There’s nothing better than a revitalising sauna during a relaxing spa break, but did you know that how people visit a sauna differs around the world? Many travellers have been bamboozled by the correct etiquette when entering a sauna in a different country – namely, what do you wear?
In some places, it’s customary to keep your swimsuit on, in others they are a little more relaxed and are fine with you just being in a towel, and then there are some countries where being completely nude is not just encouraged but expected.
Understandably this can cause a lot of confusion when you’re exploring the world’s spas, so we wanted to create a handy resource that explains what you need to wear, where.
We researched all the spa customs and etiquette around the world and created a map that tells you if swimwear, a towel or nudity is the done thing. Of course, if you are heading to a spa in another country, it’s best to also check with the spa itself about what is expected – as some spas may have their own rules.
Of the countries we found data for, 41 expect you to wear swimwear, 24 are happy with you just being in a towel and 23 go completely bare in the sauna. Germany is one of those countries where nudity in the sauna is the norm, this is because wearing swimwear is considered unhygienic but taking a towel to sit on is encouraged.
For the countries where wearing a towel in the sauna is the etiquette, such as the UK, New Zealand and Canada, this is where you can remove your swimwear but it’s customary to wear a towel around you. Depending on the spa, there are reports that in some countries once you are in the sauna itself you can remove the towel and just use it to sit on – but this should always be checked beforehand.
Wearing swimwear in the sauna is normal in 41 countries around the world, including the US, UAE and India. This is often the etiquette due to cultural norms or to ensure that everyone is comfortable. Luckily, wearing swimwear doesn’t affect the effectiveness of the treatment, so you can still enjoy all the benefits of a relaxing sauna.
Other sauna etiquette to consider
Bring a towel just in case
Although there are plenty of countries where visiting the sauna in the nude is totally fine, it’s customary to have a towel to sit on so it’s handy to have one with you. This also means that if, for whatever reason, people aren’t going nude then you can easily cover up to ensure everyone is comfortable.
Make sure to shower beforehand
It’s common courtesy to have a shower before you enter the sauna. This will be to wash away any post-workout sweat, general bacteria or grime.
Be conscious of your noise levels
A sauna is a place of peace and relaxation, so if you’re sharing the sauna with others then it’s polite to stay quiet and just enjoy the benefits in relative silence.
Respect personal space
When sharing a sauna, try not to take up too much unnecessary room and, if there is space, make sure to sit at a distance from others.
Enjoy the sauna whilst sitting
Believe it or not, there are reports that some sauna visitors like to do stretches and exercises in the sauna. This is not recommended as it can cause stress to the body in the high heat, but also it might make other visitors feel uncomfortable so best to avoid it.
Ask others before you increase the steam
Adding water to the rocks within the sauna adds soothing steam, but it’s polite to check with the other sauna guests before you decide to up the steam levels. Equally, using essential oils might be lovely to you but could be annoying for others, so check on this too.
Enter and leave quickly
Maintaining the temperature and steam of the sauna is key and having the door open can affect this. Of course, people understand that the door will be open at times, but try to leave and enter as quickly as possible.
If this has got you in the mood for an invigorating sauna, then we have plenty of spas that offer not just a great sauna experience, but lots of complementary treatments as well.