Wonderful wild swimming spots across Europe

17.07.17

As the mercury continues to rise across Europe, the summer heat has got us itching for a swim. But why just go pool or sea? Here we share our top picks for some wonderful wild swimming spots across Europe along with some lovely boutique hotels from which to best enjoy them. Happy dipping!


Doris and Dicky Wild Swimming Blog Neiva River Quinta da Bouca DArques copy

1. Neiva River - Viana do Castelo, Portugal

To the north of Porto, around Viana do Castelo there are some wonderful wild swimming spots – including the Neiva River and Ancora River. The water is cool and clear, running straight down from the mountains and there are some little beaches to be found.

Where to stay:

Quinta da Bouca d’Arques - This converted 300-year old manor house has been in the same family for centuries and offers a real retreat in nature. The Neiva river is a 10/15-minute drive away, with the Ancora River around 25-minutes – you’re well-placed for some freshwater wild swimming and the sandy coastline is only a 10-minute drive too.

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2. La Cava Grande – Sicily, Italy

Though a bit of a walk to get here, once you’ve arrived you’ll be pleased to have made the effort – with a sparkling collection of enticingly cool river pools and small waterfalls.

Where to stay:

Masseria degli Ulivi - An old farm, this gorgeous rural spot offers the perfect base for some much needed r&r. There’s a lovely pool surrounded by olive and fruit trees and the jump off point to the Cava Grande Natural Reserve is just a 15-minute drive away.

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Doris and Dicky Wild Swimming Pangbourne Daniel Start

© wildswimming.co.uk

3. River Thames – Pangbourne in Berkshire, England

You may not immediately think of the Thames when thinking about inviting rivers to swim in but head out of town into the Berkshire countryside and you’ll soon be changing your mind. Pangbourne is a particularly good jump off point – head a couple of miles out of town and you’ll find grassy banks, chalk beaches and no surrounding buildings. This is a great wild swimming pick for Londoners looking to escape the big smoke.

Where to stay:

The Royal Oak Yattendon - A lovely pub with rooms – this cosy spot offers wonderful food and a sweet, country style in the pretty village of Yattendon just a 15-minute drive from the swimming spots.

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Doris and Dicky Wild Swimming Blog Garachico Tenerife

4. El Caletón – Garachico in Tenerife, Canary Islands

You’re spoilt for choice on rock pools ripe for bathing off the north coast of Tenerife with some better known than others. El Caletón is one of the more popular options, offering a cluster of little pools formed out of volcanic rock in the pretty coastal town of Garachico.

Where to stay:

Isla Baja Suites – With only 7 rooms, there is an elegant homely vibe to this boutique spot in the heart of Garachico.

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La Quinta Roja – Also in the centre of Garachico, this converted manor house offers a cluster of clean and simple rooms set around a pretty courtyard.

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Doris and Dicky Wild Swimming Blog Cascate de Mulino

© Elisa Scarta Detti – maremma-tuscany.com

5. Cascate del Mullino – Maremma in Southern Tuscany, Italy

I’m not sure if the hot springs of Southern Tuscany quite fit into this theme, being more suited to floating rather than swimming per se but we think Cascate del Mullino is worth a visit for the setting alone – with the warm pools looking out over the rolling Tuscan countryside. What’s more, they’re meant to have some serious health benefits, don’tcha know. Win-win.

Where to stay:

Hotel della Fortezza – This 11th century converted castle is rather a special spot in the pretty hilltop town of Sorano a 40-minute drive from the Cascate del Mullino hot springs, though the Terme di Sorano are closer where there is a more formal day spa set up.

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6. River Aude - Aude, France

Cutting it’s way down from the Pyranees, through Carcassonne and on to the Mediterranean, the river Aude offers plenty of great spots for a dip – with clear waters along with some rather fun rapids and rocks fit for jumping.

Where to stay:

Chateau des Ducs de Joyeuse – You don’t have to travel far for your wild swimming fix here, with the lovely Aude river running right through the castle’s garden. The hotel is lovely besides with a rather traditional fit out and charming service.

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Doris and Dicky Wild Swimming Blog Sellack Bridge River Wye

© wildswimming.co.uk

7. River Wye – Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire, England

Very popular with canoeists, the Wye is a popular spot for swimmers too. Sellack Bridge is a particularly lovely place for a dip – with a pebbled beach a lovely common lining the banks.

Where to stay:

Brooks Country House – Set in acres of National Trust parkland, this is a great value country retreat a 10/15 drive from Sellack Bridge.

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Doris and Dicky Wild Swimming Arcos de la Frontera

8. Arcos Lago – Arcos de la Frontera in Andalucia, Spain

Whilst not necessarily as 'wild' as elsewhere, this reservoir in southern Andalucia offers much needed respite from the relentless summer heat for swimmers and watersports lovers alike.

Where to stay:

La Casa Grande – Set atop a hill in the pretty town of Arcos, this converted family mansion offers a wonderfully authentic Andalusian a 5-minute drive from the reservoir.

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Doris and Dicky Wild Swimming Voidomatis River Just For One Summer

© justforonesummer.com

9. Voidomati's River – Zagori in Epirus, Greece

Epirus in Northwestern Greece offers some wonderful hiking and wild swimming opportunities particularly in and around Zagori in the Pindus mountains. A hike along Voidomati's River offers some particularly lovely swim spots, though be warned, the water's cold - even in the height of summer!

Where to stay:

Kipi Suites – This is a luxe and lovely pick for your stay in Zagori with the jump off point to the river is a 45-minute drive away.

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10. Le Lot – Southwest Lot in Midi-Pyrenees, France

Perhaps lesser known than the Dordogne, there are swimming opportunities aplenty on the lovely Lot river - from the more developed areas at pretty Puy-L’Éveque and Montcuq-en-Quercy-Blanc to wilder spots, the stretch to the east and west of Cahors is lovely.

Where to stay:

Hostellerie le Vert – This is a rustic and lovely little place with an award-winning restaurant, perfect for a good feed after a day spent in the river nearby.

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For more great wild swimming spots in the UK, we'd highly recommend checking out wildswimming.co.uk and the team behind the site have also published some fantastic books for elsewhere in Europe.

* Please note that we cannot take responsibility for the safety of these swimming spots. It is always worth seeking local advice on the best times and places to enter and leave the water and be aware of local restrictions

 

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