Where to get naked in Germany

With average yearly temperatures staying at approximately 13 degrees Celsius (around 55 degrees Fahrenheit), Germany may be known for its more reserved nature compared to countries like France or Italy. However, it is also renowned for its peculiar practice of allowing clothing to be optional.

There are a few places here where you can see other people getting naked and feel embarrassed about not being arrested in Germany.

Nudist athletic clubs.

The tradition has persisted for decades, despite the obvious advantages of protecting and keeping warm from sleet and rain, especially in clothes. Germany has long been famous for its so-called “Freikörperkultur” or Free Body Culture (FKK).

In the late 19th century in Germany, the practice of communal public disrobing emerged. Attire trends were becoming less constricting as women unfastened their corsets and men discarded their multi-piece suits. Nakedness has long been linked to sports, as seen in Ancient Greece.

Going nude is often associated with nature in GermanyImage: picture-alliance/ZB/M. Bein

After World War II, both East and West Germany experienced a revival, with the FKK movement being suppressed by the Nazis.

In 1963, the Deutscher Verband für Freikörperkultur, the official German Nudity Association, became a part of the German Olympic Sports Confederation, establishing a stronger link between the nudist movement and sports. This movement has been connected not only to the experience of unity with the natural environment, but also to physical health and unrestricted mobility.

The German Nudity Association, currently tallying around 40,000 members, has been facing difficulties in attracting new members in recent years. They all come together in clubs across the country to participate in various sports, ranging from swimming and volleyball to boules and hiking, all without clothes (as mentioned above).

Mixed-gender saunas.

Both sexes have access to the majority of the spa facilities. Saunas and steam rooms are some of the most popular spa attractions, in addition to spacious indoor pools. Even during the spring and summer, when sunshine is scarce and temperatures can be disappointing, spending a leisurely day at the spa is a beloved activity in Germany.

According to the German Sauna Association, around 30 million people in Germany, consisting of 13 million women and 17 million men, visited public saunas fairly regularly in 2016.

Many but not all saunas in Germany are co-ed – but people don’t usually stare and smile at each other this wayImage: Fotolia/Robert Kneschke

Many cases exist where all genders are welcome to enter. Most Germans do not seem to have any problem with stripping down, and saunas are areas where clothing is not required. However, swimsuits are necessary when using the pool.

If you ever find yourself talking your in-laws or co-workers into a trip to the sauna, here’s a survival tip for you: make sure not to leave your glasses behind, especially if the idea of being in a mixed-gender environment makes you feel uneasy.

Your personal garden or terrace.

In your own apartment or house, you should try sunbathing naked on your balcony in Germany or in your garden, as long as you’re allowed to do so. But what about your backyard? Are you allowed to run around with as few or as many pieces of clothing as you like?

While your landlord cannot kick you out of your place for lounging in your birthday suit, your neighbors could file a complaint.

It’s probably easier to throw on some shorts. As long as it fits with the style of the house, you’re allowed to set up a barrier to block your neighbors’ view, according to a law passed in Germany in 2006.

Avoid those pesky tan linesImage: picture-alliance/dpa

Nude beaches.

When the trend for FKK, a natural medicine that began over a century ago, was coming into vogue, those suffering from common ailments like bronchitis or rheumatism would visit the beaches on the northern coast of Germany to let the salt air do wonders for their health. It was also thought that sunbathing in the nude brought added benefits.

Established in 1920 on the island of Sylt, situated at the boundary between Germany and Denmark, Germany’s inaugural official clothing-optional beach. Designated clothing-optional beaches can be found on Borkum, Norderney, and Amrum, islands off the northwestern coast of Germany. The Baltic Sea islands of Usedom and Rügen, which were formerly part of East Germany, are also renowned for their nude beaches.

Germans tend to be unfazed by random nakedness, so it is unlikely that you will be confronted with disturbed shrieks if you choose to sunbathe nude in designated areas only. To ensure you are in the right place, make sure to lounge and strip in areas specifically marked with signs – either on beaches designated for nude sunbathing or on textile beaches that are free from nudity.

Watch for these signs before stripping (FKK-Strand = nude beach)Image: sabelfoto13 – Fotolia.com

Nude parks.

Despite not having direct access to a beach, most Germans can still enjoy the perks of sunbathing without clothes in the convenience of a nearby park, even though the northern German coast might have numerous islands.

On sunny summer days, hundreds of people spread out on the grassy expanses to enjoy the rare rays, either not clothed or partially clothed. The Tiergarten in Berlin and the English Garden in Munich are two of the most famous parks in Germany. These parks also have designated nude areas, although caution is advised.

During the most popular time slot on television.

Explicitly erotic scenes are forbidden on prime-time television due to laws protecting youth, even though nudity is not simple in Hugh Hefner’s magazines.

If you happen to spy a female breast (yes, including a nipple) on a mainstream crime show like “Tatort” or even a reality show like “Jungle Camp,” it’s important to note that it is not a newsworthy or essential part of the storyline – so you can relax.

In addition, German television enforces a strict ban on pornography, although it permits the airing of softcore adult material between the hours of 11:00 pm and 6:00 am.

You’ll discover more from Engage with the Germans on YouTube or at dw.Com/EngagewiththeGermans.