As an American, I was slightly intimidated about fully embracing the German nude sauna experience. My husband had told me about his previous experiences in a German sauna, and although he had enjoyed it, I was not convinced that I would. The unknown was quite daunting. The reality was I loved it and found It pretty liberating! (Updated: 2024)
German Sauna History
The German Sauna culture blossomed in the 19th century with the introduction of the Scandinavian-style steam bath. The Finnish sauna was quickly adopted by the Germans well before public nudity areas were embraced.
German Sauna culture
The German Bathouse (German thermal baths) is part of an overall holistic approach for many Germans. A place that allows one to strip down and be intuned entirely to their senses. The naked German sauna experience provides an opportunity for acceptance of the naked human body without shame or sexual desire.
Where can you find a German Sauna
German Bathouses are typical and are found throughout Germany. They are commonly paired with a therme, a bathhouse with thermal ( Spring) water. This thermal water is believed to have many healing properties. These there’s are commonly a place for the entire family to enjoy.
What to expect when arriving at a bathhouse
When you arrive at a German bathhouse, it is standard to have pricing for both the sauna and the therme (poolside). In my experience, there is a separate sauna side attached to the therme and can be priced with both an hourly and daily rate.
The front desk will give you an armband. This will unlock one locker and serve as a means for purchasing items and food. It’s lovely that it is a cashless system. That being said, it is essential to keep it on you at all times.
Locker and dressing rooms
The locker rooms have small private changing areas and separate shower rooms for men and women.
These rooms will typically have hair dryers attached to mirror stations.
How to enter the German bathhouse area
To enter the bathhouse, you may likely enter through the pool area first. The doors entering the German sauna area will be marked. To join, you must scan your armband.
The ambiance is different than the child-friendly pool area. It is a quiet and relaxing atmosphere with people walking and lounging around in bathrobes.
A big screen shows the auffuss treatment sessions, each starting on the hour every hour, and each with their treatment temperature.
What you can expect to see in the bathhouse thermal spa area
Little eating area
There is a lounge area where you can purchase food and drinks, worhbseating available both inside and outside.
A little changing area with cubbies
This area can be more of a nook than a separate room. The cubbies are available for personal items. So, these bathhouses will have small lockers for watches and jewelry.
These German saunas are are set to different temperatures and are available for people to come and go as they please.
Shower and footbaths
It would be best if you always showered before using a sauna. Some showers are separated by set cold and warm temperatures. The cold water feels freezing cold and is often used as a cool-down immediately following a sauna treatment.
These warm footbaths are not to wash your feet but a treatment to improve blood circulation.
The quiet room
It’s more like a silent room. Talking is prohibited; it’s an area for complete relaxation. Mostly, everyone was either sleeping or reading. My husband and I tried it, and we only lasted a few minutes. The silence was deafening!
Many German saunas will have a beauty area; these services can include massages, manicures, pedicures, and a tanning bed.
Aufguss treatment saunas
These Auffuss treatment saunas can be inside the central bathhouse or as a stand-alone sauna house.
Are German saunas nude?
To answer this burning question, yes, many of the German bathhouses have nude saunas. This was probably one of the biggest culture shocks I experienced when moving to Germany. The nude saunas are so commonplace that it’s probably just as absurd to them that we don’t have nude saunas!
Here is a helpful tip if you are uncomfortable being nude but would like to experience a German nude sauna:
- Keep your towel wrapped around yourself. As long as no bare skin is touching the wood, you should be fine!
And maybe after a treatment or two, you will feel confident enough to plunge!
What is an Aufguss treatment?
An Aufguss “infusion” treatment is pouring water on the hot stones in the sauna by the sauna meister (master of the art of sauna).
These treatments consist of three rounds, lasting in total about 15 minutes. Honestly, it feels like a long 15 minutes! The average sauna temperature is 90C/194F. Yes- you read that correctly! The mild treatments are 80C / 176F and the more intensive are 95C / 203F.
The Aufguss treatments usually include aromas from essential oils, especially citrus, peppermint, and eucalyptus scents. If you are fortunate, you may even get an exfoliating treatment with salt or sugar.
My first sauna experience with an Aufguss treatment
To say that I was anxious for this entire experience is an understatement. I had no idea what to expect. The only thing I could think about was that I was going to have to strip down and surround myself with other naked bodies. That was a complex concept to grasp.
About ten minutes before the start of the treatment, we headed to the sauna room. Right outside the sauna door are hooks for the bathrobes and cubbies for your flip-flops and water. The only item allowed is a long towel.
entering the nude sauna
My self-conscious self quickly entered the sauna, fully wrapped in my towel. Assuming people would be staring at me, I quickly glanced at the room, only to see that no one cared. The only person internally making a big deal about being naked was myself.
I anxiously set up my large towel so there was no skin contact on the wooden bench. I quickly realized I was so caught up in being surrounded by naked bodies that I didn’t even think to ask my husband about the actual Aufguss experience. Little did I know how intense this would be.
commencing the treatment
The sauna master enters with a towel, ladle, and a bucket of water infused with essential oils. The sauna master leaves the sauna door open, allowing some cool fresh air in; this indicates the treatment session is about to begin.
