The Shy Girl’s Guide to the Naked German Sauna

Last Updated on

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 partner at the time first introduced me to the naked German sauna, when I was visiting him from Canada.  You can read all about that terrifying experience here.

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.

empty sauna

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 want your guy friends to see me naked? I asked my husband in disbelief.  He just shrugged his shoulders.  Why not? It’s just nature. It was one of the many shocks I experienced as an expat in Germany.

It took me two years to recover from my initial sauna experience before I decided to give it another try.  And yes I fully admit I’m a prude.

friends meeting in a German sauna

I’ll be honest. I’m still not a big fan of saunas in general and 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 if you aren’t lucky enough to have a sauna at home like this one for two people.

I’ve even come to find the “textile-free” areas of spas…gasp….not totally horrible. Albeit it not totally comfortable either.

I’m still much more of a fan of wellness hotels which offer saunas and in addition lounging areas, swimming pools, and beauty treatments.

Tip #1: Choose a Sauna Far From Home

outdoor sauna

Or at least a couple of hundred kilometres.  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 where I live.  I do not 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. She said even her German husband didn’t know how to react!

By going farther away, you’re less likely to run into people that you know.  And while I won’t go to a sauna at home,  I usually choose a wellness hotel within a 2-hour drive. Otherwise getting stuck in traffic disintegrates the relaxation effect.

Tip #2: Visit the Sauna at Off-Peak Hours

The Mineral bath is part of the naked sauna area at the Aqua Dome in Austria
The Mineral bath is part of the “textile-free” sauna area at the Aqua Dome in Austria. Even with my prudishness, I found it heavenly!

Go at off hours when it’s less likely to be busy.  You can ask the spa if you’re not sure.

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, 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 sexual. 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.

Tip 4: Go When the Sauna Has a Women Only Day

friends enjoying a sauna together

Some of the larger saunas have sections exclusively for women. The smaller ones will likely have a day of the week or one day of the month where only women are allowed.

This is a gentle introduction to your first German sauna if you’re nervous.

Tip 5: Don’t Go the German Sauna With Friends of the Opposite Sex

German saunas are often co-ed

Much to my chagrin, many of my friends have seen my then-partner naked!  Let me explain.

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.

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 too much familiarity for me. Instead, I head straight to the restaurant and order a glass of wine.

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 Equal

A relaxation area in the naked area of the sauna at the Aqua Dome in Austria
I LOVED the “Suspended Peace” room, also in the “textile-free” part of the Aqua Dome.

Some, like the one at my badminton club, are 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 space.

Or if you’ve decided that you’re not that shy after all, you could swim lengths – in the naked pool :).

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!

Interested in travelling to Germany? See more places to visit in Germany.

 

Enjoyed this content? Please share:

About Author

client-photo-1
Laurel
Laurel Robbins is the founder of Monkeys and Mountains Adventure Travel. She's passionate about getting outdoors as often as possible and helping travellers do the same on their vacation in a sustainable way. She's Canadian and grew up in the Canadian Rockies but now lives in Munich, Germany. You can find her skiing or hiking in the mountains most weekends, hanging out with her cat or with her nose in a good book.

