After my first visit to a German spa and sauna, I was pretty convinced that it would also be my last. I was woefully underprepared for what to expect, there were a bunch of rules and everyone was, like, naked naked. However, my first sauna experience was not my last, and now (five years later) I totally understand the allure. I think the thing that helped me relax the most is knowing what to bring (and why) to ensure I can actually enjoy a German sauna. If you’re considering trying the sauna out, or had a terrible first experience, check out my list of what to bring (plus a couple things to leave behind)!
As a general rule, you will need two large towels. One to lay underneath you in the sauna, and one for drying off after the mandatory showers. Just remember, skin isn’t supposed to touch the wood in the sauna. If you’re like me, you may even want an ADDITIONAL towel to wrap your hair up in while lounging. If you are staying in a hotel with a sauna, they will most likely provide towels, however it is not a given! In the worst case or at public saunas, you may have to rent the towels. Just double check before going if you’re not sure about bringing your own.
2. A Robe
The actual saunas are clothing-free, and that means not even a bathing suit! This was definitely the biggest hurdle for me. The no bathing suit rule exists for a few reasons; one they trap bacteria and two they hinder your ability to sweat. That being said, you can wear a robe going from room to room or in the relaxation areas. In hotels, this is a similar situation to the towels. Always double check if they are provided. Last January I made the assumption that our hotel would have robes for us, but I was so wrong. I was completely unable to relax in my towel and wished I’d thought to pack one!
3. Shower Shoes
DEFINITELY NOT OPTIONAL!! Not wearing rubber sandals around the spa will have you feeling more naked than actually being naked does. That being said, you must leave your shoes at the door the the sauna room. If you’re feeling extra German, go for the Adidas version.
4. Reading Material
Bring a book or magazine to read in between rounds in the sauna. If you bring an electronic device, makes sure it is on silent and all of the clicking sounds are turned off. Again, double check before you go. Some spas may ban cell phones while others are okay with it. The cozy nooks at Hotel Adler’s spa even had power outlets!
5. A Water Bottle
Staying hydrated is suuuuuuper important when you go to the sauna. Cold water is generally available in the spa/sauna area, but it almost always comes in very small cups. Bring a large, unbreakable water bottle to keep your refill trips down.
I don’t know about you, but I HATE touching paper with dry hands. To combat this at the sauna, I always throw a tube of hand lotion into my bag. Additionally, I like to have lip balm and a hair brush with me. If you are visiting a public sauna, think of it as going to a public pool and pack your shampoo and conditioner as well for after.
7. A Tote Bag
Now that you’ve gathered all of the things you’ll need at the sauna, you need some where to put it all! Again, hotels with spas frequently provide bags in their rooms, but don’t count on it! I like a nice tote, but if you feel uncomfortable leaving an open bag out in public grab something with a zipper.
Now that you know what to bring, here are a few things to skip!
Seriously, leave your jewelry behind! Even the smallest necklace will become unbearably hot in the sauna. I learned this the hard way, and had to leave my things in my bag. While I don’t think anyone would go through your things, you never know. The exception here is sunglasses. Many spas have an outside portion or a sunroom, and you may want them for reading.
Go fresh faced to the sauna. If you somehow manage to avoid sweating your makeup off in the sauna, you’ll just smear it around in the shower after.
If you go with a partner or group to the spa, don’t bring a loud conversation with you! The quiet atmosphere of the spa or sauna shouldn’t be disturbed. Of course you can speak if you need to, but whisper and try to disturb your neighbors!
So there you have it! That’s what to bring to a German sauna. I hope reading this helps you to relax when you go. If you still have questions, let me know below!
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