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European sauna nudity etiquette

Saunas have been an integral part of various cultures across Europe, offering relaxation and numerous health benefits. However, when it comes to sauna etiquette, the rules can vary significantly from one country to another. Understanding the customs related to nudity, swimwear, and towels is essential to ensure a respectful and comfortable sauna experience. Here’s a guide to sauna nudity rules in different European countries, along with information about gender segregation in sauna dressing rooms and saunas.

In many European countries, saunas are a communal experience, promoting relaxation and well-being. However, it’s crucial to be aware of the diverse cultural norms surrounding nudity and dressing etiquette. Travelers heading to a spa in another country should also check with the spa itself about specific rules, as some spas may have their own guidelines.


Nudity and Dressing Etiquette in Saunas Across Europe

Here’s a breakdown of sauna nudity rules in various European countries:

Vatican City:

  • Gender Segregation: Male only
  • Clothing: Bring towel

Albania, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Northern Ireland, Norway, Portugal, Scotland, United Kingdom:

  • Gender Segregation: Mixed genders
  • Clothing: Bring towel

Austria, Belgium, Germany, Iceland, Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland:

  • Gender Segregation: Mixed genders
  • Clothing: Go nude

Andorra, England, France, Malta, Lithuania :

  • Gender Segregation: Mixed genders
  • Clothing: Wear swimwear

Romania, Spain:

  • Gender Segregation: Separate genders
  • Clothing: Bring towel

Belarus, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Slovakia, Ukraine:

  • Gender Segregation: Separate genders
  • Clothing: Go nude

Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey:

  • Gender Segregation: Separate genders
  • Clothing: Wear swimwear


Sauna Culture Tips Across Europe:

Finnish Sauna Culture: Embracing Silence and Nature

  • In Finland, sauna-going is almost a sacred ritual. Finns often enjoy saunas in the midst of nature, like by a lake or in the woods.
  • Silence is highly valued. Conversations are kept to a minimum to enhance relaxation.
  • After sweating it out, Finns often cool off by taking a dip in icy water, even during winter. This practice is believed to have health benefits and is invigorating.

German Sauna Etiquette: Aufguss and Regular Breaks

  • Germans take their sauna sessions seriously. One popular tradition is “Aufguss,” where a sauna master pours water infused with essential oils onto the hot stones, creating a burst of aromatic steam. This is often accompanied by fanning the scented air toward the bathers.
  • Sauna sessions are divided into several rounds, each followed by a cooling off period. Regular breaks are essential to prevent overheating and to rehydrate.

Swedish Sauna Tradition: Socializing and Bonding

  • Swedes view saunas as social spaces. It’s common to enjoy a sauna with friends, family, or even colleagues.
  • The emphasis is not just on relaxation but also on bonding and camaraderie. It’s an excellent way to unwind and connect with others.

Estonian Sauna Heritage: Smudging with Birch Twigs

  • In Estonia, sauna-goers traditionally use birch twigs for gentle self-flagellation. This practice, known as “viht,” improves circulation and exfoliates the skin.
  • The aromatic scent of birch enhances the sauna experience, making it both relaxing and invigorating.

Dutch Sauna Etiquette: Cycle Between Sauna and Cold Plunge

  • In the Netherlands, saunas are often part of larger wellness complexes. Dutch sauna-goers follow a cycle of moving between hot saunas and cold plunges.
  • This contrast therapy is believed to improve blood circulation, boost the immune system, and provide an overall sense of well-being.

Norwegian Sauna Tradition: Enjoying Saunas in Nature

  • Norwegians cherish their natural surroundings. Saunas are often located in scenic spots like fjords or forests, allowing bathers to connect with nature.
  • Outdoor saunas, combined with the opportunity to gaze at the Northern Lights during winter, create a magical and serene experience.

Romanian Sauna Etiquette: Spa Day with a Sauna Session

  • In Romania, sauna sessions are often part of a larger spa day experience. Visitors indulge in various wellness treatments and massages before or after their sauna session.
  • It’s a comprehensive approach to relaxation, promoting both physical and mental well-being.



Respecting the local sauna etiquette is essential for a pleasant experience in European saunas. Whether it’s bringing a towel, wearing swimwear, or embracing nudity, understanding and following the rules demonstrate cultural respect and consideration for others. Remember, when in doubt, it’s always a good idea to inquire about the specific rules at the spa or sauna facility you plan to visit.

Have you experienced saunas in different European countries or do you have any unique sauna traditions to share? We’d love to hear your thoughts and stories! Drop a comment below and let’s keep the conversation going.

Give your body a little love, it deserves it ❤️