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Sauna etiquette for the holiday season

Be prepared to be textile-free.

It’s long been a cliché, but it is true: Germans are very matter-of-fact about their nakedness. These days it is not so prevalent as it once was, but walkers in Munich’s Englischer Garten, for example, or even on a certain trail in the Harz Mountains, may find their jaws drop and their eyes pop as they encounter the unexpectedly textile-free.

Being married to a German, I encountered my parents-in-law, eye-poppingly starkers, on the very first weekend I went to stay with them. It was quite a shock when it happened, I can tell you, but over the years I guess I have become immune, although I’ve not joined them and have yet to be convinced of the health benefits or even metaphysical benefits of spending more time naked. Germany’s younger generation is broadly of the same opinion as me, although most are still prepared to divest themselves of all clothing when the occasion demands.

Anyway, stepping into a German sauna last week reminded me of certain key bits of sauna etiquette, the sort of things that sauna virgins, or infrequent visitors, should be aware of. Especially during the holiday season.

  • Don’t stare. It’s rude. And giggling is even worse. If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen; if nudity, in its imperfect forms (and most bodies are imperfect, particularly in saunas), disturbs you, then stay away.
  • You don’t have to be naked. Nobody insists on it. Although you may feel uncomfortable if you are in your cozzie whilst everyone else is in their birthday suit, which by the way is a sure way of attracting attention to yourself as a potential pervert.
  • Some saunas have textile-free zones, which should be clearly marked. Take the cozzie, but be prepared to leave it in the changing room.
  • There are always towels, lots of them. Mostly tastefully draped. Make sure you are well equipped in the towel department, and sit or lie on one if you are naked, for reasons of hygiene.
  • Even the most beautiful of bodies is still just a body, and it is surprising how unsexy the sauna can make it.
  • You may think that everyone is looking at you, but don’t kid yourself; they’ve been to a lot of saunas and seen a lot of bodies, and yours is very unlikely to be any different to all the rest. Unless you’re from the planet Zog.

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9 responses to “Sauna etiquette for the holiday season”

  1. Good god blue cheese chap from Bavaria, you do ? ‘ Germans are very matter of fact about nakedness’
    well yes, you haven’t got any clothes on, no matter of fact about it. Comparing organs and all that-
    ie ‘ make sure your well equipped in the towel department’ ..bragging too? ‘ oh I need a bath towel
    but Henrik can manage with a flannel to cover his manhood’
    Good god ! clothes are removed for washing and no other reason. I am shocked to my
    little core.

  2. Nakedness is very natural.

    This article reminds me of being in a sauna and a friend, who I shall call G, who spots a very attractive young woman and whispers: “She’s naked!” He just couldn’t believe his eyes. My final response being a blasé: “So are we G!” Look, but don’t stare. It is quite refreshing chatting to someone of the opposite sex in the sauna: it’s not like you have to imagine them naked! :-D

    Personally, I have a sauna towel long enough to lie down on; but that doesn’t answer your question. Does it matter? I have enough to keep me happy.. :-D The majority wear bathrobes between saunas.

    If you are comfortable being naked amongst strangers why wouldn’t it enhance the relationship between you and the special person in your life? Makes the fact that they are one climbing into bed with you special.

    Heidelberg is in Baden-Württemberg and is a beautiful town.

  3. Indeed nakedness is natural and intimate.

    Noticed your typically male senario involves an “very attractive young woman” and not the 70 year old man/woman both
    not a “very attractive young woman or indeed very attractive young

    Mixed saunas too, thats even worse

    The “towel & flannel remark was my sense of humor
    I think you dont understand that quite often:)
    I will catagorically assure you that I’d be utterly mortified and
    insulted if you gave me the measurements of your private
    bits. Hope you realise the lady of the lake is humor too :)

    Why would strangers seeing me naked make climbing into
    bed with that someone special, more special ?

    I’d hope he’d not want others seeing my breasts or derriere
    and that they are for his eyes only. Whether it be them naked or
    wearing a thin layer of something sensual that those little
    people in the sauna wouldnt see.

    You can be naked as much as you like darling its your right, but its my right
    not to see others naked and likewise.

  4. It was the fact that she was attractive that prompted the comment, so very relevant to the story. I found his titillation funny. That was way back in the past, though.

    They do segregate on certain days, but much of the time it’s mixed.

    Sometimes I am careful about putting my response out there. Cheeky but not coarse. It’s a sauna and about as far from being erotic as you can get. It isn’t how I imagine a swingers club to be! Going from what friends have told me. ;-) No, I wouldn’t want to share someone special around. But, I have no problems being naked in a sauna with them and others. Why would I? It’s very egalitarian in there.

    Shorts, but no budgie smugglers then? :-D

  5. Each to their own .
    You are never never coarse or vulgar but very cheeky though
    especially with me and of course Ive forgotten the moments I’ve
    ever been cheeky with you..selective memory is a wonderous think
    and can get you out of a heap of trouble, especially when smiling
    sweetly :-)

    No I dont suppose saunas are that erotic..true eroticism leaves
    something for the imagination..such as what a dashing chap would
    look like ln cycling shorts or riding trousers, now they leave nothing to the imagination -ladies should’nt dwell on that which would upset
    the equilibrium..but emmm, oh sorry.

    Gentleman in ages past spent a lot of time sitting down as to
    ‘not disgrace himself in public’ as they said to smiling pink
    cheeked ladies .

    I wouldn’t want to share someone special around either and that
    would certainly include what was it ‘swingers party’ I cannot find
    the words to say what I think of those.
    I assume your friends are pulling your leg and that you’d never ?

    Assume you’ve got your event in town again this evening, have
    fun, and i hope you dont have another storm..we’ve got one
    brewing .. I take photos of storms
    Take care xx

  6. I have a very vivid imagination; due in no small part to you. ;-)

    Apparently there was a group of single lads (in the same branch as me) based in Germany who regularly used to visit a swingers’ club. There was more than one that told me about it, so I believe it to be true. That kind of thing isn’t for me and nor are one night stands; I would want some kind of emotional connection rather than just a physical activity.

    There’s no ‘coming on’ to people inside the saunas at the Therme I go to; there are signs saying that it is a quiet zone. Occasionally, you might get a chat going if the others don’t object; but one of few occasions that has happened it was about plans to move the sauna across the road from the main complex.

    I was out last night and we got about 20 meters in before we met our first friends. But that’s what it is all about. No storms last night and the weather was beautiful after a grey and wet start.

    Some bright spark has named their company after the expression budgie smugglers.

  7. Came across this discussion as I’m British but German Girlfiend has invited me to a Sauna with her parents tomorrow and told me that they will be naked

  8. Expand your comfort zone. Anxiety is not unusual, but if you can overcome being embarrassed in the nude in front of strangers, you will likely be bold with a lot of other things you were afraid to try.

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