Berlin has a wide variety of saunas - a small selection is listed below - ranging from sparkling new complexes with all mod cons to relaxing remnants of a time when private bathrooms were the prerogative of the capitalist West. Whichever you choose, a sauna is a great place to wind down after a heavy day of work, sightseeing or study, or just a relaxing environment in which to meet friends.

For those from non-sauna cultures who are ready to take the plunge, here are a few basic tips on sauna etiquette so you don't get on the wrong side of the locals:

Berlin Sauna Etiquette:

  1. Birthday suit is appropriate attire. If you're incurably shy, you can keep your undies on, but people will wonder why.
  2. Bring at least two towels, one for lying on and wrapping in, and one for drying off afterwards. There's nothing worse than trying to dry a clean body with a towel soaked in sweat.
  3. Always shower before you sauna, and also before you jump in the plunge pool/swimming pool.
  4. Dry yourself completely before entering the sauna.
  5. Don't stay in the sauna for more than 15 minutes at a time.
  6. Dripping sweat on the facilities is frowned upon - always cover the bench/wall with a towel before you sit down.
  7. Giggling and pointing at fellow sauna-users is not mature behaviour.
  8. Drink plenty of water and/or fruit juice.
  9. A typical sauna sequence consists of a warm shower, 15 minutes sauna, cold shower and optional dip in the plunge pool, and a 10-30 minute rest. Don't overdo it - 3 sequences is usually plenty for one evening.

Hubnerstraße 4, 10247 Berlin - Friedrichshain | Tel: 42 01 64 76, Fax: no fax | U5 Frankfurter Tor | Price: €8.70 adults or €7.70 discounted, with varying prices for kids of all ages.| Times: Mon-Sat 15:00-24:00, Sun 10:00-24:00.
Bornholmerstraße 12 | Prenzlauer Berg | Price: €7.70 adults | Times: Mon-Sat 15:00-24:00, Sun 10:00-24:00.
Don't be put off by the seedy-looking exterior - this is a "family" sauna, i.e. stay away if you were hoping for sweaty encounters in dark corners. Soft music and coloured lights in the two saunas and steam bath add to the general mood of relaxation, and afterwards you can have a snooze in the "snoring room" or rehydrate at the bar. At a quarter past each hour, water and essential oils are poured onto the brazier in the Finnish sauna. The water-pourer/receptionist provides typical Berlin service-with-a-grunt, but will grudgingly explain the system to first time sauna-goers as well as hiring out spare towels and plastic sandals until you're kitted out to her satisfaction.

A second Kaminsauna with similar facilities is located at Bornholmer Straße 12 in Prenzlauer Berg, tel: 444 16 46. The staff are friendlier, but the facilities aren't kept as clean, the steam bath is strangely unsteamy, and the saunas are very cramped.

Russisch- Römisches Dampfbad (Stadtbad Mitte)
Gartenstr 5, 10115 Berlin - Mitte | Tel: 281 06 66, Fax: no fax | S-Bahn Nordbahnhof | Times: Mon-Fri 4-10pm, Sat-Sun 2-9pm. | Price: €8 adults, €5 children
Although you enter via the lift in the foyer of the Stadtbad Mitte, the sauna is actually on the third floor of a clinic, so don't be put off by the signs pointing you to the neurological department. The staff are especially friendly and will make the effort to speak English and show you the ropes if you haven't been before. There is only one sauna, but it is quite spacious and also has a lower temperature acclimatisation room. The steam room can be a bit much for beginners to take, and has strange rumbling noises emanating from the roof - not really relaxing. Lying in the reclining chairs is nice though, although you are liable to be gently reprimanded if you talk too loudly. Tuesdays and Thursdays are women only.

Hamam (Turkish Bath) for Women Only
Hamam in der Schokofabrik
Mariannenstr 6, 10997 Berlin - Kreuzberg | Tel: 615 1464, Fax: no fax | U8 Kottbusser Tor/U1 Görlitzer Bahnhof | In the Schokofabrik. | Price: €12 for 3hours, thereafter €2/30min, Mondays 3pm-11pm, €11 for 3 hours. | Times: Mon 3pm-11pm, Tue-Sun 12pm-11pm, Tue and Fri no kids! | Massages start at €13 / 20min.
The "Hamam" is a Turkish Bath for women only. The concept behind the "Hamam" is to offer women a place where they can cleanse their bodies and relax their souls. As soon as you enter the "Hamam", you feel a sense of welcome and relief - at last peace from the trouble and strife of everyday life.... The personnel are friendly and although they do not necessarily speak English, you will soon pick up how the place functions. You can enjoy the joys of the Turkish bath and a Finnish Sauna before relaxing with friends over a cup of tea - simply divine!

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