@gmail.com'


    October 15, 2014

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

  25. christie.horne@gmail.com'

    Christie of The Butterfly Editions

    October 15, 2014

    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!

  26. unlockingkiki@gmail.com'

    Kaelene @Unlocking Kiki

    October 15, 2014

    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.

  27. alissaloxton@hotmail.com'


    October 15, 2014

    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

  28. earendilly@hotmail.com'


    October 15, 2014

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

    Abby / Eärendil

  29. Madelinefedmont@yahoo.con'


    October 15, 2014

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


  30. samantharickelton@googlemail.com'


    October 15, 2014

    wow! Certainly seems like a memorable experience x

  31. rachel.bale@hotmail.com'

    Department of Wandering

    October 15, 2014

    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.


Comments are closed.