Growing up in Alaska, where outdoor pools are non-existent, I find myself annoyingly smitten about the fact that Germany is full of pools. My “I’m from a small town in Alaska” really comes out.
And many places have more than just swimming pools. With spa-like amenities offered alongside winding water slides, there is something for everyone.
If you are planning on visiting Germany and want to experience the local culture, read below to see why I recommend checking out a pool or spa!
Swimming Culture in Germany
Swimming and sauna culture is huge in Germany. There is even a spa town called Baden-Baden in the Black Forest. Back in Roman times, the town was favored for its healing springs, and today, the spas still attract visitors from all over the world (even US presidents). The town retains its ritzy reputation and has since added casinos and shopping districts for the perfect weekend to play.
Since I don’t live in Baden-Baden, I stick to my local swimming spots.
One important thing to note about saunas in particular in Germany is that most do not allow clothing. As an American, this can be shocking, but for Germans, it’s completely normal. This actually goes much further than just sauna culture, as Germans also have a large nudist culture (or free body culture).
Even in other areas of my everyday life it’s apparent. When I was pregnant and going to the doctor for checkups, they’d give me more privacy because I was an American. No really, they would go ‘Oh you’re American, here’s a cover for you’. Which I, of course, appreciated.
Many saunas do allow you to use their designated bathrobes if you don’t want to be completely in your birthday suit.
Swimming Pool/Sauna in the Winter
In the winter months, there are many indoor pools to choose from (hallenbad). Most villages and towns have at least one pool for the community, which is fantastic in my opinion. Near our house there is a place that has just about everything under one roof. There’s a large lap pool, then another full-size pool with a few tall slides for kids. There’s a toddler/young child area for the younger kiddos, a large sauna area which has many sauna rooms offering a variety of health perks. There’s a sunning room upstairs, and as you can see in the below image, there are large windows upstairs where you can sit and get some much needed Vitamin D in the winter.
Then there’s my favorite part, a swim out heated pool (see below). This is soo nice to experience in the winter months. It’s been especially nice for me as I had foot surgery recently, so it feels nice to be in the water. I live near a larger city, so this may not be available everywhere, but around Stuttgart, there were many places that offered the same amenities.
Oh, and of course there’s a cafe and food court in case you get hungry.
Swimming in the Summer Months (Freibad)
There’s nothing better than spending a Saturday soaking up the sun by the pool. Luckily in Germany, this is easy to accomplish. We have lived in a few towns in Germany, and every one of them had their own pool. At the last place we lived, we would ride our bikes to the local swimming pool, grab a drink at the bar (every pool has a bar, of course, it’s Germany!), and maybe some frites (fries) with ketchup.
In larger cities, they can get packed pretty quickly on a nice day, so I recommend arriving early, or avoiding the weekend crowds. Sometimes if we waited until 11am, it would be hard to find a parking spot.
My favorite things about German pools:
- They’re surrounded by grass. Unlike many pools in the states, all of the ones I have been to in Germany have large grassy areas. There’s no need to worry about burning your feet running across concrete!
- There’s a food stand where you can get a quick bite (think brats and fries) and a drink (beer or wine, nothing fancy).
- Most are pretty big, with multiple pools and kids areas.
- There are showers and changing areas.
- Many have slides that are fun for both kids and adults.
Practical Things to Keep in Mind
- Just like everywhere else in Germany, cash is king. While many places will have an ATM, it’s easier to bring some cash with you, just in case.
- There aren’t lifeguards, at least I never noticed one. I was a little surprised by this.
- Some people don’t wear much of anything. Most of the time, kids and toddlers are naked.
- Go early so you can get a parking spot. Also, like much of Germany, many pools are built in a neighborhood or right in town, so there may not be a designated parking area.
- To find a pool, look for Hallenbad (indoor pool) or Freibad (outdoor pool) signs. Sometimes they can be difficult to find or off the beaten path.