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Where to Ice Bath & Sauna in Tromsø, Norway | A Guide to Pust Sauna

Warming up in a steaming hot sauna and then plunging into ice-cold water is standard operating procedure in Tromsø, and across many of the Nordic countries. The practice — which is sometimes referred to as the Nordic Cycle or cold plunge therapy — is rooted in both tradition and science.

If you’re in Tromsø and want to try this experience, there is one place you need to know about. Pust is a floating Sauna right in the middle of Tromsø Harbour. In this post, we’ll explain everything you need to know about the ice bath and sauna experience at Pust. We’ll start with a little information about ice baths and saunas in general. Then we’ll go over the details of Pust specifically, including how to book and enjoy your stay, plus some helpful tips.

About the Practice of Ice Baths & Saunas

In the Arctic region, the practice of a sweat-inducing, sauna-like experience followed by a cold water swim dates back at least as far the Vikings, around the year 800 AD. Ice baths in general date back even further, with the earliest reference thought to be in ancient Greece as far back as 3000 BC.

Hundreds to thousands of years ago, people realized the benefits of intense heat followed by intense cold. Today, science has confirmed that there are in fact health benefits from this practice.

The heat from the sauna increases blood flow and relaxes the muscles. Then the cold from the ice bath does the opposite. Combined, this practice helps increase circulation, improve immune response, and expedite muscle repair. Other suggested benefits include increased energy, lower stress, improved metabolism and better sleep.

Historically, this practice was only for the elite, but today it is common place. Many homes and even hotel rooms in Nordic countries have small, private saunas, which you can combine with a cold shower. Larger, shared saunas with open-water swimming access can also be found all over Scandinavia. In Tromsø, the most popular, convenient and beautiful sauna is Pust.

About Pust Sauna in Tromsø

Pust is a small chain that operates a handful of saunas around Norway. Their Tromsø location is a beautiful, floating sauna right in the tourist center of town. The building itself is stunning, adding an artful touch to the shoreline, and the inside is just as lovely.

The small building sits atop dock at the end of a pier in the central harbor. The building has two entrances, which lead directly to a men’s and women’s changing room. The changing rooms each have 12 storage lockers inside. Well, let’s call them cubbies, because they close but do not lock. There is a cold shower inside, but no toilet.

The changing rooms open up to the sauna in the center, which seats up to 12 people. It’s heated to 80-100°C (about 175-215°F) by an electric stove in the center. There’s no manual work required to maintain it, but you can ladle fresh water onto it to increase steam. One side of the sauna is lined with windows, which provide a stunning view over the water, city and mountains of Tromsø.

Outside on the platform, there are two ladders leading into the water. There is a ladder nearby each of the changing room entrances, but anyone can use either ladder. The swimming area is protected by a square of orange buoys, but it’s still open water at the naturally occurring temperature. (FYI, this body of water is Tromsøysundet, a straight that eventually connects to Norwegian Sea.)

There is seating outside along the dock, if you want to cool off but not actually get in the water or relax after your swim. Patrons also have access to the rooftop of the sauna, which offers yet another stunning view. (They host yoga and other events up here in the summer, too.)

Notable, Pust Tromsø is largely an un-staffed operation. There are no employees on the property, aside from the occasional security guard who may spot check your reservation. Instead, they operate largely on the honor system. Patrons receive a passcode to enter the building, which changes daily. They are trusted to respect their reservation times and seat allotment.

Booking Your Visit to Pust Sauna in Tromsø

Advanced reservations are required to visit Pust sauna in Tromsø. You can make a reservation for specific date and time online in advance here. There is no staff at the sauna, so you cannot make a reservation in person at the facility.

The most popular booking for tourists is a one-time drop-in reservation. For this ticket type, you can reserve your seat(s) in the shared sauna, with up to 12 people at any given time. You can book 1 hour for NOK 300 per adult or 2 hours for NOK 450. (Concessions available for students and children.)

They also offer private bookings where you can book all 12 seats for a private experience. This costs NOK 3,600 for 1 hour or NOK 4,000 for 2 hours.

The booking process online is pretty straightforward. You enter how long you want to stay, how many spots you need, and the date. Then you can select from available time slots. You can pay online using a credit card. After you complete your reservation, you’ll get an email. On the day of your visit, you can click the link in the email to reveal the entry code for the day.

The most important thing to know about booking a visit to Pust sauna is that time slots usually sell out for the entire day. Availability is usually extremely limited (if not entirely sold out) for the upcoming 3 to 4 days. For the best selection of time slots, be sure to book at least 2 weeks in advance. This is especially true if you’re booking for more than 1 person or if you want to book for 2 hours.

Getting to Pust Sauna in Tromsø

Pust Sauna is easy to miss if you’re not looking for it. The location is on Google Maps, but not the actual walking directions.

