I’ll admit it. I’m a prude when it comes to being naked! That might be fine in Canada where I’m from, but in Germany where I now live? It’s a little bit odd!
My German husband first introduced me to the naked German sauna, when I was visiting him from Canada. Here, it’s not clothing optional, swimsuits are not allowed for hygienic reasons – don’t ask me to explain that one! I swore it would be my last visit to a German sauna. And it was. For a couple of years at least.
For a couple of years at least!
When we were invited on a skiing trip that would inevitably involve seeing 15 of his male friends and their wives naked, I bailed. I mean, hello, how awkward would that be? Not so much for my husband as it turns out. Do you really want your guy friends to see meth naked? I asked my husband in disbelief. He just shrugged his shoulders. Why not? It’s just nature.
After I covered from my initial German sauna experience – two years later, and yes I fully admit I’m a prude, so no need to insult me in the comments (as what happened in the first post I wrote), I decided it was time to give it another try, and then another one.
I’m still not a big fan of saunas in general – I tend to feel faint after a few minutes – but I have discovered some tips that can help the German sauna experience a bit easier for shy girls like myself, and I’ve even come to find the “textile-free” areas of spas…gasp….relaxing! Having said that, I’m a HUGE fan of wellness hotels. Here you’ll find saunas but also lounging areas, swimming pools, and beauty treatments.
Tip #1: Choose a Sauna Far From Home
Or at least a couple of hundred kilometers. That way you’re far less likely to run into anyone you know. Europe’s largest thermal bathing complex, Therme Erding is located near Munich. I have no doubt that it’s spectacular. And I know that there are areas where you can wear clothes, but most of the areas require you to be naked.
My American friend and her husband were there in one of the naked areas and who did they run into? Her husband’s boss and his wife! It was understandably awkward for her, and she said even her husband didn’t know how to react! By going farther away, you’re less likely to run into people that you know, but don’t want to see naked and vice-versa! And while I won’t go to a sauna at home, I usually drivechoose a wellness hotel within a 2-hour drive. Otherwise getting stuck in traffic and being stuck in a car disentegrates the wellness effect.
Tip #2: Visit the Sauna at Off-Peak Hours
Go at off hours when it’s less likely to be busy. If you’re not sure when off hours are, ask at the spa. If you’re staying at a hotel near a ski hill, you can probably bet that the sauna is going to be busy in the evening when the skiers are relaxing their sore muscles, but perhaps it’s not so busy in the afternoon, or first thing in the morning.
By going at off-peak hours you also reduce your chances of sitting skin-skin beside a sweaty stranger in a sauna – which for me personally, is the complete opposite of relaxation!
Tip #3: Take Some Time for Personal Grooming
The sauna is not a sexual experience. Yes everyone looks at everyone else, but it’s not done in a sexual way. You don’t have to have the body of a model. You’ll see all shapes and sizes and some jiggly bits. But the one thing that most people are? Well-groomed, especially the ladies. I was surprised to see that almost every woman, regardless of her age, paid attention to her grooming situation. And let’s just leave it at that and move on.
Tip 4: Go When the Sauna Has a Women Only Day
Some of the larger saunas have sections exclusively for women, while most have a day of the week or one day of the month where only women are allowed. This makes a nice introduction to your first German sauna if you are nervous about the experience.
Tip 5: Don’t Go the German Sauna With Friends of the Opposite Sex
Much to my chagrin, many of my friends have seen my husband naked! And, no, he’s not cheating. After playing badminton, he often goes to the sauna before grabbing a bite to eat. A few of the ladies in our badminton group go as well, so voila, everyone becomes more intimately familiar with each other. Needless to say, that’s waaaaaay to much familiarity for me, so I head straight to the restaurant and order a glass of wine instead! It’s become a running joke now where every week he asks me whether I’ll be joining him in the sauna, knowing full well that I won’t.
Tip 6: All Saunas Are Not Created Equal
Some, like the one at my badminton club – or so I’m told, I’ve never been inside, are really small. So, if there are more than 3 or 4 people, there’s a good chance you’ll be in contact with another sweaty body! Others are pure heaven. My favourite of all time is the Aqua Dome located in the Ötzal region of Austria.
The spa area is HUGE! You could spend several days exploring it. While there are clothing required areas, like the incredible levitating pools, the majority of the areas require nudity. This is not as much of a problem as you might think. Many of the rooms are dimly lit (as shown in the two above photos) and the saunas are large enough that everyone has his/her own space. Or if you’ve decided that you’re not that shy after all, or are just feeling adventurous you could swim lengths – in the naked pool area :).
Also check out these wellness hotels in Germany which in addition to having sauna areas, also have wellness areas.
Follow these tips and you may find yourself actually relaxing and even enjoying the German sauna experience…even as a shy girl, who may just emerge not quite so shy!
See more places to visit in Germany.
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