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Our ancestors had it right: let’s all nakedly gather in beautiful buildings to socialize, philosophize, purge some toxins and wash away some sins. Today, around the world there are a good handful of beautiful sites where sauna culture is alive and well. If you’re ready to ditch your clothes and pamper yourself in age-old fashion, check out our list of the best naked saunas around the world.
Stadtbad Neukölln, Berlin
Originally built back in 1914, the Stadtbad Neukolln hasn’t lost a bit of its rustic charm. It was modeled after an ancient thermal bath, so it’s donned with a huge skylight dome, 20-foot travertine pillars, sandy corridors, mosaics of Greek gods, and two pools (originally separated for men and women) that are considered to be some of Europe’s finest. Germany (and Berlin specifically) knows what it’s doing when it comes to the sauna bath. Here, you’ll find a schedule with rotating herbal infusion themes, a Roman steam bath, and a Caldarium and a Sanarium, which are gentler German saunas perfect for beginners. For other ideas on what to do in the city, check out the Best Way to Spend Two Days in Berlin.
Aquaworld Resort, Budapest
This Hungarian paradise is one of Hungary’s finest spots for a clothing-optional sauna getaway. It pays homage to the traditions of times past with rustic architecture and wooden saunas, while also boasting a super modern, family-friendly flare with a waterpark, entertainment events, restaurants, and a hotel. If saunas are strictly what you’re after, Aquaworld has answers. Separated from the rest of the commotion are 11 unique saunas, all offering different ways to rejuvenate and relax. There are Russian and Finnish saunas, an outdoor log sauna, a steam cabin, a bio sauna, an infra sauna, a crystal sauna, a tepidarium (ancient Roman style), and an ice cabin to cool off. Whether you’re looking for a family getaway, a romantic retreat or some peaceful time alone, Aquaworld in Budapest is a great option.
Kalma Saun, Estonia
While the outside may look like a dreary Soviet-style building, inside Estonia’s Kalma Saun is a prime example of a true Nordic sauna. There are public saunas separated for men and women, and a large private sauna that you can rent out for personal use. Each of these offers traditional wood-burning with a swimming pool and a separate steam section. In the changing room, you’ll find heated floors, heated benches, soft drinks and a wall full of hygiene products to make your reemergence into society as seamless as possible. Entrance is only $14 USD and they’re open late night until 11:00 pm.
Hotel Kakslauttanen, Finland
Saunas are an integral part of Finnish culture. Story has it that there are five million people in Finland and two million Saunas — but that may be an arctic myth. Nevertheless, Hotel Kakslauttanen is a prime example of how the north does saunas. It should be noted that they don’t take their saunas lightly, and etiquette is not negotiable. At the door, you leave your clothes, your judgments, and your controversial conversations. Kakslauttanen is located in a true winter wonderland where you’re surrounded by trees and cabins draped in white snow. The activities don’t end at the sauna as the hotel offers snowmobile and reindeer safaris, fishing trips and Northern Lights excursions in autumn, as well as hiking, mountain biking, and white water rafting in the summer.
Cagaloglu Hamami, Istanbul
What’s known commonly as the Turkish bath has for centuries been one of the most important social spaces of Islamic and Ottoman culture. The protocol differs depending on where you are, but it usually involves hot, dry air, another room with hotter and drier air, a full-body massage, and a cool-off room. The Cagaloglu Hamami is one of the oldest Turkish baths in the world and considered to be one of the 1,000 places to see before you die. Enter the huge room under an ancient marble dome and get a traditional massage that scrubs off more dead skin than you may feel comfortable with. Head to the changing room and finish off with some tea. While you’re in the neighborhood, check out 5 Amazing Places to Visit in Turkey.
Varazdinske Toplice, Croatia
This gem is located away from the Croatian coast in what is considered a “spa town” — i.e., the entire town is dedicated to the spa and sauna lifestyle. Health and wellness travelers consider it one of the world’s most important places for the medical research behind the science of thermal therapy. Visiting the no-frills Minerva Hotel isn’t the most luxurious experience, but the public saunas are surrounded by gorgeous scenery, and the water is a perfect temperature.