The Rhineland Feature


German Sauna Ettiquette

Visiting one of Germany’s fabulous saunas and bathhouses can be the perfect way to unwind from a busy travel itinerary, and it generally costs no more than a decent meal (between 10 and 20 euros). But be aware: These day spas are enjoyed in the buff, but as you might expect, Germany has many rules when it comes to the bathhouses. Although bathing suits are required at German swimming pools, you can expect a stern talking to for wearing one in a sauna or steam room that's classified as textilfrei (textile-free, meaning no clothing allowed). Hygiene is also a big concern: in steam rooms, find the hose to rinse off your seat before sitting down. In a dry sauna, bring a large towel and make sure to place it underneath you, especially under your feet, to avoid sweat getting on the wood. Those who like it really hot should check for an Aufguss schedule in front of dry saunas. The event, which literally means "on-pouring," gets visitors packed elbow to elbow for a good sweat as the Saunameister pours scented water over the sauna's coals. He or she might also distribute melted honey to rub into your skin, or even give you some sort of healthy snack at the end. After each time in the sauna, Germans take a cold shower to cool down. Note that saunas are generally mixed-sex, except on special women’s days.

Updated: 2014-03-11

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