A True Finnish Sauna and Ice-Swimming Experience with Expert Tips

If you’re ever wondered what a true Finnish sauna experience is about, you’re in the right place. Read on to find out the real sauna routine and how ice-swimming with sauna can really benefit your health and give you that sauna buzz all Nordic people love. The best Finnish sauna is a classic example of how the size of the sauna hot room relative to stove size, stove type, whether it is an electric heated stove, wood-fired, or gas all effect your whole sauna enjoyment. In other words, these factors all play a role in how good the sauna feels to you. The thrilling combination of Finnish sauna and ice-swimming is heightened using a large public wood-burning sauna. Honestly, it’s hard to beat the smell of burning spruce on a crisp winter day after taking a dip under the ice.


Kaupinoja sauna - the best sauna in Finland

The Finnish sauna experience is what keeps the locals coming back for sauna and ice-swimming every week. Some come even daily. When you go to a great Finnish sauna with ice-swimming with a friend, talk about the weather, work or hobbies. Most importantly, when together with another person, going into icy water becomes easier. Rather than picking any old sauna in Finland and going into any hole in the ice, plan your vacation around Tampere, Finland. You will want to try this sauna over and over until you get it right. Practice using this great sauna to get the perfect sauna buzz, a wonderful feeling of well-being. Let your natural endorphins in the body do their job.

This incredible sauna room design gives you the cozy warm feeling of a wood stove, unlike an electrical element type of heat. It's a great place to host sauna competitions!

Prevent top bench burning

Sitting on the uppermost benches exposes your ears, face and neck to more heat, causing stinging coming from the steam. Locals love that steam, so water is continuously poured onto the hot stones. Steam hits you faster when sitting on the stove side of the sauna.

Sitting away from the sauna stove

If you suddenly feel too hot you can always move to a lower level bench. So if you're up high and a wave of heat hits hard, quickly move to a lower level bench. The locals might smirk, but that's their problem. Try moving up or down bench levels. Start sitting at a lower level at first.

Sitting near the sauna stove

Top bench seating near the sauna stove exposes your body to very intense bursts of heat. Your body feels hotter faster, but then, because the steam moves rapidly upward, life becomes bearable again quite quickly! Ouch, hot!! Try to avoid sitting near the far corners near that door.

Top bench seat near the entrance sauna door

Heat can really cause you pain. So be careful where you sit, especially if you are at Rauhaniemi as a first-timer, those seats are for folks who really like it hot!

Top of a sauna stove

Over 80 centimeter diameter sauna stove top and 100 kilos plus sauna stones puts out LOTS of steam when you throw on water.

Flames from the sauna stove

Spruce is chopped into 60 cm long pieces supplied by the city of Tampere which power the sauna stove. The attendant responsible for feeding wood wears fireproof clothing while working with this hungry stove.

Sauna temperature is the key to everything

The sauna stove takes a minimum of 3 hours to heat up the main sitting room, so come to the sauna as soon as the doors open. There are fewer sauna guest then, and the sauna is not at its maximum temperature. The temperature here, believe it or not, is regularly above boiling point!

According to a sauna specialist Pekka Tommila of the Finnish Sauna Society Suomen Saunaseura, the optimal temperature for going to sauna is between 70 -90 degrees Celsius (158 -194 Fahrenheit). At these temperature ranges it feels the best.
Keep in mind that you can always adjust to cooler temperatures by sitting on the lower level benches.

Some good tips to bear in mind when doing a sauna:

  • For first-timers to the Kaupinoja sauna, keep water with you for drinking.
  • After getting changed into your sauna attire, take a short dip in the lake.
  • Grab a wooden seat pad and go into the sauna to warm up. Choose third level bench seating.
  • Heat waves travel to and collect in the corners quite rapidly, soooo... sit on the lower benches and away from the four corners, unless you like torturously scalding steam or you are in an extremely competitive mood
  • As you first enter the hot sauna room, pour on enough water to warm up comfortably. Notice, I did not say throw. Pour a ladle or two of water slowly only after your body has adjusted to the heat.
  • Many throw water on immediately when they get into the hot room, unaware that the body is traumatized by the sudden heat of the hot stove.
  • Only when your body is adjusted to the heat and ready for  more heat, then throw the water onto the stones from a distance to get a quick burst of steam. This helps you warm up quickly.
  • Warm up until you feel really warm. Good!
  • Once you are warmed up, exit the sauna, drop off your wooden seat pad, and follow the green mats down the stairway to lake Näsijärvi.

The opening hours at the best Finnish sauna:

Winter schedule is from October to April.
Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 3 pm - 7:45 pm
Tuesdays and Thursdays 3 pm - 9 pm
Saturdays 12 am - 6 pm
Sundays 12 am - 8 pm

Summer schedule is from May to September.
Mondays through Fridays 3 pm - 7:45 pm
Saturdays and Sundays 2 pm - 6 pm

Is it hot enough for you in the best sauna in Finland?

Ready? Because out we go for a dip in the icy water. Follow the green mats into the water. These electrically heated mats prevent your warm feet from bonding to snow and ice.

Lake Näsijärvi - there is a large hole in ice for swimming

Always go to the lake with others around. This way, if something happens, you always have help nearby.

Lake Näsijärvi - a stairway to hell.

The steps down to the edge of the lake are steep, but they're kept warm and salted during the winter season.

Lake Näsijärvi - blowers circulating the water keep the ice hole thawed.

Facing the lake as you are ascending to go ice-swimming, walk into the lake using the right staircase, swim around to the left, and return using the left set of stairs. No need to jump, just walk into the lake.
  1. Stay in the water until it hurts a bit. Try swimming. Ahhh, never thought you could swim in such cold water? You can. Just keep your head above water.
  2. Cool off some more, while sitting on the outside benches. Stay outside as long as you can. When you notice goose pimples or feel quite chilly, go back into the sauna to warm up.
  3. Repeat this cycle as often as you can, trying to extend your time in the ice-water until your body says: "Stop!"

Can you feel that head rush already?

No worries, you can try again, if that rush did not quite happen. Warm up well in the sauna. Get as hot as you can. If you are cold coming out of the water, stay in the sauna longer, then come out to go ice-swimming. Locals spend minutes swimming around in icy water. Sure, they are used to it, but they warm up well before and after.

Cooling down suggestions

Finish your sauna experience by either going directly to take a shower or to extend that feeling of bliss, after the final warm-up, instead of going from the sauna hot room to take a shower, go into the lake for a final last dip. A quick dip will do - just in and out.
Be sure that you are warm enough before taking a shower or you will be shivering for hours afterwards.
Then go and get changed. No need to shower off. That was how I extended my feeling of bliss at the best Finnish sauna with ice-swimming. With my feeling of well-being significantly extended, I left Kaupanoja feeling great. Hours later, the final effects of my last dip in the freezing lake wore off.

The conclusion

I hope you’ve found ways to improve your enjoyment of the best Finnish sauna, or your own local sauna. Take these design ideas for constructing your public sauna and create a traditional Finnish sauna culture where you live.

Don’t hesitate to contact me for personalized sauna coaching and the best possible experience a sauna can provide. Just contact me trough the contact form and we can get in touch!