Baby, It's Cold Outside! The Best Saunas Around the World

Sauna. Banya. Hamam. Whatever you call the ancient art of relaxing in a hot room, all cultures seem to agree there is nothing quite as therapeutic as sweating it out. It is a tradition that’s as old as ancient Rome, and it’s a great way for a seasoned traveler — or spa-goer — to experience authentic local flavor. (Because nothing gets you closer to locals than nudity in a tiny room.) That’s why you need to add these one-of-a-kind sauna experiences to your travel bucket list.

Inkaterra — Machu Picchu, Peru


Relax in a candle-lit sauna in Peru. (Photo: Inkaterra)

For: People who want to relax after conquering the Inca Trail

Type of heat: Dry

Inside the lush grounds of Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel sits the Unu Spa, where you can relax after a long day of touring the ancient Incan ruins with an Andean stone massage or a ceremony led by a local shaman. But if you really want to indulge after days on the grueling Inca Trail, you must order up the Andean Sauna. Built out of bamboo and lined with eucalyptus, this candle-lit sauna will refresh your skin and your soul.

Related: You Don’t Need to Get Naked to Have Fun at Machu Picchu

Hotel Arts — Barcelona, Spain


You won’t even notice the heat with views like this. (Photo: Ritz Carlton Hotel)

For: People who like to sweat with a view

Type of heat: Dry

High above Barcelona’s Port Olímpic, on the 43rd floor of this iconic Ritz Carlton hotel, sits a sauna like few others. When you sweat at the award-winning two-floor 43 The Spa, you’ll do so in front of floor-to-ceiling windows that provide unobstructed views of the azure blue Mediterranean. And when you’ve released all toxins and stress, finish with some fresh air on the stunning relaxation terrace.

Badewelt — Germany


Bigger is better at the Badewelt (Photo: Badewelt)

For: People who like Guinness World Records size saunas

Type of heat: Dry

This massive indoor water park in Sinsheim, Germany, has a sauna for every occasion. A movie theater with your sweat? Check. How about steam infused with coffee? Check. But what really put Badewelt on the map is the 544 sq. ft. Koi sauna, which was named World’s Largest Sauna by the Guinness Book of World Records. In line with this big honor, the Japanese-esque Koi sauna gets its name from the massive koi pond/aquarium that serves as one whole wall of the sauna.

Sanduny Baths — Moscow


Feel like a local at Sanduny Baths (Photo:

For: Travelers who want to sweat like the KGB

Type of heat: Steam

Arguably the most famous banya in Russia, this Moscow bathhouse looks more like a mansion fit for Tolstoy. Though the saunas themselves are rather straightforward, it is the ornate wooden walls, gilded murals, and Romanesque tiled ceilings of the tea room that stand out. And it’s here that everyone from Russian politicians to curious tourists relax in their felt hats between parilshchiki beatings. Sanduny is also probably the only place you’ll ever see someone order caviar while waiting for a sauna to heat up.

Cağaloğlu Hamamı — Turkey


Enjoy the ancient architecture while you steam. (Photo: Cağaloğlu Hamamı)

For: If you want to steam in Ottoman opulence

Type of heat: Steam

This 350-year-old hamam near the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul claims to have welcomed everyone from the Kaiser Wilhelm II to Tony Curtis. The last hamam built during the Ottoman Empire, this public bath features grand rooms with arched ceilings, decorative fountains, and vaulted domes under which bathers sweat on heated marble slabs. Though today it is mostly home to curious tourists, Cağaloğlu is enough of a step back in time that Patricia Schultz named it one of the 1,000 Place to See Before You Die.

Related: An Ancient and Delicious Road Trip from Bodrum to Ephesus

Silloam Fire Pot Sauna — Korea


Rest after your steam at this sauna in South Korea. (Photo: Korean Tourism Handout)

For: Social sweaters

Types of heat: Dry and steam

In Korea, sauna complexes — or jimjilbangs — are a way of life. So it should be no surprise to discover just how crowded this sauna near the Seoul Station really is. Locals hang at the Silloam Fire Pot Sauna all day in a room that features jade, infrared rays, and even salt. But the sleeping room is where the crowds really gather. Silloam’s massive sleeping room is filled with bunk beds so weary travelers can rest post-sweat.

Herrankukkaro — Finland


Who doesn’t like a little jazz with their sauna? (Photo: Herrankukkaro)

For: An authentic Nordic sweat

Type of heat: Dry

Herrankukkaro is home to the massive sauna known as Maasavusauna, which claims to be the world’s largest smoke sauna. While it looks more like a cave dwelling than a traditional Finnish remedy, if you’re looking for an authentic Nordic sweat with 124 of your closest friends (and maybe a jazz band), you could do worse than trekking to this Naantali fishing village on the Turku archipelago.

Floating SaunaLatvia


This mobile sauna in Latvia lets you float your way to relaxation. (Photo: Discover Latvia)

For: Your own personal floating oasis

Type of heat: Dry

From Ontario to Seattle to Sweden, floating saunas combine picturesque isolation with abundant cooling waters. We’re partial to this three-hour experience in Riga, which parks itself between the historic Vanšu and Akmens bridges for one-of-a-kind views of the beautiful medieval city center.

Snow Village Gondola Sauna — Finland


Ski and then sweat. What a perfect combination. (Photo: Snow Village)

For: The sauna buff who’s seen it all

Type of heat: Dry

At the Finnish ski resort Ylläs, you don’t have to wait until you’re off the slopes to start your sweat. The sauna gondola is a special car that’s ordered in advance to take you to the top of the mountain in dry heat splendor. Four people can ride the car for up to two hours. And you don’t need to worry about putting on a show; while you can peer out at the beautiful Lapland wilderness, passing gondola riders won’t be able to see you.

WATCH: Outdoor Sauna to be Launched in Seattle’s Union Bay

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