Lake Negratín, Granada
This expansive freshwater lake is formed by the Negratin Dam on the Guadiana Menor River located in the Province of Granada, near the villages of Freila, Zujar and Cuevas del Campo. The local sailing club El Negratin Club Nautico offers canoeing and sailing classes for the sportier visitors, while another crowd favorite is the Baños de Zujar — a thermal bath located by the base of Mount Jabalcon, heated by the hot springs of the mountain itself. The Lake Negratin sits on the border between the Province of Granada and the Province of Almeria, both of which claim this natural wonder as their own.
Charco Azul, El Hierro (Canary Islands)
This blissful natural swimming area is so impressive in its design; you wouldn’t be blamed for wondering if it was man-made. Located on El Hierro, the smallest of the Canary Islands as well as the most tranquil, the Charco Azul or ‘Blue Pool’ is a naturally occurring salt-water pool nestled just behind a row of rocks on the seafront. The pool is protected from the waves and tides by its natural barrier, yet offers all the benefits of sea water as well as a delightful maritime breeze. To get there you will need to climb down some relatively steep stairs, but it’s well worth the effort to discover one of the most stunning natural sites of the Canary Islands.
Embalse del Guadalhorce, Málaga
Although the Guadalhorce reservoir is the best for swimming, there are in fact three large reservoirs in this peaceful corner of the province of Málaga, near the town of Ardales. Created in the early 20th century, the space is surrounded by a stunning pine tree forest dappled with occasional eucalyptus tree, and is a haven of peace in the summer months when the coast is full of tourists. Head towards La Isla recreation area and you will be able to hire sun-beds, pedalos and kayaks, or venture a little further round to find your own private expanse to rest. The reservoir can be accessed by car either from Ardales or from the nearby El Chorro.
Fuentes de Algar, Alicante
Located a mere 15kms from Benidorm, these lively waterfalls make for an excellent change of scenery from the busy beach front and offer the chance to discover the diverse flora and fauna of the area. While you are required to pay a small fee to access the Fuentes de Algar (no more than €5 per person), once inside you’re able to enjoy a walk around the river on the 1.5km long signposted circuit (that tells you about the river) and of course, make the big jump from the top of the waterfalls. There are a number of restaurants and facilities around; or, if you’d rather pack your own meal, a designated picnic spot for your benefit.
Termas A Chavasqueira, Ourense
This naturally occurring thermal spa is located in the province of Ourense, by the town of the same name, and is one of mother nature’s many wonders. Hot water gushing from the nearby springs creates a series of natural baths ranging from warm to very hot which visitors can enjoy in a gradual circuit — just like the Romans did once upon a time. You can access a number of springs for free; but for a more luxurious experience head over to the purpose-built facilities that offer towels, slippers and changing rooms.
Riera de Merlès, Barcelona
Located in the province of Barcelona, near the towns of Ripollès, Berguedà, Osona, and el Bages, the Merlès River is an immensely loved swimming site in the area. The smooth running waters and large openings make it a perfect place to bring children; while the more adventurous (old or young) will enjoy jumping from the small waterfalls that pop every now and again, one such well-known spot being the Gola de les Heures. Running nearby a campsite, it’s best to walk a little further downstream to avoid the crowds, especially at weekends when it is a popular day trip among locals.