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Enjoy a true Finnish sauna experience in the Lake Saimaa region

February 14, 2024

Yes, sauna is an inseparable part of being a Finn, perhaps even coded into the Finnish gene pool. When you think about the geographic location of Finland, is it any wonder that for thousands of years Finns have wanted to escape the coldness and chilly breezes of winter into the sweet warmth of sauna?

Sauna does you good. The warm steam caresses you and relieves tension and stiffness of your body. It makes it easier for you to breathe and helps you sweat all stress, pains and aches away. Gentle whip with a birch whisk will enhance the effect. And if you want to maximize the pleasure, take a plunge into a cool lake and have a refreshing drink after sauna.

There are up to three million of these sacred temples of relaxation in Finland. All Finns have their early childhood memories of their first sauna experiences and how you were to sit quietly in order not to upset the Sauna Elf. Whether the elf was listening or not, the point is that the sauna is a place for peace and relaxation.

Finns have built saunas in most peculiar places, such as cars and telephone booths. In the Mikkeli region, you can find lovely traditional wood-burning and smoke saunas on lakeshores as well as cozy saunas in the city centre. There are alternatives also for water sport enthusiasts and spa lovers. And if you can’t get to a sauna, the sauna can get to you – on wheels.

Thousands of years’ sauna tradition in the smoke sauna

A small wooden smoke sauna building is being heated by a lake.
The smoke sauna in Sahanlahti Resort in Puumala

Smoke sauna is a part of Finnish cultural heritage. For thousands of years, it was the predominant sauna in Finland. People used to give birth, bathe, cure illnesses, do spells and prepare the deceased for their final journey in the sauna.

Nowadays, smoke saunas are the source of pure pleasure and relaxation for both body and mind – be it summer or winter. Followed by a plunge into a lake in summer or ice hole in winter will surely reinvigorate and awaken your senses.

The stove of the chimneyless sauna is heated for several hours after which the heat is left to ease for a while. Before entering the smoke sauna, you throw water on the stove to blow away the remaining smoke and particles. It is best not to start bathing while the smoke sauna is at its hottest. By letting it rest a bit and throwing only a small amount of water on the stove at a time allows you to enjoy the softest and sweetest steams.

Want to bathe in a smoke sauna in the Mikkeli region? Check these out!

Smoke sauna is definitely something you want to experience at least once in your lifetime. In the Mikkeli region, we recommend the following smoke saunas:

A smoke sauna made of round logs in a snowy forest.
​The smoke sauna of Kaidan Kiho in Ristiina, Mikkeli

Kaidan Kiho’s smoke sauna is a traditional log sauna by the scenic Lake Kaitajärvi in Ristiina, about 22 km from Mikkeli. Kaidan Kiho offers also accommodation in ecological and modern villas.

Sahanlahti Resort’s smoke sauna is heated all year round. You can reserve the sauna as well as the living room of the sauna building for private use. After sauna it is nice to chill in the lake or traditional bathing tub on the terrace and enjoy the beautiful view on Lake Saimaa.

Sauna and ice swimming. Have you tried bathing in an ice sauna or a raft sauna at Lake Saimaa? 

If you are looking for something special, book the ice sauna at Sahanlahti Resort in Puumala. Every winter, the host of Sahanlahti Resort and a few helpers build an ice sauna on the shore of Lake Saimaa, whenever ice conditions allow.

The gently moist hot steam of the ice sauna offers an unforgettable experience! If you dare, try ice swimming in the open air. The sauna, washrooms and changing room of the adjacent Artturi sauna building are also available for ice sauna bathers. 

The ice sauna of ​Sahanlahti Resort has an igloo-like vibe.

Tip for sauna lovers! On Sahanlahti Sauna Day on 24 February 2024, you can experience the whole repertoire of saunas by buying a wristband; a smoke sauna, electric sauna, Niskalampi wood-heated sauna, ice sauna or tent sauna. The ice holes are open for all brave swimmers, and you can also relax in the warmth of hot tubs. The restaurants of Sahanlahti Resort serve visitors all day and evening on the Sauna Day.

Experience the enchanting peace of nature and sauna at Yövesi on Lake Saimaa

The wood-heated raft sauna parked on the shore of Lake Saimaa at Yövesi offers an authentic sauna experience in the middle of nature. The sauna comfortably seats four to six bathers. To complete the experience, you can book a nature experience, or a meal prepared of wild or local ingredients on site.

Tip! In other seasons, test the heat of Uhkua’s 200-year-old log cabin sauna or a tent sauna.

Our stay in the Lake Saimaa and Mikkeli area was awesome. The decision to visit the area was driven by its proximity to Helsinki, yet it promised and delivered a rich array of activities like sauna, ice bathing, excellent dining options, and a snowshoe hike. It felt like the perfect match for our group's size and diverse interests, striking a balance between accessibility and the authentic Finnish outdoor experience. The blend of delightful food and the breathtaking nature of the Lake Saimaa area truly enhanced our experience.

