Surrounded by lush vegetation, impressive cliffs, and green hills, there are some natural swimming spots throughout Europe that will leave you breathless. Turquoise waters, close to the sea, amid forests or steamy valleys; find inspiration in our list of our favorite natural bathing areas across our destinations so that you can make an unforgettable dip on your next holidays!
Norway - Mjelle Beach
In the north of Norway, just a 30-minute drive out of the beautiful town of Bodø, you find the secluded double-crescent beach of Mjelle. It is a popular swimming spot in the summer among the locals, and we understand why. It's absolutely pristine. The beach is infused with particles of gemstones, which create white and red hues of the sand, contrasting the incredible turquoise waters. The beach is surrounded by mountains and offers beautiful views (especially at sunset). The beach has no facilities, so bring your supplies for the day.
Scotland- Loch Lomond
Just a few hours north of Glasgow, Loch Lomond is a perfect spot for swimming in the middle of Scotland's wonderful nature. This huge body of water is surrounded by Trossachs National Park, known for its towering 'munros' and lush forests.
Beautiful Loch Lomond is edged with sandy beaches and shallow pebbly shores. Some of them are easily accessible such as the little beach near the pretty village of Luss or the long shoreline of Firkin Point on the west bank of Loch Lomond.
Then there is Milarrochy Bay, a stunning stretch on the lake's east shore that is characterized by a sole oak tree rising out from the water. Milarrochy Bay is perfect for swimming, kayaking, or just sitting back and soaking up the gorgeous views across the Loch.
Madeira - Porto Moniz
The natural pools of Porto Moniz are the highlight of this charming little town that is located on the secluded northwestern tip of the island of Madeira. The pools are formed by volcanic lava and are naturally filled with crystal-clear sea water. When you soak in the water, you can enjoy the panoramic views over the sea coast and the rocks.
Ireland - (picture-perfect) Keem Bay
Achill Island in the West of Ireland is a truly incredible location with sky-high sea cliffs, beautiful beaches, and rugged mountains. And the best spot for swimming? It's got to be Keem Bay, hidden at the western end of Achill Island. Keem Bay is a perfect horseshoe bay that is surrounded by the bright green grass on the slopes of Benmore. Besides, it has ultra-clean (deep) waters whose colors range from bright turquoise to teal green. Although a famous beach, Keem is never crowded, and even in high season, you can find a quiet swimming spot here. The bay is also perfect for snorkeling or scuba diving because its crystal clear waters are home to various fish and sea life.
Iceland's hot springs, mud pools, and thermal baths
Being a highly volcanic land with a lot of geothermal energy, Iceland is home to many natural hot springs. Some are boiling fumaroles, bubbling mud pits, or spouting geysers, but others are calm pools of water at perfect temperatures to bathe in.
One of the newest thermal pools of Iceland is Sky Lagoon, in Kársnes Harbour, just 10 minutes by car from the center of Reykjavík. The lagoon offers incredible views over the ocean from its infinity edge. You can witness amazing sunsets and even northern lights if you are lucky! Apart from the thermal pool, it also has a cold pool, sauna, and steam room, all for a unique wellness experience.
A bit further away from Reykjavik (30 miles), Reykjadalur Steam Valley is an awe-inspiring geothermal area dotted with hot springs, mud pools, and a naturally warmed river that runs down the mossy green valley. You reach the river after a 2-mile hike through rising steam and colorful and rich vegetation. A boardwalk alongside the river allows easy access for a dip. Now just relax and enjoy the stunning nature around you!
Sicily - Vendicari Nature Reserve
The Vendicari Nature Reserve is nestled between the towns of Noto and Marzamemi on the Ionian Coast of southeast Sicily. It is a small paradise and offers some of the most beautiful beaches combined with a crystalline sea. If you love sunbathing or looking for hidden sea corners, Vendicari offers you more than 7 km of coastline between fine sand and rocky coves.
Our favorites are the unpolluted beach of Marianelli with its shallow and crystal-clear waters and, moving further south, the beach of Calamosche. This little bay is set among two rocky headlands that protect the beach from the currents, resulting in always calm and clear waters. It is not only an excellent natural swimming pool but also ideal for snorkeling; in its caves and ravines, you will find plenty of marine life.
The Azores - The thermal baths of Caldeira Velha
A few minutes from Lagoa do Fogo, on one of the largest islands of the Azores, São Miguel Island, Caldeira Velha is a real natural paradise. It features several thermal water pools - heated by the nearby volcano - with different temperatures, one of which has a beautiful waterfall. And that is not all; Caldeira Velha is set in a magical scenery, a dense forest with lush, vibrant vegetation that is absolutely breathtaking!
Norway - Oslofjord
If you visit the capital of Norway, Oslo, and like to go for a swim, then head to the Oslofjord. The islands of the Oslofjord offer several great bathing spots. Lindøya is a famous island served by various ferries and has excellent swimming opportunities in its southwestern corner. Also, the three islands Gressholmen, Rambergøya, and Heggholmen - connected by footpaths - offer perfect spots for swimming and sunbathing, especially on the south coast of Rambergøya and the east side of Gressholmen. You can reach the islands by ferry from Oslo's City Hall Pier!
Portugal - Hidden natural gems around Lisbon
Set in Portugal's Arrábida Natural Park - about one hour south of Lisbon - Praia dos Coelhos is a wild and idyllic bay with a white sand beach and quiet crystal turquoise water. The beach has picturesque views of the mountains and surrounding cliffs. In addition to swimming and sunbathing, you can also practice other activities, such as SUP, surfing, and sea kayaking. Besides, the Arrábida Natural Park also has perfect opportunities for coasteering!
An hour north of Lisbon - just off the coast of Peniche - you find the Berlengas Archipelago. Nominated as a UNESCO biosphere reserve, these islands are surrounded by emerald water. They offer an incredible playground for swimmers and divers thanks to the diversity of sea life and the number of underwater caves. The 16th-century fortress of Sao Joao, standing on a rocky outcrop of the largest island in the archipelago, is a unique place to visit. So, put this place on your itinerary when you visit Lisbon next time.
Ireland - The northern beaches of Connemara
Glassilaun Beach - one of the most northerly beaches in Connemara - is a white sandy beach with a stunning backdrop of impressive mountains and the clearest turquoise waters. The spectacular beach is a dream swimming location and overlooks the mouth of Killary Harbor, Ireland's only fjord. At only a short drive from Glassilaun, you'll find the equally stunning Lettergesh Beach. Located in a wonderful position, it features golden sands, incredibly clear waters, and views of the mountains. Perfect for sunbathing and paddling, it's also surprisingly quiet most time of the year. So next time you drive along the Wild Atlantic Way, be sure to make a stop here!