Berlin, Europe, Expat Living, Germany

An Expat’s Account Of Getting Naked at a German Spa

September 4, 2012
Getting Naked at a German Spa

Getting Naked at a German Spa

When I  planned my move to Berlin, I already knew that one of the items I wanted to scratch off my “living in Germany” bucket list was to get naked at a German spa.

I dreamed of feeling the “freedom” of walking around naked in public, with complete confidence in myself, and as if it were completely normal. I wanted to banish my very Canadian prudishness and embrace that carefree European lifestyle.

But the narrow minded spirit that comes from being raised in a straight-laced religious Christian household is hard to dispel overnight. I needed full immersion right away if this was really going to happen and undertake a sort of “shock and awe” campaign into complete and total nakedness.

Getting Naked at a German Spa

Getting Naked at a German Spa

Image via Unsplash

That being said, I remember the very first time I went naked at a German sauna as clearly as if it happened yesterday.

I was invited by a Canadian friend to Kristall-Saunatherme Ludwigsfelde, a spa facility not far from Berlin. This particular spa is almost like hanging out at a nudist colony, as people don’t just remove their clothing when they enter the sauna but in the changing area when they first enter the building. They swim, eat, drink, and walk around completely naked.

As we took the regional train out to Ludwigsfelde, I was paralyzed by fear. My heart was beating fast and I felt faint. I wasn’t sure if I could go through with my “mission”.

My friend was very supportive and talked me through the entire experience, telling me what to expect, and explaining sauna etiquette, such as not to place your bare ass on a bench as doing so will bring on the wrath of angry Germans. She also told me about how spa attendants enter the sauna from time to time, place aromatic oil on the heater, and whip a wet towel in front of you to distribute heat more evenly. I rather wickedly wondered if this person’s official title was “towel whipper” and if they have business cards.

I asked her if it this place was really just a massive swingers club and if the “spa” was simply a pretense, like the ones that dot the airport strip back home in Toronto where men receive “happy endings” from under aged, illegally imported, Eastern European girls. She laughed but I’d only been half joking with my question. I’d heard stories long before moving to Germany.

So yes, the real fun started in the unisex change room. Men and women, young and old, big and small, pretty and ugly, were all freely walking around naked. There were small stalls where you can get changed but there wasn’t really any point in using them, as everyone would soon see all you have to offer.

At first, I felt a peculiar mixture of fascination and horror. I just couldn’t stop staring as I’d never seen so much flesh at one time. Some thoughts that crossed my mind — “So that’s how low your breasts hang when you’re 60?” and “Is he really that hairy or is he just wearing a shirt?”

As my prudishness hadn’t yet been conquered, I naturally rented a robe and changed in a stall. Shortly afterward, my friend and I headed to the pool area to grab a lounge chair and relax.

Being Naked in Front of Others

It was finally time for the “big reveal” — it was time for me to get naked!

My friend casually tossed off her robe and confidently walked down to the pool, inviting me to follow. I stood back at our lounge chair and fended off a minor panic attack. With slow practiced breaths, I calmed myself down. I removed my robe and waited for lightening to strike or people to point and laugh. I thought I’d blind others with my pasty white body. I looked around to see if people were staring at me. No one was. I was naked, just like everyone else and it was normal.

After recovering from the initial shock of being naked in public, I ran as fast as I could to the pool. My friend, clearly amused at my bashful behaviour, said that running was perhaps not the “best” idea if I didn’t want to attract attention to myself. It’d been a bit of a Baywatch moment!

While pretending the water hid my nudity, I looked around the spa. There were two large heated pools, a waterfall, swim-up bar, and an outdoor pool that you could easily swim out to, and enjoy a naked afternoon under the sun. In addition to a hammam room and a steam sauna, there were also about 10 – 15 different dry saunas with various temperatures and aromas. You could even plan your sauna times according to when the towel whippers come in to perform their rituals.

As it was a nice day, we decided to head outside. I’d never thought in a million years that I’d be swimming and walking around outside naked, but there I was naked in Germany, embracing that carefree European lifestyle the way I’d so desired.

Have you ever wondered if Germans swim naked? They do! Read more about German nudity and swimming.

Under the sun we chatted about how I was feeling. I couldn’t stop laughing and crossing my arms over my chest in a futile effort to hide my breasts. It struck me as funny that in all the years we’d known each other, we’d never seen one another naked.

Being Comfortable with Nudity

As the hours passed, the awkwardness eased, and I began to feel more confident.

I also still couldn’t stop staring, a definite faux pas at any German spa! You have to be rather discrete if you plan on staring at the other naked people. Unfortunately for my friend and I, most people at the spa were old, overweight, or completely unattractive. Except for one rather handsome man, with a perfect form and tan lines that revealed that he’d spent most of his summer in a speedo. I never spoke with him, but didn’t hesitate at glancing at him frequently throughout the day.

I learned a lot about myself that day. I found that I was capable of getting naked and being absolutely comfortable doing so. I saw how being naked in a sauna or spa is not such a big deal. I felt proud to have overcome my fears and accomplish my bizarre personal mission.

I now get naked in spas and saunas on a regular basis without a care in the world.

Tip: As I’m such a fan of the German sauna, I frequently get naked at Vabali Spa in Berlin, a Balinese inspired spa with indoor and outdoor pools, several saunas, a gym, onsite restaurant, and more.

