Berlin, Europe, Expat Living, Germany

Ask Cheryl: Do Germans Swim Naked?

June 8, 2015
Strandbad Grunau Berlin Lake

Ask Cheryl: Do Germans Swim Naked?

This is the first post, in what may or may not be an ongoing series, called “Ask Cheryl.” When readers ask questions, I might just answer them. The more absurd the question, the more likely I’ll be to respond!

Do Germans Swim Naked?

Do Germans Swim Naked?

The answer to this question, is a big, resounding yes! Some Germans (not all), do indeed and quite comfortably, swim naked.

Germans of all ages, whether they’re young or old, toss aside their clothes and swim in the nude. Without a stitch of clothing on, in their “birthday suits,” without a care in the world.

This rather “thought provoking” question was recently posed by a reader, who must have read my blog post, An Expat’s Account Of Getting Naked At A German Spa.

Nudity, a True Story

It’s finally summer in Berlin. The stifling temperatures and the chance to finally experience life outside of the dark rooms of the Berghain this past weekend, drove hordes of Berliners lakeside.

I, myself, headed to Strandbad Grünau, where I plucked myself down on my giant beach towel to grab what little bit of sun my pasty white skin could handle before I burned to a brilliant, lobster-red crisp.

I’d almost forgotten the German’s proclivity to get naked in public. As I got off the tram and walked toward the lake, I spied some naked people and said, “Oh! Yeah, that again.”

It was not exactly my first time around nudity. I’ve been to the sauna in Germany before. I’ve reluctantly come across the annual naked bike ride in Toronto. I’ve attended gay pride in San Francisco. I’ve been to Kit Kat Club a few times. The shock has looooong since worn off.

Or so I thought! It seems that I’ve been away from public nudity for all too long, and my prudish, Canadian upbringing had taken over once more.

I’ll be honest, I saw things that I’ll never be able to “unsee.” I was momentarily traumatized …

There was a good-looking, young German girl. She spent hours tanning, turning over from time to time, revealing her very hairy nipples.

Then there were four old men in their 50s, just “hanging out” (pun intended), with their hands on their hips, pelvises jutted forward as they casually chatted about life with one another. One of them sported only a utility belt with four knives. Yes, four knives! Maybe he belongs to a historic and exclusive sword fighting society like this guy?

There was another man in a wheelchair, sitting back, quietly reading the newspaper. I imagine that he was reading intellectual articles, perhaps about the complexities of the EU economy, as he sat there completely and totally naked.

Nudity, Is It cool?

Jokes aside, it was actually pretty cool to be there among all of the naked people.

While I may have kept my clothes on (as about 75 percent of the other people on the beach did), I admire the German culture and their acceptance of the human body, no matter what the form. I see it as just another unique aspect of my expat life in Berlin!

Should You Swim Naked in Germany?

Before you tear off all your clothes and get ready to jump into a pool or lake, check out your surroundings. Are other people naked? If yes, then it’s reasonable to assume that it’s acceptable for you to go naked too.

You should double check whether or not the body of water you’re about to dive into is an “official” swimming spot — or you may be unlucky like this naked swimmer.

The best place to get naked in Berlin?

Tip: As I’m such a fan of being naked in Germany, I frequently shed my clothes and enjoy the textile free policy at Vabali Spa in Berlin, a Balinese inspired spa with indoor and outdoor pools, several saunas, a gym, onsite restaurant, and more.

So, yes. To answer your question, Germans do swim naked! I saw it for myself and can tell you, it’s absolutely true.

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11 Comments

  • Reply Dinu June 9, 2015 at 4:04 AM

    Hi Cheryl, I wish to visit Europe anytime around this August or September for 7 to 10 days. I visit Prague and Amsterdam last year. My main interests are sight seeing- I want to see city streets and the Alps. I can’t decide my places of visit this year. Should I combine Berlin with Salzburg….should I take Euro Rail…I don’t know. There is a lot of information on the internet that makes me think a lot.

    I hope you can help me plan and decide. My main interests are city sight-seeing, knowing about the local culture, Sauna and the Alps.

    I would really appreciate it if you can help me decide so that can make the best of my Euro Trip.

    • Reply Cheryl Howard June 9, 2015 at 8:12 AM

      Hi Dinu – Thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment. 🙂

      It’s really hard for me to give you advice about where to go for your “Euro Trip” as it’s such a personal decision. I honestly think you should just choose the destination(s) that you want to see the most and take it from there.

      I can tell you this; the train is really the most lovely way to travel. You’ll get beautiful views from your window and best of all, it’s environmentally friendly!

      If you like cities, Berlin is *always* as good option as there’s so much to see and do. If you do decide to come to Berlin, let me know and I can give you more specific tips.

      The sauna culture is best enjoyed in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Also, any of the Scandinavian countries as well.

      Enjoy your time in Europe!

      Cheryl

      • Reply Dinu Mahbubani June 10, 2015 at 12:03 AM

        Hey Cheryl,

        I will surely include Berlin to my itinerary. Would love to receive some tips from you.

        Thanks
        Dinu

  • Reply Dinu June 12, 2015 at 6:52 PM

    can you recommend any sauna places in Berlin?

    • Reply Cheryl Howard June 15, 2015 at 8:18 AM

      Hi Dinu – I recommend a couple of places. The first is Badeschiff (http://www.arena.berlin/portfolio/badeschiff/) and the second is Liquidrom (http://www.liquidrom-berlin.de/en/).

      Enjoy and let me know if you want other info about Berlin.

      Cheryl

      • Reply Andy July 27, 2015 at 4:24 PM

        Being a native Berliner myself I can say without any doubt that the Vabali Spa near Hauptbahnhof is my favorite place for a relaxing day at the sauna.

        The Sauna in the Standbad Neukölln also is very nice (but much, much smaller).

        • Reply Cheryl Howard July 27, 2015 at 4:59 PM

          Andy, that’s a great suggestion! I was at Vabali on Saturday afternoon and what a great spa. Can’t wait to go back again.

  • Reply another Michael August 19, 2015 at 7:07 PM

    Hm 🙂 Read your two entries on nakedness in Europe and enjoyed them. Wondered how it must be to live in a culture/a country where people don’t have any areas where they can walk around naked with others. Must be very, very strange.
    I have the impression that it makes people feel more at home with themselves, with their bodies, if they have a chance to take that experience.
    And to see that nakedness does not equal sexuality. To me it even seems the other way round: That permanent clothedness kind of augments the sexual in and around the naked body. There’s also a theoretician – Michel Foucault – writing about that effect (it’s in “the history of sexuality, volume 1”). Tell that to the puritans 🙂 …

    • Reply Cheryl Howard August 20, 2015 at 6:33 AM

      Hey “Another Michael”. Yes, at first it’s a very strange experience for someone like me who comes from a country where this is not a normal practice and also from a conservative, religious family.

      You also make some interesting points. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  • Reply orrin November 25, 2016 at 11:42 AM

    (http://www.arena.berlin/portfolio/badeschiff/) You recommended this place in ur blog. Is this a place u can go swimming in the nude?

    • Reply Cheryl Howard November 25, 2016 at 11:56 AM

      Hey Orrin –

      No, unfortunately you need to keep your bathing suit on in this swimming venue.

      Cheers!

      Cheryl

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