Plunge into Oslo’s floating sauna island
Oslo’s newest floating sauna, part of Oslo Badsforening, has been launched in the waters of its tranquil, inviting fjord, courtesy of architect Biotope
Half-naked bathers jumping off jetties and relaxing in toasty red saunas by the sea are a common sight on Oslo’s waterfront. Cold-water swimming is booming in the Norwegian capital and a floating sauna, launched in 2013 as an act of rebellion, has become a top seaside attraction.
Oslo Badsforening is a complex of floating saunas on Bjørvika quay, served by steaming stoves, a community of bathers and a calm, inviting fjord. All six saunas vary in design, from wooden Estonian “igloos” and homemade hotboxes to sleek architectural versions. In fact, one of these was docked at Oslo’s Astrup Fearnley Museum in 2021 and Norwegian artist Sissel Tolaas developed a sauna fragrance titled Liquid Money. Visitors could inhale the smell of money before “cleansing” themselves with a dip in the sea.
Oslo Badsforening is opening its first ‘island sauna’ this week. Bispen & Munken is a small floating cabin with sauna, toilet and double beds and is docked in front of the imposing Munch Museum all year round. It costs NOK 500 (about €50) per night and up to four guests can row there from the dock in a small wooden boat. Sleeping bags, supplies and security are not provided, and the cabin’s exterior is exposed to the elements.
Norwegian architecture firm Biotope worked with the Norwegian Trekking Association to create the island. For more than 20 years, the two have created rare hides and shelters for bird watchers in some of Norway’s best natural areas. “We’re testing something similar on the water,” says Ragna Fjeld, general secretary of Oslo Badstuforening, who is working with Biotope on a second, larger, floating sauna. This will house rituals and infusion Ceremonies where a “sauna master” blows hot air around with a towel. “We want to bring the sauna to the people,” says Fjeld. “We look forward to seeing how they will use Oslo’s newest island.” §