Looking for the cleanest bathing waters in Europe? Save this list for your next trip

Updated: Jun 09, 2022, 11:38 PM(IST)

In Europe, bathing is a very popular and important pastime. Every year the European Environment Agency (EEA) and the European Commission conduct a review of European bathing places. 

This may appear strange, but it helps evaluate how well environmental protection measures are implemented.

It also allows people to make informed decisions about where to bathe without risking their health. 21,551 officially identified bathing sites throughout the EU, as well as 119 in Albania and 189 in Switzerland, are included in this evaluation.

The next time you're in Europe, take a bath here:


Austria has the cleanest bathing waters in all of Europe. 

In Europe, the quality of bathing water has significantly improved during the previous few decades. Large investments in urban waste water treatment plants and improvements to waste water networks, as well as systematic monitoring and management introduced under the Bathing Water Directive in 2006, have resulted in a drastic reduction in organic pollutants released through untreated or partially treated urban waste waters.

Bathing is now feasible in urbanised and previously extremely polluted surface waterways as a result of these ongoing efforts. This demonstrates how well-thought-out and implemented policies may make a difference.



Malta has bagged the second position. 96.6 per cent of Malta's bathing waters as per the assessment are in excellent quality.

This year, 95 per cent or more, of bathing waters were of excellent quality in four countries: Austria, Malta, Croatia and Greece.

In the period 2015-2021, the share of bathing waters having an excellent status in Europe has been stable at 85-88 per cent for coastal bathing waters; and at 77-81 per cent for inland bathing waters



95.8 per cent of Greece's bathing waters met the set standards.

The percentage of European bathing waters achieving at least 'sufficient' quality (the minimum quality standard set by the Directive) increased from just 74 per cent in 1991 to over 95 per cent in 2003 and has remained quite stable since then.

One of the main requirements of the Directive is to ensure that all bathing water sites were at least of 'sufficient' quality by 2015. In the 2021 bathing season, this minimum quality standard was met by 95.2 per cent of all EU bathing water sites.



Croatia is at the fourth position with 95.7 per cent of its bathing waters up to the set standards. 

In 2021, 332 or 1.5 per cent of bathing water sites in the EU were of poor quality. While the share of poor-quality sites dropped slightly since 2013, problems persist at bathing waters of poor quality or bathing waters that are often affected by short-term pollution. 



93.3 percent of Cyprus's waters are safe to swim in.

Swimming in poor-quality water can cause disease; swimmers may feel stomach aches or diarrhoea if the water is consumed.

Thirty-one bathing sites in Italy, eight in France, and two in the Netherlands were forced to close permanently after receiving a bad rating for five consecutive years. This provision is part of the Bathing Water Directive, which was passed in 2006 and has resulted in a steady increase in the number of excellent sites since then.


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