– Lars (and the group), Uhkua's guests from Germany

Uhkua’s raft sauna on the shore of Lake Saimaa at Yövesi in Ristiina.

Ice swimming and saunas in Mikkeli

Visulahti’s lakeside sauna on the shore of Saimaa is open for bathers and winter swimmers every Tuesday from 7 to 10 a.m. and Thursday from 3 to 6 p.m. from December to the end of February. The sauna is for both men and women, so wear a swimming suit in the sauna. Remember also to take your own towel and slippers. 

The lakeside sauna of Kyyhkylä Wellbeing Resort is open for all winter swimmers on Tuesdays from 3.30 to 5.30 p.m. in winter.

Traditional lakeside saunas on beautiful lake shores

The wood-heated lakeside sauna is the ultimate summertime favourite for many Finns. In the Mikkeli region, you can these original  saunas in several resorts all year round.

A modern sauna building with a large deck and seating groups by a lake.
The lakeside sauna of Kyyhkylä Wellbeing Resort suits well also for larger groups

Kyyhkylä Wellbeing Resort’s sauna is located by Lake Saimaa, a fifteen-minute drive from Mikkeli city centre. The area is peaceful and quiet, and the beautiful facilities also suit larger gatherings. There is room for fifteen persons in the sauna and more space on the terrace to relax. In winter, a quick dip in the ice hole makes your blood circulate. Kyyhkylä Manor favours organic products and catering. ​

Susiniemi’s sauna is located in Otava, about 20 km from Mikkeli city centre. This sauna is on the shore of Lake Puula surrounded by a beautiful pine forest. You can also reserve the Laplander’s hut and the round log cabin for your use. 

Sahanlahti Resort’s Niskalammen sauna is a traditional, homely lakeside sauna in Puumala. From this sauna it takes only a couple of steps to plunge into Saimaa. You can order catering to the sauna from the Sahanlahti restaurant − try, for example, Sahanlahti’s sausages.   

A small wooden wood-heated sauna right by the water.
Niskalammen sauna in Sahanlahti Resort is right at the water's edge.

New in summer 2024! A floating sauna world will open on the shore of the Mikkelipuisto park near the centre of Mikkeli in summer 2024. The sauna world will feature two different saunas, a bar, terrace with a swimming pool and a lounge. Swimming in the lake available all year round!

Find a sauna oasis in Mikkeli city centre

You can find sauna ambience also in the city centre. The following saunas and facilities suit perfectly for sauna evenings and get-togethers.

Kulttuuritalo Tempo’s facilities include a modern and stylish sauna department, kitchen, dining area and a spacious living room with a fireplace.

Modern sauna premises with the steam room and benches.
Sauna facilities in Culture House Tempo in Mikkeli

Linnasauna is a spacious sauna with a lounge and a fireplace right in the city centre. From Linnasauna you have a beautiful view of the old prison building of the city. The sauna seats  altogether 12 persons. There is also a dining area, kitchen and a terrace. Food and beverages are available through a catering service.

In the Original Sokos Hotel Vaakuna you will find another sauna above the rooftops of Mikkeli. The hotel's sauna is heated daily from 6 to 9 p.m., and there is also a jacuzzi. You can also book the sauna or the entire sauna facilities for private use.

Scandic Mikkeli's sauna facilities with a swimming pool are perfect for spending a relaxed evening. The facilities can accommodate up to 25 people. There is a dressing room and a cosy lounge where you can also dine.

Combine water sports, spa and sauna experience

In the water sports centres in the Mikkeli region you can exercise, swim and relax in the tubs and saunas as well as have some fun in the waterslides.

The renewed Naisvuori Swimming Hall in the city centre has a 25-meter pool for adults, a jacuzzi, cold tub as well as a warm pool for children. There are separate sauna departments and dressing rooms for both men and women.

Rantakeidas Swimming Hall is a spa-like centre with a 41-meter-long waterslide, aqua massage points and several pools for both adults and children. There are three saunas for both men and women: two traditional saunas and one steam bath.

Two young boys are having fun in a small spa pool.
Warm and summery feeling in Rantakeidas Swimming Hall

Swimming and Recreation Center Sampola in Juva, about 40 km from Mikkeli, is a modern, fully furbished feel-good centre with several pools and aqua massage points, a water slide and five traditional saunas.

All centres have a gym and a cafe.

Sauna on wheels

A truck wagon that has a built-in sauna.
Elämys Saimaa sauna wagon on its way to the destination

Elämys Saimaa is a modern, wood-heated sauna on wheels. The sauna wagon can be transported to a location of your choice – to your own yard if you like. There is room for 20 persons in the sauna. You can also order a traditional outdoor bathtub to accompany the wagon.

Rent a holiday cottage with a sauna by Lake Saimaa

The Mikkeli region is filled with wonderful holiday villas and cottages with saunas. Located along lake shores they offer peace and privacy in a beautiful scenery. Check out the holiday villas and cottages and enjoy a true Finnish sauna experience in the middle of the magnificent Saimaa nature.