Munich is full of nakedness. This is one of the things that took a little getting used to for me. However, I have to say that now I am a (partial) convert. Still not sure whether I'll be out grilling naked on the Isar with my friends any time soon (Really? Who just hangs out naked with their friends, and with all that skin and those body parts in dangerous proximity to fire and sparks? No thanks.), or going to any co-ed naked saunas with male co-workers (really don't want that vision in my head every time I have to work with someone), but I do think that it's kind of nice that everyone can be so comfortable together and with their bodies. It's rather liberating, in fact, to realize that the vast majority of people do not have perfect bodies, and you know what, it's really not such a big deal and we should all just get over ourselves. I haven't reached 100% acceptance of myself and my own body, and I probably never will (does any girl? Really truly?), but Germany has loosened me up. A lot.
One of my favorite things to do here is to visit Therme Erding, Europe's largest thermal bath. It's a huge complex right outside Munich, near the airport, with dozens and dozens of saunas, spas, pools, gardens, steam rooms, quiet rooms, and even water slides. Therme Erding is actually divided into distinct areas- notably the clothed and unclothed areas. Approximately half the complex is a water park with all types of slides, and an area with a huge spa pool, outdoor beaches and gardens, and a sulfur mineral springs. The other half is the sauna paradise, which is a "textile-free" zone where you will probably see more naked people in one area than you have ever seen before. Shocking for a first-timer, but after a while, it becomes pretty comfortable, and it eventually becomes the ultimate luxury spa experience.
Germans actually believe that it's unsanitary to wear swimsuits in a sauna. Hence the nakedness. And like any truly German experience, there are customs and procedures that should be followed in the spa. First, a towel is necessary. No naked butts in direct contact with the benches. Second, in the steam saunas, the benches should be hosed down before sitting, and there are usually little rubber mats just outside the sauna that can be used inside to sit upon. Flip flops are to be left outside the sauna door, and robes on hooks outside. Last, don't stare. Just look anywhere else, and act natural.
Another uniquely German sauna experience is the Aufguss. This is a type of beauty treatment / torture that needs to be experienced. Usually it involves going to an appointed sauna at a specific time for a themed 5-10 minute "session" where a spa employee pours water onto the sauna rocks to make the room as hot as possible, and then waves a giant towel over his head to circulate the hot air, and if he's really really good, sends gusts of scalding hot air directly at you until you almost feel like fainting, or possibly having a heart attack from the extreme heat. Sometimes the heat "treatment" is accompanied with some other specialty like scented oils in the steam, or a salt scrub, or mud mask to apply to your skin.
Therme Erding reputedly has more than 80 Aufguss experiences available, and it's all included in the entrance fee. In fact, I would say that Therme Erding is a pretty good deal. One can spend the entire day at Therme Erding for only 39 Euros (and there are often Groupon deals or coupons available to cut the cost even further), and even after a whole day at the spa, it's still impossible to have experienced everything. My sister just spent her second entire day at Therme Erding in the space of two weeks (she has become a true devotee and ranks it amongst her favorite things to do in Munich), and I believe, given the chance, she would go back yet again, and would probably be able to report on a whole new slew of Aufguss experiences that she didn't have the first time around, or saunas that she had not yet wandered into.
And I cannot neglect the food and drinks at Therme Erding. The spa pools come complete with swim-up bars, and, honestly, the Culinarium Restaurant in the Vital Oasis area is a legit salad destination. I'm not exaggerating when I say that the salads on the menu there are probably the best I have had in Munich, not to mention easily big enough to feed two people. I think I would almost plan a trip to Therme Erding just so that I could order the "Salat Waldeslust" again, and I kind of want to try every salad on their menu. In fact, maybe I will go back next week.
Open most days from 10 AM to 11 PM
Read the website carefully because there are all kinds of random discounts, including some sort sort of Bahn + Therme ticket.