Sauna Festival Sweating in the Arctic Circle

The world's largest public sauna in Norway promises great views and the chance to see groundbreaking artworks.
The largest public sauna in the world.

Sandhornøya, an island in northern Norway, is otherworldly at the best of times, with its white sand, ice blue sky, raw stone cliffs and green fields. There is also the special light that can only be seen in the northern Arctic Circle. And now, at this lonely end of the world is a pyramid made out of light wood, with a gigantic panorama window looking out onto the water.

The tent-like structure houses the world’s most beautiful sauna, and also one of the largest. Four ovens provide the necessary heat for up to 150 people to sit and sweat together. The only other sauna in the world that can do the same is the one at “Badewelt” in Sinsheim, Germany, dubbed the largest in world by the Guinness Book of World Records. But that one does not have the Norwegian Sea.

The Arctic Circle sauna is part of the SALT festival. The pyramid-shaped sauna is not only used for perspiring, it is also home to live concerts, theatrical performances, workshops and readings. The Café Naustet offers a chic place to have a drink next door while the Lanternen Restaurant offers regional specialities.


A room with a view.


People wanting to stay overnight on the island of Sandhornøya can camp or rent a portable pod, called a Njalla. This cross between tent and cottage has a glass ceiling so you have a clear view to the sky. And the Njalla is so light that you can carry it over to wherever strikes your fancy. This little freedom costs the equivalent of €165 or $184 a night, including breakfast, bed linens, towels and reindeer fur. SALT will be on Sandhornøya until September 6.

Video: The making of the SALT sauna.

This article first appeared in the business weekly WirtschaftsWoche. To contact the author: [email protected]