When Europe’s temperatures start to soar, there’s no better place to be than by the water. But that doesn’t necessarily mean heading straight for the coast.
Inland, around 15.5 per cent of the world’s freshwater can be found on the continent, providing a calm, clean and refreshing environment to swim, kayak or relax on beaches, rocks or pebbly shores.
From family-friendly camping resorts to secluded, pine-shaded cottages, there are options to suit every budget.
Consider splashing into one of these landlocked waterways this summer.
Lake Saimaa, Finland – summer water temperature: 18.7C
Not sure where to take a dip? There are more than 188,000 lakes to choose from in Finnish Lakeland, located in the south-eastern corner of the outdoor-loving Nordic country. The largest is Lake Saimaa, a watery labyrinth dotted with thousands of islands. Measuring 14,500km, its lake coastline is the longest in the world, providing plenty of scenic spots to sunbathe on rocks or take waterside strolls, searching for the endangered ringed seal. Away from the water, rural roads wind through pine forests, farmlands and charming towns.
Lake Constance, Germany – summer water temperature: 25-26C
Fringed with orchards, vineyards and views stretching towards the Alps, this scenic body of water sits in a region dubbed the German Riviera. Combine easy half-day strolls with visits to the gardens of Mainau or the monastic island of Reichenau using the efficient local boats, trains and buses to move around. Relax on sand and pebble beaches, dotted around the lake, or choose to bathe at one of the seasonal summer lidos.
Lake Pirkdorfer, Austria – summer water temperature: 27C
Guaranteed to make your skin feel silky soft, the water in this crystal-clear lake in the South Carinthia region is so clean it’s considered good enough to drink. Backed by the Karawanks mountains, it’s an excellent area for hiking and biking. But with paddleboards and pedal boats available for hire, there’s enough to keep you occupied on the lake. Lakeside Petzen Glamping offers safari tents, poolside lodges and luxurious tree-top tents – or bring your own A-frame and stay for just £17.98 per night for two.
Lake Skärsjön, Sweden – summer water temperature: 23C
Swedes are masters of lakeside escapes. Every holiday season, people retreat to their summer houses to celebrate the longest days of the year. Foreign families can tap into the Scandi culture for spending quality time with each other in nature, by booking into a lakeside, off-grid eco lodge – just 2.5 hours from Stockholm via train. Enjoy a floating sauna, go on a beaver safari or head into the forest to track moose. An on-site organic grocery provides everything needed for wild dining – with the option to forage for a few extra berries and herbs.
The Italian Lakes, Italy – summer water temperature: 24C
Synonymous with glitz and glamour, Italy’s northern lakes have always been popular with the rich and famous – making the region as much of an A-list star as the Amalfi coast. Try out a variety of water sports on Lake Como, Europe’s deepest lake, and visit the 18th century Villa Balbianello, used as a location in James Bond film Casino Royale. Botanical fans can indulge themselves at Lake Maggiore and its celebrated gardens. Italy’s second largest lake is also within easy reach of Cannero and Stresa, towns favoured by walkers.