You have probably seen or heard about German saunas and heard various things about German sauna etiquette. If you haven’t actually had the pleasure of sampling a German sauna you’re missing out. It’s an interesting and relaxing experience.
You have probably been in saunas in hotels and spas in the US, or wherever you live. It’s a different experience in Germany. The sauna is an important part of their history and their culture.
The first thing most people ask is, ‘are people naked in German saunas?’ The answer to this is, yes. Most people are, it’s optional in some saunas but mandatory in others. For German people it’s a normal part of their culture to be naked in saunas so it’s not an issue to them at all. For most people around the world it is of course, because we are not used to it.
German Sauna Etiquette: The Question of Nudity
As mentioned above it’s normal for Germans to be naked in a sauna. There is nothing seedy about it, it’s the norm. If it’s what you were brought up knowing then you wouldn’t think there was anything strange about it.
If you’re visiting Germany and you enter a sauna then you’re probably the only one feeling a little self-conscious and strange. It’s an experience to try if you get the opportunity though. Not just to just do something out of your comfort zone, the health benefits attached to saunas are pretty useful too.
Most saunas are mixed too. So yes that does mean that males and females are in there at the same time. There are often designated hours for just women, so that’s something to look into if that will help you feel more comfortable.
The reason behind nudity goes back a long, long time. The health benefits to having a sauna and sweating were realized over a thousand years ago. The principle behind being naked is to not cover any skin at all to get the maximum benefit from the heat.
What Items Do You Need to Bring to a German Sauna?
There isn’t a lot you need to bring with you. Here are the essentials:
- Shampoo and soap, for the shower afterwards.
- Spa footwear, such as sandals etc for walking around the spa
- Towels, it’s good practice to take a towel to sit or lay on while in the sauna. As well as having one to wash and dry off afterwards.
- A bath robe, for walking around the spa and various different areas.
What to Expect and What to Do in a German Sauna
As a guide for a typical establishment I can give you an idea of what to expect. Saunas are usually inside larger spas with swimming pools and other facilities. The sauna will be a wooden construction cabin. Often with some shower facilities and the changing rooms nearby.
Find the changing rooms and get into your robe and footwear as outlined to take with you above. Take a shower to freshen up and head to the sauna. There are usually hooks outside the sauna to hang your robe on and leave your sandals.
De-robe, enter a sauna, and place a towel where you are going to sit and lay down. 30 minutes is usually more than enough at a time and you should drink plenty of fresh water to stay hydrated.
As I have mentioned, saunas and spas are a big part of German culture. It’s normal for people to spend hours at a sauna, going in and out of the sauna. Cooling off and getting something to eat or drink, and heading back in again.
Health Benefits of Using a Sauna
Whether it’s a German sauna, or anywhere else in the world. There are some positive health benefits to spending time in a sauna. Here are some of the best:
Great for Relieving Stress
Stress is a huge drain on the mind and body. A relaxing sauna session can really make a difference to the level of stress you’re feeling. A sauna is a warm and quiet place where you can have some secluded time alone to relax.
Relaxes Muscles and Joints and Reduces Pain and Swelling
Your body will release endorphins when put under the test in a hot sauna. This is a feel-good hormone that has a wide range of benefits. The hot temperature is also very good for reducing swelling in your joints and inflammation in muscles.
Sweat out Toxins
Sweating is a great way to help your body push out some toxins being held. A lot of people don’t really sweat for days at a time and this can cause blockages in the pores and a buildup of toxins. A good sweating session will help your body to rid a lot of toxins and you will feel a lot better almost instantly.
You Will Burn Some Calories
While it’s certainly not a suggestion for a weight loss program, time in a sauna will shed some calories. Used as part of an exercise program is the best way to shed and keep off the calories. You also stimulate better blood flow, so your body is operating at a more optimal level.
It’s Mood Lifting
A combination of all of the above is the feel-good factor and mood lifting effect that comes with some time in a sauna. It’s not for everyone, I understand that. But almost everyone says that they feel better after spending some time in a sauna.
Whether you have never had a sauna experience, or you want to know more about German sauna etiquette before making your first trip to one. I hope this article has cleared up some of your questions and helped you feel less intimidated and more comfortable.
As with all massage treatments, spa sessions, and other pampering treatments, with all the health benefits attached to saunas it should be an easy decision if you have an option to experience one. Go for it, and I hope you enjoy yourself!
I’ve covered vichy shower etiquette too if a visit to the hydrotherapy spa is next on your list.
I’m a MA, (CMT) Certified Massage Therapist, Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT), and Reiki Master — I’m a licensed massage therapist with over 10 years of experience in the industry.