Reactions to my Nude Escapades

The reactions from others when I told them about my day at the spa were varied.

Most Germans expressed amusement at how enthusiastic I was about my German spa experience. Some even told me that they wouldn’t be brave enough do what I did. Seriously, I was more open to getting naked than a native German? Canadian friends weren’t so kind. One said that moving to Europe had made me “fucking weird” and we never spoke again. Others said that while they admired my courage, as they confessed that could just never get naked in public.

Men asked me if guys in the spa were were walking around with erections because of all the beautiful women. They said they would never go naked because they feared walking around in an aroused state all day. I told them the older, larger women would certainly destroy their erotic fantasies. Obviously, I was only joking — I told them German saunas are not at all sexual and that often, families and colleagues enjoy the German spa together.

How about you? Would you, could you get publicly naked in Germany or elsewhere? Have you been naked and how did it feel that very first time?

Expats Talk About Getting Naked at the German Spa

For some other expat accounts of getting naked in Germany, check out these great blog posts:

  1. Back to Berlin and Beyond – http://ianandebe.blogspot.de/2013/11/berlins-tropical-island-getting-naked.html
  2. Monkeys and Mountainshttp://monkeysandmountains.com/german-sauna
  3. Travels of Adamhttp://travelsofadam.com/2012/07/getting-naked-in-berlin/

Experts Talk About Getting Naked at the German Spa

  1. Rick Steves – https://www.ricksteves.com/watch-read-listen/read/articles/naked-truth-about-europe
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78 Comments

  • Reply A Montrealer Abroad (@amontrealer) September 4, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    HAHA! What a great post. I agree with your canadian friends though. Not that you’re fucking weird. You’re not 🙂 but that I admire your courage even though i could never do it myself!

    • Reply Cheryl Howard September 7, 2012 at 12:42 pm

      @Marie – It’s hard at first, but you get used to it more quickly than you think. 🙂

  • Reply Ayngelina September 6, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    We are a prude bunch aren’t we. I think traveling helped me get over that a lot but I always think it’s strange after hot yoga – where people wear practically nothing, that some women go into a bathroom stall to change. Really, you are relax, I’m not looking at you 🙂

    • Reply Cheryl Howard September 7, 2012 at 6:07 pm

      @Ayngelina – Indeed we are! I think we all need to just relax a bit.

  • Reply OutsideTheGuidebook September 12, 2012 at 10:55 am

    THIS I am so going to do one day! :-)) I thought the cover photo was a shot of sheep from a distance… and then I noticed. Good read Cheryl.

    • Reply Cheryl Howard September 12, 2012 at 2:50 pm

      @Outside the Guidebook – Ha ha! Thanks and yes you need to do this and them write about it. 🙂

  • Reply Laurel September 13, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    Such an interesting read and I’m impressed, you did so much better than I did. I guess I really am a prude. Thanks for the mention!

    • Reply Cheryl Howard September 13, 2012 at 2:44 pm

      @Laurel – No, you are not at all! I think it’s a very personal experience and only do what you’re comfortable doing. And with how we were raised, it makes it even harder. And you never know, maybe you’ll try it again at some point. 🙂

  • Reply Reena @ Wanderplex September 20, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    Haha, loved this post! As a non-European, it’s a real shock when you visit Europe and experience a communal change room or shower or bath/spa etc for the first time. I’m amazed at how comfortable they all are being nude and how uncomfortable we non-Europeans are! But it’s definitely a liberating experience. I would feel really uncomfortable if I was with friends or family, but among strangers, I’ve grown to be reasonably okay with it.

    • Reply M October 2, 2012 at 12:27 am

      I am non-European and live in a small Dutch village and frequent the sauna. Although hasn’t happened yet but I have no doubts that sooner or later I will bump into a neighbor or friend. Not really sure how but I think it won’t be as weird as I now think. For now it’s definitely not my most preferred situation 😉 With the strangers I can’t just get enough of this most fundamental freedom.

      • Reply Cheryl Howard October 3, 2012 at 2:00 pm

        @M – You’ll get over it soon enough! It will only be weird for the first few minutes. 🙂

        • Reply M October 5, 2012 at 4:36 pm

          I guess it’s easier when you’re a woman, can get complicated when you’re a man!!!

  • Reply M September 24, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    The first time is difficult but once you do it you can’t think of not doing it again. It’s one of the most liberating feelings. I started this 2 years ago and sometimes just miss it so much that I have to find a moment for myself and let it go. The greatest part is when you know you have nothing to lose.

    • Reply Cheryl Howard September 25, 2012 at 8:28 am

      @M – The first time is very difficult but pretty funny when you look back later on and see how shy you once were! 🙂

      • Reply M September 26, 2012 at 5:49 am

        Absolutely true. Amazing how we make such a big issue out of nothing. I often go to the sauna with my partner and that’s absolutely great but have never tried it with a friend or a colleague. Was it not an awkward situation for you to got with a friend?

        • Reply Cheryl Howard September 26, 2012 at 9:15 am

          @M – It was weird at first but then after a few minutes, it was just fine.

  • Reply M October 15, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    Honestly, does none of you look at others in a nude sauna? Honest, honest?

