German culture is perfectly open to public nudity. I disrobed twice—once in a German spa and again in Berlin’s Tiergarten for some naked sunbathing in Berlin.
So I’ve been in Berlin for about a year now and I figured it was about time I started to live a bit more like a local—which in Germany means getting nekkid.
Why did I get naked in Berlin?
Travel has done some tremendous things to my life. It’s pushed me out of so many shells and made me open to so many new and different experiences I never imagined for myself. Traveling for so long and to so many new places has certainly transformed me. It continues to push me to try new things—which keeps my life exciting and interesting. New things as simple as trying yoga for the first time or eating Sudanese food. Or, like I tried for the first time in Berlin, getting naked in public!
Though I may seem extroverted and interesting on this travel blog and my Twitter, in reality, I’m not. I’m often scared to death to try new things but with this blog at my back and a desire to see and do as much as possible during my life, “living” often wins over any irrational fears. Travel will always push me toward new things as I’m sure it has transformed other travelers as well. It’s one of the things I enjoy most about living abroad and traveling frequently—the constant push to see and do more. And that’s how I ended up slipping off my boxer shorts and enjoying a sunny afternoon in Berlin’s Tiergarten park.
Nudity in Germany isn’t much of a big deal for the Germans. In Germany, nudity is just a fact of life and men & women alike don’t bother about it. An article from YoungGermany.de describes the German sauna/spa experience:
Germans prefer to be nude in the sauna. For them, it’s no big deal. It’s just a body. German culture as a whole has no problem with nudity. Nudity in the sauna is not about sex, but about relaxing and health.
I first got naked in Germany a few months ago when visiting a spa with my friend Cheryl who runs a European travel & expat blog. It was my first time getting naked in public but after the towel came off, I soon realized it wasn’t a big deal. Everyone else in the spa was naked and no one seemed to care. So after maybe 30 seconds of initial worry I was quickly over it. Not over it enough to frolic naked around the spa, but enough that I was comfortable.
So when sunshine finally reached Berlin this week I decided to test the water again…this time in an even more public place: Berlin’s Tiergarten. The central park is home to many of Berlin’s best monuments (including the gay holocaust memorial) but it’s also where many sunbathers choose to go nude.
I’d known about the naked sunbathers in Tiergarten for a while and was always more than a little curious what happened there behind the bushes. So feeling fresh off my nude spa experience, I took my bike and found a nice little corner in Tiergarten to disrobe. Without any hesitation I slipped off my clothes down to my boxers—and with plenty of other naked folks (mostly men) in the vicinity, I decided “Why not!” and took the final step.
BOOM! I was naked.
It was quite comfortable. There were probably a few sketchy people around, but I was focused on reading my book and trying to look as sexy as possible without attracting any attention. And yes: I used sunscreen! Health is important, yo!
So that concludes my first naked experience in Berlin. There’s something completely freeing and relaxing about knowing it’s okay to be naked in public. Once you get over your initial fears you realize it’s no big deal. I’ll definitely be doing it again! I hear there’s a lake where most sunbathers go skinny-dipping just on the outskirts of the city…
Pretty soon I’ll just be a regular ol’ FKK’ler!
“to look as sexy as possible without attracting any attention”, what a laugh… who do you take us for?! Get a robe and join a monastry! Yeah…
Oh, and your post popped this song into my mind: https://youtube.com/watch?v=sTJ7AzBIJoI
Haha! It’s funny – hadn’t heard the remix of that song before but it’s a famous graduation speech from the US.
“and trying to look as sexy as possible without attracting any attention.” LOL indeed, you’re awesome.
Funny to hear about the sauna culture in Germany, I thought it was only a crazy Finnish thing. I’ve been with guys in sauna a lot of times and they’ve been naked but I have been wearing my bikini – I just don’t feel comfortable flashing my body to other guys, I can go naked only with a partner to be honest, I don’t even feel comfortable going naked with only girls! That’s just me.
But after meeting you it’s extremely interesting to hear that you were brave enough to do this, because as you even described yourself, you’re quite laid back and perhaps not the type of person I would expect to do anything like this – making this text even more awesome! I wouldn’t do this park nudity thing though, hehe, but I admire you for just doing it and not hesitating :) I share your views here that you should never hold back, just do whatever you’re interested in and wanna do! You can try, dislike it, never do it again, or you can try, like it, and then you’ve found a new awesome thing in life.
Rarely however have I seen mixed saunas here where girls have been naked, usually it’s only the guys who want to flash everything, haha. Booooys… you know.
