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Best Wild Swimming Beaches in Europe

Navagio Beach greece

Europe is blessed with an abundance of attractive coastlines, offering endless opportunities for water lovers and those seeking wild swimming in Europe.

If your passion is combining travels abroad with healthy outdoor pursuits like swimming, the continent is perfect thanks to its wealth of stunning beaches, beautiful sandy coves and crystal-clear waters.

This article looks at the growing popularity of outdoor swimming sharing some unrivaled swim spots, to choose from ahead of your next trip.

Popularity of Wild Swimming 

Outdoor swimming, or ‘wild swimming’, refers to taking a natural swim in oceans, rivers, lakes and reservoirs. 

In recent years, exhilarating outdoor swimming has become immensely popular thanks to well-publicized swim spots, social factors, and a long list of appealing health benefits, which include: reducing inflammation (in colder water), boosting your immune system, increasing happy endorphins, and helping to alleviate stress. 

There is a great sense of freedom and fulfillment from immersing yourself in nature. Plunging into the crystal-clear waters somewhere in the Cote d’Azur, or diving into a natural pool are a lot more inviting than your chlorinated pool back home. 

Whether you prefer a cliffside backdrop or the turquoise waters in Rhodes, there are incredible swim spots to be experienced in countries dotted on the calm, warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea, on the Dalmatian Coast and wavier Atlantic. Here are some of the best swimming holes in Europe!

Spain

Spain’s diverse coastline offers numerous opportunities for wild swimming enthusiasts. The Balearic Islands, including Ibiza and Formentera, are renowned for their crystal-clear waters and hidden coves perfect for secluded swims. 

Likewise, on Spain’s mainland, the Costa Brava is renowned for its beaches and the southernmost point of Andalucia is definitely worth seeing.

Playa de Ses Illetes, Formentera

Playa de Ses Illetes, Formentera

Often hailed as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Playa de Ses Illetes boasts pristine white sand and crystal-clear turquoise waters. 

Located on the island of Formentera, just a short ferry ride from Ibiza, this stunning beach is renowned for its picturesque setting and shallow, calm waters, making it perfect for swimming and snorkeling.

Cala Conta, Ibiza

Cala Conta, Ibiza

On the western coast of Ibiza, Cala Conta is a breathtaking stretch of coastline characterized by its golden sand, rugged cliffs, and vibrant blue seas.

Surrounded by rocky outcrops and secret enclaves, this beach is lovely for swimming and sunbathing. 

Cala Aiguablava, Costa Brava  

Cala Aiguablava, Costa Brava  

Cala Aiguablava is renowned for its striking beauty and clear blue waters. The sheltered bay boasts fine golden sand and shallow, calm waters, making it ideal for swimming and snorkeling. 

Surrounded by lush Mediterranean vegetation and framed by rocky headlands, this picturesque beach is a hidden gem on the Costa Brava coastline.

Platja de Castell  

Platja de Castell spain

Close to popular Palamós, Platja de Castell is a pristine, unspoiled beach nestled within a protected natural area. Backed by sand dunes and pine trees, this secluded stretch of coastline offers a peaceful retreat from the crowds.

With its crystal-clear waters and gentle waves, it’s perfect for swimming and exploring the underwater marine life. Visitors can also take leisurely walks along the coastal trails that wind through the surrounding pine forests, offering breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea.

Cala Varques, Majorca

Cala Varques, Majorca

Hidden away on the southeastern coast of Majorca near Porto Cristo, Cala Varques is a pristine, secluded beach surrounded by rugged cliffs and pine forests. 

Accessible via a short hike or by boat, this idyllic cove boasts crystal-clear turquoise waters and soft golden sand, making it perfect for swimming and snorkeling. With its tranquil atmosphere and unspoiled natural beauty, Cala Varques offers a peaceful retreat away from the hustle and bustle of the more touristy areas.

Es Trenc 

Located on the southern coast of Majorca near the town of Campos, Es Trenc is one of the island’s most famous beaches known for its stunning Caribbean-like scenery. 

Stretching for over two kilometers, this unspoiled stretch of coastline features powdery white sand and shallow, turquoise waters, creating a picture-perfect setting for swimming and sunbathing. Surrounded by sand dunes and salt marshes, Es Trenc is also a designated nature reserve, home to a variety of bird species and other wildlife.

