We rose early after a wonderful day in Tallinn exploring the festive Christmas market. Today would be a slightly more relaxed day in Helsinki, as we had the ultimate chilled day planned. We decided to start off with an easy brunch, before heading to our scheduled slot at the sauna. Helsinki has an iconic contemporary seaside sauna called Löyly. Thanks to its popularity, you need to book a slot in advance. We made sure to do so before arriving in Helsinki, because it’s one of the things I was most looking forward to.
Brunch in Helsinki
We did try and have a buffet brunch at the famous Cafe Ekberg near our apartment, but unfortunately for us, it was packed to the rafters. Better luck next time. After a quick Google of places nearby, I discovered Andante.
It’s a speciality coffee shop and cafe, serving raw and vegan snacks, as well as fine tea. All its delicious products help to promote a sustainable and healthy lifestyle. We both ordered avocado toast, as well as a raw blueberry cheesecake. The presentation of both was beautiful, and as the first raw cheesecake I’ve tried, I was surprised by its deliciousness. Our coffees were great too, so it’s somewhere I’d recommend trying if you’re staying in Helsinki.
With a little time to kill before our slot at Löyly, we headed into central Helsinki for a little sightseeing. Introducing the Kamppi Chapel of Silence. Located in Narinkkatori Square, the Chapel’s a welcome retreat from the bustling city.
Free to enter, it’s worth going inside to take a look around. Constructed by architects back in 2012, the sanctuary’s curved shape allows the chapel to flow into its urban background. From the inside, the shape nurtures its visitors from the day to day life of outside.
A calm, contemporary space, visitors must be quiet on entry. There’s a warm atmosphere inside, thanks in part to the soft lighting and solid wood furnishings.
We left the Kamppi Chapel and came across another of Finland’s famous icons – the Moomins. For any fans of the Finnish childhood show, don’t miss the Official Moomin Shop.
Inside, you’ll find all kinds of Moomin memorabilia from the cartoon, from pins to plates to pillows.
After a brief look and a couple of souvenir purchases, we left in search of our highlight of the day: Löyly.
Löyly is a public sauna and restaurant complex in Hernesaari on south Helsinki. It contains a traditional Finnish smoke sauna, two wood-heated saunas, a beautiful deck area, and a restaurant. A contemporary seaside sauna, it offers beautiful views across the water.
We arrived at Löyly in the early afternoon, just as the sun was beginning to set. Look carefully, and you’ll spot sauna visitors in their swimsuits slipping into the Baltic Sea. Might I add that when we arrived, the temperature was already -1°C already. I was cold even with a thick coat and scarf!
Taking a dip in the Baltic Sea is encouraged by Löyly, even in the winter. This is because of the belief that shocking the body from the heat of the saunas with the icy water is excellent for your circulation.
As we got closer to Löyly, the sunset became more dramatic. I was excited for a good view as we spent time between the various saunas and the Baltic Sea.
Once you arrive at Löyly for your booking, you’re provided with towels, and guided to changing rooms to shower and get into your swimsuit. There are separate changing rooms and shower facilities for both men and women, although the saunas and public areas are mixed. Each visit entitles you to two hours in the sauna.
Saunas are an important part of Finnish culture – for a country of just 5.4 million people, there are 3.3 million saunas. Löyly literally means the steam that evaporates when you throw water on hot stones in a sauna.
After working up a sweat in the sauna, I took my first dip in the Baltic Sea. As you can imagine, it was absolutely freezing! My body was completely shocked as I hit the water, but it felt so refreshing afterwards.
In order to take a break from the cool temperatures, we grabbed a seat by the fire. There’s a bar at Löyly, so we ordered a beer and a glass of fizz to relax with.
We enjoyed the beautiful views across the Baltic Sea, with the sun still continuing to set in the background.
Continuing a couple more cycles of sauna and dip in the freezing sea, we began to feel completely revitalised. I wish I had Löyly in London so that I could take regular trips to the sauna. It’s wonderful how Löyly monitors its number of visitors by requesting bookings too. It means the sauna isn’t too busy for the ultimate in relaxing experiences.
With the outside temperature slowly continuing to dip as the day went on, there’s more of a need to defrost. While enjoying the sunset view outside, the floor began to freeze. Thank goodness for the fire inside!
We completed one last cycle of the saunas and the Baltic Sea. Overall, Löyly was an incredibly relaxing experience, and one I won’t forget in a hurry. How often do you get to swim in the Baltic? Until next time!
We said goodbye to the sauna and the sea and went to shower and get changed, ready for the next instalment of our evening.
Sunset in Helsinki
With clothes and coat firmly on, we went to explore more of Löyly. The restaurant smelt delicious, and the view is wonderful. If we didn’t have dinner plans elsewhere in Helsinki, we’d have definitely eaten there.
Heading out onto Löyly’s deck, I found it pretty astounding that the sunset was continuing to set. Following our two hour slot in the sauna, the sky was still turning wonderful shades of orange and pink.
One of the great things about Löyly’s impressive architecture is that it’s split across three levels. This allows for wonderful views across the Baltic Sea, and was the perfect spot to catch the sunset. We climbed up onto the roof of Löyly for unspoilt views across the sea.
Enjoying a slow walk back into the city, we planned to get some food and have a fun evening in Helsinki on our last night.
Keep your eyes peeled for the next instalment of my trip to Helsinki.
Have you visited Helsinki’s Löyly? What did you like best about the saunas? Feel free to leave your tips in the comments below!