Croatia, Greece, Austria: Which European destinations have the cleanest water for swimming?


Most of Europe’s bathing waters, starting from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, are of outstanding quality for swimming.


Heading to the beach or lake and taking a swim within the cool water is a vital a part of occurring holiday for a lot of. But to save lots of spending the remainder of your hard-earned break sick, it’s good to understand how clean the water you’re jumping into really is. 

A lot of the EU’s bathing spots are secure to swim in, in keeping with the European Environment Agency.

There’s some variation, nonetheless, depending on where you might be and in what form of water you choose to take a dip. The standard of water in seas and oceans is usually higher than that of rivers and lakes, for instance. 

In 2023, around 89 per cent of coastal bathing waters inside the EU were classified as excellent, compared with slightly below 79 per cent of landlocked bathing waters.

Which European countries have the perfect quality bathing water?

In 2023, 85 per cent of Europe’s reported 22,081 bathing waters were of fantastic quality. Destinations like Cyprus, Austria, Croatia, and Greece prepared the ground with 95 per cent or more of bathing waters rated excellent.

Nevertheless, destinations like Albania, Belgium, Estonia, Hungary, and Poland fell short, with lower than 70 per cent of their bathing waters meeting this standard.

Overall, 96 per cent of all EU bathing waters met a minimum of the minimum quality standard by the 2023 season, as required by the Bathing Water Directive (BWD).

The report highlights that the standard of Europe’s bathing water has improved because of fine policies. Treatment and management have cut pollutants and pathogens, making once-polluted urban areas secure for swimming. 

Nevertheless, in some EU countries like Sweden, the Netherlands, Ireland, and Estonia, 3 per cent or more of bathing sites have poor quality. When a site is labelled poor, it’s closed for the subsequent season meaning it isn’t secure to swim, and steps should be taken to enhance the situation. 

How is bathing water rated and why does it matter in your health?

The EU follows the BWD to administer bathing areas across the bloc. They discover these areas, and their set bathing seasons then establish monitoring plans for coastal, transitional waters, rivers, and lakes. The directive doesn’t cover swimming or spa pools.

Polluted water could cause health issues if swallowed, like stomach upsets and diarrhoea. It may possibly also result in infections within the ears, eyes, and respiratory tract, and sometimes more serious diseases.

Authorities often test bathing waters for bacteria like E. coli and intestinal enterococci, which indicate sewage and manure pollution. Based on the bacteria levels, water quality is assessed as ’excellent, ’ ’good,’ ’sufficient, ’ or ’poor. ’

Will you soon find a way to swim within the Seine?

In 2015, Paris launched a plan to prepare the Seine for swimming by the 2024 Olympics, investing €1.4 billion within the project. By 2025, after the games, Parisians can have access to swimming areas along the Seine at Bras Marie, Bras de Grenelle, and Bercy.

As of now, structural works in Paris and the metropolitan area have been accomplished. This included upgrading wastewater treatment plants with disinfection units and unveiling a major infrastructure piece: the Austerlitz rainwater storage basin, with a capability comparable to 20 Olympic swimming pools.


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