Birch twig on smoke sauna’s seat

The world’s largest smoke sauna, the world’s best sauna, a sauna underground… Here are the Jyväskylä Region’s secret sauna treasures

The Jyväskylä Region offers a whole range of saunas, where traditional Finnish-style luxury – the peace and quiet of nature, clean waters and the soft aroma of woodsmoke – unfolds in all its beauty. For different types of visitors we’ve listed seven fabulous and very unique sauna destinations in the region, close to which a number of superb natural attractions can also be found.

For a large group: the world’s biggest smoke sauna

The Mahtisauna (‘Mighty sauna’) at Tupaswilla heritage village has genuinely earned its name: this is a sauna of mighty size, indeed the world’s biggest smoke sauna, whose soft heat can be enjoyed simultaneously by as many as 150 (!) sauna-goers. The sauna is located in Laukaa amid wonderful natural surroundings.

Wandering in the area’s nature is an excellent way of preparing for an unforgettable and relaxing smoke sauna experience. Of the natural attractions nearby Saarakallio’s amazing rock paintings are a must-see, as well as Multamäki nature trail and the incredibly beautiful Hallalähde.

In addition to the delights of the it’s also possible to enjoy a peat bath. Peat contains many good minerals and a peat treatment is said to boost the body’s resistance and accelerate the metabolism. Remember, too, to enjoy the water from the Mahtisauna’s showers – it comes straight from their own pond. The place is not short on history either: the sauna’s log beams date back to the 17th century.

Smoke sauna at Tupaswilla
Photo: Tupaswilla

For the adventurous: Sauna Trail

Revontuli Resort in Hankasalmi doesn’t just have one sauna but a complete sauna world which offers different flavours of steamy heat for every taste. The resort area features a large smoke sauna, a lake shore sauna, a tent sauna and a family sauna. By reserving the Sauna Trail package you get to try them all out. Or maybe one of your party is getting married in the summer? A sauna package designed for brides-to-be – including pampering treatments – is also available.

The sauna world’s smoke sauna complete with outdoor hot tubs is located on the shore of a lake. In the tent sauna – along with enjoying the heat – there’s also an opportunity to do some supervised yoga, and the distance from the sauna to the lake and a refreshing dip is short indeed. The Loitsu [’Spell’] sauna also to be found on the lake shore is ideal for groups. The Laguna [‘Lagoon’] sauna in turn is perfect for families and groups of friends.

Before taking to the Sauna Trail it pays to explore the nature in the resort’s immediate surroundings. Do you dare to set foot on Ruumissaari [‘Corpse Island’]? For paddlers we recommend the Konnevesi–Laukaa canoeing route!

Two persons sitting in a smoke sauna and using birch whisk
Photo: Julia Kivelä

For fishing buddies: Varjola’s saunas

The Kuusaankoski rapids are a fabulous place to do some fishing. Varjola Farm located close nearby possesses a number of different saunas that can accommodate groups both big and small. What’s your preference, the large Smoke sauna at the head of the rapids or the Tent sauna hidden away in the forest?

Of Varjola’s saunas the Kelosauna, built from dead pine logs, is particularly interesting – indeed it was hand-crafted by Varjola’s owner many decade ago. This is a sauna that does not lack on atmosphere! The perfect complement to the soft heat of a lovely old-fashioned sauna is provided by the outdoor hot tub on the terrace. There’s even a cold spring right outside catering for the most daring of sauna goers!

Those using the smoke sauna can also take advantage of a hot tub, in fact two are available and a good thing too, because the sauna can hold as many as 40 people at a time! This sauna is a first-class example of just how great a modern smoke sauna can be. The sauna in question was one of the first to receive the Authentic Finnish Sauna Experience quality certificate awarded by Sauna from Finland back in 2015.

If fishing is not your thing but you would still like to pay a visit to one of Varjola’s saunas, one great option is to venture out and visit the amazingly large Hietasyrjänhaudat depressions, a remnant of the Ice Age.

