Most first-class Helsinki hotels have saunas for their guests. A case in point is the Hilton Helsinki Strand, whose sauna exits onto a rooftop terrace overlooking the sea and islands, or the Scandic Hotel Continental, whose steam room has a massive glass wall that offers views toward the heart of the city. These saunas are electrically heated; if you're after the real thing while in the capital, try these hotspots.
- Kotiharjun Sauna
Harjutorinkatu 1, tel.: +358 (0)9 753 1535
Admission hours: Tue-Fri 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., Sat 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Helsinki's last remaining public wood-burning sauna comes equipped with the service of a washing lady, for an extra fee. She'll scrub you down before you head outside for a beer or, in winter, a roll in the snow. As with saunas elsewhere in Finland, men and women bathe separately (unless they're a couple); call ahead for specific hours.
- Finnish Sauna Society
Vaskiniementie 10, tel.: +358 (0)9 6860 5622; www.sauna.fi
Admission hours: call or check Web site
This member sauna welcomes visitors as long as you call ahead. Saunas are wood-heated; choose a traditional savusauna (smoke sauna) or a modern steam sauna. Take a dip in the Baltic afterwards – a hole in the ice will let you do so even in winter. Call for specific hours (which vary for men and women) or to book a sauna for a business meeting.
- Yrjönkatu Swimming Hall
Yrjönkatu 21; tel. +358 (0)9 3108 7412; www.hel.fi/liv/eng/yrjonkatu.htm
Admission hours: Sun-Mon 12 p.m.-9 p.m., Tue-Sat 6:30 a.m.
The oldest public swimming hall in Finland, housed in an impressive Art Deco building from 1928, would not be complete without saunas. Bathe in electric- or wood-heated versions. Since there are separate hours and days for men and women (call or check Web site for specifics) you can opt to swim naked in the Roman-style pools.