I’m writing this from my bed, tucked up in a fleece blanket and drinking hot tea – in May, ladies and gentleman. Which got me thinking about how wonderfully cosy it would be to be sweating it out in a sauna right now.
Therme Erding is Europe’s largest thermal bath complex – it used to be the world’s biggest, but the US has since made a larger one. The complex was initally set up as a spa – making use of Erding’s thermal water, found when Texaco drilled in the area in the early eighties, hoping to find oil. Instead, they found something equally as lucrative for its owners, who made the most of Germany’s sauna-loving culture, and created a huge spa. Since then, a huge water park has also been added on – which I’ve yet to visit, as the lure of saunas, steam rooms and face masks always keeps me busy in the spa complex.
You go in, undress, and slip into your bathrobe (I’ve become something of a spa pro, and now have my own sauna dressing gown, but you can borrow cuddly XXL bathrobes from Therme Erding for around 5 € which are looovely). Then, you take a shower, before heading to the spa complex. It really is huge, so be sure to take a look at the map to decide where you want to go first – or which saunas you really fancy trying today – it’s impossible to visit them all in one day. Do note, the Weißbier sauna (complete with a glass of wheat beer at the end of the Aufguß) is only for men, which I find a cheek – but if you do fancy a Weißbier, you can head out to the pool bar for one. One of my fondest memories of Therme Erding is sipping a Weißbier, stark naked, with a dear friend at Erding’s pool bar.
So, after taking a look at the map, you’ll come to this area, which is SO wonderfully Vegas:
I rarely see anyone in this pool, but I love to hang out by it and pretend I’m in a Vegas hotel. Little cafes and a restaurant all lead off this pool, and in the summer, it’s beautiful to sit outside (on the right hand side of this photo) and enjoy coffee and cake.
One of my favourite areas is the Roman baths – with steam rooms, and the most wonderful pool to lounge in:
But the main reason you’re there is for the saunas – sweating, sweating, sweating:
If you’re a lady, head to the ladies area (pretty much straight on, when you head through the Vegas pool area, keep going), and slather on a face mask. An Aufgusszeremonie (is there an English word for this?) is very important in German sauna culture, and you really should make it to at least one. During an Aufguss, hot or cold water is poured onto the hot sauna stones, increasing humidity levels. In some, herbs are also used, and a towel is then wafted about to spread the steam around – if it’s a particular herbal Aufguss, you’ll see and hear lots of Germans inhaling and exhaling loudly – clearing their airways. Afterwards you might get a slice of apple, or a herbal tea…depending on the type of Aufguss.
If you can’t stand the heat so much and it’s your first time, do try a cooler sauna (around 60°C) as everyone goes to an Aufguss, and the temperatures get pretty hot – I almost fainted during my first Aufguss experience!
There’s also a Stonehenge building, which is lots of fun – lots of powerful running water – once you’ve showered at Stonehenge, you’ll feel the cleanest you’ve ever felt! The saunas there can get pretty busy, but they have a lovely lounge area (with rocking chairs), so that you can wait until things have quietened down a bit.
When you get hungry, you can try the very luxurious Therme Erding restaurant (the food’s meant to be amazing), or head to Kaimug for Asian food. There’s something terribly decadent about sitting with friends in your bathrobes and eating at a restaurant.
Tickets aren’t cheap, with a day ticket costing 39 €, but it is a special treat every so often – in winter, or in summer. It’s also a wonderful gift idea for someone – gift vouchers can be bought online or in person.
A lot of people visit my blog having googled “German sauna naked” or something along those lines. I was terrified about whipping my clothes off in front of my friends and hundreds of strangers in the beginning, but I can wholly recommend it, if you’re yet to go through the German sauna experience. Initially, you will feel awkward and strange, but by the end of the day, you’ll be shedding your bathrobe at a moment’s notice to try out a new sauna/salt peeling/pool.