    • Reply Ryt February 10, 2015 at 6:15 am

      @M It’s like looking at other people in the street. Yes, you see them. And move on about your own business.

      But you have to try for yourself to understand.

      I’ve introduced quite a few people to sauna’s. All of the share your doubts. Until after 5 minutes when they see that nobody cares. You look at bodies just as you look at someones face.

  • Reply Kathryn November 24, 2012 at 11:09 am

    I like Adam’s blog too. It’s fun learning that bloggers know each other in real life 🙂

    • Reply Cheryl Howard November 27, 2012 at 10:09 am

      @Kathryn – Yeah, for sure! It’s nice to have other travel bloggers as friends so we can talk business and other things that our regular friends don’t exactly understand.

  • Reply Andy November 26, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    Okay, now you’ve done it it’s time for the proper sauna experience. I mean up here in Scandinavia, in the mountains, at a cabin in the depths of winter. Damn right you’re naked, and when it’s getting too war, you go and roll around in the snow before heading back in. I am not kidding 🙂 I’m a Brit and have lived in Norway for 14 years, but am not quite there yet. The nakedness is not the issue, the snow bit is…

    • Reply Cheryl Howard November 27, 2012 at 10:12 am

      @Andy – Ha ha, I will make a point to try that experience sometime. 🙂

  • Reply Tiffany @ No Ordinary Homestead November 28, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    I don’t know how I managed to skip the whole prude thing when I was growing up, but I must be one of the only North American’s over here that doesn’t freak out about getting nude at the sauna. 🙂 Actually, these days, the younger generation of Germans is quite prude as well, with some even staying wrapped in a towel when they go in the 65° saunas — which can’t even be comfortable.

    Going to enjoy haunting your blog more and getting more insights to Berlin since I’m a new Berliner myself!

    • Reply Cheryl Howard December 1, 2012 at 9:47 pm

      @Tifanny – Thanks for stopping by my blog! And welcome to Berlin. Hope you have as great of a time in the city, as I have. 🙂

      It’s always great hearing about various people’s reactions to visiting the saunas and getting naked. I love that it wasn’t a big deal for you!

  • Reply Ron December 21, 2012 at 9:20 am

    hi cheryle howard,
    i liked the way you told your story, i would say more or less happened to me as well, I was on business trip to berlin with some other people from my company last year and the place where we stayed did not have pool but i remembered coming back frrom the metro i saw sign of spa somewhere so i asked the lady on the reception if any pool or spa in the area so she directed me.
    to tell you the truth until now i really did not know about the nudity of spa’s in berlin but anyways,

    i got into the building and asked the lady at the front desk if i can buy or hire any swimming costume and she told me i told need one,
    i was little surprised so i asked again and she xplained to me why i dont need and that everyone in the pool is naked,,,

    this news kind of gave me a spark, i got excited so much and could not beleive but on the other side i was afarid too,,,,
    i was
    i was afarid what if i get Erection if i see naked girls but still i was still not sure if its going to be compltely naked for all,,,

    the momentt i got inside i saw an old man with hanging body and muscles,,,so i was little disappointed so i got into the area to take shower and all of the sudden lady in her 30’s came totally naked and stood next to me taking shower,,,,,,

    i was so so afraid to look at her and what if my lilly wakes up, i was dam scared but she left soon,,,
    after a while i came outside and looked around,,,and ran towards the pool to hide myself,,,,
    ,,,
    anyways after a while i got calm down and came out of the pool and everything looked so normal as if nothing is strange,,

    • Reply Cheryl Howard December 23, 2012 at 9:42 pm

      @Ron – Well, that’s quite the story and I’m sure my readers will enjoy your tale as much as I did! Glad that you came to see that being naked at the sauna in Berlin wasn’t such a big deal.

  • Reply Jan October 13, 2013 at 8:46 am

    It’s very interesting to read your story. I live in Belgium and the sauna culture here and in the Netherlands is more or less the same as in Germany. I’m going to public (nude) saunas only since 3 – 4 years but I was already used to go to a single sex sauna in my sport center for more than 10 years. In the beginning as 15 year old boy it was a bit strange to go totally naked, even in a single sex sauna but shortly after I got used. Going to a mixed sex sauna was not a big deal any more but I suppose this is easier for men than for women.

    It has nothing sexuality and in my experience people star less than in a swimming pool where people wear a swimming costume. Its true most in the people in the sauna are around 40 – 50 years. You can clearly see they are more confident to go naked than younger people of 20 – 30 years. I see it my sport center where boys enter even enter the single-sex sauna in a swimming costume instead of naked with a towel. This is also for the showers; they enter the shower with a swimming costume. Maybe it’s the influence of the youth with an Islam background they do this.

    • Reply Cheryl Howard October 14, 2013 at 10:28 am

      Jan – Thanks for your comment. People feel shy for different reasons I think be it their upbringing, place of origin or maybe religion. Regardless, it’s nice if people can enjoy and feel comfortable having the experience.