Instead, use google maps to give you directions to Tromsø Harbour. From there, you’ll need to look for the entrance down to the lower level of the dock. The ramp is located a bit south of the sauna, right across from Clarion Collection Hotel.

There are two piers on the dock. Skip the first one and walk to the second pier. Pust is located at the very end of that pier. It’s a pretty noticeable building and it’s right at the end of the pier, so you won’t miss it.

NOTE: Pust sauna is located on a floating platform that is secured to the main dock. This platform is to be used by Pust patrons only. However, the dock nearby is open to the public. There are two benches near the Pust building, on the public dock side. This means that someone who is not using the sauna can still come and watch you swim in the water. (This is also great if you want them to take photos/videos.) In case of an emergency, they can easy get to the swimming area.

Getting Into Pust Sauna

When you book your reservation for Pust, you will receive an email with a link at the bottom. Click the link to reveal the pin code. The link will work anytime, but the pin code itself will only be revealed on the day of your reservation.

When you approach the building, there is a sign pointing to the Men’s and Women’s changing rooms. Go to your relevant side and walk up to the door. There’s a key pad near the door where you can enter the code. Once you’ve entered the correct code, the door will unlock and you can enter the changing room. The will door automatically lock behind you.

Sauna & Ice Bath Ritual at Pust

When you arrive, change into your swimsuit. Proper swimwear is required at Pust. Leave your shoes, coat, and phone inside one of the lockers. (I think flip flops would be allowed, but I did not see anyone wearing any kind of footwear inside the sauna.)

Next, rinse off in the shower. The showers at Pust are cold, but it will get your blood pumping. No soap of any kind is allowed in the shower, as the water runs straight out into the sea.

Then, grab a towel and enter the sauna. Find an available space and take a seat on top of your towel. For hygiene reasons, all patrons must sit on a towel. You can sit in the sauna as long as you’d like (within your reserved time frame that is), but 10-20 minutes is a good block of time.

When you’re ready for your ice dip, exit the sauna through your gender’s changing room. Unless you’re sure you’ve memorized the passcode, it’s a good idea to grab your phone before you exit the changing area so you can get back in.

Use one of the ladders to walk into the icy water. (It’s not a good idea to jump in unless you are used to swimming in freezing waters.) You can swim around the buoyed area, or hold on to the dock and ladder. Only stay in the water as long as your comfortable. For some people, this can be up to 2-5 minutes. For a newcomer, this might just be an in-and-out situation.

Use the ladders to exit the water and walk safely back to the sauna. Enter the passcode again to re-enter the building. It will be hard, but rinse off the salt water quickly in the shower before returning to the sauna to warm up.

Rinse and repeat.

Leaving Pust Sauna

You can come and go as much as you want within your reserved time. However, the rules state that you must completely leave the facility by the time your reservation time is up. This includes the changing room. Be sure to leave the sauna with enough time to rinse off (if you choose) and change into your clothes before your time is up. There is no clock inside the sauna, but there is a clock in each changing room.

Be sure to take all of your belongings with you from your locker when you go. Once you exit, the door will automatically lock behind you. You can carry on with your day feeling rejuvenated and refreshed. Pust has a cafe nearby, which you may you choose to visit afterwards.

Tips for Visiting Pust Tromsø

  1. Book early. Time slots sell out completely most days, usually 2-3 days in advance. For the best selection, try to book at least 2 weeks in advance.
  2. Take your phone with you when you exit the building. You need to enter the pin code to unlock the door every time you enter the building. If you go outside for a dip, bring your phone so you can reference the code to get back in.
  3. Don’t bring your phone into the sauna. Keep your phone inside your locker in the changing room while you’re in the sauna. Do not use it in the sauna or changing room.
  4. Bring two towels. You’ll need one towel to sit on and one towel to dry off on. I took two towels from my hotel and brought them back afterwards.
  5. Wear your swimsuit. You can change in the changing room, but that can take up your limited time in the sauna. Wear your swimsuit under your clothes to the sauna, so you can quickly start your experience.
  6. Breathe. Dipping into freezing cold water can be really hard and painful. Be sure to take deep breathes to calm your body and power through the experience. You can do hard things! But on that note …
  7. Don’t ice bathe alone. Make sure that someone is actively watching when you enter the water. The swimming area is visible from the public dock, so you can bring a spotter to watch you even if they do not have a sauna reservation.
  8. Adhere to shower etiquette. Rinse off in the shower before you enter the sauna every time. Do not use any soap though — the water runs right out into the sea.
  9. Don’t jump into the water. Step into the water using the ladder instead of jumping in. This helps reduce the shock from the cold water, and is generally safer.
  10. Drink lots of water. The sauna experience is dehydrating. Drink room temperature water before and after your sauna experience to stay hydrated.
Photo taken by my safety spotter, who was standing on the public dock by the sauna.