Sompasauna – Helsinki, Finland - Atlas Obscura


No matter how many times this community-run sauna gets destroyed, it always rises from the ashes. 


Sompasauna is the incarnation of Finnish sauna culture at its best. It’s a welcoming place, a spot where anyone can escape the bitter cold with some warm, humid steam.

But Sompasauna is also wonderfully unique. An outsider architecture project, it was built by the people for the people. The sauna has been dismantled and set aflame, but it’s always rebuilt, ensuring in-the-know locals and visitors alike will always have a ramshackle place of relaxation.

The sauna is also entirely run by volunteers. It’s truly a community endeavor; an oasis where nude friends and strangers can romp around in the frigid Finland air while passing between the sauna and the nearby shore. Given its history of welcoming all who visit, its no wonder it’s been dubbed the country’s “most public sauna.”

The sauna overlooks the sea, making for a soothing environment year-round. If you visit Sompasauna during the winter, you’ll have a chance to try another Finnish tradition: avanto, which means “ice swimming.” Even if you swing by during warmer months, the sea water will still be refreshingly cool, making for a nice change from the sweatiness of the sauna.

Know Before You Go

The sauna is open at all hours and is free to use. You can definitely wear a swimsuit if you'd feel more comfortable using the sauna while clothed. 

If coming from the city center, the easiest way to reach the sauna is to take the metro heading east, get off at the Kalasatama stop, and walk the rest. Also, the bus #16 goes from the train station to Kalasatama.

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