Uppsala Sauna Day

At 10.45 on a sunny Monday, an excited group of Uppsala GLOCALs gathered at the central bus station. We were about to go on a little winter adventure!

Everyone arrived just in time to take a bus which brought our group towards Fjällnora nature reserve. We soon found ourselves at a junction between snow-covered fields and woods – with a three kilometre march to our final destination still to go. And thus we set out! 

Greeting us at the nature reserve was a herd of goats, which instantly became the centre of attention and even came up to the fence for a proper photo shoot.

But the real attraction of the reserve and purpose of our trip were the two hot tubs heated by wood fires as well as a little adjacent sauna hut. All with a view of the frozen lake and wintery woods. 

While the staff were properly heating up the sauna and tubs for our reserved time slot, we enjoyed our packed lunches in a cabin by the lake, watching the ice-skaters gliding in wide circles around the frozen surface. 

Although the Swedish February sun was shining at its brightest, changing into our swimsuits involved a lot of shivering and a race to reach the heat of the sauna as quickly as possible. 

Once we figured out that the door could only be opened with a healthy dose of force, we did our best to keep the sauna hot. Swedish sauna traditions involve the infamous “ice bath” – a plunge into the frozen lake through a hole in the ice. Though initially most of us were hesitant, among some of us who dared to take a dip, extending the time spent in the lake as long as possible became a challenge – always keeping hold of the ladder of course. On the way from the freezing lake to the hot tub – filled with the same lake water, though much more cosy – we had to cross the icy pier. Slippers were a real asset here! 

Sadly, we discovered that we had to replenish the firewood in the sauna oven ourselves about halfway through our stay. Luckily, we managed to rekindle the fire from the embers, but after three hours we ended up with a pleasantly heated room instead of a “proper” sauna.  

Our group on arrival checking out the ice bath space. Yes! We were jumped into the lake that you see at the top of the photo. 

Soaking in the hot tubs and getting gradually more wrinkly fingertips, we watched the sun sink slowly behind the treeline. 

But our time at Fjällnora was also running out, and with dusk fast approaching, the air became more and more chill. Relaxed and refreshed we all jumped back into our warm winter clothes.

Under a quickly darkening sky, we marched back to the bus stop, avoiding a possible encounter with Swedish wildlife – some of us had spotted moving shapes in the field off the road, though we didn’t know what kind of animal it could have been. 

Finally, the bus took us all safely back home to Uppsala, after an exciting and relaxing trip.

A big shout-out to Sheila, who took care of all the reservations and planning, to make all of this possible!



Written By – Clara Immler