Sompasauna: Helsinki’s illegal sauna that not only Finns love ~ 3 min read

SOMPASAUNA is known as the illegal sauna of Helsinki even though it’s not illegal any more.

Finns and sauna!

Before I tell you about the illegal Sumpasauna, let me drop few lines about how Finns feel about saunas.

Finland is quite a big country but has a population of only 5.3 million! For that population, there are around 2 million saunas around Finland. Two million! That is remarkable and can only speak of how important the sauna is for the Finns. Speaking of which… Let me surprise you a bit here.. I stayed in the flat of a local guy and to my surprise.. he had a sauna in his bathroom. “That’s normal” he said 😯 and to heat up the sauna costs less than 1. Imagine this.. you have a sauna once a week and at the end of the month you pay less than €5 😲

And with all those saunas in Finland.. I went to an illegal one 😂

Sompasauna: long story short…

wooden shed with hanged towels and a sign saying ghetto sauna referring to sompasauna the illegal sauna in helsinki
The current Sompasauna (’18)

Sompasauna was built without the knowledge of the authorities. Well, no secrets can stay hidden for long time and Sompasauna was closed for a period of time. Later, the authorities approved it, probably realising it doesn’t harm anybody/anything. Furthermore- it turned into a quirky little sauna that everybody wants to enjoy. Sompasauna is run entirely by volunteers who bring wood for the fire, take care of the grill (yes, there’s a grill!) and clean around from people who don’t have the manners to clean their own trash. Probably the only “cut”volunteers get is by recycling the beer cans that are left in a container next to the sauna. Finland is one of those counties that you can get money back if you bring back your can. That might also go for glass bottles.

How to find Sompasauna?

a google maps screenshot of the location of the illegal Finnish sauna in helsinki sompasauna
Where in Helsinki is Sompasauna?

Finland is a country of islands. Seriously! There’s a debate which county has the most islands. Statisticians say Indonesia has a bit more than 17,500 while Finland’s Official Tourism Board claim 180,000! Only in the archipelago in the south part of Finland there are 40,000 lakes 🤯

In addition, there are 180,000+ lakes. If you haven’t been to Finland, probably you are starting to feel the beauty of this country.

But let’s get back to Sompasauna. Check the screenshot I’ve posted. Search for Helsinki Zoo and you’ll be able to find the sauna. If you still have difficulties, then either Google the name of the Sompasauna or visit their website. Yes, that’s right. Sompasauna went from being illegal to having a website.

What’s cool about Sompasauna?

  • It’s outdoors. It’s nice to go to these saunas in fitness centres or spa hotels but it is definitely much nicer if you are outside, seeing the stars at night. Enjoying the sun at day (when you have it). There is an “outside sauna” in downtown, just next to the market but…
  • Sompasauna is FREE of charge and boy.. do I love free stuff 😜
  • BBQ! Because it is in the open, there is a grill that everybody can use. Just bring your sausage 😉
pouring mustard on a sausage outdoors
BBQ
close up of opening a can of finnish beer Karhu at sompasauna
Oh yeah… beer, too 🙂
  • Jump into the Baltic sea! You know that after a hot sauna you have to go to a cold pool, take a cold shower or just go out (when its winter). Well, Sompasauna is just on the “coast” so when you go out, you can directly jump into the Baltic sea!!
swimming in the baltic sea after having a hot sauna at the illegal sompasauna in helsinki
The Baltic sea is a great refresher after the steaming sauna

Get a better understanding of where you are going. Watch this video ⬇️⬇️⬇️

THANKS FOR READING! Say HELLO to me on INSTAGRAM and TWITTER. I’M @CURIOUSPAVEL

17 thoughts on “Sompasauna: Helsinki’s illegal sauna that not only Finns love ~ 3 min read

  1. What a great example of something that is being run by the people for the people… not sure I’d be keen to leap into the Baltic, but I love that you can because the sauna is right there. Thanks for all the extra info about this place, CP: having seen the Insta and the YouTube, it’s great that I’m adding to my appreciation of this sauna by reading more about it here… Cheers.

    Can I ask… does Bulgaria have a tradition of the banya, in the way that her much bigger neighbour does?

    1. We had Turkish baths in some cities and I think they were still in use during communism. In my home town there was one but they tore it down to build a casino. I don’t think we have many public baths left in Bulgaria. On the other side, there’s a place called Pavel Banya where people go mainly for rehabilitation.

      1. I like the idea of rehabilitating at Pavel Banya! 🙂 Sadly, there are many places where things get torn down to build a casino… scourge of the earth if you ask me. But I might feel different if I was a shareholder in one. 🙂

    1. Before I visit Finland I was like “eh, should be fine”.
      After I visited Finland I was “oh, wow”.
      And I only saw Helsinki..
      Should go and explore more of the country at some stage

          1. I went in the Fall as it was the cheapest time but Iceland is SO beautiful in every season. I’d love to go again in Summer and perhaps rent a campervan.

      1. I’m the same. Only been to Helsinki. But thought it was amazing… though really expensive. 😱

        1. Since I started living in London I thought “wherever I go it can’t be more expensive than here. Then I went to Helsinki 🙈
          Brussels, Amsterdam.. Copenhagen.. (headache)

          1. Berlin I was very impressed by. I think it’s my favourite city in Europe, to be honest (but I haven’t been to Barcelona, CP… I think I should!). And… I was impressed that it wasn’t crazy expensive like London.

            Weird comparison maybe, but in 2003 I took a tour through the Baltics. The price of beer started off cheap in Lithuania, went up in Latvia, went up again in Estonia and skyrocketed in Finland. 🤣🤣🤣 I noticed this because that’s what I was drinking! Loved all the Baltic capitals, but especially loved Vilnius. 😍

      1. But I like your suggestion better. Although I think I’m now all beer-ed out. My liver deserves a break. 😳

Your thoughts?