Iceland Mag

3 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag


Sauna-activists in the Westfjords celebrate victory in the great sauna-swimsuit conflict

By Staff

  • Ísafjörður municipal pool A group of radical sauna afficionados has won a decisive victory over the Ísafjörður city council. Photo/

The town council of Ísafjörður town in the Westfjords, west Iceland have decided to change the swimsuit suit policy in the sauna in the municipal pool. From now on guests are free to sauna in the nude if they so wish the local news site Bæjarins besta reports.

Earlier this year a group of Westfjords residents wrote an open letter to the municipal authorities blasting what they described as the “bathing suit insanity” at the local pool. The group, which included a number of Finnish expats living in the region, argued that the requirement that guests wear a swimsuit to the sauna was both in violation of proper sauna culture and an insult to tradition.

Read more: A group of Westfjord residents want to sauna bath naked and demand an end to the "bathing suit insanity” in the municipal pool

The activists also pointed out there was no reason for the rules, since the sauna at the pool is not co-ed. The pool only has one sauna, which is located inside one of the changing and showering lockers. The gender designation for the changing rooms is rotated, so that the sauna is accessible to men one day, and women the other. The group demanded that a sign requiring guests to wear a swimsuit to the sauna be removed.

The mayor of Ísafjörður told Bæjarins besta is the change was a testament to community organizing and activism: “This just goes to show you can affect all kinds of social change if you put your mind to it and get your ideas out there.” He added that the decision could be seen as having historical significance, as it was taken on the same day they pool celebrated its 70th anniversary. “I guess we could say the decision was taken in commemoration of the 70 year anniversary.”

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