Best Countries for Wild Swimming in Europe: Austria Ranks No. 1

Last updated on July 14th, 2022 at 09:56 pm


Tired of a man-made swimming pool? In case you want to try out open water swimming, an official report by an agency of the European Union says Austria, Malta, and Greece are the top three countries that have healthy waters for wild swimming.

Being one of the leisure activities in Europe, the union’s Bathing Water Directive (BWD) under the European Environment Agency (EEA) set up systematic monitoring and management to rate open water quality in EU member countries that have a remarkable reduction in organic pollutants released to the water.

The report shows how EEA member countries, which excluded the United Kingdom which ceased to be a member on January 31, 2020, are implementing water quality policies.


This report is meant to guide fun-lover who might want to take a dive in a natural pool of water at the sea, ocean, and waters devoid of man-made structures in taking the best decision.

In the EEA 2021 report, 87.4 per cent of the water is certified as ‘excellent’. On the No.1 spot is Austria, a mountainous and landlocked country in the southern part of Central Europe.

And recently, Austria’s capital city, Vienna was ranked as the best city to work remotely in Europe among other cities on the continent.

Europe’s Best Countries to Swim

With 97.7%, Austria’s open waters are great places for tourists who love wild swimming. The best part: Austria is home to beautiful lakes.

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Some of them include: Lake Neusiedler See in Burgenland, Lake Mondsee in Upper Austria, and Lake Wörthersee in Carinthia among others, according to Austria Info.

Trailing Austria in the second position is Malta, which has 96.6%. Malta may be famous for playing host to a lot of historic sites related to a succession of rulers like the Knights of Saint John, the Romans, and Moors among others, the country’s open waters are healthy for swimming.

A lake that brings Malta to mind is Chadwick lakes also known as Wied il-Qlejgha, artificial freshwater lakes that attract tourists around the world.

Malta is followed by Greece with 95.8% while Croatia and Cyprus scored 95.7% and 93.3% respectively.

Sources EEA

Europe’s Worst Countries for Wild Swimming

While Austria, Malta, and other EEA member countries look good for open swimming, Poland, the 9th largest country in Europe by population, which comes at the bottom of the ranking doesn’t look good because of its 44.5% score which is below the standard set by EEA.

Below are the top three EU countries where wild swimming according to the report, is not ‘excellent’.

  1. Poland: 44.5%
  2. Slovakia: 50.0%
  3. Hungary: 60.2%

What is Wild Swimming?

Wild swimming is adventurous swimming in an open natural pool of water that has no man-made structure, no human-made barriers. Some of the safety guides of wild swimming include testing the depth, the nature of aquatic animals inside the water, and cleanness among others

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There you have it, the best and worst countries for wild swimming in Europe


  1. EEA (June 3, 2022). “European bathing water quality in 2021”.
  2. Holidays in Austria. “Austria’s Most Beautiful Bathing Lakes”.
  3. Emily Woodhouse (January 21, 2020). “Wild Swimming: Your Guide To The Basics”.

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