Oh man – I know about the crazy Finnish nudity culture, too. Funny stuff. I always thought it was a very Scandinavian thing, but was surprised to learn about it in Germany myself.
Yeah, I would’ve never done this kind of stuff a year or two ago. It’s crazy how life works out but trying new things is all sorts of fun. Keeps life interesting!
Well done! It looks like fun. We’ve seen the naked sunbathers and I’ve resisted taking pictures to respect privacy – but I so wanted to.
Yeah, not sure it’d be a good idea to take photographs there!
You gotta love the German mentality here – it’s okay to prance around naked in public but cross the street against the light in front of children and parents will cover their eyes and emit gasps of horror!
Anyway, I’ve been to several spas in Berlin and Brandenburg that are both sexes where everyone is naked. In Berlin the Liquidrom (not sure if this is the one you went to – highly recommend) and then the spas at Templin and Bad Saarow (also highly recommended if you want to make the trek out there, but fewer people you would *ahem* WANT to look at naked if you know what I mean).
Otherwise congrats on taking the plunge!
Hahaha Giulia – that is so true!
Definitely plan to check out a spa here soon. I could use a mini-vacation :)
Ha ha ha! I’m honored to be the first person you got naked with in public.
I can’t believe I just wrote that …
And amazing that you did it again so easily and without shame. North America needs to take note and loosen up a bit.
Thanks Cheryl. It’s funny how being abroad for so long has changed my attitude toward a lot of things—including public nudity!
First of all, I’m sorry we missed each other in Berlin. I need to go back when I’m there more than 36 hours. I did go on a bike ride through Tiergarten, but I didn’t see you or the rest of the nude Berliners ha! I remember reading about this before though. I wonder how it began in Tiergarten but in Berlin it doesn’t surprise me. Good for you for going one step beyond normal travelers to fit in with the locals!
Sorry we missed each other, too, Suzy! Can you imagine how ridiculous it would’ve been if you saw me in Tiergarten. I probably would’ve died! I think it was so easy to get naked because you know you’ll never see the same people again :)
I did not know nudity was so accepted over there. I’ve been to a few nude beaches here and it’s always relaxing and liberating. Thumbs up for public nudity!
Cool! I’d like to visit a nude beach at some point. I stumbled onto one years ago with some friends and we were all pretty quickly weirded out. I’d probably enjoy it now, though!
I thought it’s a extraordinary, and kinda thrilling experience. Once in a while we need something like this. Although this should be done in certain places like in Germany where it is very open to stuff like this.
Good for you Adam!
And thank you, this explains a fair bit about a German I dated. *sigh* Understanding different cultures.
I’m still trying to figure out the culture over here! Very confusing sometimes :P
I knew it was popular on the beaches but didn’t realise it was the same in the parks – good work joining in!
LOL adam – bravo!! i would have used an entire bottle of sunscreen.
Good on you, Adam! I’ve read about this aspect of German culture before and wondered if I’d give it ago. Interesting to read about your experience – mostly interesting due to how, well, uninteresting it is! Not in a bad way, I guess “normal” is a better word. But interesting in how such a thing that would be a big deal in other countries (read, our home countries) is just, well, life in Germany.
Here in Korea, it’s a HUGE no to wear clothes in the (gender segregated) saunas. You just strip, get stared at for a few minutes, and then it’s business as usual. It’s kind of liberating in a way!
Wow – don’t think I would’ve expected that nudity was so common in Korean sauna culture. Very interesting, Tom!
Very nice! I love hearing about getting out of your comfort zone! It’s good to know that Germany is open about that. I was only there for a few days, and I wish I knew! My boyfriend and I had our first naked in public experience at Burning Man festival. It is a completely different world, and people don’t care what you do in public. it was the most free I’ve ever felt in my life! We also found out that my boyfriend feels a lot more confident about his body when he’s naked in public than when he’s clothed. Funny enough! Thanks for sharing! Looking forward to reading more of your articles!
So you were standing in the fountain naked while reading book? That’s class.
Hi Adam, im in berlin and Today o looked for a sauna bath and the only one i found was closed, tomorrow Ill try to go to tiergarten and i want to know the spot on there i can do it, bcause the park is huge! Im from Brasil and Ill stay in berlin just for 2 days. Hope u can go with me. Cheers Fernando
Hope you had a nice and sunny afternoon, Fernando!
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LOL. This would have been so funny but also an amazing experience.
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Good on you for fitting in with the local culture! Not something I would be comfortable doing – even though it is so accepted and normal here in Germany – also in the changing rooms and showers at swimming pools for example.