  • Reply Ashley October 15, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    I’ve never been naked in a co-ed sauna, and I doubt that I ever will do it either. Even more than the embarrassment that I would experience from being naked in front of men, I would especially embarrassed by seeing naked men.
    However, I am quite comfortable being naked in the women’s locker room at the gym. I sometimes wonder if other women think that I’m an exhibitionist? I’m not. But I do not hesitate to walk around naked after I’ve showered, and I usually do my hair and makeup in the nude after I’ve showered because I like to air-dry, but I’m not the only one at the gym that does that.
    I got used to locker room nudity in junior high. I was nervous the first day or two of group-showering in junior high, but after a few days it felt kind of liberating, and most of the other girls were comfortable with the nudity as well.
    I really don’t have a problem with being naked around other females regardless of whether I know them or not. My sister is completely comfortable being nude around me or our mom or our female cousins, as well as her friends, but she hates to be naked in front of strangers. But I have a couple of friends who are only comfortable being naked around strangers and maybe one or two of their closest friends like myself.
    I would like it if the YWCA in my area would have a female only swimsuit optional night once a week, or at least once in a while. I’d give that a try.

    • Reply Cheryl Howard October 16, 2013 at 11:13 pm

      Hi Ashley! In my former days, I used to get so mad whenever other women went naked in the all female change room! It made me so uncomfortable. I think you should do whatever you’re comfortable with and makes you happy. 🙂

  • Reply Ashley October 18, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    Hi Cheryl.

    My sister is still kind of like that. Like I mentioned, she has no problem being nude around female relatives, but she hates to be naked around strangers. And she doesn’t care to see strangers naked either. I prefer a more “naked locker room.” I’m strictly heterosexual, but I actually kind of like seeing other women’s bodies in a non-sexual way. I never stare at others in the locker room because I don’t think that it’s polite. But I have to admit that I do take a quick peek sometimes. Mostly just for the sake of comparison. But I might be the only women that prefers to see female nude scenes in movies over male nude scenes?

    • Reply Cheryl Howard October 19, 2013 at 12:48 pm

      LOL! I definitely don’t stare at others in the locker room. It’s so interesting to learn about cultural differences and try new things when you live abroad! I’m so glad I tried the German sauna as I’m so much more relaxed about things now that I’m back home.

  • Reply Rashaad Jorden October 22, 2013 at 8:36 am

    I don't like sauna too much (too hot for my liking), but I love onsen. I've lived in Japan, and I've spent a lot of time in onsen. Have you ever visited an onsen?

    Onsen aren't the only time I've been publicly naked. I once took part in a Spencer Tunick photo installation, and I had a blast 🙂

    • Reply Cheryl Howard October 22, 2013 at 11:20 am

      I’ve never been to an onsen! Love to try one though.

      And cool that you took part in such an art installation. Sounds like fun. 🙂

  • Reply ebe November 24, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    Thanks so much for the linkback love! I thought it was only fair to reference the many brave posts that went before in getting nude with the Germans. Plus – I so enjoyed hearing about your experience.

    • Reply Cheryl Howard November 25, 2013 at 10:08 am

      Ebe – but of course! Loved reading about your experience at Tropical Island as well.

  • Reply Meg December 9, 2013 at 9:38 am

    Hi Cheryl,
    Greetings from a fellow Canuck… 🙂
    So I stumbled across this article while researching a blog about cheap wellness options in Berlin. (I am a yoga teacher and my students often ask me about health and wellness stuff in the city, so I wanted to give them a list.) Anyhow, I wanted to include something about German saunas and how great they are, if you can get over the whole naked thing… and I really enjoyed your article, so I linked to it (you can see it here http://englishyogaberlin.com/free-or-cheap-health-and-wellness-in-berlin/).
    Thanks for making me laugh (again) about Germany and how weird it is to be foreign here… 🙂 I hope you are re-settling in well back in Toronto. Berlin is grey and dark but the Christmas Markets are booming and we are all waiting for snow… 🙂
    Take care
    Meg

    • Reply Cheryl Howard December 9, 2013 at 9:54 am

      Hi Meg, thanks for your comments and link. Glad you enjoyed the article and that it made you laugh. 🙂

  • Reply James Grey March 3, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    I’ve been to the spa you mentioned in Berlin – spectacular place! I always feel unbelievably relaxed and clean after visits to these places.

    In my experience there are always a few beautiful young women floating around in amongst the older crowd, at least in the bigger spas in major cities. This does make it a little difficult if you’re a guy and easily aroused, but after a few visits I’ve learnt how to switch my thoughts to something else…most of the time!

    Sometimes it is REALLY difficult to think of something else. I’ve actually written an erotic e-book inspired by such a time. If anyone’s interested in this slightly different take on what Cheryl has written then click on my website link!

    • Reply Cheryl Howard March 5, 2014 at 2:35 pm

      Hi James, thanks for your comment. Perhaps some of my readers will find your e-book interesting.

  • Reply Melissa June 1, 2014 at 8:12 am

    Thanks for the post, I’m going to Cologne/Dusseldorf this fall again and will be doing the traditional German sauna/spa experience for the first time. I am quite nervous about it but after reading your post, I think I can handle it! My biggest concern is about ‘grooming’. As a Canadian, I am completely ‘groomed’, do you think people will think I’m a weirdo? 🙂

    • Reply Cheryl Howard June 1, 2014 at 12:40 pm

      Hey Melissa, I’m sure you’ll do well. No worries about grooming, you’ll see a little bit of everything.

