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What are the best cities for swimming?

Cooling off on a summer city break doesn't have to mean going on a sweat-soaked search for the nearest air-con unit....

Posted: May 28, 2018 5:46 PM
Updated: May 28, 2018 5:46 PM

Cooling off on a summer city break doesn't have to mean going on a sweat-soaked search for the nearest air-con unit.

These classic destinations offer plenty of spots for taking a dip and shaking off the heat with the locals:

1. Copenhagen, Denmark

A city surrounded by water, Copenhagen is a joy for swimmers, especially as midsummer looms and winter becomes a distant memory.

Amager Beach Park is an ideal sandy spot for whiling away an afternoon. It's a two-kilometer artificial island that creates a calm lagoon perfect for a paddle.

If leaving the city seems like a chore, the sensational harbor baths at Islands Brygge and Fisketorvet are a winning alternative. Daredevils can try out the diving boards while fitness fanatics can plow out laps in the clean, cool water.

2. Zurich, Switzerland

Switzerland's love affair with diving into rivers and lakes isn't just confined to the High Alps. Zurich has 18 official outdoor bathing spots, all offering crystal-clear water in stunning surroundings.

Tiefenbrunnen swimming beach, on the shores of Lake Zurich, is the big draw thanks to its kids' pool, diving boards and the chance to get a post-swim massage.

For something off the beaten track, men can try the Schanzengraben river pool, which dates back to 1864. The women-only Stadthausquai pool is an art nouveau gem with views of the old town.

3. London, England

While plans for swimming in the Thames remain some way off, London has plenty of watering holes that come into their own when the English capital gets its sweat on.

Head north to the open spaces of Hampstead Heath for delicious freshwater bathing in one of the park's three bathing ponds.

The vast Tooting Bec Lido, in the southwest of the city, is a colossal 91-meter pool with room for serious swimmers and serial splashers.

South London's Brockwell Lido has the added bonus of a classy cafe. Central Hyde Park has a surprisingly secluded swimming spot in the Serpentine Lido.

Those pressed for time can try the King's Cross Pond Club, just a short walk from the center of town.

4. Hong Kong

The sticky heat of Hong Kong means that diving into cool water is a must when summer comes around.

At Repulse Bay, the water laps gently on the sand, making it the perfect place for an easy dip. For a hectic but fun-filled swim, Shek O offers amazing views to swimmers venturing out from the packed beach.

Those unable to make it out of the city center can still take advantage of some swanky hotel pools. The W's 76th floor oasis has harbor views and a lengthy cocktail menu for ultimate post-paddle relaxation.

5. Vancouver, Canada

Vancouver's obsession with all things outdoors makes it the best city in Canada for anyone looking to take to the water. The beaches here are wonderful.

For a quiet dip away from the crowds, Third Beach is the place to be.

On the Stanley Park seawall, its calm waters are great for a lengthy session of breast stroke. Best of all, visitors can bring their own barbecue.

Trout Lake Beach has a dedicated swimming raft, its lush freshwater a pleasant alternative to the salty stuff which surrounds the city.

6. Sydney, Australia

Home to the world's largest natural harbor and some of Australia's best beaches, Sydney is a city which lives for the water.

Swimmers should swerve the surfers at Bondi and instead make for Clovelly Bay. At 350 meters long and just 60 meters wide, with a breakwater dampening those big waves, it's the ultimate place for a seaside dip.

For a more secluded paddle, check out the South West Arm Pool. Cut off at low tide, this saltwater swimming hole is like nowhere else in this corner of Oz.

7. Lisbon, Portugal

While aping Lord Byron and swimming across the Tagus is no longer possible, swimmers spending the summer in Portugal's ultra-hip capital will find wild water easy to come by.

The railway line from the city center east to Cascais is blessed with vast stretches of sand and turquoise waves.

For those not tempted to take the train, the Inspira Santa Marta hotel offers shuttle buses to the beaches at Carcavelos and Guincho. It'll even throw in beach towels so guests don't need to weigh themselves down when packing.

8. Paris, France

The annual Paris Plages event sees the banks of the Seine transformed. Sandy beaches dot the river, as well as a temporary pool for cooling off in the heart of the city.

These will be a welcome change from the current scenes in Paris, where flooding has left stretches of the Seine river bank underwater.

For a swankier swim, there's Molitor. Formerly Paris' most popular swimming baths, this stunning location sat derelict for 25 years until 2014, when it was reopened as one of the city's hottest hotels. Each of the 124 rooms has views of the vast courtyard lido.

9. New York

The Five Boroughs are blessed with some superb outdoor pools, essential for anyone in the Big Apple during the sweltering summer months. There are more than 50 from which to choose.

There's also the true local experience -- leaving Manhattan behind and taking the subway out to Astoria in Queens, where there's a vast 50-meter Olympic-sized pool.

Anyone overwhelmed by the heat in Greenpoint or Williamsburg can try the hipsters' watery hangout of choice at McCarren Park pool, opened in 1936.

10. Berlin, Germany

Berlin might be a long way from the sea, but swimming is at its heart thanks to a string of picture-postcard lakes.

There's the classic beach at Wannsee, opened to the public in 1907 and still thriving thanks to its balmy freshwater and ace waterslide.

In the east there's the glorious Muggelsee, with a roped-off lido and kids' play area.

And in town, the uber-hip Badeschiff floats on the River Spree in an old barge, a short footbridge connecting the pool to a bar area where there are hammocks and ice-cold beers.

11. Stockholm, Sweden

While daring swimmers dive straight into the water from Stockholm's myriad quays, there are plenty of pretty beaches and secluded coves for more peaceful dips.

The delightful Smedsuddsbadet, with a sunbathing lawn and sandy bank, is popular with families.

Those after something truly local should hop on the Number 1 bus and follow the route all the way to Oxhalsbadet in Stora Essingen.

There are diving platforms from three jetties and steps for climbing out from the cool depths.

12. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Unless you're a pro, Rio's spectacular new Olympic pool is out of bounds until after this summer's games.

But with two of the world's best beaches close by, swimmers in town for the biggest sporting event on the planet won't be disappointed.

Copacabana and Ipanema are great for anyone looking to shake off a night on the caipirinhas. The views from the water to Sugarloaf Mountain are worth wading out for.

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