Comments

April 29, 2015
Some Spas offer such so called 'With and without'-Hours. In the SchwabenQuellen in Stuttgart for example there ist a 'Mit & Ohne - Abend' every Tuesday where You can choose if You warnt to go with your bikini or naked.
May 1, 2015
@Monique - Great point! Thank you!
De'Jav
April 30, 2015
This is something that is new to me about the German culture. Great tips though if looking to explore for the first time.
Sophie @ Sophie's World
May 3, 2015
I'm wondering why Europeans and North Americans have such different views on nudity. Where does that come from... (Also, love Aquadome, one of my fave spa hotels in the Alps.)
May 4, 2015
@Sophie - The different views really are interesting. I've lived in Germany for 5 years and still struggle with it.
May 4, 2015
I understand you discomfort, my other half felt exactly the same, although from the male point of view. I've never been particularly shy about nudity and happily indulged in saunas in Finland and onsen in Japan, albeit segregated. When I discovered there was an awesome looking Therme in the town we stayed in in southern Germany (Konstanz) I dragged him along, keen for a good sauna. He was dismayed at the amount of people and the fact it was mixed. I wasn't sure how I'd deal with it, only previously been comfortable in women only saunas but it turns out I'm completely blasé about it, it didn't phase me one bit! Other half settled in and soon got used to it, it's not a terribly British thing to do but I love that we could go together, I'd been dying to share my love of proper naked sauna with him! I can be pretty shy, but I find naked saunas really empowering.
May 7, 2015
I want to agree that "it's just nature!" but I think I would be too shy and I'd have to go for the women-only sauna!
May 18, 2015
@Meg - I hear ya. I admire how open and comfortable many Germans are with nudity,but I also prefer the women's only days.
May 14, 2015
Nakedness can be quite the elephant in the room... these are great tips though! I would definitely be destined for the "Suspended Peace" room :)
May 18, 2015
@Mary - Thank you! I spent most of my time in the "Suspended Peace" room as well :)
fred
May 17, 2015
These comments focus on the nudity. What about focusing on the wonderful sense of freedom and liberation without clothes? A naked body is a naked body and we've all got one. No big deal. I go regularly to a nude swimming club here in the UK. Almost everyone is over 40 but occasionally a family with young children come along. It has sauna, steam room, pool, club room and garden. The sheer delight in walking around, swimming and chatting without clothes is uplifting.
May 18, 2015
@Fred - True, but I think you need to get comfortable with being naked before you enjoy the sense of freedom and other benefits. I'm glad to hear that you've found that freedom.
May 18, 2015
Didn't know that nekidness was such a universal thing in Germany ... crazy!
May 18, 2015
@Noah - Yep! Although to be be fair, I do have some female German friends who are not comfortable with it either.
Jeremy B
May 19, 2015
I have to admit I've never done a naked sauna. I've been to a bath in Hungary where everyone wore clothes. I've been to a nude beach in Portugal and fully participated (it did take me two hours though). Would I do a German sauna sans clothes? Sure. Only thing is I'm not a big fan of saunas. For me, it's not a nudity thing. I'd just rather be out exploring the cities or hiking in Germany :)
May 22, 2015
@Jeremy - I'm not a big fan of saunas either, even when I can go in a bathing suit. I feel very faint very quickly. I'd also rather be out exploring :)
May 27, 2015
I remember going to a Turkish Bath when I was in my early 20s. I was so nervous, but then I realized I should just get over myself and appreciate the new experience. Easy to do when you are thousands of miles from home :-)
Sara
October 9, 2015
What do you mean by personal grooming situation .. if it's what I think it is, and depending on the extent, I might feel more confident visiting a salon first? Sara
October 9, 2015
@Sara - referring to the hair "down there". You definitely want to give it some attention. The "natural wild look" is not so popular in German saunas.
Sara (and John)
December 2, 2015
I hope you don’t mind an update since contacting you in October, but to some degree your blog helped us. My BF John, plus his mate & GF were holidaying in our home country, Australia in taking the mixed group nude plunge, yes with a few coy giggles at first but with no regrets! It wasn’t like the big open European saunas you describe but was a smaller venue, it was on a “couples night” and it was “clothing optional”. We four got there early, initially having it to ourselves. We all started in bathers, but John after a while in the hot pool announced he was going to make use of the clothing optional opportunity as he put his swimwear onto the side of the pool and I followed suit (both still hidden to the shoulders under the water). Getting out to go to the sauna was the real "intake of breath" moment, but when the other two entered the sauna a bit later it was quite a relief to see they’d also now gone fully nude. Only two other couples joined during the evening, of which everyone was happily naked except one woman kept her bottoms on. The experience was absolutely brilliant, inspiring us to spend another day “skinny dipping” on a quiet but fairly open beach before flying back to Melbourne. We’d become closer as a group of friends along the way too. With thanks, Sara (& John) x
