Guest post by Dakota Murphy

Europe is blessed with many attractive beaches, rivers, lakes and stunning natural bodies of water on the coast and inland. So, if you’re someone who filters their holiday searches to include any of the following words: ‘sea’, ‘pool’ or ‘lake’, then there are plenty of waterside stays in Europe to explore. 

If your plan is to relax in a poolside villa or venture off the beaten track to see France’s best beaches, then look no further. For somewhere with an unforgettable waterside setting, this article uncovers fantastic destinations to discover in the UK and across Europe. 

Beach or pool?

Carvoeiro, Algarve, Portugal

From lying on a beach to debating the merits of a place with a pool, if you love holidaying near water, there are many options to think about. Perhaps a peaceful week in a handpicked luxury villa is the answer to making your dream retirement plans a realityWhatever floats your boat, whether it’s an unforgettable beach getaway or an apartment overlooking a river, there are many unbeatable waterfront destinations to choose from.

United Kingdom

When the weather starts to warm up, it makes sense to seek out a beach, lake, or pool to dip into, to hire a boat, or to go paddle-boarding and kayaking. Outdoor swimming has grown massively in popularity so if you’re planning a staycation in the UK, there are great swimming spots to discover


Hampstead swimming - waterside stays in Europe

If you’re in London, Hampstead Ponds and even parts of the River Thames welcome swimmers, or are great for sightseeing river cruises and speed-boat trips. For those staying near the city’s River, offering a unique perspective on this iconic city. Stroll along the South Bank for stunning views of the skyline, or hop on a riverboat cruise to explore the city’s landmarks from the water. Likewise, the capital’s Regent’s Canal has picturesque towpaths and lively waterside cafés, for a serene oasis amid the bustling streets of London.


Bath spa - waterside stays in Europe

Step back in time to Bath and book a unique house for an extended stay. This famous city is renowned for its stunning Georgian architecture, Roman baths and the natural hot springs that bubble up from the ground. Therefore, it’s no surprise that Bath is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its remarkably well-preserved architecture.

Visitors to the iconic Roman Baths can explore the remains of the ancient Roman bathing complex and learn about the history of the city’s thermal springs. It’s also possible to experience the rejuvenating waters firsthand at the Thermae Bath Spa, an incredible setting that incorporates the natural hot springs for a one-of-a-kind luxurious and relaxing experience. With the River Avon winding its way through the centre of Bath, the banks are a picturesque setting with weeping willows, grassy verges and elegant bridges. Nearby, Pulteney Bridge, and Kennet and Avon Canal paths are lovely to explore on a narrowboat barge or leisurely walk.


Paris plages - waterside stays in Europe

For visitors to France, arguably one of Europe’s most romantic cities is Paris or the ‘City of Light’ as it’s referred to. A trip here isn’t possible without meandering along the paths of the alluring River Seine, enjoying the iconic landmarks, such as the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedral. The Seine is lined with walkways, cafes and market stalls so taking your time is the order of the day, in addition to stopping off at the city’s multiple museums and art galleries. 

Paris’ unrivalled Seine winds through the whole city, so a river cruise is an ideal way to sightsee, learn the capital’s history on a guided tour, and find out more about the surrounding landmarks. Each year, the Paris Plages transform the riverbanks into city beaches. This summer, however, these beaches will be put on hold as the city hosts the 2024 Olympics with organisers confident the Seine will see swimmers compete in its waters. Meanwhile, the Parc Rives de Seine is also beautiful, and akin to the French Riviera with beach chairs, umbrellas, palm trees and riverside entertainment.

Nice and Cannes

Cannes - waterside stays in Europe

Nestled on the stunning French Riviera, Nice and Cannes are two of the most famous cities in the south of France, attracting travellers from around the world thanks to impressive beaches and their glamorous reputations. Located on the Med, Nice’s famous Promenade des Anglais, a seaside esplanade lined with palm trees and offering breathtaking views of the azure waters. This iconic seafront is lined with palm trees, providing a perfect vantage point to admire the Baie des Anges and its pebbled shores. 

The playground of the rich and glamorous, the Cote D’Azur also includes Cannes and epitomises the region’s allure. Cannes is home to a gorgeous sandy beach, La Croisette, which offers stunning views of azure waters and opportunities for swimming, sunbathing, and various water sports. Visitors can indulge in sailing, yachting, or taking leisurely boat tours along the scenic coastline. The nearby Lérins Islands, accessible by ferry, provide additional secluded coves and beaches for snorkelling.


Lisbon - waterside stays in Europe


Portugal’s charming capital, Lisbon offers the best of both worlds thanks to its charming historic city and beautiful coast. Visitors to the city have easy access to many nearby beaches, including Cascais and Estoril, that are both known for their pretty towns and historic architecture and fortresses. Just outside Lisbon, Praia da Conceição and the surf beach at Praia do Guincho are ideal for enjoying water sports or relaxing.



Situated along the Douro River, Porto offers a charming blend of waterside charm and historical splendour. Wander through the colourful Ribeira district, where traditional Rabelo boats line the riverbanks, and savour local Port wine at one of the many riverfront taverns. Porto’s Douro River is enchanting, with a colourful Ribeira district full of rabelo boats, taverns, and scenic cruises through vineyards. Take a scenic cruise along the Douro for breathtaking views of the region’s vineyards and rolling hills. Porto’s enchanting riverfront along the Douro is a highlight, with colourful Ribeira, Rabelo boats, riverfront taverns, and scenic cruises.



In Spain, Barcelona boasts a rich heritage and is a great city to stay in with plenty of attractions at its heart and a vibrant beach scene just outside. If you love being near water and escaping the busier streets of the main city, stroll along the Barceloneta Beach Boardwalk and, if you’re feeling adventurous, try your hand at sailing or windsurfing. 

In addition to this lively waterfront, the vast Castelldefels is a highlight for peace and tranquillity. The Castelldefels Beach and the secluded coves of Garraf Natural Park boast the city’s imposing architecture as a stunning backdrop. However, a visit to Barcelona isn’t complete without seeing the iconic works of Gaudí.

Italian Lakes and Waterfront Cities 

Italian Lakes

For your dream lakeside holiday, look no further than the Italian Lakes. This popular region houses stunning lakes like Lake Como with Bellagio, Lake Garda with Sirmione, and Lake Maggiore with the Borromean Islands. The Italian Lakes offer everything for holidaymakers keen to swim, waterski, fish or relax in a beautiful setting. They are tranquil havens for water sports of all kinds with some outstanding scenery.



Venice or the ‘Floating City’ as it is known is a waterside wonderland like no other thanks to a myriad of canals that filter through the city’s historic cobbled streets. The ultimate way to appreciate and see Venice in all its glory is on a chauffeured gondola ride. Once on board, savour ice cream and prepare to be transfixed by the sheer grandeur of Venice’s ornate palaces and unique bridges.



Furthermore, Florence is prestigious in a different way with gorgeous architecture, art galleries, museums and intriguing piazzas to enjoy. The Arno River stretches through the heart of this beautiful city and from the beauty of your Florence apartment, there are special sights to see. A must-visit is the city’s most famous Ponte Vecchio, a bridge lined with bespoke jewellers’ shops and friendly street artists. From here, you can also admire scenic views over the water and a unique perspective of Florence. Alternatively, a boat along the Arno will provide some equally memorable sights.


Whether you prefer a sun-drenched beach, an unforgettable swim spot, a river tour, or a serene lake, waterside stays in Europe offer some seriously picturesque settings for an unforgettable holiday. Contact our friendly concierge team to organise any special extras for your stay – private chefs, massage services, car hire, yacht charter and more, you name it!

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