    • Reply Charlie Kedmenec August 25, 2014 at 10:05 am

      Melissa – If you are looking for a sauna in Cologne I would highly recommend Neptunbad. Parts of it are in the beautiful original art deco/art nouveau original baths, and parts are beautifully modern – heaps of different saunas, relaxing rooms, a nice cafe, tea rooms, indoor and outdoor – we were there in the snow so outdoor was cold but also exhilarating. It was my wife and my first taste of the German naked sauna – and we also had the same sorts of reservations as Cheryl, and many other expats have, but had a wonderful day and quickly forgot about the nudity. In Neptunbad most people wear robes when lounging or walking from place to place. It is only the pools/saunas/hot tubs that are textile free…

      • Reply Cheryl Howard August 25, 2014 at 3:46 pm

        Charlie – I will add Neptunbad to my list of saunas to visit in Germany. 🙂

  • Reply Michael October 4, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    A long, long time ago while serving in Peace Corps in I Bolivia went to a small urban sauna a couple of times with other male volunteers. Towels were furnished and we sweated in the nude not realizing it was a mixed sex sauna out of ignorance and because of language. The third visit a lady in her 30’s entered the steam room to our surprise with only a towel on her waist and one draped over her neck covering her breasts. The two of us were exposed but quickly and embarrassingly covered ourselves with towel. It was initially a shocking experience albeit most interesting. While making eye contact with me the lady raised and used her towel to wipe back her hair. That broke the ice and as they say the rest is history. That visit to the sauna took away my modesty and actually gave me a thrill and forever a reason to not to worry about being naked in mixed company. It was a real real eye opener and a personal growth experience.
    Thanks for sharing your experience Cheryl. It’s so human and real the way you tell your experience.

    • Reply Cheryl Howard October 5, 2014 at 2:52 pm

      Hi Michael,

      Thanks for your comment! Bolivia sounds like an interesting place to take in the sauna. Will keep it in mind should I ever make my way to Bolivia, which I really hope to do someday.

      Cheryl

  • Reply Emilio January 6, 2015 at 9:50 am

    Hi Cheryl
    I had a couple of very interesting and unexpected experiences at an exclusive hotel resort spa in Davos, Switzerland when I travelled there with my wife. We went to the pool in the late afternoon and sat and hung out for a while with lots of families there and many women walking around in their bathing suits – some quite attractive and some with their children too . I saw the spa door in the back and people were coming and going from there in their robes and I figured it was just the place where people were going for massages and treatments, so I did not think much of it. After a while my wife left the pool and I went over to see what kind of services were offered and to my total astonishment when I walked in there, I immediately noticed that everyone in there was completely naked – I wasn’t sure what I had just walked into or if I was in the wrong place and I nearly panicked thinking I was going to be in trouble but people looked at me and smiled and seemed nothing was wrong. There was no desk or reception area and this spa extended all the way inside so I kept walking towards the back where I saw a changing area. As I stood there, I noticed several open showers with both men and women in them with no curtains or doors to be closed and I could not believe that I was standing there watching them all fully nude and showering. My breath was nearly taken away at this scene. Some of the women looked at me and made eye contact and smiled and made no effort to cover themselves as they showered. In fact, a couple of them actually seemed to make a point of maintaining good eye contact as they soaped themselves and washed and rinsed. Sensing that being nude was an expected requirement to stay in here, I removed my bathing suit and also got fully nude. Now I am a very good looking, tall, very athletic and muscular guy, clean shaved all over and I am very much above average in the ‘size’ department (trying to be somewhat modest so as not to offend lol). The women in the showers who saw me undress were all very clearly looking at my ‘offerings’ and enjoying my presentation as much as I was enjoying theirs lol. Next, I went over to the sauna and was again astounded to find it nearly full of both men and women fully nude all sitting together very closely. I found a seat next to a woman probably in her early 50s that I had seen walking around the pool area in her bathing suit who I thought was very attractive with a great body and now she is sitting next to me facing me on the bench with every part of her body exposed to me – and I mean every part. She smiled and also her glance quickly found it’s way down below my waist where it stayed and I have to say I found this quiet visual interaction very titillating and I was somewhat aroused which I could tell she clearly appreciated when she would make eye contact, smile and widen her eyes. Honestly, this was all almost more than I could bare. There were also other young girls in there with their boyfriends and a couple of older couples – all fully nude. Next to me on the other side of me was a beautiful young girl in her early 20s sitting across from a similar age guy who I assumed was her boyfriend. She was very close to me and clearly was trying to tease her boyfriend with me by leaning towards me and looking down below my waist and making suggestive eye glances towards him to look which he did and smiled back at her. This was all almost more than I could bare and I could not believe what I stumbled across and I thought this was all crazy. I know you say there is nothing sexual about all of this nudity in the spa but there is certainly quite a bit of suggestive staring and gestures that I observed the whole time I was in there and quite honestly I loved it! There was nothing shameful or embarrassing and there were no unwanted or intrusive or offensive things going on. Everyone seemed very respectful. In fact, I saw many of these people later in the evening at the bar and at dinner and the suggestive eye contact continued when we would meet each other’s stares – knowing that we each knew what we looked like fully nude without even knowing each other’s names . I cannot believe that I was now sitting fully clothed with the very same strangers that I had seen their and they had seen my most intimate parts up close! Actually, the older woman that was next to me in the sauna was at the bar with her husband and was very elegantly dressed with hair and makeup done to perfection and just a short time earlier we were hot and sweaty and sitting in the near dark almost touching with a dozen other nude strangers sharing views of our totally nude bodies. She made a point of stealing several long glances with smiles while we were all sitting at the bar – only we knew what we shared visually. Needless to say I am sold on the experience and love it! There is more to this story but I have probably already used up too much space lol.