Greece

With its countless islands and azure waters, Greece is a paradise for wild swimmers with so many stunning islands offering visitors spectacular swimming spots and beaches. 

The Cyclades, and islands like Milos and Crete offer breathtaking scenery and tranquil bays ideal for a refreshing dip. Further north, the Ionian Islands, including Kefalonia, boast picturesque beaches and turquoise seas, Paros is a charming island in the heart of the Aegean Sea, while uber-romantic Santorini has some of the prettiest white pebbled beaches for unforgettable swims and memorable sunsets.

Elafonissi, Crete

Once voted the ‘best beach in the world’, Elafonissi is a small island and protected nature reserve. Located on the southwest coast of Crete, this outstanding beach is famous for its unique pink sand, shallows, and turquoise lagoons. 

Fringed by cedar trees and sand dunes, this pristine beach offers a tranquil setting for swimming and relaxation. Visitors can explore the nearby islet of Elafonissi, connected to the mainland by a shallow sandbar, or simply unwind on the soft sandy shores.

Navagio Beach (Shipwreck Beach), Zakynthos

Navagio Beach greece

This is one of the most iconic beaches in Greece, Navagio Beach is famous for its sheer limestone cliffs, turquoise waters, and the wreck of a ship that ran aground on its shores. 

Accessible only by boat, this secluded cove offers pristine white sand and crystal-clear waters ideal for swimming and snorkeling.

Myrtos Beach, Kefalonia 

Lying in between towering cliffs on the island of Kefalonia, Myrtos Beach is renowned for its dramatic scenery and azure waters. The crescent-shaped bay boasts soft white pebbles and shallow, crystalline waters, making it a popular spot for swimming and sunbathing. 

From the top of the cliffs, visitors can enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the beach and surrounding coastline.

Sarakiniko Beach, Milos

Known for its otherworldly lunar landscape, Sarakiniko Beach on the island of Milos is a mesmerizing sight to behold. Carved by wind and waves into smooth white rock formations, this surreal beach resembles a moonscape dotted with crystal-clear tidal pools. 

The unique geological formations and clear waters here, however, create a truly unforgettable experience for adventurous swimmers and explorers alike.

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Italy

Italy’s coastline is dotted with picturesque beaches and hidden gems waiting to be 

discovered. From the glamorous Amalfi Coast to beaches near the quaint town of Puglia, this country is a paradise for outdoor swim enthusiasts. Visitors can enjoy secluded coves and sandy beaches, and plenty of peaceful dips away from the busy summer crowds.

Amalfi Coast

amalfi coast italy

The Amalfi Coast, with its dramatic cliffs and turquoise sea, is a popular destination for wild swimming enthusiasts. Known for its glitz, glamor and gorgeous swimming opportunities, it epitomizes the quintessential Mediterranean landscape, drawing countless visitors to its stunning shores.

Its allure lies not only in its breathtaking scenery and delectable cuisine but also in its enchanting sea swimming options. Picture-perfect clear waters can be found in these beautiful beaches:

Marina Grande Beach

Marina Grande Beach in Amalfi itself,is a popular destination known for its scenic beauty and vibrant atmosphere. Fringed by colorful fishing boats and overlooked by quaint waterfront cafes, it’s a picturesque setting for a day by the sea.

Fornillo Beach 

Fornillo Beach is nestled near the town of Positano, and offers a tranquil escape from the bustling crowds. With its soft golden sand and clear turquoise waters, it’s an idyllic spot for swimming and sunbathing.

Fiordo di Furore

Fiordo di Furore is tucked away in the charming village of Furore, and is a hidden gem known for its dramatic cliffs and emerald-green waters. Accessible via a steep staircase carved into the rock, this secluded beach offers a peaceful retreat amidst breathtaking natural scenery.

Croatia

Croatia is renowned for its crystal-clear waters and picturesque landscapes with travelers eager to merge an amazing swim experience on a boat trip

Meanwhile, the beaches and stunning waterfalls at Krka National Park are unmissable as are the Kornati Islands with their turquoise lagoons. The northern Istrian Peninsula has a wealth of charming seaside towns and hidden beaches.

Zlatni Rat Beach (Golden Cape Beach), Brač Island 

zlanti beach croatia

This unique beach features a long, golden pebble promontory that extends into the crystal clear Adriatic Sea. Zlatni Rat is one of Croatia’s most famous and picturesque beaches.

