Lonely Planet review
There are different types of saunas, but the savusauna (smoke sauna) is the original and, some say, the best. This, by the lakeside near Rauhalahti hotel south of town, is a memorable and sociable experience that draws locals and visitors.
The 60-person, mixed sauna is heated 24 hours in advance with a large wood fire (ie there’s no sauna stove). Guests are given towels to wear, but bring a swimsuit for a dip in the lake. Sweat it out for a while, cool off in the lake, then repeat the process several times – devoted sauna-goers do so even when the lake is covered with ice. Then buy a beer and relax, looking over the lake in Nordic peace.
There’s a restaurant in the adjacent loggers’ cabin serving traditional Finnish dinners when the sauna’s on, with accordion entertainment and a lumberjack show. Bus 7 departs every half-hour from the kauppatori to the Rauhalahti hotel complex, from which it’s a 600m walk to the sauna, or take the lakeboat from the passenger harbour in summer.