So, I’m going to start with Germany as this is where I first got into saunas, and I think it’s still a great place.
Germans take saunas as seriously as they take anything generally, with subtle humour and a love of knowing the rules (how else can you break them!) Take a little time to get to know German sauna etiquette and you’ll have a great time, as Germany is full of saunas of all types, and here relaxation or, as they call it, wellness is serious business.
My absolute favourite sauna, and one that I think is perfect for sauna-novices is in Cologne.The Claudius Therme Cologne is at the high end of saunas for Germans without being too fussy. This is a great starting of point for a Brit, as there are clear clothing and non-clothing areas – rare in Germany. Of course as soon as you go near the sauna itself it is clothing off, but here you can swim and sunbake with your swimmers on. They rent everything you need, have great food facilities and are centrally located (don’t be put-off by the cable car passing overhead), so it’s perfect for visitors to spend an afternoon. But, you’ll want to spend more than a few hours here I can assure you, regardless of summer or winter, to take in the indoor/outdoor swim through pool, the multiple saunas (including a women only) and other treatments such as massage.
Of course, if you’re looking for a cheaper option check out the local council swimming halls (such as KölnBäder ) which offer a great alternative.