Sauna Etiquette in Frankfurt and in Germany

 no photo for this post :-))
I see Sauna questions asked on various travel forums, and our "Frankfurt on Foot" guests ask about Saunas too, because for many visitors to Germany, the whole Sauna culture can be a bit daunting or at the least, very foreign. Along with the Sauna, there may be steam rooms, whirlpools, massage available at an extra charge, or other spa treatments. So that you can know what to expect or at least make an educated guess as to whether you might enjoy experiencing a Sauna in Frankfurt or in other cities in Germany, here are the important things to know. (you may see ads on taxis for FKK or Saunas, but be aware that these are for erotic purposes and not what I am writing about in this post)

1. Germans take their Sauna seriously. There will be lists of rules, so make sure you follow them. (it is basically frowned upon to take kids to the sauna as most people use this as a restful time and do not really want kids around, but it will not be forbidden as long as they are with a parent, are quiet, behave and are comfortable seeing naked adults)
2. Many indoor pools will have Sauna areas available at an extra charge, usually by the hour or with a day pass. They will sometimes have separate saunas for men and women, or certain times of the day where this is the rule. Check before you go to see if this is the case during the times you will be there, especially if this is something you prefer. Every city with BAD in its name will also have Thermal Baths to visit that will include saunas. Many are very elegant and beautiful. (Bad Homburg, Bad Nauheim, Wiesbaden)
3. Be aware that once you enter most sauna areas, lots of nudity will be on display. People tend to just disrobe without any concern. Unless you are there on a divided sex day, even the showers may be mixed.
4. After you disrobe, grab a towel and a robe, put on your flip-flops or shower shoes and you are on your way for your sauna experience. You can wear your robe or wrap your towel around you if you like. Do not wear a bathing suit.
5. Do go shower before entering the Sauna, this is pretty much a requirement.
6. It is best to avoid eating garlic or curries the day of or the day before going to the Sauna. This can really stink up the place as you sweat it out of your pores and you will be very unpopular.
7. Most Sauna areas will have several different sorts of Saunas, perhaps with different aromas, or with lights that change color while you sit there (it's an esoteric thing) and most often, with what is called an "aufguss" (more on that in a bit)
8. Hang up your robe, bring your towel, remove your footware, and enter the Sauna quickly. People hate it if you let out too much heat! Give a greeting in a general sort of fashion, a simple "guten tag" is enough. Pick out your place, spread your towel and sit down on it, or if you prefer and the Sauna is not full, you can lay down too. It is going to be a lot hotter up at the top. It is ok to switch positions, if you find it is too hot for you. Most people will sit inside for about 15-20 min. which is long enough to be covered in sweat. When you leave, again, do so quickly.
9. Go rinse off in the shower and then go jump into the "cold pool". This is the refreshing part, and very important to get the full health benefits of a Sauna.
10. Most people put on their robes now and rest for a bit before repeating the process. Good time to drink some water. Go easy on the alcohol on Sauna days! There are usually lounge chairs to lay on.
11. THE AUFGUSS - There should be a schedule for this for whatever Sauna room this will be happening in and what aroma will be used. Get there a few minutes early and take your place. If you have never done this before, you will not want to be near the top row, as it will get REALLY hot. An employee of the Sauna will come in, give a greeting, then pour scented water on the hot stones. This naturally produces a lot of steam and they will then swirl a towel around their head to circulate this steam and then flap it around in the different directions. This will cause everyone to immediately break out in sweat! Everyone then applauds to show their appreciation for a job well done and he/she leaves. One needs to sit there for awhile, since if you get up and leave now, all the good steam goes out the door. This almost becomes a contest, as no one wants to be first. It is better not to go in big groups out the door if you can help it. Then go shower and do the cold dip thing. (the first time I saw this whole procedure, I was in total awe. Could not believe people applauded for being made to sweat! and the whole swirling towel thing was amazing)

OK, that's it. Do try a Sauna while you are here at one of the indoor pools or Therme. Don't be afraid to be nude/FKK , originally meaning Frei Korper Kultur, as it is called in Germany, since it is considered rude to stare and after a little while, you will be surprised how quickly you become comfortable with it. If you have concerns about how you look or that you are too old, don't be. You will be pleasantly surprised at the huge mix of ages and body weights and styles. Just imagine, when you get back home, you will have a wonderful adventure story to tell, all about how brave you were in Deutschland!

Comments

Anonymous said…
Thank you. Much helpful :)
Anonymous said…
Thank you also! From an anxious American tourist
Anonymous said…
Very helpful ... I'll be in Berlin next week and will definitely try it.
Lucy Eury said…
It’s always best to follow local rules and customs when engaging in public locations. But for the most part (except for the unisex saunas, I guess), these rules are to be followed anywhere when you go to public saunas. Some may have variations, but it all boils down to the same thing: don’t let the heat out, don’t be a prude, and don’t pass out in the sauna. Haha!
bar kerark said…
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