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The 10 Best Places to Swim in Europe

Laura Puttkamer

Sometimes you don’t have to go far to enjoy the summer and cool off with a swim: we have picked out the 10 best places to swim in European lakes.

Image: Pixabay

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1. Müritz, Germany

The Müritz is the largest lake in Germany. There are many shores on its eastern and western sides, dotted with small forests, meadows and fields. In addition, the lake is located directly on the Mecklenburg Lake District and the Müritz National Park. So there are plenty of opportunities here to enjoy the summer not far from home.

Tip: For a bit of city flair, visit the nearby town of Waren.

Image: Unsplash

2. Lake Constance, Germany, Austria and Switzerland

As one of the largest lakes in Europe, Lake Constance is wonderful for swimming. Germany, Austria and Switzerland border the 536 km² clear lake, which boasts particularly good water quality. On the German side are picturesque towns such as Constance, Meersburg and Lindau, which are also connected to each other by ferry. In Switzerland there is the town of Arbon and in Austria Bregenz is inviting. But Lake Constance also offers places to swim almost everywhere along the rural shores.

At 536 km², Lake Constance is Germany's largest lake. Image: Pixabay

3. Lake Garda, Italy

The famous Lake Garda in northern Italy is one of the most beautiful places to swim in Europe. This is because the lake is surrounded by picturesque villages, lakeside promenades and unique mountain panoramas. Visitors can swim, go boating and enjoy other water sports. And a trip along the water is also a highlight thanks to the beautiful views of the shore, with the lake inviting you to cool off again and again. A trip to Gardaland, the Disneyland of Italy, is also interesting.

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Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash
Lake Garda offers some of Europe's best places to swim, like here in Malcesine. Image: Pixabay
Lake Garda offers some of Europe's best places to swim, like here in Malcesine. Image: Pixabay

4. Alqueva Reservoir, Portugal and Spain

Between Portugal and Spain there is a large lake with an area of 250 km². In the past you could only swim here at the river Guadiana, but since 2002 there are many new places to swim with the Alqueva reservoir. The huge lake is laid out in five circles and has many spots for a refreshing dip. Not only is electricity produced here, but there is also action: For example, you can go water skiing or try wakeboarding on the lake. At night, the Alqueva reservoir offers one of the most beautiful starry skies in the EU, which is why it received the first “Starlight Tourism Destination” award from UNESCO in 2011.

Image: Unsplash

5. Lake Bled, Slovenia

Slovenia is an underrated destination in Eastern Europe. The country has few beaches, but still offers some very good places to swim. Lake Bled in the north of the country, which lies at an altitude of 475 metres, has particularly beautiful swimming spots. A mild climate invites you to take a dip here in the warm months. In addition, the small island with the famous Church of St. Mary in the middle of the lake is also very interesting: some of the most important excavations of the early and high Middle Ages were made at this site. On the shore there are sights to see such as Grimschitz Castle or Bled Castle.

Image: Unsplash

6. Loch An Eilein, Scotland

The lochs in Scotland are known as “lochs” and hardly any are more famous than Loch Ness with the legendary monster of the same name. But in the Highlands there are also many other and, above all, lesser-known places to take a dip. Loch An Eilein, a freshwater lake in the Cairngorms National Park, impresses with its scenic beauty and the ruins of Loch An Eilein Castle. There is also a mysterious island on this loch, which used to be popular with cattle rustlers. This explains why one side of the loch is known as Robbers Way.

Scotland is also great for swimming, for example around Loch An Eilein. Image: Pixabay

7. Lake Saimaa, Finland

Finland is a fairly cool country, but there are plenty of places to swim here too. In summer, some of the bays in Lake Saimaa get as warm as 25 degrees. It is the largest lake in the country, encompassing a whole system of smaller lakes, sub-lakes and rivers and covering a total area of 4,370 km². The coastline measures 14,850 kilometres and there are well over 13,000 islands on the lake. Accordingly, you can discover many beautiful bays and beaches here.

Image: Unsplash

8. Lake Vänern, Sweden

Sweden’s largest lake, Vänern, is just over 5,500 km² and is home to 22,000 islands. Numerous beaches and bays invite you to swim in summer. And in every direction there is an interesting town to discover, such as Trollhättan in the south, Åmål in the west, Karlstad in the north and Mariestad in the east.

Image: Unsplash

9. IJsselmeer, Netherlands

Thanks to artificial dyking, the IJsselmeer is now the largest lake in the Netherlands. In the past, the area was part of the Zuiderzee inlet. A motorway and a cycle path run along one side of the dyke, but the other parts of the lake are perfect for swimming. Water sports can be found in the tourist towns of Enkhuizen and Hoorn – and the near-shore wind farm in the north of the IJsselmeer shows that also 86 wind turbines on the lake can generate renewable energy.

10. Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

In Croatia, the national park of the same name with the Plitvice Lakes offers a wide range of wonderful places to swim. These lakes have already been used as a filming location for the old Winnetou films, but these natural wonders also have a lot to offer beyond that. Visitors can look forward to turquoise waters, babbling rivers, waterfalls and lush green landscapes. Although swimming in the lakes is prohibited, there are plenty of opportunities for refreshment in the nearby Korana River.

Plitvice Lakes, Image: Unsplash

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