Imagine floating in a warm big pool under the city lights that illuminate the Market Square in a surreal setting in downtown Helsinki. It’s possible now, after Helsinki Allas Sea Pool opened to the public on Thursday evening. And indeed, floating in the big freshwater pool makes you feel like a movie star, without the need for a thick wallet.
I joined the invitational opening ceremony before the gates were opened to the masses and saw many people in suits and only a few in shorts. The wooden deck area (the whole area can fit 3,500 people) is nice of course but the terrace, which was opened in summer, had already offered me beautiful sunsets while sipping a cold brew. For me it was a no-brainer to get rid of my clothes as fast as possible, plunge into the sauna, jump into my shorts and dive into the pool.
The cashier gave me a wristband that resembles a clock without the dial. The lockers operate with the wristband, using a sophisticated recognition technology. Naturally, it’s water and heat proof. I could easily fit my camera equipment and clothes into the locker in the men’s dressing room. I pushed my wristband against the peg at the door. Click. The door locked.
The shower room looked elegant and the showers operate with touch technology. The sauna is spacious. It fitted more than ten people easily. (There are three saunas, one for men and women and a private sauna for group reservations.)
A taller guy of two meters or more could sit on the benches, and there would still be room above his head. After throwing six scoops of water on the rocks, the steam (löyly) spread evenly in the sauna, while the heat bounced around from the corners.
A man rested his head on his hands.
“Huh,” he said. “We don’t have saunas like these in Germany. Our saunas operate at low temperatures, like a Turkish kind.”
A group of Dutch exchange students agreed.
“We don’t really have a sauna culture.” “We were invited here by our teacher, so we thought that we’d check this out. It has definitely been worth it.”
Tssszh! Another scoop of water on the rocks and the sauna heater, which operates on biogas, spreads stinging steam around your ears.
It was time to dip into the pool.
Wow! It feels nice and warm. A quick look at the thermometer revealed that the water is heated to 27 degrees Celsius. The fresh water, which is heated tap water, feels good on your skin. I remembered reading that the length of the pool is 25 meters. I start crawling to the sound of a house music beat, which pumps from the speakers. If you would run out of gas and are at least 1.80 meters tall, you can take a break standing, as the depth of the pool is 1.85 meters. Shorter people can always swim to the side (the pool is 15 meters wide) and take a rest on the platform, which surrounds the pool. There are also pool guards observing the swimmers.
If you enjoy swimming in water at authentic sea temperatures you can dip into the seawater pool, where the purified water is pumped in from the sea from Katajanokka. The water was 14 degrees on Thursday evening. Like its freshwater cousin, this pool is also 25 meters long. For children, there is a heated kiddie pool in the size of 17×11 meters.
I continued floating in the water. The dark has wrapped the city in its blanket and first-time visitors were dipping into the pool. Behind me, at the stage in front of the Finnair Skywheel, Ricky-Tick Big Band & Julkinen Sana, a funky jazz and rap band, started performing. The area was crowded with hundreds of spectators.
Allas Sea Pool is truly an oasis in the center of Helsinki.
Allas Sea Pool is open on Monday-Thursday and Sunday 06:00-22:00. On Fri-Sat it’s open 06:00-01:00. Ticket for an adult (and a child above 12 years old) is 9 euros. For children between the ages of 3 to 11, the price is 6 euros.