In Germany, being nude is seen as a requirement for good health, whether it be in the sauna or a textilfrei (textile-free) beach. The FKK (Freikörperkultur or "free body culture") movement appeared in tandem with the popularity of natural medicine in the 19th century and is said to cure common ailments from rheumatism to bronchitis.
Nude-friendly spots are usually marked with FKK or textilfrei, but people may bare it all everywhere from lakes in the forest to the shores of the North Sea. Here are the 10 best nude beaches in Germany.
The island of Sylt is known as the Königin der Nordsee (Queen of the North Sea). Located at the northernmost tip of Germany, it's famous for a healthy climate, spectacular dune landscape, and pristine beaches.
The first official nude beach in Germany, Buhne 16, was established in Sylt in 1920. Nearly a century later, it still draws nature-lovers and nudists. There are miles of fine sand beaches leading into rolling dunes and clear water. Far from overcrowded, at times there are more seals on the beach than people.
If it is too chilly for the beach, you can still get naked at the saunas right by the water.
How to get to Sylt: The nearest international airport and major city is Hamburg. There are several direct trains from Hamburg as well as a car-ferry between the Danish port of Havneby and List, a town on the northern tip of Sylt. Alternatively, cars and buses can be loaded onto the train to cross at Hindenburgdamm.
Insel Rügen is Germany’s biggest and most popular island. Located in the north on the Baltic Sea, it has attracted visitors throughout the centuries from Otto von Bismarck to Albert Einstein.
The island features dramatic kreidefelsen (white chalk cliffs) and long and sandy beaches. Many of the island's beaches are designated textilfrei. Seaside resorts also dot the coastline such as Sassnitz, Sellin with its Seebrücke (pier), and Binz. Even if the area isn't a designated nudist zone, few people will bat an eye if you take it all off.
How to get to Rügen: The island is easily reachable by way of Berlin or any other major German city. From the capital, it is under four hours by train, five hours by bus, or three hours when you drive yourself via the A11 and A20.
This beach is located near Rostock on the Baltic sea. The popular beach offers the sparkling sands, clear waters, and a promenade desirable in all of Germany's best beaches. Founded as a fishing village in the 1200s, it is now one of the world's busiest cruise ports.
Warnemünde's iconic lighthouse is from 1898 and offers impressive views of the water in the summer. The Teepott (teapot) is the other easily identifiable structure on the beach with its dramatically curved roof. It is a prime example of East German architecture and the perfect place to grab a bite to eat when heading to the beach.
The naturist area is located past the signs for "Haus Undine." About 150 meters wide, it is the broadest beaches on the Baltic and a busy spot for the FKK crowd.
How to get to Warnemünde: The nearest international airport and major city is Berlin. Many people arrive via the port. Public buses run from the ferry terminal (Seehafen Fahre) to Rostock. Trains from Berlin (and the rest of Germany) connect through Rostock. Trains from Berlin take almost three hours and driving takes two and a half hours.
This small North Frisian island off of Sylt is sparsely inhabited by humans, but it is rich in birds, grey seal, and harbor porpoise. The Amrum lighthouse is a landmark of the island.
Its real highlight is miles of beachfront. Dunes roll along parallel to the water with thick clumps of vegetation poking through the sand. Wadden Sea National Parks is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that expands from Germany into Denmark and the Netherlands.
The beach of Kniepsand is one of the largest sandbars in Europe. There is approximately 10 square km² of soft sand with a nudist area. There is also a campsite for naturists who want to sleep right on the beach.
How to get to Amrum: The island is located north of Hamburg on the A7, then west from Flensburg. Trains can take visitors from any major city to Dagebüll. It's also reachable by ferry from Dagebüll.
In the Hamburg district of Volksdorf, you'll find a natural lake that is entirely dedicated to naturists. Built in the 1930s, it is shaded by big trees over crystal clear waters.
The bathing season runs from the end of May to August. There are full facilities including dressing rooms, a playground, a restaurant, and sports grounds like table tennis and a basketball court. It is the perfect place to go au natural with the whole family.
How to get to Hamburg Sommerbad Volksdorf: It is easily accessible from the city of Hamburg via public transport by U-Bahn Buchenkamp and Bus 375. Get off at Moorredder.
The small island of Borkum is located in the North Sea in Lower Saxony. It was formed in 1863 by the merging of two previously separate islands. While that divide is gone, the border still registers as the island is split into east and west.
There are three snow-white beaches, one of which is completely nude. The naturalist beach is just outside of town next to the Ostdünen nature reserve. This long sandy beach has rolling dunes, beach volleyball courts, dog runs, playgrounds, and saunas.
How to get to Borkum: Ferries run from Emden, Germany as well as Eemshaven, the Netherlands. Cars are allowed in the off-season, but during the summer most of the town is car-free. The Borkumer Kleinbahn is the local train that offers access straight from the ferry to the beach (ferry tickets also act as a train pass).
West of the island of Rügen is one of Germany's smallest islands at just 10.5 miles. Large parts of Hiddensee are designated nature conservation areas and cars are banned. An artist haven, bikes and horse-drawn carriages are the primary mode of transportation.
The west coast is an endless stretch of long sandy beach, bordered by dunes. While there is no designated nude zone, nudity is acceptable everywhere except in immediate proximity to the villages.
How to get to Hiddensee: To get here from Berlin requires taking a train to the coastal town of Stralsund and then a ferry ride from there.
The Mecklenburg Lake District in Eastern Germany is famous for its crystal clear lakes bordered by green forests. There are various designated nude sections at most lakeside swimming locations, but most people feel free to swim bare everywhere.
If you want to be surrounded by like-minded folks, there are nude camping sites such as the family-friendly nudist campground at Useriner See in the middle of Müritz National Park. Here visitors can hike, boat, and swim nude.
How to get to Mecklenburg Lake District: This lake-filled area is just two hours north of Berlin. It is best to take a car to reach your destination.
You can take a swim in your birthday suit in Munich's largest lake, Feldmochinger See, known for its perfectly clear water. Feringasee, located in the north of Munich, also offers a large and secluded area reserved for naturists. You can even sun your buns on the banks of the river Isar, which runs through Munich's city center.
If you don't care about the beach part and just want to lay out, Munich's English Garden is a top attraction for tourists, and its Schonfeld Weise ("beautiful meadow") has been a nudist hot spot since the 1960s. The canal of Schwabinger Bach is another bathing spot.
How to get to Munich's nude beaches: Both lakes are accessible via Munich's public transportation (MVV): Feldmochinger See via U-Bahn, bus, and tram and Feringasee via A8 with a stop at Unterföhring. The English Garden is located within the city center.
Despite its northern location, Usedom is known as the Sonneninsel (sun island) for its 1,906 annual hours of sunshine. The island is divided between Germany and Poland and has resorts dotting its miles of beach. It has the longest beach promenade in Europe at seven miles (12 kilometers) from Bansin to Świnoujście.
Many of the buildings were constructed during the Victorian era, so romantic 19th-century mansions, gardens, and piers add an elegance to the place. The Seebrücke is the oldest preserved pier in Germany and is an impressive 920 feet (280 meters) long.
Ahlbeck Beach is the primary nude beach of Usedom. Once popular with the higher-ups of the DDR in the 1950s, it is still open to the public.
How to get to Usedom: Usedom is well connected to the rest of Germany via the Usedomer Bäderbahn. Bridges connect the island via Züstrin (B 110) and in Wolgast (B111). It is about four hours by train from Berlin.