    • Reply Cheryl Howard January 6, 2015 at 12:11 pm

      Hi Emilio – Ha ha, that’s really quite the long story! I’m sure that others here may enjoy it as well. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • Reply Sara October 7, 2015 at 8:39 am

      As a female, it was great hearing Cheryl’s account, and now equally great to read your own very liberating experience from an honest male perspective. It’s great that it was so accidental how it happened, to stumble upon a mixed bunch people all so comfortable about nudity, and open about checking each other out.

      I have yet to follow through with a desire to take this plunge, partly my own shyness but also not helped by my husband having a hang-up. You might help in that regard, as his hang-up isn’t his size, it’s his discomfort being circumcised having been brought up in the UK where that’s unusual & provoked teasing in school years, etc.

      I know neither his fear or mine are all that rational, and you may not have been looking too closely at the male parts, but were penises generally uncircumcised in this Swiss spa too & would you feel as OK if you’d been circumcised? If you did look, don’t be embarrassed to admit it, as I won’t tell anyone & I’d like to let my hubbie know!

      Another aspect he worries about is the fear of getting an erection, which I’m told also rarely happens. Although your account seemed to some level of sexual interest in fairly openly looking at each other, I found it interesting that you still didn’t mention this predicament occurring for either yourself or the other men. Do you think that’s an unwarranted concern of his too?

      Many thanks,
      Sara

  • Reply Keith March 31, 2015 at 9:04 am

    Hi Cheryl… good blog!
    On my first visit to Germany in 2013, i visited a lovely spa in Munich and found it such a liberating experience as well as a great confidence booster – to be naked amongst strangers. No one is judge-mental because we are all in the same basic state of nudity so what is there to be ashamed of? The pool area was totally separate and “textile” and i later stripped off in the ‘male only’ circular shower area. I was a little taken aback when a uniformed female attendant came in to flush down the tiled floor, but she never batted a Germanic eyelid, lol !
    I’ve practised naturism for a number of years now but only on beach-holidays in Spain etc. so can’t wait to feel free again on some warm & sunny nude beach.
    Regards, Keith in prudish UK :))

    • Reply Cheryl Howard April 2, 2015 at 3:41 am

      Hey Keith – Glad to hear that you enjoyed your German sauna experience. Hope you make it back to Germany or another nude friendly beach soon. 🙂

      Cheryl

      • Reply Keith A April 2, 2015 at 6:17 am

        ThanX Cheryl – i sure intend to sometime… always more fun with a like-minded companion/friend though! Btw – how do i change my ‘avatar’ pic on here to a real photo of me? I’m also on Facebook.

  • Reply Eva May 15, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    Love your post! I have to admit that today I had one of the worst days I have had in a long day. I went to the German SPA for the first time and I had no idea people are going to be naked there – I have lived in Germany for a year now and nobody had told me that. So with my thinking I thought that everyone has a choice – so I will have my swimsuit on and I will pretend I don’t see all these people since it is not nice to stare. It was the first time in my life I felt uncomfortable being dressed… It was horrible. Nobody told me the rules at the spa entrance and I had no idea that getting naked is not a choice. So only after I got back to my hotel room I started to google information and I felt so silly because I finally got to read the rules of using German sauna. However – even if I realize it is part of the culture here, I come from a different culture and I don’t think I should show my naked body to strange people (I don’t care they they are not looking at me, I just feel naked inside and out no matter what) only because this is the culture. They should also explain the rules to non-german speakers or put a big sign at the entrance… After all I’m still ok woth this, I might have tried this again – but like 5 minutes before I was going to leave the sauna I was at (the steam sauna) – I can hear (couldn’t see) a couple having sex!!!!!!!!!! Ok, they didn’t have sex – the guy was helping out her wife with his hand (sorry, I have no idea what is the phrase in english) – and I was not mistaken because I could hear all the sounds and she was gaping so loudly that I simply left and told my boyfriend we are never coming back. So unfortunately this was my last time going to Sauna in Germany. The nudity was ok (only if I had known the rules) but all this together was too much for me. I’m glad to hear that so many people enjoy it, I guess people in my country are very private about their body, it is mean’t only for loved ones and friends!

    • Reply Cheryl Howard May 18, 2015 at 5:32 am

      Hi Eva,

      Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. Happy to hear that you enjoyed the post!

      Sorry to learn that you had such a negative experience. I think what you saw is quite unusual and not permitted in any proper sauna.

      I hope that you’ll try it again and enjoy a nicer experience another time as it’s such a healing, peaceful thing to do in germany.

      Thanks,
      Cheryl

  • Reply Mr Navaja June 23, 2015 at 9:02 am

    AT my first time I went into the Sauna dressed by mistake.
    People were staring at me and my friend.
    We then understood that we have to take off our pants.
    We went out and took off the pants and went back in to another Sauna.
    Next time’s I went in with my wife to Sauna’s in Austria and Germany.
    Really nice resorts. I like looking and naked flesh.
    No matter how ugly it is.

