Ice Swimming In Finland

Ice Swimming In Finland – My Helsinki Birthday Wish At Löyly

The water was so cold that it winded me. I caught my breath, swam over to the edge and climbed my numb legs up the ladder. Once I was out of the water the breeze outside hit me like a million knives piercing my skin at once. My feet were sore from the numbness but they managed to walk me the few steps over to my tiny sauna towel. Just as I got out, a big smile came across my face and I wanted to do it all again. It was my birthday wish this year to go ice swimming in Finland and I was able to do just that at Löyly during my solo trip to Helsinki. Another bucket list check and extraordinary travel experience…well, experienced and I’m sharing all the details here today.

Ice Swimming In Finland – My Helsinki Birthday Wish At Löyly

Ice swimming in Finland is an exhilarating experience! Here are the details for how to do it, as well as an authentic sauna, when visiting Helsinki.

The Prep

Once you check in, you will get a locker key, bath towel and sauna towel (which is like a baby towel to sit on in the sauna) and these are all included in your entry fee. Then you go through to the male or female locker room and you can use your free locker to store your belongings. You might remember my post on geothermal swimming in Iceland where I talked about how hygiene was an important part of the process, well it’s very similar for the sauna experience in Finland. Hygiene is really important and the locker room connects to a shower room, also separated between males and females, to rinse off and from there your prep is done and you’re ready to sauna.

Travel tip: You need to make a sauna reservation to visit. I’ve added the Löyly website and social media links at the end of the post for you to make your visit ahead of time. 

Ice Swimming In Finland

The Sauna

There are two saunas at Löyly – one standard and one smoke. I have used many saunas before but never a smoke sauna so this was cool to be able to try something new. Although, I have to say I know it’s more traditional but breathing in there felt like what I imagine it’s like to be in a bushfire so I preferred the regular sauna. No matter which you prefer, there are two spacious saunas that you can choose from.

Both males and females share the saunas and you do need to cover your bits with your swimsuit. I packed mine and wore it there but if you forgot, Löyly have swimsuits for hire.

Fun travel fact: Löyly is a word that defines the sauna steam that comes off the rocks after water is splashed on them.

Ice Swimming In Finland

Ice Swimming

There is an open room outside of the sauna with water to drink where you can take a break if need be. Then it’s time to brave the cold and go outside to dunk in the sea water.

I have to say it was way more fun than I thought it would be! Before I got in the water I was so scared of how cold it would be, but it was actually the perfect complement to the sauna. That bone numbing cold somehow wakes you up and makes you feel alive again and it turned out to be so addictive – after being scared at first, I got in 8 times! It wasn’t quite ice swimming since the top hadn’t frozen over yet, but it was exhilarating and surely felt like ice. I could really relate to Jack Dawson at the end of Titanic! If you visit more into winter, you will get more ice in your ice swim but no matter when you go it will be cold.

I liked that this is a public sauna suited for tourists who want to get a taste of the Finnish sauna experience. If I went to a local sauna I don’t think I would’ve had the same fun bonding that I got at the Löyly sauna. It was full of other tourists like me and we were all chatting and talking through our fears of the cold water together which made the experience a lot of fun.

Fun travel fact: The sauna experience is an integral part of Finnish culture and there are an estimated 2 -3 million saunas in Finland – a country with 5.4 million people! 

Ice Swimming In Finland

Ice Swimming In Finland

The Cafe

Need a coffee after all that fun? You’re in luck because Löyly is a complete experience, not just a sauna, and you can stop at the cafe on the way out for a coffee with a view of that icy ocean you were just in. You can also take the stairs to the rooftop if you want a better look at the view.

Ice Swimming In Finland

Ice Swimming In Finland

Where to stay & how to get there

I stayed at Hotel Katajanokka, the former Helsinki county prison which has been turned into a boutique hotel. Not only was it a unique hotel, it has a history which has been kept alive from the defensive brick wall that surrounds the property to the artifacts and photos displayed throughout the building. I loved my stay in this cozy hotel and you can see my full review here for more information. Löyly was a 40 minute walk from the Hotel Katajanokka. Walking in autumnal Helsinki is very pretty, especially through the parks so it did not feel like a long walk at all, instead it was quite pleasant. If you prefer public transport, there is a bus stop (bus 14) that drops you off directly in front of Löyly. You can see the timetable and routes here.

How To Spend A Weekend In Helsinki

For more information:

Reserve your sauna visit on the Löyly website

Stay updated on the Löyly Facebook Page and Instagram

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