Forget paying to go to the pool – plunge in at the deep end with these European al-fresco aquatic adventures from The Best Things in Life are Free.
Lake Bohinj – Slovenia
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.
Baggy Point – England
Swim through several secret sea caves at this delightful Devonshire dipping spot, including one tide-swept tunnel hidden from lily-livered landlubbers. Wildlife along this part of the coast includes seals, dolphins and porpoises.
Nationaltrust.org.uk/baggy-point; North Devon, England; free.
Upper Letten river pool, River Limmat – Switzerland
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.
Purcaraccia Canyon – Corsica
The hike to the pools in this canyoning hotspot is demanding, but worth the effort. Swim in – and slide between – a series of pools fed by crystal-clear mountain water, and enjoy an infinity pool teetering on a waterfall edge.
Lake Walchen – Germany
Bavaria is blessed with a batch of brilliant bathing spots, and this deep alpine lake 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.
Near Kochel, Germany; free.
Lac D’Annecy – France
Heated by subterranean hot springs, this Alpine lake is unsurprisingly popular. Many beaches charge during the summer, but Plage d’Albigny à Annecy-le-Vieux and Plages des Marquisats are free. Wilder spots can be found too – some with great cliff jumps.
Lac-annecy.com; Haute-Savoie, France; free.
Lago di Fiastra – Italy
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 rumoured submerged village.
Loch Lomond – Scotland
You need a brave heart to swim in Scotland, but this beautiful loch – Britain’s biggest puddle – might 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).
Lochlomond-trossachs.org; Loch Lomond & The Trossachs NP, Scotland; free.