Green Boat Sauna Oslo

GThe boat rocked gently, diffusing salty moments and misty illusions behind pine-scented steam. It was a cold day in March...

Even in “normal times”, taking a sauna blurs the norms of public intimacy…unless you are isolated in the forest cabin, the space is communal.  Social.  Partly clothed, potentially uncomfortable, inherently unpolished.  Dripping sweat with mostly naked strangers is either fun for you or not…you know this coming in.  It is not socially distanced.


And there’s something subversive about the whole dripping bacchanal taking place in the heart of the city.  Not the shy forest sauna but the fjord splash in the city’s hub of modern art, Nobel Peace, casual fare…burgers and boat bars. 


Parked at Akerbrygge the green boat sauna rocked gently, diffusing salty moments and misty illusions behind pine-scented steam. It was a cold day in March, and the sun was long gone, exposing us to frosty kisses whenever we left the sauna. There were tiny heaps of half-melted snow right out of the door and a big clear ocean that, together with a slight breeze, gave plenty of choices to cool down.


I sat comfortably inside of the little wooden box opened to a beautiful fjord view, lulled by its movement, enjoying the heat. Fluffy thoughts devoid of substance hit my steamed brain one by one like the little waves that surrounded us. I was pondering the many types of cold one feels in Scandinavia when a ball with long blond hair suddenly fell from the sauna’s roof, splashing into the ocean. I could not believe it, but it was Christine. Like a fierce Viking, she added one more layer to the many layers of cold – total, sudden and complete immersion.

She swam and splashed shocked by freezing water and before I knew it, following in her crazy steps I was on the floating sauna boat’s roof too just like she was a minute ago.


“Jump, jump!!” You said.


“I can’t!” I said, approaching the edge of the deck. Suddenly the distance between the ocean and the place we were standing looked like A LOT. It was a foreign space because humans are not meant to fly, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how hard and fast I’ll hit the icy water – oh so… doubtfully pleasant.


“Do you know CPR in case I’ll go into cardiac arrest from temperature shock?” I asked Paul.

“Of course, don’t worry,” he answered, and I wondered if it was true.


One second and I was deep in the water swimming through the cimmerian shades full of cold dreams. Life’s sweet surface where the voices of my friends could be heard seemed far away. I could not wait to breathe again, and after I did, I realized how utterly cold the water was.

A thousand needles pierced my body and made it difficult to breathe. Muscles contracted, making every move an effort, and my hands and toes got numb in seconds. There was no other way than to circle around quickly back to the mid-winter embrace of the group and the full slap of restorative unreasonable heat.

In a flash, I thought about how naked we humans are with our thin skin and furless bodies. How much we need our warm shelters, clothes, and arms of beloved ones to protect us.

I rushed inside the green boat sauna dancing around the snowy little heaps and taking a few chaotic photos. Christine poured the water on the stove, and a wave of heat came like a long-awaited cozy blanket.

green boat sauna interior oslo martha may selfie black and white
green boat sauna interior oslo
green boat sauna swimming in the fjord oslo green boat sauna interior oslo
green boat sauna fjord views green boat sauna fjord views oslo

Our flowing discussion touched on the many benefits of time spent sitting in saunas. Reflecting on this lovely night moves me to share some personal observations on why I find it so worthwhile:



Usually, our bodies never sweat as profusely as they do in a sauna, so it is an excellent opportunity for a little cleanse. This process can be accelerated by drinking bottles of water with lemon juice that helps to hydrate.

Clean and soft skin

There are not many things to do while sitting in a sauna, so using a peeling or a brush to massage the body is a great way to pass the time. It is also how ancient Greeks “bathed” since they had no soaps, and scrubbing while in a sauna was a way to have clean, soft, and fresh skin.

Increased circulation

All that heat, sweating, and massaging followed by icy showers are a great way to increase circulation, help prevent cellulite, improve skin quality, and eliminate muscle soreness.

Help with weight loss

At a high-temperature body’s metabolism speeds up, so spending time laying in a sauna could be a nice passive way to reduce weight.

Improved mood

Stepping in a sauna is a relaxing experience. One can take a little nap immersed in warmth, which is much appreciated during long cold winters and helps boost one’s mood.


Green Boat Saunas at Oslo’s Akker Brygge are open the whole year, and you can book one here: