If you want an authentic touch of the world’s strongest sauna culture, Sauna Arla is for you! In Helsinki, the old working-class neighbourhoods are where I find the original Finnish “sauna spirit”. At Sauna Arla, you can even book (in advance) a massage or cupping therapy!
Earlier you could find these neighbourhood saunas on every block. As Kallio has gentrified during the last 10-15 years, the owner of Sauna Arla today is a former green party politician, producer Kimmo Helistö. He has actually even built a pop-up sauna in several big cities all over the world to spread the culture.
Sauna Arla kept its authenticity though! As a more ecological way they just use biogas instead of the traditional wood. No luxury here, as the Finnish sauna in its purest form is ascetic. Just bring along your drinks (you cannot buy alcohol here), maybe a towel, if you don’t want to rent one, and a swimming suit, if you insist. But we Finns are more than used to nakedness without sexual connotations plus men and women are separated.
Sauna Arla is perfect for a more private and meditative sauna experience, as the regulars are not always so talkative, and it’s not too packed. If I want a more social experience instead, I usually choose Kotiharjun Sauna within a walking distance, or Uusi Sauna, which is excellent and run by the same owner as Arla, located near the city center area and serves drinks from a hip bar (own drinks not allowed).