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Destination: a list of (the most amazing) saunas in Norway

My very first memory of a sauna dates back to my childhood. I must have been nine years old or thereabout. I was at the local indoor pool with my friends, and we thought it would be fun to give the sauna a try. To cut a long story short, I fainted.

However, that childhood 'trauma' has since been processed, and now I eagerly join a group of friends to the sauna every month with great delight. Opposite the opera house here in Oslo lies SALT, a creative hotspot featuring a bar, a stage, dining spots, and, of course, a sauna. It's an immensely pleasant place to socialize and relax and in general is the sauna in Norway experiencing a full-on revival.

Sauna in Norway

And more recently, after years of continuous stress and insomnia, both my mind and body called me to a hold. I've become a regular now, visiting a sauna at least twice a week to calm down, breathe, and give my body a rest. But enough about me.

Let's say you're traveling and it's pouring rain. You could certainly succumb to misery and watch the meaning of life slip away before your eyes. Or you could consult a map to find a sauna and approach the day from an entirely different angle. Hence, I thought it would be a nice idea to compile a list of public saunas that are worth visiting, whether due to their location or their view. Presented in no particular order:

1. Pust in Tromsø: I passed by it during the summer, although unprepared. Meaning that we were on our way to eat out. Yet, the location is superb. The floating sauna rests in Tromsø's old harbor, offering a view of the Arctic Cathedral. It doesn't get more exotic than this.

2. Badstuflåte in Hammerfest: You can "rent" this one for free. Yes, you read that correctly. Such things do exist in this remarkable country. Just get in touch with the local municipal official. It's another floating sauna. You'll need to light the wood stove yourself, leave it neat and clean, and above all, abstain from bringing alcohol. Adhering to the rules is essential for the sustainability of such sympathatic amenities. I said it before; the North is special.

3. The Soria Moria sauna in Dalen: This architectural marvel has garnered attention on numerous architect websites. The view is spectacular. And if an overnight stay at the nearby Dalen hotel is a bit heavy on your budget, this serves as a worthy substitute.

4. Dampen in Fjærland: Nestled in a narrow branch of the Sognefjord is a tiny village. If you're a regular visitor on 'Ha det Mamma', you're likely aware of my enthusiasm for Fjærland. But let's put that aside for now. The fact is, you can book a sauna here with an incredible view. A footbridge leads you to the floating pontoon, from where you can admire the fjord, the mountains, and, if you're lucky, a group of dolphins that frequently swim by.

5. Kadettangen Sandvika: I mention this one because it's a relatively new sauna (and close to my home). Especially if you're a bit fed up with the city's hustle and bustle or embarrassed about your body (which half the Western world seems to unjustly suffer from these days), this is a perfect retreat. Fairly intimate, and often there are still a few available time slots. It's particularly beautiful in winter, as you sweat while gazing out over the frozen Oslo fjord. A perfect Sunday afternoon escape.

6. Rjukan: This is a historic region I've written about before. If you find yourself exhausted and satisfied after climbing the Gausta Toppen, spending an hour in the sauna is a splendid idea. It's great for muscle and tendon recovery, and it guarantees a peaceful sleep. Well worth reserving an hour here during your stay at the Tuddal Høyfjellhotel.

7. Lærdal badstue: One could easily call this one of the more picturesque fjord villages. Numerous historic buildings still stand, and there's a fantastic bakery. It's a lovely spot to arrive at late in the afternoon and depart the next day. Another attraction here is one of Europe's longest tunnels. An impressive feat of engineering. And, of course, there's a sauna! Don't forget to book beforehand since it's one of the more tiny ones!

8. Sandane is a lesser-known destination. This is mainly due to the hordes of tourists flocking to Loen to capture their insta-perfect photos. It's said to be beautiful there. Thus, this provides the perfect opportunity to enjoy a relaxing hour in a nearly empty sauna. It's also one of the most affordable options on this list.

9. Godkok Isfjorden: This is somewhat of a destination in itself, one I hope to visit sometime (yes, I confess, I'm describing a place I haven't been to yet = shame). So as not to get ahead of myself with the details, I'll only mention the fantastic sauna they have here. Godkok, see you next year!

10. Bjørkheim is another gem. Situated by a stunning lake and entirely self-serviced.

In truth, the entire country is scattered with saunas, so grab your Google Maps and you're likely to stumble upon one wherever you may be. Just make sure to adhere to the following basic rules:

  • Bring a water bottle and stay hydrated.

  • Don't stay in the heat for more than 20 minutes. Take a break outside or jump in the water.

  • If you have any health issues, like asthma or worse, consult your doctor to determine if a sauna visit is a good idea.

  • Most saunas you come across are public. So you won't be alone. Respect that!

  • Follow general (social) hygiene rules. No naked willies, and bring a towel to sit on. Slippers or woollen socks are also advisable, especially in freezing or snowy conditions.


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