    • Reply Cheryl Howard June 23, 2015 at 9:13 am

      Thanks for your comment! Glad you were able to enjoy the spas and be comfortable naked. 🙂

  • Reply Jim Ross August 18, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    Taking a sauna almost daily, nude, is part of my culture, but only with men. Even visiting Sweden, the coed saunas required mummification. Austria and German were another story. One issue was having to be naked. Second issue was not sitting on the bare boards. My last experience in Munich resulted in a great conversation involving me the American, a mummified Swedish guy, and a female naturist from East of Berlin. We talked about cross cultural differences and invited each other to visit. Kind of, all boundaries seemed to dissolve fast. Naturally, no names were exchanged. The Swede was drinking a beer, which is totally kosher in Sweden. In GErmany? Not so sure. Her reaction was, “What bothered me about the Swede’s having a beer in the sauna was I could really use a beer about now.” She persisted in encouraging me to visit the lakes east of Berlin, where she lives. I’ve written about all of this but so far haven’t gotten it published. Unfortunately, some American editors want to sexualize the story, totally not getting it. In January, I plan to visit Iceland and Berlin, and explore cross-cultural differences in culture, including sauna culture. I gather you have lots to say about Berlin.

    • Reply Cheryl Howard August 19, 2015 at 6:40 am

      Hey Jim,

      Thanks for your comment. You sure have had some interesting experiences!

      Enjoy Berlin and Iceland. 🙂

      Cheryl

  • Reply Michael Trottier August 22, 2015 at 11:09 am

    Good read Cheryl!
    I just stumbled on your article today.
    I just recently moved to Brussels (May 15) from Ottawa.
    I have been a nudist since I am 13 back in Quebec. Now 29 I was looking for place to go in around Belgium.

    I came across your article when I googled if it was legal to be naked on my balcony in Belgium haha
    Still haven’t found my answer yet, but I am tanning my bum anyway!
    I better not hear anyone complain ! Haha

    • Reply Cheryl Howard August 24, 2015 at 6:20 am

      Congrats on your move to Europe! Hope you’re enjoying your new life abroad. Wow, you certainly started out your “nudist career” early. LOL! Hope you don’t have the police come knocking at your door anytime soon. 😉

  • Reply Sara October 7, 2015 at 8:13 am

    Dear Cheryl .. you asked “How about you? Would you, could you get publicly naked in Germany or elsewhere? Have you been naked and how did it feel that very first time?”

    I’ve of course been briefly nude in female locker rooms on many swimming pool visits, but been too freaked to use group showers and encountered uncomfortable adrenalin moments dropping my panties even when carefully avoiding facing anyone. This annoys me as a seemingly illogical (even antisocial) weakness, especially as I feel fine in a bikini, as a similar aged woman to you.

    So yes, I would like to go to a nude sauna (even mixed), and have come close a couple of times, but shied away. It’s therefore empowering for me to read that the fear factor is something you initially felt, and that it can be overcome as you have done, and that you now feel great freedom & reward for your bravery.

    I wish I had you to go with me to guide me through it. Then again, what’s your feeling about going with a friend rather than just going in with all strangers? I know you had a girlfriend with you where neither of you had been naked with each other before, but do you think that would have made your first encounter harder or easier? How did you help each other with that .. from your account it seems you took it head on by openly eyeing up & commenting on each other?

    I’m also glad that you admit you looked quite actively at men’s junk, as I’d heard that to be a no-no, yet I’d been convinced I wouldn’t be able to help myself & could get into trouble for that.

    Fact is that although I feel fine in a bikini, I do feel some hang-up about even girlfriends seeing my privates, let alone talking about each others as you seem to have done. Did you have any hang-ups on body parts, or is that an advantage you would have had over me?

    Keen to hear more on your empowerment journey & what it feels like to you now.

    Many thanks,
    Sara

    • Reply Keith A October 8, 2015 at 6:24 am

      Hi Sara,
      I am a naturist/nudist of many years and in my once only (so far!) solo experience of the German sauna in Munich, i would say that all your fears are unfounded. Besides it being a bit of a no-no to talk much in a German sauna, because people just go to relax, you will find that nobody will be staring at you, or even looking, and after a couple of minutes you will begin to relax and enjoy the wonderful liberating feeling of being naked in the heat of the sauna with other like-minded folk…
      Enjoy when you can…
      Keith

    • Reply Cheryl Howard October 10, 2015 at 10:45 am

      Hi Sarah,

      Thanks for sharing your experience. To be honest, I’ve only ever gone to the sauna with a gal pal or a boyfriend and never alone. When I’ve gone with other girls, everyone is usually shy at first but soon gets over it. We just laugh off our silliness!

      You’re not supposed to openly stare at anyone but I glanced at the men from time to time. I was a little too obvious in the beginning, perhaps due to the novelty but soon got over that as well.

      I didn’t have any hangups about my body, really. You see so many people of different shapes and sizes, not to mention ages, that you soon feel comfortable.

      Hope this helps somehow?!

