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17 of the most beautiful wild swimming destinations in Europe

Santorini, Contiki

‘I just hate crystal clear waters and stunning natural surroundings,’ said no one EVER. There are few things as amazing as going for a wild swim somewhere beautiful. Picture this: you glide through the cool water, away from the crowds, with nothing but the quiet sounds of nature for company… Sound dreamy? We thought so. So, for those with a sense of adventure and spirit, we’ve rounded up the top wild swimming destinations in Europe so you can plan your next trip around a totally unforgettable dip!

17. Giola Lagoon, Thassos Island, Greece

This Greek island has some of the most beautiful beaches EVER, but make sure you head to the stunning Giola lagoon if you’re visiting. Near the village of Astris, locals call this the natural swimming pool as the Aegean Sea fills the rock pool with seawater every day. Since the pool is separated from the sea with a rock wall, the water in the lagoon is much warmer. Perfect for a peaceful paddle!


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The 9 best wild swimming spots in the UK

The 9 best wild swimming spots in the UK

Dominic Oliver
by Dominic Oliver Aug 05, 2020

16. Hvar, Croatia

Apparently, the idyllic Adriatic island of Hvar (not far from Split) is drenched in 7.7 hours of summer sun per day! If that’s not reason enough to visit, then perhaps the clearest turquoise blue waters might tempt you. One of the best places for a dip is Dubovica beach, outside of Hvar Town. The secluded bay has a rugged, pebbly beach and it’s surrounded by pine trees and olive groves. Nature at its best and one of the most magical wild swimming destinations in Europe.

Hvar, Croatia

Image source:Orest Yaremchuk / Unsplash

15. Benagil Sea Caves, Algarve, Portugal

Benagil is a beautiful fishing village on the southern coast of the Algarve, and home to an incredible sea cave. Though the currents here are very strong, you can hop on a boat to the cave before taking a dip. Or join a stand up paddle board group to wend your way along the coastline.


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14. Attersee, Salzkammergut, Austria

Austria is home to beautiful alpine landscapes and crystal-clear lakes. In fact, the water in the Attersee is so pure, you can drink it (if you like!). Temperatures in the lake average around 25 degrees in summer, so save your dip for when the sun is shining and soak it all in. 


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13. Voss, Vestland, Norway

Voss is home to a beautiful lake, not far from Norway’s famous fjords. There’s plenty of adventure to be found here, from bungee to white water rafting, but sometimes you’ve got to throw caution to the wind and take a leap of faith. Take a polar plunge with into the icy lake and have a rejuvenating swim (before a hot shower and dinner, obviously). Check it out on our Contiki Scandinavia trips.

Voss, Norway

Image source:Contiki

12. Saturnia, Tuscany, Italy

As if Tuscany could get any better… The Maremma area boasts some stunning outdoor hot springs. Entrance to the ‘Cascate di Mulino’ is free, and you’ll find these bubbling waters seeping dramatically from the Earth’s crust. Rich in minerals, especially sulphur, and a very comfortable 37.5 degrees, this is a swim you’ll never forget. It’s one of the most epic wild swimming destinations in Europe.

Saturnia, Italy

Image source:Michael Baccin / Unsplash

11. Badeschiff, Berlin, Germany

Probably the coolest entry on the list, this outdoor pool is smack in the middle of one of Europe’s hippest capitals. It’s actually a harboured barge, floating as a swimming pool on the river Spree. While bathing you can take in the iconic city views or head to the ‘beach’ which stretches around it.


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10. Croyde Bay, Devon, UK

With its wild moors and rippling swells, North Devon will take your breath away. Croyde Bay is one of the area’s most picturesque beaches and the perfect spot for surfing, swimming or hiking along the coast. In winter, come armed with a wetsuit to combat the swell. In summer… do the same. Well this is England, after all. Try it out on Contiki’s new Surf & Yoga in Devon trip.

