It is hot in Europe right now. We are all overheated, sweaty and in desperate need of a refreshing plunge. Some of us are lucky enough to have a pool right at home, while others may be escaping to the coast. Yet, these are not the only ways to enjoy a fresh swim. Europe is speckled with natural pools, some right next to the ocean, others surrounded by beautiful hills. We looked around and chose our five favorite options.
1. Natural Pools of Calhetas, Azores
We have to admit, the Azores are not as easily reachable as the rest of Europe. This archipelago lies in the Atlantic Ocean and you will definitely need a plane to get there. Yet they are a magnificent piece of nature and undoubtedly worth a visit. The Natural Pools of Calhetas are located in a quiet area on the north side of São Miguel and offer splendid views over the ocean. Thanks to the atypical rock formations, you will be able to enjoy a refreshing swim during low tide. There is even a little picnic area so you can extend your stay even a little longer.
2. Pamukkale, Turkey
Pamukkale, or “cotton castle” in Turkish, is first of all a feast for the eyes. Thanks to a natural mineral in the water, soft white terraces, each offering a secluded little pool, were formed here over the years. The milky-colored water originates from different hot water springs located a little higher up the hill. Pamukkale has been known for its thermal springs since the antiquity and has recently been declared a World Heritage Site. As tourism had been very damaging for the pools, only one of them is still accessible to swim in and you will have to pay a small fee, yet it will definitely be worth the expense.
3. Saturnia, Italy
Another country, another thermal destination. Just like Pamukkale, the hot springs of Saturnia have been popular with the locals since even before the arrival of the Romans. During the Middle Ages, there even was a compelling legend about the springs. They would have been born at the exact point where Jupiter’s thunderbolt smashed down in a battle against Saturn. This would allegedly have created a hole in the earth, also known as the portals to hell. Here, the water is about 37 degrees and rich in Sulphur, which means it has a slightly eggy smell. Although there are several ways to enjoy the therapeutic advantages, your best bet would be to go to the Cascate del Mulino. The entrance is free, yet you will probably have to face a lot of other tourists. As the area is open 24 hours a day, you may want to go early in the morning or late at night – just a little tip from us to you.
4. Plage de Bon Secours, France
Although this might not exactly be a “natural” pool, the Plage de Bon Secours in the French town of Saint-Malo is nonetheless a true gem. Right in the middle of the sandy beach you will find a concrete pool dating back to the Interbellum. René Lesaunier, best described as some kind of beach bar manager, was concerned about the fact that during low tide, beach goers had to walk very far to reach the sea. He came up with the idea of a tidal pool, where the water would be retained during low tide and refreshed during high tide. That way, his customers could enjoy the refreshing sea water all day long. And that is exactly what they are doing, even nowadays. As the pool is located right next to the old city walls, it is the perfect place to marvel at the beauty that is Saint-Malo while keeping your head (and body) cool.
5. Grotta della Poesia, Italy
Ever been to Puglia, the southernmost province of Italy? Well, if you have not, you should, even if it is just to bath in the Grotta della Poesia. This little wonder of nature is located in Roca Vecchia village, on the Adriatic Coast between Lecce and Otranto. There are actually two Grotta della Poesias: a small one and a big one. The smaller Grotta is very interesting because of its Messapian, Greek and Latin inscriptions, the big one is the ideal place to have a swim after having taken a 5-meter high dive into the water. From the cave, you can then take a tunnel which will lead you right to the sea. A spectacular view, especially because of the crystal-clear water. And the name of the place? Well, some say it is a reference to a very beautiful princess who once used to come here a lot, attracting poets from all over the world to describe her beauty. There is also a more scientific explanation, yet let’s not break the illusion.