      Cheryl

  • Reply Sara (& John) December 2, 2015 at 7:08 am

    I hope you don’t mind an update Cheryl 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

    • Reply Cheryl Howard December 2, 2015 at 11:08 am

      Hey Sara – Thanks for the update. So cool that you were both able to partake in the naked spa experience and have fun doing so! All the best in your future naked adventures. 🙂

  • Reply The Ultimate Guide to German Etiquette: Everything You Need to Know to Avoid Being the Weird Foreigner | FluentU German May 25, 2016 at 10:05 am

    […] may have also heard anecdotes about a specific area where the rule is no clothing: the sauna. Generally, they’re […]

  • Reply michael mills July 25, 2016 at 11:26 am

    After reading through all the comments, I have noted a common theme running through many of the those made by men, namely their alleged fear of having an unwanted erection when naked in mixed company. Now Cheryl, I will let you in on a piece of Secret Men’s Business. What we men are afraid of is not that we might have an erection when naked in mixed company; what we are really afraid of is NOT having an erection. After all, if the sight of a naked female were enough to induce an automatic erection, we would not need Viagra, would we.

    • Reply Cheryl Howard July 25, 2016 at 11:40 am

      Hello Michael –

      Ha ha, maybe it’s true.

      To be honest, I think that everyone should take a step back and enjoy the healing and relaxing experience of being at a sauna. The German spa is not meant to be sexual at all and everyone confuses this *way* too much, which is quite worrying.

      Thanks for reading!

      Cheryl

  • Reply Keith July 25, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    I agree Cheryl…. just relax and enjoy the sauna for what it is, never mind worrying about all the other stuff !

  • Reply Keith July 25, 2016 at 1:15 pm

    ps….. and if the likes of Mr. Mills went around sporting an erection in a German Spa, he would soon be asked to leave !

  • Reply Mark October 3, 2016 at 11:36 am

    Being naked in a Spa is far from a German thing. In most European countries this is the norm e.g. I’m Dutch and can’t think of entering a sauna clothed. In The Netherlands the common croud at spas in between 16 and 50. Far from unatractive, yet people don’t stare,

    Opening a European style spa in the US is probably the worst idea ever as it would attract the wrong crowd and expectations are set incorrectly.

    • Reply Cheryl Howard October 4, 2016 at 10:14 am

      Hey Mark –

      Yep, I know. I never said that nude saunas were limited to Germany. This article is simply a *personal* story of mine of what it felt like as a North American to try out the German sauna for the first time.

      Opening a European style spa in the US might actually do Americans some good and encourage them to relax a bit when it comes to nudity, but it would take a long time to change this mindset unfortunately. So yeah, at the moment, not a good idea.

      Thanks for reading!

      Cheryl

  • Reply Mark October 3, 2016 at 11:41 am

    Being European I always wonder why it’s okay to carry a gun, yet you really wierd if you go to a spa in the nude. Likewise… really strange to consider anything nude to be sexual….

    Oh well.

    • Reply Cheryl Howard October 4, 2016 at 11:21 am

      Well, I’m from Canada so we are on the same page as Europe, and not that of the US when it comes to guns. But unfortunately, we are not there yet when it comes to the nude sauna. I’m happy to have had my experience here in Germany though, as I’ve come to be so much more relaxed.

  • Reply Rick April 20, 2017 at 8:22 am

    Congratulations that you mastered your German nudism experience.
    You are not the only one to complain about willie waving in public spas. Most Germans dislike this, too. This nasty habit is shown in certain spas that are well known across the country and are therefore avoided by most Germans also. One place particularly notorious for this behaviour is Therme Erding that was recommended in an earlier post.

    Your funny story brings to mind an episode that happened many years ago. We went on a business trip to New Orleans and our management assistant accompanied us. It was her first trip to to the US of A and little was she aware of what awaited her. She was an extremely attractive 28-year-old girl and was happy that she could use the hotel’s spa at no extra expenditure. When we met in the evening she told me that she went into the sauna room as she would have done at home (which means completely naked, of course) and everybody in the room shrieked with horror and was wearing a swimsuit. She found that quite weird…

    • Reply Cheryl Howard April 20, 2017 at 9:29 pm

      Hey Rick,

      Thank you for reading and taking the time to leave a comment. I’ve heard incidents of Germans getting naked elsewhere in the world and causing quite a stir! Pretty funny. 🙂

      Cheryl

  • Reply Rick April 20, 2017 at 9:00 am

    Being nude in public is a characteristic thing for northern Europe.
    These countries are predominantly Protestant and therefore have a more relaxed relation to sexuality and the human body. The more Catholic countries in the south have just the same crooked morale as North America.
    Particularly in the former GDR, where public nudity was officially encouraged and one of the few pastimes you could enjoy because it didn’t cost anything and needed no particular tools or resources. Inhabitants from the former GDR also statistically had more sex than their western counterparts because the TV program was so bad and there were not so many other opportunities to spend your free time. In the end, maybe making the TV program worse would help us all to become more happy 

    Once I was asked by a US colleague how we deal with all those teenage pregnancies when we are allowed to drink beer from the age of sixteen. This sounded absolutely weird to me, as the sequence of drinking and getting drunk, being drunk and having sex, and having sex and becoming pregnant is not nearly as logical over here as it seems to be in the US. That’s why we do not need events lilke spring break to make contact with the opposite sex.

    • Reply Cheryl Howard April 23, 2017 at 9:10 am

      Hey Rick – Yep, there sure are some cultural differences between the two places. Now, if only our North American counterparts would relax a little bit more!

      – Cheryl

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