Spas, Saunas, what to do? what to experience? what to wear?

Tauern Spa Kaprun close to Zell am See
 Beneficial Effects of Spas and Saunas? and what to wear?

For those who have not visited a Spa, or had a sauna, the experience can seem pretty daunting, in terms of the rituals and procedures, the following advice might be of help and may be of interest?

When to Shower?

If in doubt shower!  before bathing take a shower, before taking a sauna have a shower, after or between saunas take a shower, seems to be the golden rule,  you never can be too clean!

The contrast in temperatures has the beneficial effects of opening and closing the pores, which brings the blood to the surface, and improves the bodies circulation, and enlivens the body, and sharpens the mind with the enhanced blood flow.

Allow plenty of time it is supposed to be an enjoyable experience:-   

1) Allow plenty of time to enjoy the opportunity, there  is  a  rule  of  thumb,  that  it  should be  to  a ratio  of  1:1  or  1:2,  so  for  every  20 minutes  in a sauna,  20-40  minutes  resting / chilling  or  dozing around 2-3 hours or more  will allow you the time to obtain the maximum benefit from the experience.  By rushing you will not get the most from the experience, resting mind and body, cleansing  body and mind is what it is supposed to be all about.  This is your well deserved opportunity to unwind, to relax, soak up the heat, snooze and to enjoy the experience.

Steam room

2) After the shower enter the steam room, ( this is the one which looks like a cloud!) normally with a glass door.  Watch out for the steam pipe! more often at ground floor level, tends to get hot so best avoided! Try not to leave the door open too long, the idea is for the heat to build up and not be allowed to escape. Quite often the steam is scented with Eucalyptus, which has a beneficial effect on the chest and sinuses, and acts as a decongestant opening up the airways, making it easier to breathe.

3) Some spas will have plunge pools, some of quite cold temperatures, a bit of a shock to the system, but quite invigorating at the same time. And a lovely contrast to go from the cold of the water  back into the warmth of a sauna, or steam bath.  After the plunge towel down and back into the sauna, maybe a warmer temperature sauna this time?

Saunas experience

4) Saunas come at different temperatures, quite often there will be some form of indication on the outside as to the temperature.  It is worth remembering the lower levels / benches within the sauna will be at a lesser temperature. Take your time, start at a lower temperature and build up your confidence, and acclimatize to the heat. On the wall of the Sauna there is normally a sand timer, which can be used to time your stay, around 15 - 20 minutes is the norm, then time for a shower, and then take a dip in a pool.
5)  Some traditional "Turkish baths" have interconnected chambers, (as opposed to new spas where the saunas will be physically  separated) you will soon discover which is the hottest chamber and which are the cooler chambers.  Sometimes the Latin names are used to describe the differences  the Tepidarium ( warm as in tepid), the Calidarium ( hot ) and finally  the Laconium  which is the hottest room. After the sauna experience, comes the time to relax, there will normally be beds  where you can recline, stretch out and relax ( in Latin this area is called Frigidarium ), as opposed to what is signified by the name,  this area will be at a pleasant temperature for you to lay with a towel or maybe in a dressing gown, and relax and maybe dose, or read book.

Spa Use summary

Please observe the following General Spa - Sauna Rules:-

  • Take a shower prior to entering the sauna.
  • Please remove your slippers prior to entering the sauna.
  • When entering the sauna open and close the door as quickly as possible to conserve the heat.
  • Please only sit or lay on towels in the sauna, including your feet on the towels!
  • In the steam rooms ( the one with the fog remember?)  your towel will get soggy, so don't take it in!!  but do remember  to wash the bench down before and after you have been sitting down.
  • Please take a 20 minute break between sauna sessions and get some fresh air.
  • Please use the sauna whose temperature which best meets your physical needs /constitution.
  • Please be considerate to other users and keep the noise down, these are supposed to be tranquil places.

 Beneficial effects of Saunas / Spas - Well-being

 6) The water, the steam, the warmth has a beneficial therapeutic effect on the body, the skin and musculature, it allows the body to relax, and has a reported beneficial effect on aches and pains, freeing up joints and easing movement of the body.

In terms of overall wellness, this is very much a personal matter, on what makes you happy. But it is widely reported the de-stressing impact a sauna / spa experience can have on body and soul.

In a busy world  it is important to set aside "me" time to unwind, relax and perhaps a pamper.

                                                                                     Wellness Concept Diagram
Spa Treatments

7) Most spas will offer treatments, at an extra charge these might include massages (back, neck, foot, head, full) reflexology, reiki, hot stone therapy, waxing treatments etc.  Many will do pamper sessions for a day or a half day of treatments. For a special occasion or a treat you may wish to indulge yourself in a pamper treatment or two!

Gastein Valley Spas  and Tauern Spa Kaprun

i)  The are two lovely spas in the Gastein valley,  the one in Felsentherme  in  Bad Gastein is the smaller of the two,  it even has a swimming pool cut out into the natural rocks.  The roof terrace offers privacy and  fantastic views of the surrounding  mountains,  its definitely worth a visit.

ii)  The larger of the  of the two spas in the Gastein valley  is  the one  lower down the valley  in Hofgastein Alpentherme  it has been newly extended,  and again is in a stunning location, giving  views  to relax for.

iii)  Thirty minutes away  by car  from  the  Gastein valley  is the newest spa in the area  Tauern Spa Kaprun  which is different again, modern stylish, inspirational in design,  and relaxing in setting.