September 26, 2017
@Sara - Thanks so much for sharing your experience. So glad that you enjoyed it. Kudos to you for taking the plunge.
Lauren
December 10, 2016
I have never had any discomfort with being nude in female only locker rooms. Most of the women that are members at my health club, myself included, are very casual and open with nudity in the locker room. It's an open shower-room, no stalls, no curtains. Most ladies don't bother covering up between the showers and lockers. I've always preferred it that way. I think that the communal nudity of the ladies locker room is quite liberating! On several occasions I have been nude in the locker room in the presence of other women who I know well, among them my (Female, obviously) boss, one of my daughters grade-school teachers, and my daughter-in-law. And they too were nude at the time. The nudity was never an issue in those cases. However, I would absolutely freak out if I were to be in a locker room or sauna with naked men. I would be very embarrassed being naked in front of any men other than my husband or a doctor during an exam. And I would be even more traumatized by seeing naked men other than my husband! I absolutely could not deal with that!
Lauren
December 10, 2016
On the topic of "The hair down there." In the locker room at my health club you can largely know a womans' age group by her grooming or non-grooming down there. The women that are in their 60's and up don't appear to do any grooming down there. The women in my age group, 40's and 50's trim but don't shave or wax it all off. The girls and women ranging from 13 to their late 30's usually shave or wax almost all of it off. I'm certainly never staring at anyone else in the locker room, but there's no way of not noticing those things to some extent.
December 10, 2016
@Lauren - Very interesting observation, thanks for sharing.
Lauren
December 11, 2016
I probably should have mentioned that I'm an American, not German or Canadian. I know that in general Germans are way, way more comfortable with nudity than most Americans. I've been told by one coworker of mine who was born and raised in Canada that she feels that in general Canadians are slightly more comfortable with locker room nudity than most Americans. She said it's not a huge difference, but that she feels that most Canadian women are a bit more comfortable with being nude in the presence of other females in locker rooms and saunas and places like that than American women are in general. Although, as I mentioned, almost all of the women and teen girls at my health club are pretty comfortable being nude in the open showers or walking to and from the lockers and showers.
Savannah
December 29, 2016
Thank you so much for both of these articles!!!!!!! I am an American who now lives in Bavaria. Let me clarify: I was raised in the South, as in the Bible belt, as the daughter of a Southern Baptist preacher. I wasn't allowed to roll my sleeves up at soccer practice (heaven forbid the boys see my shoulders), let alone wear even a bikini. I had just, kind of, gotten used to quickly changing from a swimsuit in the women's locker room at my gym back in the states before I moved to Germany. My boyfriend, however, is from New York City. He has absolutely no problem going to naked saunas- he's all about immersing himself in the German culture- and he, in fact, loves it. Thankfully he's super busy at work, so he hasn't taken me yet. Every feeling you expressed about going is exactly how I feel about it. I think it's pretty gross that there are sweaty balls and vaginas everywhere. The boyfriend says that everyone can wear a towel/ sit on a towel, but I've heard plenty of stories to the contrary. I'm terrified of going to my first sauna where clothes aren't allowed. TERRIFIED.
September 26, 2017
@Savannah - It is a terrifying experience and you can sit on a towel. I've been probably 15 times now and it's less terrifying now, but I still don't feel 100% comfortable. Best of luck!
Todd
August 13, 2018
