Traditional Helsinki Wood Burning Sauna With a Difference!

(Updated December 2017) Experience a traditional Helsinki wood burning sauna among locals who think nothing of enjoying a beer on the sidewalk wearing nothing but a towel. Then get a complete body scrub from a little old lady.

traditional helsinki wood burning sauna

This is where you lie down for your scrub at the Kotiharjun Sauna, a traditional Helsinki wood burning sauna!

Without some unique experiences Helsinki is just another cosmopolitan metropolis. What you need is to get to places that only the locals know about, like Kotiharjun, a traditional Helsinki wood burning sauna. I always feel like I’ve had a unique travel experience when I find that I am the only tourist there! So try the Kotiharjun Sauna in Helsinki’s laid back bohemian neighborhood of Kallio. This unique Helsinki wood burning public sauna is one of the last remaining saunas of its kind in Helsinki although Kallio is famous for its Finnish saunas. For €13 you can spend as long as you like at Kotiharjun. You can also rent a small towel to sit on and buy some birch branches to beat yourself with while you are inside. There are discounts for seniors and students.

A Traditional Finnish Sauna Experience at Helsinki’s Kotiharjun Sauna in Kallio

No need to book, you just turn up, pay at the front desk and go upstairs for women and downstairs for men. Men and women are completely separate and completely naked! Then you proceed to the changing rooms which consist of a locker room where everyone changes. There is also a table and chairs and locals sit around having a chat and a beer (nude or half-dressed). You get a locker and a key on a rubber band, and then proceed to the next room which is a large shower room, with shower outlets all along the wall. All open and everyone naked, but you don’t have to be shy because nobody else is, and they would think it stranger if you covered up. You shower, and then enter the traditional Helsinki wood burning sauna. It is basically a dark, concrete room, with graduating steps to sit on, and in one corner a huge wood burning oven. In the other corner the wood is stacked. You sit for about 10 minutes and then exit, rinse off, cool off and start all over again. the wood gives off a wonderful aroma as it burns.

Traditional Helsinki wood burning sauna and Full Body Scrub

Now although a sauna may not sound that unusual an experience, Kotiharjun offers you a locals-only, traditinoal Helsinki wood-burning sauna. Not only that but you can get a full body scrub from an old granny who wears a plastic apron and carries her cleaning basket around as she shuffles along. For €7, she lies you down naked and gives you a full body scrub with lots of water and soap. She also washes and conditions your hair. This is done on a plastic table with a plastic table-cloth covering it, at one end of the shower room. It is extremely rejuvenating, and you come out shiny and new. She does both the men and women. There is nothing rude or immodest about the place, it all feels natural, just blend in with the locals.
In between stints in the sauna you can buy a beer and sit outside on the sidewalk with other sauna-goes – all in their towels!

Where to Stay in Helsinki

I use this site to find the cheapest hotel deals in Helsinki, and I recommend the Hotel Glo Kluuvi – my best hotel experience ever! I’ve been to Helsinki several times and stayed at two of the Glo Hotels, each time the experience was amazing. If you are looking for something a little cheaper then I highly recommend any of the Scandic hotels like the Scandic Grand Marina Kataj.
 Address: Kotiharjun Sauna Harjutorinkatu 1 Kallio
Tel: +358 (0)9 753 1535
Getting There: From the central train station by Metro to Sornainen in the Kallio area. It is a couple of minutes from the station.
Open Times: Tues-Sun 14:00-20:00 (sauna open until 21:30) and closed on Mondays. The Kotiharjun Sauna is also closed in the evenings from 4 June to 13 August.

Website: Helsinki Wood Burning Sauna (Finnish only)

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