James Storen

I'm James, a passionate sauna therapist and wellness educator. As a sauna instructor at Am-Finn Sauna, I provide guests with safe, relaxing, and therapeutic sauna experiences. Read about me.

Hey there! Today, let’s dive into the scintillating world of saunas and unravel the mystery of their popularity. Saunas have been making a steamy comeback worldwide, with both public and private venues popping up left and right. Curious to know where the sauna hotspots are? Join me as we explore the top countries for saunas and the most popular sauna destinations around the globe.

Key Takeaways:

  • Finland and other Nordic countries have a strong sauna culture and are considered the pioneers in embracing saunas.
  • Saunas have a rich history dating back to ancient civilizations such as the Mayans, Romans, Vikings, and Japanese.
  • Modern saunas offer a variety of designs, from traditional wood-fired saunas to innovative and high-tech options.
  • Sauna tourism is a flourishing attraction, with Helsinki’s Löyly attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
  • Saunas are cherished globally for their physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits, fostering inclusivity and acceptance.

Saunas in Ancient Civilizations: A Steamy Tradition

Throughout history, saunas have been a cherished tradition in various ancient civilizations, each bringing its own unique practices and rituals to the steamy experience.

“Saunas have always held a special place in our culture, providing both physical and spiritual rejuvenation,” says Professor Sarah Johnson, an expert in ancient wellness practices.

In ancient Mayan civilization, steam baths known as “Temazcal” were a central part of their spiritual and physical well-being. These traditional Mayan saunas were used for purification rituals and healing practices, often incorporating herbal remedies and ceremonial elements.

In ancient Rome, saunas, or “thermae,” were grand bathhouses where people gathered for leisure, relaxation, and social interaction. These communal sauna spaces were an integral part of Roman society, offering a place for indulgence and rejuvenation.

The Vikings, known for their resilience in harsh Nordic climates, also embraced the tradition of saunas. They built “sweat houses” or “bathhouses” where they sought warmth and relaxation. These Viking saunas provided a retreat from the cold and offered a space for socializing and sharing stories.

Meanwhile, in ancient Japan, the tradition of onsens, natural hot springs, thrived. These hot springs served as communal bathing places where people could cleanse their bodies and souls, finding solace in the healing waters.

“The ancient saunas of Mayans, Romans, Vikings, and the onsens of Japan reveal the shared human desire for well-being and connection,”

Prof. Sarah Johnson
Ancient Civilization Sauna Name Purpose
Mayans Temazcal Spiritual and physical purification
Romans Thermae Leisure, relaxation, and social interaction
Vikings Sweat houses or bathhouses Warmth, relaxation, and socializing
Japan Onsens Physical and spiritual healing

Ancient Saunas at a Glance

  • Mayan saunas, known as “Temazcal,” were used for spiritual and physical purification.
  • Roman saunas, called “thermae,” offered leisure, relaxation, and social interaction.
  • Viking saunas, known as “sweat houses,” provided warmth, relaxation, and a space for socializing.
  • Japanese onsens were natural hot springs used for physical and spiritual healing.

The Modern Sauna Renaissance

sauna renaissance

As saunas continue to captivate a global audience, a modern sauna renaissance has emerged, breathing new life into this ancient tradition. With a strong sauna culture in countries like Finland and Estonia, contemporary sauna design has become a thriving industry that attracts both locals and tourists alike. Sauna tourism has grown exponentially, and notable establishments like Helsinki’s Löyly have become hotspots for sauna enthusiasts seeking unique and rejuvenating experiences.

Contemporary saunas come in a variety of designs, catering to different preferences and technological advancements. Traditional wood-fired saunas still hold their charm, providing a rustic and authentic sauna experience. However, innovative and high-tech options have also gained popularity, incorporating features such as infrared heating, customizable settings, and integrated music systems to enhance relaxation and well-being.

Moreover, saunas have evolved beyond being mere places of relaxation and have transformed into dynamic social spaces. Sauna culture encourages interaction and bonding, fostering connections among individuals from diverse backgrounds. These spaces now serve as venues for cultural exchange, where people can forge connections while embracing the heat and steam.

In summary, the sauna renaissance is a testament to the enduring appeal of this ancient tradition. From contemporary sauna design to a thriving sauna tourism industry, saunas continue to evolve with the times while staying grounded in their rich historical roots. The modern sauna experience offers not only a space for relaxation and rejuvenation but also a platform for cultural exchange, providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all who seek its warmth and benefits.


As I conclude this journey through the centuries-old tradition of saunas, it is clear that these steamy sanctuaries hold a special place in human culture. From the ancient Mayans to the modern world, sauna traditions have evolved and adapted, showcasing the universal appeal of these heat-filled havens.

Not only do saunas offer physical relaxation and stress relief, but they also contribute to our spiritual and emotional well-being. Whether it’s the ancient Mayans seeking spiritual rejuvenation or today’s sauna enthusiasts finding solace in the warmth, the benefits of saunas are undeniable.

The global sauna appreciation is on the rise as more and more people are recognizing the importance of self-care practices. Saunas foster a sense of inclusivity and equality, welcoming individuals from all backgrounds. They serve as spaces for cultural exchange, where people can come together, embrace their differences, and find common ground in the steam.

So, as we continue to explore the world’s steamiest destinations, let us not forget the timeless tradition and cherished rituals of the sauna. Whether it’s the wood-fired saunas of Finland or the innovative designs of contemporary saunas, the allure of the sauna transcends borders and unites us in our shared appreciation for relaxation, rejuvenation, and the art of sweating it out.


Where are saunas most popular?

Saunas are experiencing a rise in popularity worldwide, with new public and private saunas opening up. The Nordic countries, particularly Finland, have a strong sauna culture and consider saunas essential for physical and emotional well-being.

What is the history of saunas in ancient civilizations?

Saunas have a long history dating back to ancient civilizations like the Mayans, Romans, Vikings, and Japanese. The Mayans had steam baths called “Temazcal,” the Romans built grand bathhouses called “thermae,” the Vikings had their “sweat houses” or “bathhouses,” and the Japanese embraced the tradition of onsens, natural hot springs.

What is the modern sauna renaissance?

Saunas have seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years, leading to a sauna renaissance. Finland, Estonia, and other Scandinavian and Baltic countries have embraced contemporary sauna design and have a strong sauna culture. Sauna tourism has become a significant attraction, with places like Helsinki’s Löyly attracting a large number of visitors.

What are the benefits of saunas?

Saunas offer numerous benefits, including physical relaxation, stress relief, and spiritual and emotional well-being. They are also seen as places of equality and acceptance, welcoming people of all genders, body types, and backgrounds.

Why are saunas popular worldwide?

Saunas have been a part of human culture for thousands of years, with each civilization adding its own traditions and rituals. The global appreciation for saunas is growing as more people recognize the importance of self-care practices and seek out sauna experiences. Saunas also serve as spaces for cultural exchange and acceptance, fostering a sense of inclusivity and equality.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments