Experiencing Finnish Sauna as a Wheelchair User

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In Finland, sauna is simply a way of life and a must-do for any visitors to this Nordic country. To give you an idea of how important saunas are to Finnish culture, there are about five million people that live in Finland and over one million saunas. Most people have a sauna in their home, but there are also public saunas that can be enjoyed. wheelchair accessible sauna helsinki finland

During my recent visit to Helsinki for the #HelsinkiSecret Residence, I really wanted to experience Finnish sauna. I had never been in a sauna before, and Finland seemed like the perfect place to try it. I searched around online, but couldn’t seem to find any information about wheelchair accessible saunas. Since the majority of saunas are not coed (it’s tradition to be completely nude so men and women go to separate saunas), I was also worried about how I’d even get in a sauna since my mom was traveling with me. What if I needed assistance or repositioned while lounging in the sauna? I could have asked a stranger to help me, but how awkward would that be? Especially since we’d both be naked. No thanks… Haha! As soon as I was about to give up, Sanna Kalmari from the Finnish blog Palmuasema messaged me and said that she had it figured out.

 

Sanna and I at Finnish Nature Centre Haltia

Sanna and I at Finnish Nature Centre Haltia

 

Sanna and I planned to meet up while I was in town and spend the day together. I always love meeting fellow travel bloggers, especially when they’re wheelchair users also. So on my last full day in Helsinki, a wheelchair accessible taxi van picked me up, then picked up Sanna, and we were off for a fun-filled day together at the Finnish Nature Centre Haltia.

 

wheelchair accessible sauna helsinki finland

Haltia sits about 20 miles from Helsinki and has a lot to offer visitors. It has various exhibitions that give visitors insight to the nature, national parks and animals of Finland, and there are hiking trails (there is an accessible trail also) since Haltia is by Nuuksio National Park. The surroundings are beautiful and since we visited on a snowy cold day, I couldn’t have been more ready to try sauna.

 

Haltia

Haltia

Exploring Haltia with Sanna

Exploring Haltia with Sanna

 

In addition to all of the stuff that I mentioned above, Haltia also has meeting rooms and a private sauna that can be rented by visitors. You do have to reserve this sauna in advance and it’s quite pricey, about 300 euros for 4 hours, but if you’re in a wheelchair and experiencing Finnish sauna is on your bucket list, then it’s well worth it in my opinion. Visit Helsinki was nice enough to reserve us the meeting room and sauna for 2 hours, which was really plenty of time.

 

The view from our meeting room <3

The view from our meeting room <3

 

Our visit started by enjoying some Finnish delicacies that Sanna made, including delicious homemade cinnamon buns and chocolates. Thanks to Sanna for these treats! During my time in Finland, I ate way too many sweets. I think that the desserts in Finland might be the best in the world.

 

 

After eating a bit, it was time to sweat out those calories in the sauna. The sauna was directly connected to our meeting room and had a changing area and then a shower room. There was a small bench in the changing room that can be used to change on, if you need to lay down, or you could even use the larger table in the meeting room to lay on and change. I also brought my Go Mobility travel shower chair because it’s extremely easy to transport, so I just sat in it for the shower and then rolled it into the sauna. A shower chair was not provided, so you will want to bring your own.

wheelchair accessible sauna helsinki finland

Changing area

Changing area

A nice roll-in shower

A nice roll-in shower

 

The sauna was quite large and had plenty of space for my shower chair to roll in it. It was about 90° Celcius (194° Fahrenheit) inside the sauna, but as someone that loves heat, I immensely enjoyed it. It was especially nice after being outdoors in the cold weather all week and whenever we wanted to have more steam, we just poured some water over a tall stack of heated rocks. I was pretty fascinated with the whole process of sauna and could have stayed in there all day (or all week) probably because it was so relaxing.

 

 wheelchair accessible sauna helsinki finland

 wheelchair accessible sauna helsinki finland

wheelchair accessible sauna helsinki finland

wheelchair accessible sauna helsinki finland

This authentically Finnish experience soon came to an end after 45 wonderful minutes of relaxation. I can definitely see why the Finns love sauna so much and I am tempted to put one in my own home now that I’m back in the States. There’s really nothing better than a warm sauna on a cold day and I am so glad that I was able to have this experience while in Finland.

 

*Thanks to Sanna Kalmari of Palmuasema, Visit Helsinki, and Haltia for making this experience possible!

wheelchair accessible sauna helsinki finland

 

wheelchair accessible sauna helsinki finland

 

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