Löyly Helsinki is a public sauna and restaurant, located on the edge of the sea in the Munkkisaari area, a part of Helsinki that is still in the process of redeveloping itself from an industrial port into an upscale residential and leisure complex. I visited with my wife, Satu, on a Saturday in mid-October – below are 8 tips to get the most from your visit to Löyly Sauna.
Getting to Löyly
You can find Löyly (pronounced Low-loo) at Hernesaarenranta 4, 00150 Helsinki and, although it is located outside the main city centre, it is easy to get to by bus – the number 14 from the centre stops right outside Löyly. You can buy a ticket on the bus for 4€ which can be used multiple times within 80 mins. We also took an Uber which cost 9.40€.
Book in Advance
While researching Löyly before visiting it became clear that we needed to pre-book our sauna time. You are able to book a two-hour slot on the website, this costs 19€ per person and includes a towel, a seat cover, shampoo and shower gel. We left it late (only two days beforehand) and could only book Saturday afternoon, which wasn’t a problem but the available time slots were quite limited.
Arriving at Löyly
When you arrive through the main door there is someone to greet you, unfortunately, that is the head waiter for the restaurant, not the sauna. Löyly is very welcoming for tourists, all of the signs, menus etc. are written in English so it’s easy to understand what is on offer.
As you enter the main door, turn left and you are in a narrow corridor where you should remove your shoes and jackets and leave them in a cupboard along one of the walls. This corridor is a little too narrow for dropping-off your clothes while those leaving the sauna are simultaneously collecting theirs, however, once you have negotiated that challenge, you then come to the sauna reception.
The Sauna Bar
At the sauna reception you check-in, collect your towels and open a tab for the sauna bar. Yes, the sauna BAR. It is important that you stay hydrated while using the saunas, so there are complimentary jugs of water, but to get really relaxed a cold beer, glass of wine or a soft drink really hits the spot. It was great to come out of the sauna and cool-off with a cold beer while sitting in front of a log fire.
Explore the Different Types of Sauna
While many public saunas offer an electric kiuas (sauna stove) Löyly, on the other hand, has two different wood-burning saunas. This gives the whole place a gentle smoky feel which only adds to your Finnish Sauna experience. The larger sauna is well-lit with a large glass wall giving a view of the sea, a view that can be enjoyed by approx. 20 sauna-goers at one time.
This was my first time trying a Finnish Smoke Sauna. I learned all about this in Explore Finland Radio Show Episode 6: Just Why Is Sauna So Important To Finns? but I still hadn’t been in one. I was worried that my expectations were too high, but it was everything I’d hoped. The air is not smoky as such, but there is a strong tar-like smell in the air and the heat is somehow softer. This sauna is very dark, there is a smaller window that is covered in soot, allowing only a little light to seep in. Actually, everything is covered in soot, so you should expect to collect some on your skin as well – don’t worry it washes off easily either in the shower, or in the sea because you have to take a dip in the sea…
Take a Swim with the Swans
In my podcast Episode 32: Ice-hole Swimming & Sauna: A Natural High! I learned all about the health benefits of dipping in cold water between sessions in the sauna. This was another reason I wanted to visit Löyly. There is an indoor rest area between the two saunas, with a door leading out to a large terrace that wraps around Löyly on the side facing the sea. In the summer, this would be a great place for relaxing in the sun but, as we visited in mid-October, this wasn’t an option for us.
As you exit the rest area, there is a mat leading along a walkway to the waters-edge. The mat is heated in winter time so you will have a clear path to the water. Most people were not wearing footwear, but it is a cold underfoot so some basic flip flops would be useful – maybe even the complimentary slippers that we’d left behind in our hotel room. At the end of this walkway are a pair of ladders down into the sea, where you can lower yourself or, if you are feeling brave, jump into the steely-green water. Take care not to be there too long so you don’t get too cold which can make you feel unwell.
As you can see from my video below, the wildfowl are not disturbed by the human swimmers. You too might be lucky enough to swim with the swans.
After the cold dip, head to the lounge for a drink, or go back into the sauna, where you will meet many different people and can answer the following question…
Do You Sauna Like a Finn or a Swede?
This was actually a topic of discussion in the sauna when we visited, because there was a large group of visitors from Sweden. The difference seems to be, Finns like to enjoy the sauna quietly with lots of löyly (steam) to keep the temperature hot. While the Swedes prefer things to be less hot and steamy while they enjoy loud conversations with a group of friends.
So, which describes you? Do YOU sauna like a Finn or a like a Swede?
Finish Your Sauna Experience with Some Food
When you’ve had enough sauna (or when your two hours is finished) you will probably be hungry. Sauna and cold-water swimming ALWAYS make us hungry. Naturally, you can book a table in the restaurant, which we hadn’t done, but there were spaces available for Satu and I and we were still able to order from the Lunch Menu. Then menu is not extensive, but there was more than enough to interest us; I chose the Elk Meatballs and Satu had the Löyly Bowl.
The food was excellent, the heavy elk meatballs with mashed potatoes, pickles, game gravy and lingonberry jam was perfect for me. Satu’s Löyly Bowl was a huge salad with a beautiful piece of smoked rainbow trout. There were some many different ingredients that she’d already said she was full, before discovering the pickled red onions and red cabbage. Don’t worry, I helped her out to ensure nothing was wasted.
This blog was not sponsored by Löyly Helsinki. Although they did provide some photos afterwards, my visit was not pre-arranged and everything was paid for by me & Satu.