By Explorer Helen Alexander –
1. Swim Laps at a Lido: London, UK
When the sun’s shining, Londoners pack a picnic and head to one of the city’s old-school outdoor swimming pools – or lidos. In the southeast, there’s Brockwell Park’s Olympic-size pool, where regular evening film screenings are held in the summer months. Up north, the 60-metre Hampstead Heath lido is complemented by three ponds surrounded by leafy green spaces, perfect for sunbathing.
The capital’s latest attraction, situated in the newly regenerated Granary Square behind one of the busiest train stations in the country, is the King’s Cross Pond Club. Billed as an art attraction you can swim in, the stunning pool is filtered by plants and surrounded by nature – float on your back and stare up at the city skyline.
Where to stay in London
The 52nd floor of the Shangri-La Hotel at the Shard London is home to Western Europe’s highest swimming pool and boasts breathtaking views of famous landmarks, such as Westminster and Big Ben.
2. From Beach to Bar: Dubrovnik, Croatia
Get a whole new perspective on the city’s ornate stone churches and baroque buildings as you float offshore at one of the many sandy – or sometimes pebbly – stretches along the Adriatic coast.
Of all Dubrovnik’s beaches, Banje gets the most attention and rightly so. It’s a picture-perfect patch of turquoise water and as the sun sinks into the sea, the beach bar rapidly transforms into a hip nightclub – just remember to pack your party clothes when you set off for the day.
If you like your beach time to come with a few activities thrown in, join a kayaking tour and paddle past the medieval city walls, or if you prefer to take it easy, set up camp at Banje – tucked behind the cathedral, you’ll find a series of stone steps that are perfect for throwing your towel on to sunbathe.
Where to stay in Dubrovnik
Hotel Dubrovnik Palace has four swimming pools to choose from, in addition to a private beach with a snorkelling and PADI diving centre.
3. Tales from the Riverbank: Munich, Germany
Cutting the city in half, the Isar River meanders past a number of stunning spots where locals enjoy barbecues and picnics during the long daylight hours of summer. Take the plunge and join a river-rafting trip.
But be warned, this isn’t the white-knuckled, white-water version.
Instead, Munich’s old-school wooden rafts lazily float down river to the sound of the onboard band. Passengers can take in the sights while feasting on plenty of traditional German food and beer. Head to Eisbach, a tributary of the Isar that runs through the scenic Englischer Garten, if you want to practice your surf skills without leaving the city. Yes, really. Here, the river water shoots from an underground tunnel and a wave is created – making the spot a favourite among locals for a spot of river surfing.
Where to stay in Munich
The lakeside Althoff Seehotel Überfahrt has a sprawling spa with both indoor and outdoor pools, as well as private access to the lake to sunbathe. Just under 100 kilometres from Munich airport, it makes for a peaceful break from the city.
4. Lazy, Lakeside Days: Geneva, Switzerland
Drawing in visitors year-round, with its warming Turkish bath and saunas for winter and pristine beach and swimming pools for summer, Bains des Pâquis has all the attractions of a beach resort but in a city setting. Leap from the diving board into the crystal clear water, join a meditative tai chi class and swim out to the stunning lighthouse – the scene of an annual race.
Once you have cooled off, it’s time to warm your stomach with a bubbling pot of traditional fondue. It’s served at a number of lakeside restaurants and gourmands from all over the country head here to tuck into this melted cheese delicacy.
Keep an eye out for water polo action, too – Bains des Pâquis in the practice ground of the Genève Club Natation.
Where to Stay in Geneva
The Four Seasons Hotel Geneva has a rooftop pool that plays underwater music. Stay where there’s a place to swim onsite and you’ll be as cool as a cucumber throughout your Europe tour.
Best Time to Visit
If you visit in winter, fear not – the region has some fantastic natural hot springs and heated swimming pools – so you can still soak in comfort.
How to Get There
Malaysian Airlines fly direct from Kuala Lumpur to London Gatwick (LGW) and London Heathrow (LHW). Flight time is around 13 hours 30 minutes. Lufthansa flies from KL to Geneva (GVA), Munich (MUC) and Dubrovnik (DBV) via Frankfurt.
Feature Image:Althoff Seehotel Überfahrt