Germany is known for its relaxed attitude towards nudity (especially in the east). Most German saunas are nude and co-ed, topless sunbathing at parks and swimming pools is pretty common, and you will find many designated nude beaches where you can sun your buns.
Even on television it is common to run into much more nudity than in more socially conservative places like the USA. No place is safe for the prudish eye so just relax and acquaint yourself with the standards of nudism in Germany. Who knows? Maybe you will even feel comfortable enough to participate.
Naturism in Germany
The purpose of nudism (or naturism) in Germany is non-erotic and non-sexual. Any sexual activity on a nude beach is illegal and nude sites in Germany are actually quite family-friendly. German nudism aims to promote a free and healthy lifestyle close to nature with the benefits of a positive body image.
The practice of nudism that originated in Germany at the end of the 19th century and has remained popular. Being nude was seen as an essential element of good health and was thought to cure tuberculosis and rheumatism.
Germany's first first nude beach was established on the island of Sylt in 1920. In the 1930s, the Berlin School of Nudism, was founded to establish regimented nude exercise.
You will find more nudist areas in the east of Germany as nudism was common when it was officially East Germany. It was a kind of low-level resistance to the conformity of the German Democratic Republic. Taking off your clothes was an expression of freedom and personal choice.
What to Expect When Going Nude in Germany
If you want to follow the traveler's golden rule, “When in Germany, do as the Germans do” and visit a clothes-free beach, referred to as textilfrei (textile free) or FKK (Freikoerperkultur / "free body culture").
Nude beaches in Germany are co-ed and you will also see many families here. From toddlers to grandmothers — everybody gets naked together. At a FKK beach, feel free to sunbathe and swim in your birthday suit, as well as enjoy other activities without the burden of your clothes, like playing volleyball and basketball, or renting a boat. Some beaches even offer saunas, and there are also nudist campgrounds where you can get back to nature like early man.
Nudism in Spas and Parks
Nudism is a recognized part of good health in Germany. In the sauna, swimsuits are strictly verboten (forbidden) as they are seen as holding bacteria. It is the German belief that a sauna must be endured for at least 15 minutes, ideally with strong infusions (essential oils) that are wafted at regular times With heat topping 100 °C (212 °F), this is no easy feat.
Although nudism is mostly practiced at German nude beaches and lakes, you can sometimes find nude areas in public parks. The most well-known example is the Englische Garten in Munich where you'll find naked sunbathers on a meadow called Schoenfeldwiese. There are also several other places it is legal to go nude in Munich, mostly along the Isar River.
In Berlin’s biggest public park, the Tiergarten, you will also find areas where sunbathing in the nude is allowed, particularly among gay men. While there is a fair bit of perusing that takes place, it is still a very public, family-friendly environment.
Rules, Etiquette, and Tips for Going Nude in Germany
- Be considerate of others and respect their privacy. That means don’t stare and don’t take photos unless you ask for permission. Better yet, just be cool and enjoy the atmosphere rather than trying to capture the image.
- No sexual activity on a nude beach, sauna or in the park. It is illegal and goes against the ideas of German nudism.
- Don't forget to dress when you leave a nudist area. Nudism is not permitted everywhere in Germany.
- In saunas it is required to bring a towel to sit on and a separate towel to dry off.
- Be brave! Everyone else is doing it and there is no reason to be embarrassed. Seriously — no one is looking unless you are the weirdo trying to wear your swimsuit in the FKK area.