Sveti Jakov Beach, Dubrovnik 

Located near the historic old town of Dubrovnik, Sveti Jakov is a lovely pebble beach with turquoise waters and excellent swimming conditions. It offers stunning views of the Adriatic and the city walls.

Bačvice Beach, Split 

This popular urban beach in the heart of Split is a lively spot for swimming and sunbathing. Bačvice features shallow waters and a long curving shape backed by a promenade with cafes and restaurants.

Portugal

Portugal’s coast on the wilder Atlantic Ocean is a treasure of hidden coves and sandy beaches, ideal for wild swimming enthusiasts. 

Its best beaches are concentrated in the Algarve region, and are world-famous for their natural beauty, unique rock formations, surf and swims.

Praia da Marinha, Algarve 

Praia da Marinha, Algarve 

Located near the town of Lagoa in the Algarve region, Praia da Marinha is renowned for its stunning rock formations, crystal clear waters, and soft golden sands. It’s consistently ranked as one of the best beaches in Portugal and Europe.

Praia da Falesia

This long, gorgeous red cliff-lined beach in the central Algarve stretches for about 6km. With its soft reddish sands and gentle waters, it’s a beautiful spot for swimming and sunbathing.

Praia do Camilo

Another gem in the Algarve, Praia do Camilo features a picturesque cove with dramatic cliffs and stairs leading down to the sandy shore and turquoise waters. It’s a more secluded and tranquil beach.

Praia da Adraga, Sintra-Cascais

Near the town of Almoçageme, this beach is part of the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park. It boasts soft sands, natural rock arches, and powerful Atlantic waves that make for excellent swimming conditions.

United Kingdom

The UK boasts a diverse range of wild swimming spots, from chalky fossil walks along Dorset’s Jurassic Coast in Dorset, seeing beaches like Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove. 

The Welsh Gower Peninsula boasts beautiful beaches and hidden coves, perfect for exploring both above and below the waterline. However, Cornwall and Devon are renowned for their striking coastlines, making Cornwall and nearby Devon perfect for planning your wild swims. 

Porthcurno Beach 

Porthcurno Beach england

This stunning beach near Penzance has soft white sands and turquoise waters that make it look more like a tropical destination. The high cliffs provide shelter and create great swimming conditions.

Kynance Cove

One of Cornwall’s most photographed beaches, Kynance Cove features dramatic rock stacks, caves, and bright blue-green waters perfect for taking a dip on a hot summer day.

Woolacombe Beach 

This long, sandy beach in North Devon is consistently ranked among the best in Britain. Its wide, gently sloping sands and clean waters are ideal for swimming.

Blackpool Sands 

Near Dartmouth, Blackpool Sands gets its name from the shingles made up of warm-toned pebbles. It offers a sheltered, family-friendly environment for swimming.

Safe Swimming Tips

Before embarking on your wild swimming adventure anywhere in Europe, it’s vital to stay safe and know your swimming risks, and be aware of every beach you’re planning to visit.  

It’s important to do your research about the local beach you’re heading to and learn about any local currents or hazards to be aware of that you might not have thought about, such as rip tides, water quality in different countries in Europe,  jet skiers, fishing obstacles, wildlife or any submerged and hidden risks.

There are hot spots across with unexpected rip tides, and the massive waves that Portugal is famous for might be ideal for surfers, but not great for swimmers! Check local tide times and currents before your swim, and be mindful of changeable weather. 

You should also avoid alcohol before diving in, and never venture in alone or without letting someone know. Different countries may have specific regulations regarding swimming, even on beaches, so familiarize yourself with local rules and guidelines to ensure you stay safe.

And That’s A Wrap!

Europe’s wild swimming beaches offer unparalleled opportunities to connect with nature and experience the thrill of wild swimming. 

Whether you’re drawn to the rugged coastlines of Spain, the azure waters of Greece, or the picturesque beaches of Italy, there’s an exciting destination to suit every swim level and appeal. 

Take advantage of Guidester’s firsthand knowledge of beaches and idyllic swimming locations. Guidester can personalize your swim trip, guiding you to many breathtaking sites, and hidden gems!

The Ultimate Pre-Travel Checklist

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Each trip is a unique experience. Guidester personalizes your adventure, guiding you to those breathtaking sites, authentic local eateries, and hidden gems!

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