Saltholmen Kallbadhus: Winter Sauna & Outdoor swimming spot in Gothenburg

Gothenburg is a great city to visit during spring and summer, when the sun comes out and gives everyone a great excuse to drop everything, and run to the archipelago. However, there are also many reasons to leave the city centre and dip your feet in the ocean during winter time. The sauna and the nude beach in Saltholmen is one of them!

This is only a 30 minute tram ride away from the Gothenburg city centre. It is actually the last stop of tram 11, at the tip of the mainland; where the archipelago journeys on most summer days begin.

As it is stated everywhere on walled, wooden gates of the beach, here they bathe naked. They are quite rightfully proud of providing this safe, decent space for men and women since more than 100 years. As I walk in through the door, I feel like a proud part of that history too – even though I have no Swedish roots! Bu if I did, the founders of this place, and the current members of the bath house would definitely be my tribe. I wish there were more of such places in the world!

After you walk through the door of Saltholmen, you can feel overwhelmed by the beauty and the simplicity of it. Indeed, this is a place that delivers the promise; and that alone is so exciting. Everyday normal people, bathing carelessly naked in their everyday normal skin. On the wooden platforms, on the smooth and curvy rocks, on the benches… wherever! Everyone respecting one another’s privacy and existence. Everyone feeling safe. Everyone happy.

Once inside; find your way into the kiosk and pay for your entrance. The procedure and signs can be a little unclear, especially if you don’t speak Swedish. Of course you can’t miss the most important sign, “HÄR BADAR VI NAKNA!” (Here we bathe naked!) which is painted literally everywhere. But apart from that, the payment desk is quite hidden at the deep end of the changing room, so make sure to go there first.

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Even though you practically don’t need any swimwear, you’ll do best if you bring your towels and everything you need for a wash up with you.

On days when the sauna is open; if it’s crowded, you’ll need to queue to use the sauna. If this is the case, you’ll be given a number as you pay for your entrance; and you will wait for your turn. The sauna room itself is quite small; but mighty. You can get sweaty very easily and don’t have to worry about the heat (as some other Swedish bastu are known to be so much milder than the Finnish sauna). Here you will get hot enough to dip into the cold ocean wearing nothing but your skin.

What I observed about the sauna here was that it was quite social. I went in during a ladies-only hour; and I don’t know if this was related to the crowd I was with. But I found it a bit disturbing to sit there with so much loud noise; where everyone was talking to one another quiet loudly. At some sauna sessions where people like to be social, usually there is a common discussion among everyone that’s sitting in the sauna. I really like that. However I get a bit disturbed when everyone is having a loud conversation at the same time in groups of two or three.

Being in a foreign country, and a different culture, I see no right in myself to interrupt that; or even be put off by that. But it is good to tell the difference between what I personally enjoy in my own sauna experience and what I don’t. Every experience teaches me something.

I really recommend Saltholmen for a sociable sauna & swimming session, especially if you want to be close to the nature. The unique location and the community who run this place is a gift to the people of Gothenburg; and I will for sure visit it during the summer months to be part of this living history again.

Good to know

  • Here you bathe naked.
  • Bring your own towel.
  • Walk-ins possible but check the schedule for men only / women only sessions. 
  • Price: $$$$$

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