6 Best Spots for Wild Swimming in Europe

6 Best Spots for Wild Swimming in Europe

Europe is home to a variety of spots for wild swimmers looking to dive into refreshing waters.

So, this summer, why not escape the bustling beaches and dive head first into the best wild swimming spots in Europe? 

With these top spots, you can launch yourself off long stretches of beach as the sun sets, scuba dive under the powerful fall of cascading waterfalls or head to the mountains to soak in the cool, fresh waters.

Choose from our favourite wild swimming spots in Europe below. Whether you’re seeking an escape to the scenic beaches Estonia, the welcoming geothermal spas of Iceland or Bosnia’s lake-filled National Parks, we have a handful of excellent spots for your wild swimming adventures, all within our own continent.

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1. Una National Park, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Best for: watersports

Best time of year to visit: spring and summer

Una National Park is located in the west of Bosnia-Herzegovina, where you’ll find a myriad of serene swimming spots and powerful rivers for watersports. This Balkan gem is known for its dramatic alpine scenery and tumultuous history, which you can explore in the now thriving city of Sarajevo before a dip in the picturesque waters.

Enjoy exploring below the surface with a scuba diving session under the cascading Una waterfalls, with the mesmerising swirls of foam and water above lit up by the summer sun.

If you want to stay above the water, there’s not only swimming you can enjoy, but watersports like white water rafting and kayaking. 

Alternatively, take a soothing dip in the Una River while the sun is out. The water is refreshingly cold during summertime, so this is an exceptional place to go when you need to cool off after a day of exploring and walking.

Where to stay - Hotel Opal

Just under a 40-minute drive from this park of exceptional lakes, waterfalls and rivers is Hotel Opal. This is an excellent base, where you can fuel up for your days in the café bar with a terrace, or wind down in the comfort of your room. Enjoy soaking up the stylish, contemporary style of this hotel.

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2. Green Lakes, Lithuania

Best for: swimming in picturesque, emerald green waters

Best time of year to visit: spring and summer

In the north-east of Lithuania, there’s an extraordinary choice of six picturesque lakes, where the vibrant emerald green waters are caused by high carbonate levels. These beautiful lakes are a result of a glaciers melting, and are now framed by tree-swathed hills. 

The largest lake of the six is Lake Balsys, where you’ll find a well-equipped sandy beach, making it one of the most popular swimming spots in Vilnius. However, if you’re seeking some quiet swimming spots with the same beautiful waters, the other five stunning freshwater lakes are much less crowded.

Lithuania is one of Europe's most underrated holiday destinations. Along with its wild swimming spots, you can wander the streets of Vilnius with its Baroque Old Town, or combine it with its fellow Baltic capital cities on a tour

Where to stay - Hotel Narutis

Hotel Narutis is not far from these fantastic lakes, where you can not only enjoy days at the lakes, but head into the Old Town where this hotel is located. There are also spa facilities available, where you can rejuvenate before a day swimming.

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3. Narva-Jõesuu Beach, Estonia

Best for: swimming in calm waters with panoramic views of the sunset

Best time of year: spring and summer

Located in the north of Estonia, this alpine-framed beach is home to calm waters that are perfect for a swim amongst its scenic natural environment. Secluded from the mainland of Estonia, this long strip of beach welcomes you to enjoy its secluded beauty from the shore or in its inviting water. Wash off the day at the cabins and showers, conveniently available to you on the beach.

If you're new to wild swimming, you can relax in safety and security, knowing that there is always a lifeguard nearby at this beach. When you’re not enjoying a swim, you can enjoy the variety of beach activities, including a friendly match on the beach volleyball fields.

While here, be sure to visit Tartu, Europe's capital of culture for 2024

Where to stay – Vihula Manor Country Club & Spa

Nearby is the Vihula Manor Country Club & Spa, a historic estate that’s also not far from Tallinn. Set in the Laheema National Park, you have the chance to also explore the natural wonders and diverse wildlife of Estonia. If you’re not satisfied by your days spent swimming at the Narva-Jõesuu Beach, you can wander into the National Park and spend a day at the rocky and sandy beaches, or the freshwater lakes of Kahala, Lohja, Kasmu and Viitna.

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4. Lake Saimaa, Finland

Best for: Watersports and picturesque views

Best time of year to visit: all year round

It’s hard to visit Finland and not visit one of its lakes – after all, it is named ‘The Land of a Thousand Lakes’. However, one of our favourites of the many lakes that are littered across Finland happens to be its biggest lake, Lake Saimaa. We love this lake so much, it has made it to our list of best lakes to visit in Europe outside of Italy.

Dotted across this lake are a multitude of pine-covered islands, making for breathtaking views. Furthermore, because of its size and calm, welcoming waters, there are endless opportunities for wild swimmers to enjoy whilst visiting this natural lake.

Almost anywhere on this lake you can enjoy a leisurely swim, which is especially welcoming during the long hours of midnight sun in summer. During spring and summer, the wildlife and natural surroundings are at their liveliest, with birdsong in the air and higher chances of seeing the rare Saimaa ringed seals.

Winter is also a fantastic time to swim in this lake – especially if you are seeking a true understanding of Nordic swimming. Although the lake would have frozen over in some places, adventurous swimmers can try ice swimming, which has been shown through research as having health benefits (if you're brave enough to try)! Of course, you can warm up in a traditional sauna after you've braced the plunging temperature. 

Autumn is an incredible time to visit Finalnd, as the waters are still calm, but completely surrounded by the stunning colours of the foliage. From the vibrant reds, browns and oranges, there’s nothing quite like seeing this lake in autumn.