Croyde Bay, Devon

Image source:Contiki

9. Cala Macarella, Menorca

Known as the most beautiful secret cove on the island, this beach is so well hidden that it’s a little complicated to get there. It’s a 40-minute hike on foot or you can access it easily by boat, check out how else to get there here. And once you’re there? It’s basically paradise for sea swimmers, surrounded by nothing but rocky cliffs and pine trees.


Image source:Maria Teresa Martinez / Pixabay

8. Calanques d’En Vau, Cassis, France

Another European wild swimming spot only accessible by boat (or good hiking boots) are the hidden bays of the Calanques in the South of France – around 10 miles from Marseille. Grab your camera and your swimmers as Cassis and the surrounding Park National des Calanques is THE most beautiful, wild spot to explore and there are 20km of coastline to discover.

Calanques d'En Vau, France

Image source:Pixabay

7. Achmelvich Beach, Sutherland, Scotland

Love camping as much as swimming? This rugged sandy beach in Scotland is the one for you. Achmelvich Beach is an absolute gem and a popular spot for pitching your tent too. Here, you can try water skiing, windsurfing, kayaking as well as wild swimming, and it becomes a bustling place in the summer. Make sure to tuck into the catch of the day once you’re done though – from haddock to pollack and mackerel, seafood lovers rejoice!


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6. Lake Lungern, Obwalden, Switzerland

This natural lake is nestled between striking mountains and scenery, and a paradise for outdoor lovers. After taking a dip, try one of the hiking trails, which take you through flower-filled meadows and forests. Or take a walk around the lake itself, which is about 9 km, and breathe in all that fresh air.


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5. Isola Bella, Sicily

The tiny island of Isola Bella just off Taormina is a haven for wild swimmers. All wild and unspoilt, the beach is pebbly but this just encourages you to get into the water sooner. The islet is a protected nature reserve so it’s also the perfect place to try diving or snorkelling, with so much colourful sea life below.


Image source:@tomas-nuno / Contiki

4. Lake Bled, Slovenia

In summer, this stunning freshwater lake in alpine Slovenia is warm enough to swim in – or paddle board if you prefer. Look out for the Castle Bathing Area if you want to swim in the clear waters. You’ll be surrounded by mountains and you could always set yourself the challenge of reaching the 17th-century church perched on the central island. This place is mind-blowing.


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3. Agios Ioannis, Mykonos

Name a dreamier place for a dip than Greece’s beautiful island, Mykonos! Lovely Agios Ioannis beach is one of the best, with views of Delos island, a UNESCO-listed site just off the coast. With seriously chill vibes, all you need to do is take in the green-blue waters and soft sand, before hitting up one of the family-run tavernas to refuel.


Image source:Contiki

2. Pamukkale, Hierapolis, Turkey

Ah Pamukkale – a beautiful collection of bright-blue pools within an all-white landscape. Pamukkale means ‘cotton castle’ and is made up of natural mineral-rich basins formed among calcium bicarbonate deposits. The science is cool, but the swim is even better. You can swim in the warm, aqua-marine pools on your way up to the top of the terraces, where you’ll find the Antique Pool. This is famous for its submerged Roman columns, caused by an earthquake. Unreal.

Pamukkale Turkey

Image source:@contiki.elle / Contiki

1. Seljavallalaug, Seljavellir, Iceland

And the winner is… Seljavallalaug outdoor pool is our favourite wild swimming destination in Europe! Most visitors to Iceland head for the Golden Circle, but venture a little further south and you can find one of the oldest (built in 1923) pools to swim in the whole of Iceland. Seljavallalaug is 25m in length so a great spot for a proper swim and admission is free. The only downside? The remote location means the pool is filled with natural algae, dying it a beautiful shade of green, but not one for the faint-hearted!

For something a little less wild, don’t forget to the visit the Blue Lagoon spa, just a short drive outside of Reykjavik.


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