Why are German people naked in the sauna?

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If you have been to Germany, you know what I mean. Going to the sauna means that you are going to see a lot of naked people. The most shocking thing for me at the beginning was that the sauna is mixed gender! It means that you are going to see both naked men and women in the same sauna!

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For German people, this is something completely normal. This is part of their tradition. If you are new to Germany, you should keep an eye on the door of the sauna for any notice. It is often written that you are not allowed to wear your swimsuit in the sauna. That is the reason you see people being naked in the sauna.

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But why are you not allowed to wear a swimsuit in the sauna?

This was something new to me. In my hometown Hong Kong, we always wear our swimsuit in the sauna (the sauna is normally next to the swimming area). In Germany, due to hygiene reasons, you should not wear a swimsuit in the sauna. Besides, you should always put your towel underneath when you sit on the wood in the sauna.

There are several reasons for that:

  • If you are not putting a towel underneath, your sweat is going directly onto the wood. This doesn’t sound so hygienic if the next person is sitting on the same wood.
  • If you have your swimsuit on, your swimsuit is probably wet (from swimming or whatsoever). This is going to make everywhere wet in the sauna, together with your sweat.
  • If the wood in the sauna get wets (from your sweat or your swimsuit), it is not good for the wood as it can go bad quicker (mold can grow on it)

Based on the above, you are not allowed to wear a swimsuit in the sauna or sit directly on the wood. The German people probably just get used to this practice and are completely naked in the sauna. Note that you are allowed to take an extra towel to wrap yourself up in the sauna, in case you do not want your naked body part to be visible. As long as you are not wearing your swimsuit and have a towel under you, everything is fine.

Read also: Sitzpinkler – Do German Men Sit Down to Pee?

How about meeting a hot German guy or woman in the naked sauna?

If this is your hope to see some hot naked body there in the sauna, you may be disappointed. From what I heard from the locals, the young German generation is not as open as the older one. Young people (20ish or 30ish) tend to be more “shy” on this and don’t feel as comfortable to be completely naked in the sauna. They will either not go to the sauna or they will wrap themselves in a towel. With that said, most completely naked people you meet in the sauna may not be as attractive as you may think.

By the way, the naked thing is not only limited to the sauna. In the summer, if you go to a lake, you will easily see someone completely naked there, enjoying the sun. The German people tend to be more tolerated with being naked. If someone does this in Hong Kong, they would have been arrested immediately.

From my nine years of experience in German naked sauna, I don’t recall seeing any young people being completely naked there. I am sure there will be young people being naked as well, I just haven’t had the chance to meet them yet. Maybe I have not been to the sauna often enough.

If you are looking for a date with German, check out these posts:

Learning to be more open minded

Until now, when I go to the sauna, I am still very “shy” and try not to have eye contact with anyone there. Actually, it won’t matter so much if they are all strangers to me. The weird thing would be if you meet someone you know in the sauna. For sure you won’t want to see your friends or even colleagues being completely naked! Maybe we should learn from the German people and be more open minded!

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Originally from Hong Kong, Sindy spent 13 years in Germany before moving to the US. Her blog is your ultimate resource for navigating Germany, offering pro tips on bureaucracy, job hunting, education, culture, family life, and more.

With a "been there, done that" attitude, Sindy, a certified public accountant, draws on her extensive finance and accounting background to provide professional insights with a friendly touch.

Having navigated German life with her German husband and raising two kids there, Sindy brings a personal touch to her advice. Let this blog help fellow expats like you navigate the ins and outs of life in Germany!

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12 Replies to “Why are German people naked in the sauna?”

  1. Hello, I am from Italy so I don’t have much experience, if none at all, about saunas and I was looking around for some information after finding out people do it mixed and naked in north Italy too.

    If I may ask: let’s say a men and his wife, together with their children (boys and girls) are in a hotel with a mixed-naked sauna, would that family go in that sauna where there may be other naked strangers? Is this something that can happen?

    I know in Finland it’s ok being in mixed-naked sauna with family and very close friends, but other than that in the public places they have separated saunas for the 2 sexes. For me this is totally ok.
    But I can’t really feel comfortable about the mixed-naked and public places.

    I myself think it’s healthy being naked with your wife and children, especially when the kids are little (and also when they grow if they decide it’s ok for them) but I would not like having my wife or kids looked at in some sexual way, even if the chance was 1 in a 1000 for this to happen.

    1. In Germany, even in public places, the sauna is mixed sex. It is very common in SPA or fitness center. It is hard for people like me to understand and get used to. Because in my culture, this could never happen. One thing to mention is that you are allowed to use your towel to cover yourself if you want. When I go to the sauna, I see people just being naked without a towel. But I will always use a towel to wrap myself. So, if you want to go with your family but are not sure about being completely naked, you can also use a towel.

    2. I’m also Italian, married to a German and living in Germany for over a decade, and while we have taken our kids to the public sauna with us a couple of times, they actually prefer the regular swimming pool. Saunas are really too boring for kids, and in some places kids are not allowed anyway, because they bother adults by being loud and running around, when the place is supposed to be for quiet and relaxation.

      As kids are not allowed in saunas without their parents anyway, I don’t see what the risks would be, as parents are required to keep an eye on their kids at all times.
      In any case, staring at other people is considered a break of etiquette, and nobody does it. Unless you start staring at someone, nobody will stare at you: explain this to your family before you go, and they will be fine. The worst that can happen is that one of you starts staring, and someone will reprimand you for that. Embarrassing, but not the end of the world.

      After using German saunas for years, and mixing with thousands of strangers of all ages, I cannot imagine doing it any other way. The good thing is precisely that these are all strangers: you have never seen them before, and are unlikely to ever see them again. It is totally anonymous. It would feel uncomfortable if these were work colleagues or close friends, because in a sauna there are no hierarchies.

  2. Nude ? – well I wnat to enjoxy the dry heat on my completesurface of somewhat like two square yards . And After the ehat yo have to ccooloff : bets of it – thhe cold pond, and then let the brisk outside air blow you dry ! – – yo also have to sit on your little towel – because of the heat the wooden benches surface takes – and gives .
    And the jealousy aigainst the non – naked : Well, “social nudity” was a matter the people had fought for, until around 1980 the “criminal Law” was changed. They do not want to see this privilege slip away again.
    since the mid – sixties once the week together with my wife we are in the sauna. And, for instance, being professionll off at some
    seminary hotel , well the program ends with noon. OK, i can stay until evening and got tothe suna. “Oh, you also are still here ?” ” y respect, Frau Professor, I apologize fort not at first having recognized you up there !” – In the meanwhile also two assistants of her institute, mid – twenty girls., also appered – –

  3. The funny thing is that we are all born naked. Then someone came along (societey was created) and decided that one’s image and especially status can be changed only by the things he wears. Our faces are different, and so are our genitals. Maybe we are overthinking this and should just go to the sauna and relax?

  4. Hey, the same applies to the shower areas in gyms – although they are not gender mixed but still – you shower naked! I’m German and I get really upset when I see Americans hopping in the whirlpool at my Gym wearing a swimsuit. It’s a no-go!!! If you are too ashamed to get naked you have to stay away, sorry. That’s just the way it is. By wearing swimsuits you make everybody feel awkward. If you can’t deal with it, stay out. It’s that simple.

    1. You are right about the shower areas in gyms. Not just everybody is naked, there is also no private space. Everyone goes into a common area naked! No doors or separation wall/cell from one another. It was awkward for me at the beginning. But when I go there every day, I get used to it 🙂

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