Rather than saying,  which is the best?  i am reminded that comparisons are odious,  and would advise visit them all!!  and enjoy  the different  experience they each have to offer.

Holiday Accommodation in Austria from 3 - 9 persons?
Are you looking for somewhere to stay for 3 to 9 persons?   3 couples?  2 families?   and an apartment that has the benefit of three bedrooms and three bath / shower rooms. Conveniently located in Kaprun, which is great for the new Tauern-Spa-Kaprun and around 30 minutes away from the Gastein valley Spas by car,  and with Salzburg  around 1 hour 15 minutes away its convenient for the airport  and city Sight seeing. Then then please take a look at

This is very much a cultural thing, in America and the United Kingdom and in Catholic Countries, the answer in generally no.  However in the mountain / Alpine areas, Austria,  Germany, Scandinavian areas and parts of Eastern Europe the answer is yes.

In the Nordic areas and German speaking areas, larger spas will normally have a public area where costumes are required to be worn.  But then will have a separate spa area where costumes should not be worn, and naked is compulsory for all those who choose to enter.  ( In Austria FKK is the naturist organization for the country).  In the case of the new Tauern spa in Kaprun, there is a separate spa area which is a "textiled" area and swimming costumes are  to be worn.

To bare or not to bare on a nude beach
 The  is  a  quoted analogy  that  having  a sauna  with  a costume on, is  like trying  to  wash  your  feet  with  your  socks  on! 

 Trip-advisor in  a recent survey of its users, asked whether they would or wouldn't go naked on a beach? The survey identified the different percentages, bare all based on their geographic  area (Australia, USA, Canada, UK and Europe) the  numbers differ slightly but around 50% from each area said that they would be prepared to to go and bare all.

Sauna Protocols  

In Saunas it is the protocol for health reasons, that users should sit on their towels ( including feet!) Some argue how  the  wood  is  considered  sacred  and  should  not  be  touched with  bare skin.  However in the steam rooms (  the  one  with  the stem / cloud) because of the high humidity this is not practical, so there is normally the provision of a tap with hose to wash off the seating before and after use.

Some may find the experience, a little strange at first, but many speak of the freedom / liberation that it brings, that  rich  and  poor  become equals in this setting, with no worries about what to wear, or colour co-ordination! and just wear a smile to go with the a towel, maybe a dressing gown and some comfy  flip flop shoes to go with  it!

For further info on being naked in a spa, I would recommend Rick Steve's excellent spa experience blog on the subject, he looks at it from an American perspective, but gives an humorous account of his spa experience in Baden Baden in Germany, sounds like it is worth a visit. ( perhaps on the drive over to Austria as a place to stop overnight?)

 Da Vinci's Vitruvian naked man
The British newspaper the Daily Telegraph in an article entitled the "Bare Necessities provides further information on the does and don't, and the different cultural aspects from around the world of going bare in a Sauna.

The Magazine, the Economist in a review of the book "The Politics of Nudity"  deals with some of the history of going naked, from Adam up to the present day.

For another perspective read Lesley McKnight's amusing account  here, it gives a lovely North American / Canadian version  of a visit to an Austrian spa with a friend.

And finally for a further perspective on being naked in a spa, read this amusing account by Ron Karpinski in one of his life stories.

Final thoughts when in Rome do as the Romans?  Life is full of experiences and visiting a spa should be on the list of things to do, maybe you will even enjoy it and wish to return?

In  Austria Spas in the Salzburgerland area include:-

Regional map of the Salzburgerland area of Austria
  • Tauern Spa Kaprun  which is close to Zell am See ( opened November 2010), there is a textile (clothed) sauna area and a non-textile nude / naked area.Also  a  brine  swimming  pool area.
  • In the Gastein valley around 30 - 45 minutes away from Zell am See / Kaprun,  there are two further brilliant spas the first is at Hofgastein the Alpen Therme is further up the valley is the 
  • Gastein Spa conveniently opposite the Bad Gastein railway station called Felsentherme.
  • Another Spa close to Salzburg is at Bad Ischl  Eurothermen complete with brine baths, as you would expect in Salzburg the City of Salt.
All of the above Austrian spas are based in excellent locations with stunning views of the valley and surrounding mountains to be seen. There is something magical, after a long mountain walk, to be sat in a Thermal bath, with dusk drawing in, looking out on snow topped mountains. If you get the opportunity of visiting any of these facilities you will not be disappointed and find it well worth the trip.

The Salzburgerland website gives further information on Spa and Wellness facilities in the region.

For those who wish to travel a little further over the border in the Austrian Tyrol  at Langenfeld, is another fabulous facility  the Aqua Dome, which offers fantastic architecture and design in a mountain setting.  It can be found to the west of  Innsbruck.

Looking for somewhere to stay in Austria from 3 - 9 persons?

If you are looking for somewhere to stay for 3 to 9 persons? the apartment has the benefit of three bedrooms and three bath / shower rooms, conveniently located in Kaprun, which is great for the new Tauern-Spa-Kaprun and around 30 minutes away from the Gastein valley Spas. Salzburg is around 1 hour 15 minutes away. Then please take a look at

Holiday Rental Accommodation in Kaprun Zell am See

 Austria Holiday Apartment - Kaprun a great holiday location