Three people watching the lake view on a pier.
Photo: Julia Kivelä

For the daredevil: Kapeenkoski rapids and saunas

Taking a sauna feels particularly wonderful after a great day out. It’s an unbeatable feeling when the strains and perspiration from the day’s adventures can be cast off in the evening with the help of water and soft heat. In this respect Kapeenkoski Travel offers the perfect setting since here the programme includes white water rafting, riverboarding and even archery! Sounds like the ideal programme for a stag party or birthday celebration, doesn’t it?

Adventurers have an excellent range of saunas to chooses from at Kapeenkoski. There are two smoke saunas, plus a traditional wood-burning sauna and a sauna equipped with an electric stove. One smoke sauna is small with a cosy, intimate atmosphere while the other can accommodate a group of up to 20 people.
Kapeenkoski is a fantastic fishing and excursion destination in itself. Kapeenniemi features a number of different rapids and the area offers a great selection of routes and trails complete with lean-to shelters and the like.

Photo: Julia Kivelä

For lovers of peace and quiet: Sauna at the Old Rectory

The Old Rectory in the Municipality of Toivakka is a picturesque historical milieu and the ideal place to take a sauna or stage a celebration. The sauna is a small, attractive red-and-white wooden building and both it and its surroundings were refurbished in the early 2000s. The perfect complement to the small sauna is the stream-fed tub out in the yard where the bravest souls can take a refreshing dip every so often while enjoying the steamy heat. The yard is also the place to play pétanque, for instance, or ‘mölkky’ – a kind of Finnish skittles. This is also a spot to savour some good food: the yard is equipped with a covered barbecue and a gazebo.

Departing from the centre of Toivakka, the six kilometre long heritage trail provides a fine introduction to the area’s history and nature. Not too far away from Toivakka either lies the lovely Leivonmäki National Park!

Photo: Taina Ristikivi

For those in pursuit of the traditional: Suontee’s underground saunas

Did you know that according to an old tradition saunas were built underground? This tradition can be tested at first hand in Joutsa, in one of the saunas maintained by Löylyä elämään ry, a local association. Here it is not worth looking for modern, warm changing rooms, since this is a place to enjoy sauna at its most original. From the sauna visitors emerge into a covered outdoor space from which they can admire the beautiful lake scenery, inhale the fresh Finnish air or just gaze up in awe at the starry sky.

Löylyä elämään’s sauna paradise is located on the shore of Lake Suontee, which is famed for its purity and the tasty vendace that swim in it. A traditional sauna and a smoke sauna can be found underground. Naturally the sauna experience also includes the chance to swim in the lake both in summer and winter, as well as do some barbecuing. The premises are big enough to accommodate groups of up to 30 people.

Suontee is an excursion destination that should definitely be on your itinerary!

Person bathing in a sauna throwing water to the hot stones
Photo: Julie Weien Forøy

For the best of friends: The world’s best sauna

The aim was just to build the best of its kind in Muurame, but what resulted was the best in the world. That is the general view of Muurame’s Haikusauna, which was completed in 2010. Built log by log of aspen taken from the local forests against a rocky outcrop, the sauna expresses the very roots of Finnishness.

The Haikusauna has elements of both a conventional and smoke sauna. Heating it up takes five hours. The sauna possesses a gentle aroma of smoke, although the majority of the smoke passes up the flue and out into the open. The sauna stove is brick built, and hot air winds its way through the various bends in the stove before it finally reaches the flue and passes out of the sauna. As a result the majority of the heat is absorbed by the stove’s stones and brickwork, which in the course of the heating process may even glow red.

The Haikusauna can accommodate over 20 people while the bathing barrel holds eight.

In Muurame it is worth paying a visit to Muuratsalo and its imposing rocks as well as Paljaspää with its impressive view over Lake Päijänne. Fans of fly fishing should undoubtedly try their luck along the Muuramenjoki river.

Two persons sitting in sauna
Photo: Julia Kivelä

Writer: Antti Huttunen

Antti Huttunen is a Finnish TV host and founder of the Retkipaikka travel blog. He’s passionate about discovering new and interesting places.

The atricle has been published originally on the Visit Jyväskylä Region’s website in 2019.

Birch twig on smoke sauna’s seat