The last years in Oslo, floating saunas have been popping up all along the waterfront. It’s become a very popular activity with both the locals and visitors. Combined with a swim in the fjord, its an experience you don’t want to miss out on when you visit Oslo.
Read this article to learn more about sauna culture, and how to enjoy sauna when you visit Oslo.
I also made a YouTube-video about Sauna in Oslo.
Photo: Becky Zeller
What is a Sauna?
The Norwegian word for sauna is badstue, basically meaning “bathing house/room”. It’s a tradition with a long history, and we’ve been enjoying saunas in Norway since the middle ages. The concept is to have a small room or a building which can be heated up with a wood burner or an electric oven. Usually the exterior and interior is made out of wood, and there are benches to sit on. The typical temperature in a badstue (sauna) is be between 60-80 degrees celsius (140-176 F), but it can also go higher.
On top of the sauna oven are a pile of rocks. It’s normal to bring in a bucket of water and throw water onto the rocks. This creates a whole lot of steam, and quickly increases the temperature on the inside. Make sure to keep your hands away from the seam so that you don’t burn your skin. Good to know: In Norwegian we say å ta badstue (to take badstue.. to enjoy sauna).
Beneath you can see an image of a modern sauna with the benches, oven, rocks and a bucket for water.
Todtanis, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Where I “take” Sauna
My favorite spot for enjoying sauna is at Oslo Badstuforening, the Oslo Sauna Association, which has their saunas centrally located in the area of Bjørvika, not far from the Opera House. See map below.
Oslo Badstuforening offers drop-in every day (reserve and pay online), and you can also rent a private sauna for up to two hours.
You might also like: Oslo Neighborhood Guide for Travelers
Why you should try out Sauna in Oslo
Enjoying sauna is a social activity, and is also said to have a positive health effect. Some studies say it might reduce high blood pressure, and it can also help you to relieve cold symptoms. But most of all it gives a refreshing and calming feeling and is a good way to take a pause from a hectic everyday life.
Heading for a Sauna is also a great way to meet Norwegians. You’ll find people of all ages in the sauna, and its nice to chat with your fellow “sauna friends”. Most Norwegians speak English, so this is a great opportunity for travelers to hang out and be sociable with the locals.
The highlight for many is to jump into the Oslo fjord. The saunas are open all year, so be ready for almost freezing water temperatures in the winter, and a comfortable (for some) twenty celsius (68 F) in the summer.
How “to take” Sauna?
As a general rule you’ll need to bring the following equipment:
2 x Towels
One towel to sit on, and one to dry yourself with
Shorts for men and a swimsuit for women
Freshwater is available, and make sure to drink plenty of it!
You might have heard tales about people being naked in the saunas. This certainly does happen in many places, but in the public saunas along the Oslo fjord, people wear their bathing gear. However, people who rent a private sauna might take off their shorts. For many Norwegians this is more “normal” than sitting with swimming gear on.
You are allowed to enjoy alcohol in the sauna, but no excessive amounts, and also remember that alcohol dehydrates you.
Remember to avoid a heat stroke, and try regulate your body temperature by taking frequent breaks, jumping into the fjord, or just sitting on a lower level inside the sauna.
Photo: Becky Zeller
I hope this article inspired you to try out badstue (sauna) next time you travel to Oslo. Check out the website of Oslo Badstuforening to read more about their saunas, opening hours and prices.
Please share this article with anyone visiting Oslo or interested in sauna culture. Thank you, tusen takk!
Check out my YouTube-video about Sauna in Oslo