Summer is on its way and there are loads of things about this time of year that we’re looking forward to. Of course, holidays are pretty high on the list, with city breaks, escapes to the countryside and weeks relaxing at the beach all on the cards. Whether it is swimming in a mountain pool or taking in the tranquil vista of a calm lake, water shapes many of our travelling experiences and can provide fun, exercise, peace and even nostalgia.

Check out some of these great water spots to cool off from the summer heat across Europe:

Italy’s stunning Lake Garda

Photo credits: Clockwise from top left: Freeartist; Freeartist; GOTO_TOKYO

The biggest lake in Italy has become a popular destination with visitors, due to its stunning location with the Alps as its backdrop. Couple this with cypress, olive and lemon trees on its shores and vineyards stretching off into the distance, it’s hard to think of a more idyllic spot. Holidaymakers can choose to go swimming, practice a water sport, such as windsurfing or sailing on the river or hop aboard a boat to enjoy Lake Garda’s crystal clear waters.

Fly to Verona and you could be on the shores of Lake Garda in less than 30 minutes.

Croatia’s salty Lokrum swimming hole

Standing in Dubrovnik and looking out to sea, many people may be intrigued by the lush little island a stone’s throw from the city’s famous walls. This is Lokrum and is a paradise for nature lovers just waiting to be explored. Head to the southern end of the island and discover a salt water lake that has been likened to the Dead Sea. So easy to float in due to its saline content, this swimming hole is a great way to cool off from the warmth of the Croatian sun.

Boats depart for Lokrum every hour during the day in high season, making the ten-minute trip from Dubrovnik to this special little island.

Fly to Dubrovnik to swim in Lokrum.

Tenerife’s delightful Garachico pools

Photo credit: iStock/Sasha64f

Among the wonderful things about the Garachico pools is that they contrast so nicely with the landscape. They were created due to a volcanic eruption, with the lava flowing naturally and forming the perfect basins for water to fill. While the surrounding area may be craggy, the Garachico pools are welcoming, with each one a different depth and therefore perfect choice for families with children of all ages and swimming abilities.

Garachico and its refreshing pools are less than an hour’s drive from Tenerife South Airport.

Italy’s indulgent Terme dei Papi

Not only does nature provide fresh water, but on occasions it even warms it for us, so we can enjoy it all the more. Terme dei Papi in Viterbo has been visited by several popes in its history and still delights those wishing to take advantage of the 1930s-built pool and the abundance of hot water. There is also an ancient cave, where you can stand in a pool and experience the naturally heated mineral water splash down in a cascade.

An hour and a half by car from Rome, a visit to Terme dei Papi is well worth the journey. A shuttle bus also serves the hot springs, with a return ticket costing €8 (£6.23).

El Hierro’s hidden Charco Azul

Photo credit: Both pictures: iStock/RebecaHeredero

Protected from the sea by a well-positioned rock, Charco Azul, or Blue Pool, is a wonderful hidden spot for swimming. Part of the bathing area is covered by a natural cave, with a basalt arch letting in light and providing the entrance. Lava flows led to the surrounding landscape and this secluded spot, which is a fantastic place to unwind and marvel at nature’s beauty.

The tiny Canarian island of El Hierro lies two hours and 45 minutes by ferry from Tenerife, but makes a great excursion for those willing to dedicate a chunk of their holiday to it.

Spain’s liberating La Pedriza rock pools

Those keen to escape the hustle and bustle of city life during their holiday in Madrid should head to the Parque Regional de la Cuenca Alta del Manzanares. Here they will find the beautifully clear Manzanares River, as well as various waterfalls and rock pools. Swimming at La Pedriza is the complete antithesis of city life, with the stunning mountains and countryside helping you to forget any stresses.

Parque Regional de la Cuenca Alta del Manzanares is an hour and a half’s drive from Madrid.

Having started her travelling career at the age of five on a trip to Africa with her family, Emma has gone on to visit more than 45 countries across the globe. Highlights have included taking part in a tango lesson in Argentina, seeing Victoria Falls from both sides and getting lost among the streets of the Albaicin in Granada.


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