Hello Laurel. Researching various web sites and blogs that I eventually found yours. Reason to search was to become informative about German saunas, spas and Roman baths. I work for a German company and knew that I would eventually have opportunity to visit these types of naked establishments. Opportunity occurred this past July. Unfortunately, I traveled solo, without my wife. I stopped by Baden-Baden and checked out Caracalla Therme and Friedrichsbad. Both places offer wellness in the nude. Ok. So, I am a prudish, unique American. Since turning a milestone age, I had desire to go naked in public because I had nothing to lose other than all my clothes. Here I am in Baden-Baden. Caracalla Therme is a wonderful sauna area with many areas to visit. After 2 hours, I went to Friendswood. This place is 140 years old and quite fascinating with Roman decor. Going to the saunas first helped relieve anxiety because I was completely naked the whole time except in dry steam area. It was very hot so the sheet provided protection while lounging on chairs. The only other anxiety area was soap scrub as the attendants tell you face up so my manhood was completely exposed but they were very professional. After that, I enjoyed the wet steam rooms and various pools. So relaxing in the buff. By the end in the tea room ,I stood naked on the balcony and said to myself, "look at me world as I am completely naked and have no more concerns". Hope you enjoyed my story, my experience in Baden-Baden. If you have not visited yet, go for it and be relaxed with no clothes.
Todd
August 13, 2018
Hello Laurel. Thanks for sharing your story, your experience. I enjoyed reading as I was investigating proper etiquette in German spas, saunas & baths. Reason to investigate is that my employer is Germany based so I have been traveling to Germany a few times. This past July, I knew that I would be traveling with colleagues (and unfortunately without my wife). I decided to investigate as mentioned and read the stories. All were quite informative as I prepared to stop in quaint town of Baden-Baden. There are 2 facilities; Caracalla Therme and Friedrichsbad. There is an upstairs in Caracalla Therme that has variety of saunas. This was going to be my first adventure with public nudity, a bucket list item since attaining a key age milestone. After a few temperature controlled saunas I was feeling relaxed with reduced anxiety. 2 hours passed quickly. Next stop same day was Friedrichsbad. You can investigate on own but this is a complete naked Roman bath (except dry steam rooms where you have cloth to lie on while reclining on chairs - they are hot). Upon entrance, I was greeted by female attendants (clothed) as I went on a mixed gender day. Some anxiety but not too bad. After the dry steam rooms, you can opt for soap scrub. I paid for service and it was wonderful. Again, female attendants and you start the scrubbing face up so my manhood is on full display. Female attendants are very professional so there is no "happy ending" as one would experience in other world locations. Shower off and off to warm pools and moisture laden steam rooms. So relaxing to point that one's nudity anxiety is gone. I ventured to all these areas next 2.5 hours and was so relaxed. End with tea is quiet room. As I sipped tea on balcony (still fully naked), I said to myself "here I am world, complete naked and no more concerns." I mean, what else did I have to loose at this point other than all my clothes. If you have never visited Baden-Baden, please go. Go and enjoy both locations. Go and be free of all anxieties regarding nudity.
Todd
August 27, 2018
Hello Laurel. Read your post a few months back. Very informative about spas in general. Comments by others very helpful and entertaining. This past July, I finally had opportunity to experience (unfortunately without my wife but hope next time) a German sauna and Roman bath in Baden-Baden. I was still nervous and anxious to be naked with strangers but what did I have to lose other than all my clothes? I first started at Caracalla Therme. It’s a wonderful place with many different saunas and jacuzzi. So, I have my towel for some coverage. After a few minutes, I was all in with just using my towel to protect wood benches. Back and forth to all the saunas, full exposure. It was invigorating for this prudish American, a changed prudish American. I enjoyed my 2 hours. Then, I went next door to Friedrichsbad, the complete nude Roman bath. Even though I was just enjoying the saunas, I still had some anxiety. But, this experience was on my bucket list (public nudity) since obtaining milestone age. Let’s go so I paid for 4 hours. After removing clothes in locker room, I go to the first of 17 stations as they label them. So, here I am buck naked and greeted by 3 women attendants. Anxiety yes but I proceed forward as I have paid. After the hot dry air saunas, I proceed to the soap scrub. Guess gender attendant? Female! She motions me to table and states “face up”. There I am, naked and manhood in full exposure with female attendant. But, she was very professional and I just relaxed. I was hoping to stay longer but only 10 minutes. After that, I then enjoyed the various pools and moist saunas. Back and forth, very relaxing. After 3 hours, it was time to relax in warm blankets wrapped as a burrito. But, it was great. Then, I had some tea in final room. As i enjoyed my tea, I wondered to balcony. While enjoying the outside on balcony, I said to myself – “hello world. I am naked and enjoying myself with no more anxiety”. 4 hours and worth it. I hope you enjoyed my story and others will enjoy also. For many, public nudity is a challenge. Experience it and you will be grateful. It is nerve wracking at first but you will overcome.

Leave a Reply