Experiencing a floating sauna in Oslo should be on every spa enthusiast’s bucket list. While they don’t involve naturally-sourced hot spring water, these unique structures check many boxes for decompressing and seeing the city’s best features while pampering yourself in a new way.
What is a Floating Sauna?
A floating sauna is a sauna room built on a buoyant vessel with easy access to cold fjord water, ideal for plunging in after breaking a good sweat. It’s a relatively new concept that has taken Oslo by storm, playing into Scandinavia’s way of life regarding releasing toxins in heat and taking ice baths.
Dunking in icy water and sitting in scorching saunas are both popular activities in Norway, making the idea of combining them a stroke of genius. Additionally, patrons can treat themselves to a wellness activity while taking in the gorgeous vistas of the capital and fjord.
Know Before You Go
They are dry saunas until you splash the water over the oven, creating steam. This really raises the temperature quickly and gets your body sweating. Temperatures inside the saunas are scorching and average around 80℃/176℉.
Make sure your health can handle these high heat levels and mentally prepare for them if you’re unaccustomed to saunas. Here are a few tips to make your time at a floating spa a success.
- Bring plenty of drinking water to hydrate constantly. Some saunas don’t sell or provide water.
- Pack two towels – one for sitting, one for drying off.
- Don’t forget proper swim attire if the sauna calls for it.
- Know how to swim in intense conditions.
- If you have a heart condition or any other health issue, consult a doctor before going to a sauna.
- Leave jewelry at home. It can get hot and burn your skin.
- Bring a bag for your wet clothing.
- Pack a couple of snacks or make meal plans for after your session. Being in a sauna burns many calories and makes you hungry.
- Enjoy this exciting and polarizing experience!
Here are the top floating saunas in the Oslo area.
KOK Oslo Sauna
KOK Oslo Sauna has two locations. The first one is in Langkaia, and another at the pier in Aker Brygge as of summer 2022. Initially opened in 2017, these saunas have been frequented by locals and tourists alike to see some of the capital’s best views while indulging in authentic Scandinavian culture.
The facility has grown over time and has added more saunas, being able to serve more groups at a time.
Translated into English, “Kok” means “to cook.” The name serves as a double-meaning with a play on words to emphasize “cooking” in the steamy rooms, as well as nodding to the phrase “now you’re cooking!”. Kok Oslo Sauna enjoys helping guests relax and rejuvenate between sitting in the floating sauna and plunging in the world-famous fjord.
There are three ways that guests can experience these impressive hot boxes on the water.
Private Sauna – Two hours for groups of up to 10 people. Take control of the temperature of your room and jump in the fjord as many times as you need to cool off.
Public Sauna – Individual seats are purchased instead of entire saunas. Meet new friends during your two-hour session and go back and forth between sweating and plunging.
Private Kok-Cruise – A two-hour tour of the Oslofjord away from the shore. Ride with up to 10 people, see the archipelago and break a sweat with occasional dips in the refreshing water.
What to Expect
Upon arrival, the sauna master will greet you and introduce you or your group to the boat and how it works. You will be provided water and firewood to use during your visit. If you are going on a cruise, a skipper will narrate the travels through the fjord.
Each floating sauna at OK has a storage area and a simple changing room; no showers or toilets are on board. The Finnish-style rooms use wood burning to generate steam which can get very hot quickly, so be prepared to regulate your body temperature by going outside.
Each person can bring along two units of alcohol in addition to water, but keep in mind that the staff can ask anyone belligerent to leave. Food is not allowed inside the sauna, but outside or in the changing room is ok.
Oslo Badstuforening is operated by the Oslo Sauna Association, a non-profit company that aims to make saunas accessible and affordable for all. There are four locations in the city, including three near central Oslo and one on an artificial island called “Munken & Bispen” with overnight options. All but one has multiple rooms.
Walk-ins are welcome, but your odds of getting in this way can be slim. Reservations guarantee your time slot on a specific day, and they do fill up fast. If a time you would like is already booked, check back frequently for cancellations. More tickets are released 24 hours before each day, making it possible to get the time you prefer.
Private and communal experiences are offered at the establishment. There are no age restrictions to using the saunas, and kids under 14 are half-priced. Showers are on-site, but guests must bring two towels and their own swimwear. Alcohol is not allowed in the communal sauna, but small amounts can be taken into privately booked ones.
Oslo Badstuforening has four locations around the capital.
Sukkerbiten – This spot is located in the heart of Oslo and is very easy to find on the waterfront. The establishent has seven saunas: Skarven, Anda, Havørnen, Måken, Ny badstu, Alken and Ærfuglen. Also, Sukkerbiten is an outdoor hangout area with tables, drink service, and food options. The sauna area is open from 7 am to 7 pm and occasionally closes at 8:30 pm.
Bademaschinen – Set in Langkaia next to KOK Oslo, Bademaschinen is three minutes from the opera house and near the city’s downtown. This raft sauna location is also open from 7 am to 11 pm.
Kroloftet – Based more inland on the east side of Oslo, this sauna is about a 15-minute bus ride from the city center. This is a weekend spot open on Saturday and Sunday from 8:30 am to 1 pm and after work on Fridays from 4 pm to 7 pm. They occasionally add another random open time frame. Since this isn’t on the wharf, there’s no fjord to dunk into after using the sauna.
Bispen & Munken – This private sauna island is an incredible experience for visitors looking for the ultimate getaway. Permanently docked by the famous Munch Museum, this tiny cabin on the water offers tranquility with amazing city landscape views. Patrons can choose only to purchase the time in the sauna, only rent the lodging, or book both experiences at once.
Oslo Fjord Spa*
*This facility is temporarily closed but plans to reopen in January 2023
Take the plunge at Oslo Fjord Spa! Enjoy refreshing wild fjord swimming after getting steamy in this traditional Finnish sauna.
The Oslo Fjord Spa can be found in Aker Brygge and is one of the most popular floating sauna spas in the central part of the city. With four facilities, visitors are welcome to use them as walk-ins or by making a reservation. Private and public sauna use is offered in two-hour window sessions.
According to the company, they were one of the pioneers of the floating sauna concept along the Oslo waterfront.
Stop by this sauna location for a refreshing hot and cold experience, a team-building event, or an outing with friends. Go back and forth between the sauna and fjord water as often as you like during your session and see why this activity is such an integral part of Nordic life.
If you’re feeling brave, leap from the roof of Oslo Fjord Spa and feel the rush of different temperatures take over your body.
The spa is open in the mornings from 7 am to 10 am, then again in the afternoons and evenings from 3 pm to 8 pm, Sundays through Tuesdays, and 3 pm to 10 pm on Wednesdays to Saturdays. Guests must wear swim attire and bring their own water bottles and towels.
Floating saunas appeal to those that love stimulating their minds and bodies in this “fire and ice” manner. Don’t forget to take the leap and experience this refreshing wellness treatment on your next trip through Oslo.