Saunas abound the world over in many shapes and forms, but perhaps nowhere else are they as heavily ingrained into the local culture as Finland.
In fact we have the Finns to thank for giving us the word.
In the past, and still in many rural areas, they were the only practical way to wash with sub zero temperatures outside and no running water.
Still today it is possible to find people who were born in the sauna (unheated of course) as it was a sterile place with access to hot water.
There are plenty to go around too.
In a country of only around 5.3 million people there are an estimated 2 million saunas so tracking one down is no problem, whether it be a modern contraption in an office block or a hand built wooden hut in the countryside.
In fact it might be hard not to find yourself in one as they are used for a surprising array of social occasions.
So, if you do hear the words ‘what about a sauna?’, throw care (and your clothes) to the wind and jump right in because if you don’t you will miss out on one of the most quintessentially Northern European experiences there is.
Here is some basic information you should know before you step into the steam.
Don’t be shy
Saunas are meant to be taken in the nude, this can seem a little daunting but the Finns are very used to social nudity and no one is judging you.
Getting naked with some business clients or friends you have only just met is perfectly normal, what better way to get to know each other!
Leave your clothes hanging up in the entrance room and take a quick shower before entering. If you still feel shy it is OK to wear a towel, especially if you’re in a mixed sex sauna.
In fact a good tip is to take in a towel to sit on, as the wooden seats can sometimes get pretty hot for bare bums.