The sauna master closes the door and says a few words in German. I look around to read the room, not exactly sure of what I was hoping to find. At this point, I’m still feeling uncomfortable being surrounded by naked people and anxious about what’s to come.
The temperature for this treatment session is 85C / 185F. I couldn’t comprehend tolerating this extreme heat. The sauna master begins the first round by pouring a couple of ladle-fulls of water onto the hot rocks. The essential oil-infused water immediately steams off the hot stones, infusing the air with a citrus scent. The temperature of the room increases significantly! I had no comprehension of an 85C/ 185F temperature.
If that wasn’t enough, the sauna master grabs his towel and starts circularly fanning the air, walking from one side of the room to another. I immediately feel this intense heat wave, and the sweat starts beading up.
The hot air was so intense all I could think to do was meditate and focus on my breathing. I felt like I was cooking!
The sauna master begins the second round by pouring more ladles of water onto the stones and starts fanning the air a second time. This wave of heat was so intense I felt a cold chill! I was no longer concerned that I was naked; my complete focus was to get through this treatment without passing out.
For the third round, the sauna master pours the remaining water onto the stones. The heat wave from this fanning session was far more intense than I could have ever imagined! I felt like I was cooking. Thankfully, it was the quickest! He spoke a few words, and many people left, signaling that the sauna session had ended.
I was so hot, I didn’t even want to wear clothes! The next part of the treatment is submerging yourself into a cold plunge pool. At this bathhouse, there were cold showers or cold plunge in the lake. I followed other baked bodies into the freezing lake.
To my surprise, once I got out of the frigid water, I was immediately hot again! I could see the steam rising off my skin!
- Related post: Proper etiquette for a German nude sauna
The benefits of sauna treatments
The sauna provides both physical and mental health benefits. The Mayo Clinic did a scientific study finding significant improvements in cardiovascular health when including the sauna in a wellness routine.
A cold plunge after a sauna can help promote blood circulation and reduce muscle tension.
Sauna treatments also offer an opportunity for meditation and relaxation.
What to bring to a German sauna
- A large towel (bring two towels if you plan on showering)
- Flip flops or shower shoes
- A bag for your belongings
- A swimsuit if you would like to experience the thermal pools
- A bathrobe
- A good book
Additional tips for visiting a German nude sauna
- Avoid wearing jewelry in the sauna. Fingers can sweep, and the jewelry may get very hot to the touch.
- The bathhouse should have the necessary medical items. If you are feeling unwell after a treatment, alert a staff member.
- If you have any underlying medical conditions of are unsure if you can experience an aufguss sauna treatment, consult with your doctor.
- When sitting in the sauna, be sure to respect other’s personal space.
Five easy tips to overcome nudity in a German sauna
- Wrap yourself up in the towel
- Take a cold plunge in a more private cold shower.
- If attending an outdoor sauna house, go later in the day when the sun is going down.
- Consider finding a gender-specific sauna.
- Walk in with confidence!
Frequently ask questions
Does it matter where you sit in a Sauna?
Yes. Typically, a sauna treatment room will have stadium seating. The first wooden bench off of the floor will be cooler. The higher up you sit, the hotter the temperatures.
Do you have to be naked in a nude sauna?
Yes. A “textile-free” sauna indicates that no clothing is allowed; this includes swimsuits
Can you leave in the middle of an Aufguss session?
Although it is frowned upon, if you need to leave, do so quickly and close the sauna door behind you.
Can I enter the sauna after the Aufguss treatment has started?
No. Once the sauna master has closed the door, no one is permitted to enter.
Can I spend a full day in the sauna
Yes. It is typical for Aufguss sessions to start on the hour every hour. Additionally, many German bathhouses have quiet rooms, cafes, and beauty rooms. Many of them will be attached to a thermal spring pool area.
Are all German saunas nude?
No. There will be a sign indicating whether or not the saunas in the bathhouse are nude. Many wellness hotels and tourist areas will have what we consider traditional saunas in the United States. Additionally, a sauna world such as Therme Erding in Munich, which permitted swimsuits and nudity-only saunas.
Are nude German saunas coed?
Yes, many German saunas are open to men and women. Some bigger establishments, such as Therme Erding in Munich, have gender-specific sauna rooms.
Can I bring my family to a German spa
Many of these German bath houses have a separate sauna area. The other, thermal pool area is generally great for families and commonly have an outdoor pool and an indoor pool section. Some even have water slides
My thoughts on the German sauna experience
Experiencing a nude German sauna is one of the best ways to get out of your comfort zone and introduce yourself to an integral part of German culture!
Although I was a little bit uncomfortable, I truly and surprisingly enjoyed the entire cultural experience! I had no idea that experiencing a naked German sauna would be so liberating! So much so that I was already planning my next visit in the near future. It made for a great date night and was a perfect form of self-care. I encourage you to broaden your horizons and try this German sauna experience! It is a great practice in meditation relaxation and a unique opportunity to experience some German culture.
Be sure to check out these rules before you experience your first nude sauna!
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