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5. Nauthólsvík Beach, Iceland

Best for: winter swimming in warm temperatures

Best time to visit: all year round

Iceland has a huge swimming culture, and you’ll find a place to enjoy a wild swim across the island. Not only are there a multitude of geothermal baths, hot springs, and spas, but the locals of Iceland love to swim in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Although there are many beaches where the waves are too dangerous to swim in, Nauthólsvík Beach is a small bay in Reykjavik that is perfect for swimming all year round.

This popular beach is excellent for first-time swimmers in the Atlantic Ocean, as this small cove has a higher water temperature due to the blend of hot geothermal water and cold seawater. Don’t worry too much about the cool air temperatures of the water during autumn and wintertime, as the water will keep you warm as you take an enjoyable swim.

Where to stay - Black Pearl Apartments

Stay just a 10-minute drive from the Nauthólsvík Beach at Black Pearl Apartments. Also, just moments from the luxurious Black Pearl Apartments is the historic harbour of Reykjavik, plus the welcoming cafes and restaurants just a stone’s throw away.

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6. Mala Kolumbarica, Croatia

Best for: thrill-seekers and jumping into refreshing pristine water

Best time of year to visit: summer

One for the adventure seekers, this beach is unusual due to its high rocky cliffs surrounding the lapping waves of turquoise waters. For those looking for an exciting swimming experience, this small cove is perfect for cliff diving.

However, if you don't fancy the jump, simply swimming is enough in this serene bay. Be sure to take your snorkelling kit to watch the vivid marine life residing below. Soak up the long hours of summer sun on this picturesque coastline of Croatia, with breathtaking, mountainous landscapes as the backdrop.

Of course, the walled cities of Dubrovnik and Split await before or after your wild swimming trip - or, you could incorporate some wild swimming into your own Croatian fly-drive

Where to stay - BO Hotel Palazzo

This historic hotel is a one-hour drive from the Mala Kolumbarica and offers an unrivalled view of the ocean’s pristine waters. Refuel after a day filled with plenty of adventure at the beach with a delicious meal at the BO Hotel Palazzo restaurant, Ritzi and even enjoy a swim in the outdoor pool.

Wild Swimming FAQ’s

Are there any Regent tailor-made tours with wild swimming included?

Yes! We have plenty of European tours that take you to some of the most serene and picturesque swimming spots.

If you’re travelling with your family, we have curated the perfect Finnish tour for your wild swimming adventures. Enjoy our Finnish lakeland family summer break where you will spend seven nights at the cosy Lehmonkärki Resort. Enjoy your days embarking on all kinds of fun on the lakes, from fishing, kayaking, and swimming on the lakes to exploring the surrounding forests.

Looking for a summer getaway? Head to Finland’s Helsinki for our Barö Hotel summer break tour jam-packed with exploring the Finnish nature, exhilarating excursions and relaxing in the welcoming saunas. Swimming in the seawater is a part of this exciting itinerary, and experiencing a soothing swim in the Midnight Sun is an experience like no other.

Another lake that’s excellent to visit in the summer is Paljakka Lake. With this Paljakka Lake Resort summer break, unwind in the beautiful nature of Finland, from diving into the fresh water of the crystal-clear lakes and taking rejuvenating walks through the dense forests.

Where is best to swim in winter?

Europe is home to some incredible naturally heated pools, especially in Iceland.

Although the lagoons and geothermal spas make it to the list of top 10 things to do in Iceland in the summer, there’s nothing quite like warming your bones in the natural heat of the water after a day exploring in the winter.

Hvammsvik Hot Springs offers a unique experience where you can enjoy the unspoilt nature and dramatic backdrops of mountains and sweeping ocean waters whilst soaking in the heat of the hot springs.

Visit Vok Baths to enjoy a swim either in the Lake Urriðavatn, or a soak in the heated water of the thermal hot springs. With a pool bar and bistro nearby, and a steam bath and cool mist tunnel, this is the perfect place to go to escape the cold weather during winter in Iceland.   

If you’re choosing to do the Golden Circle whilst in Iceland, be sure to visit the Laugarvatn Fontana Geothermal Baths, located right in the heart of the iconic route. The Golden Circle is a day-long tour, and in the winter it can be challenging, so why not enjoy a soak in the heated, bubbling waters or the fresh lake.

Hauganes beach in the north of Iceland has been an attraction for families for many years. If you visit during winter, you can escape to this beach for a soak in the hot tubs set up, with the incredible mountainous views in front of you.

Are there any Nordic beaches that are secluded and away from the crowds?

Hidden away between the famous Fjords of Lofoten Islands are a multitude of serene beaches that are some of the least visited in Scandinavia. Packed with stunning natural scenery, especially during spring and summertime, you can take a swim amongst some of Norwary’s most inviting turquoise waters whilst surrounded by dramatic landscapes.

Horseid Beach and Haukland Beach in Norway have made it to our list of best Scandinavian and Nordic beaches for 2024

Are there any wild swimming spots in the United Kingdom?

Yes! Throughout the UK you can find a multitude of natural swimming pools. Find beautiful rock pools filled with fresh mountain water in national parks like Snowdonia or Peak District.

In the likes of Devon and Cornwall, you’ll come across a multitude of secluded bays and pebbly beaches across the rocky coastlines, perfect for dipping your toes in during your long walks.

Can I stay in a lakeside hotel?

There’s plenty of European hotels that sit at the side of the lake. Spend mornings overlooking the serene waters and fill your days with fun in the lakes, and end your day with a short walk to your hotel room to freshen up. Below are some of our top lakeside hotels:  

Looking for the best wild swimming spots in Europe?

If you have found the perfect destination from our top six best wild swimming spots in Europe, get in touch with one of our Regent Travel Specialists today.

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