The Most Amazing Places to Swim Outdoors

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frying pan lake
Frying Pan Lake

Unusual outdoor swimming spots everyone should visit once

Just when all hope seemed lost, the sun has graced us once again with its presence. And what better way to celebrate than with some urban outdoor swimming? As amazing as it may sound, the Kings Cross Pond Club is an art installation you can swim in. The result of a collaboration between architects Eva Pfannes and Sylvain Hartenberg and artist Marjetica Potrc, it is the first artificial, fresh water public swimming pond in the UK. Entitled Of Soil and Water and conveniently located in the heart of the capital, the 40-metre-long pond was conceived to provide a unique, chemical-free bathing experience. Surrounded by pioneer plants and beautiful nymphaeas, swimmers are encouraged to take part in the experimental project, which aims to connect man and nature in an effort towards sustainable living. So here we greet the long-awaited summer with a choice of our favourite outdoor swimming destinations.

Daring swims
If you’re a thrill-seeker, the Devil’s Pool is what you’re looking for. Located on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, the naturally formed pool rests right on the brink of a waterfall. A slip away from a 100m drop, the adrenaline rush is guaranteed.

If you really want to experience life on the edge, you can’t go wrong with a trip to New Zealand. While the name is pretty self-explanatory, we'd like to warn you that swimming in Frying Pan Lake is likely to be very uncomfortable – heated by hot springs, it has an average water temperature of 50-60 degrees Celsius.

Finally, if you’re into extreme snorkelling, Jellyfish Lake has to be the place. Located in the island country of Palau, the 12,000-year-old lake crawls with golden and moon jellyfish. Although both species have stinging cells, they’re said to be harmless to humans, but you have to be brave enough to try it to believe it.

Wonderful lakes
Have you ever swum amid constellations of light? A complex sequence of events involving fires, floods and microscopic algae has meant that unexpected episodes of bioluminescence have occurred at the Gippsland Lakes since 2006. One of Australia’s many natural treasures, the region is also home to about 20,000 water birds, alongside 50 of only 150 Burrunan dolphins inhabiting our planet.

If you’re a mountain enthusiast, get yourself to Oregon and visit Crater Lake. Its crystalline waters fill a caldera that was formed nearly 8,000 years ago and, at 592m, it is the deepest lake in the United States. Reflecting the sky above like a giant rounded mirror, the lake is hemmed in by dramatic cliffs.

While if you’re more on the cautious side, Resia Lake in South Tyrol might be just for you. This would look like any other alpine lake, if it weren’t for the half-submerged bell tower of a 14th-century church resting in its centre. The lake is at its most appealing for swimmers during the warm season, but when the water freezes in winter it’s perfect for ice-skating and snowkiting.

Natural wonders
Nature gives us the most wonderful things in life, and the cave pool at Domus Civita is one of them. Located on the hilltop of Italian village of Civita di Bagnoregio, this dreamy ancient cave is hidden beneath a house. Tranquil and beautiful, its lantern-lit, heated turquoise pool will be a memory forever.

A three-hour drive and a swim away is another Adriatic jewel, the Blue Grotto of Biševo, Croatia. Every day around noon, the sunlight reflects through the seawater and infuses the cave with glowing blue light, a marvelous sight that you’d only think existed in dreams.

Not a cave but equally magical, the Pamukkale thermal pools are a limestone-laden, mineral water spa in southwestern Turkey. Its Tiffany’s blue hot waters spring from the earth down over a waterfall, creating natural pools of solid, vividly white calcium, earning this idyllic place the title of “cotton castle”.

Architectural baths
It’s not often that you can paddle next to the graceful archways of an ancient Roman viaduct, but you can in Southern France. A supreme work of architecture, the Pont du Gard provides a great spot for fresh-water swimming and canoeing with a memorable view.

Next, we dip a toe in the thermal waters of the Széchenyi in Budapest, the largest medicinal bath in Europe. With over a dozen indoor and outdoor pools, whirlpools, saunas and a stunning Neo-baroque backdrop, it is an ideal destination for a relaxing weekend break.

Our third architecture-themed swimming recommendation takes you all the way to Mexico, to the wonderful retreat of Hacienda Uayamon. Immersed in rich tropical vegetation, the hotel’s luxury pool sits on the site of a decadent, now roofless, 17th-century stone building. Its lush surroundings, majestic columns and comfy hammocks make it a romantic oasis, perfect for any nature lovers.

Amazing pools
Nestled away in the Indonesian rainforest, the granite infinity pool at Hanging Gardens Ubud, Bali, wins our vote for most beautiful above ground swimming pool. With its panoramic jungle view and spiritual settings, it’s an enchanting, private escape.

Not content with socks and sandals, Germans are the proud inventors of another quirky summer trend: a swimming pool in the river. A public pool created from a recycled cargo container and floating on the river Spree, Badeschiff provides Berliners with a lovely place to cool off on a hot summer day, while its imported sand beach is great for an afternoon of urban sunbathing.

Last but not least is the pool at San Alfonso del Mar Resort, in Santiago de Chile. At 1,013m, this clear, deep blue seawater lagoon is the longest swimming pool in the world.