Nothing compares to the thrill of taking the plunge alone in the great outdoors. Whether you’re a cold water cognoscente or just looking to dip your toe into this invigorating wellness activity, these wild (outdoor) swimming spots in Europe prove that the best things in life are free.
So plunge in at the deep end with these free European al-fresco aquatic adventures.
Baggy Point, England
Best for swimming alongside seals and dolphins
Swim through several secret sea caves at this delightful Devonshire dipping spot, including one tide-swept tunnel hidden from lily-livered landlubbers. You may even be lucky enough to share your swim with a seal, dolphin or porpoise, which are all often spied along this coastline.
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Upper Letten Riverpool, Switzerland
Best for city swimming
An urban oasis during the summer swelter, this 400m-long swimming canal in the fast-flowing River Limmat is a spot that attracts hundreds of swimmers. There’s a 2m diving board, plus a bar and beach volleyball fields.
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Purcaraccia Canyon, Corsica, France
Best for a nature-made infinity pool
The steep hike to the pools in Corsica’s Purcaraccia Canyon is demanding, but worth the effort. Swim in – and slide between – a series of pools fed by crystal-clear mountain water, and enjoy unwinding in a nature-made infinity pool teetering on a waterfall edge.
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Lake Bohinj, Slovenia
Best for a chilly mountain dip
The Julian Alps offer top-class swimming, including the lovely (but costly) Lake Bled lido. However, travel down the road to Triglav National Park’s Lake Bohinj and discover wilder scenery for free. The Sava Bohinjka River provides a chilly thrill for flow-swimming fans.
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Lake Walchen, Germany
Best for a turquoise green soak
Bavaria is blessed with a batch of brilliant bathing spots, and the deep alpine lake of Lake Walchen, located in the mountains south of Munich, is one of the most spectacular. Gravel beaches surround the mineral-rich turquoise water, and there are offshore islands to explore.
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Lac D’Annecy, France
Best for natural hot springs
Heated by subterranean hot springs, this alpine lake near Annecy is unsurprisingly popular. Many lake beaches charge during the summer, but Plage d’Albigny à Annecy and Plage des Marquisats are free. Wilder spots can be found too – some with great cliff jumps.
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Lago di Fiastra, Italy
Best for underwater exploration
Camp beneath mountains on the north shore of this stunning beach-lined lake, and slide into the embrace of its gin-clear water. Take a snorkel – there’s much to explore, including a rumored submerged village.
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Loch Lomond, Scotland
Best for the brave hearts
You need a brave heart to swim in Scotland, but the picturesque Loch Lomond – Scotland’s biggest lake – might just tempt you in. This is the home of the annual Great Scottish Swim and also, apparently, a monster – albeit one without the celebrity status of its Loch Ness cousin.
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