This country, which is landlocked, has been voted Europe's best place to bathe

The European Environment Agency (EEA), which released a report this week, has revealed that nearly 85% of Europe's bathing water sites are now considered "excellent".

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
06 June 2022 Monday 13:11
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This country, which is landlocked, has been voted Europe's best place to bathe

The European Environment Agency (EEA), which released a report this week, has revealed that nearly 85% of Europe's bathing water sites are now considered "excellent".

In 2021, the annual Bathing Water Report surveyed nearly 22,000 coastal and inland swimming spots in EU member states, Albania, and Switzerland. The report was the first to exclude the UK, which had left the EU.

Austria, a landlocked country, is the top ranking with 97.7% of its waters being rated excellent. It is well-known for its beautiful lakes, including the Achensee in Tyrol and Weissensee, Carinthia.

It is just behind it at the top, however, are four Mediterranean vacation favourites: Malta, Greece and Croatia. Danemark and Germany were the other countries that awarded the highest grade to more than 9 out of 10 sites.

Portugal ranks No.10 with 88.5%, Spain (87.9%), and Italy (87.4%), are in 12th and 13th, respectively.

France, a tourist hotspot, trails further down with 75.7%. Poland, meanwhile, ranks lowest at 44.5%. This is a significant drop from Slovakia (50%) and Hungary (60.2%).

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In collaboration with the European Commission, the EEA compiled the assessment. Local and national authorities collected water samples from bathers during the summer and tested them for bacteria indicative of sewage or livestock breeding pollution.

According to European Union standards, the waters were then deemed "excellent", "good", "sufficient" or "poor".

Swimming in water ranked low can cause illness. Swimmers might feel stomach cramps or diarrhea if they swallow the water.

France had 99 places that were considered "poor" in bathing. This meant that they had been closed for the next bathing season. There were also measures to reduce pollution and remove health hazards.

Sites that are ranked poor for five consecutive year must be permanently closed -- this happened to 31 Italian bathing spots, eight French ones and two Dutch ones.

This rule is part the 2006 Bathing Water Directive. It has led to an increase in the number of exceptional sites since then. The water quality in EU waters is generally excellent with minimum standards of water quality being met at 95.2% for all sites.

The cleanest swimming waters in Europe

1. Austria (97.7%).

2. Malta (96.6%)

3. Greece (95.8%).

4. Croatia (95.7%)

5. Cyprus (93.3%)

6. Denmark (91.9%)

7. Germany (90.4%)

8. Bulgaria (89.8%).

9. Lithuania (89.2%)

10. Portugal (88.5%)

Top image: Achensee lake, Austria. Credit: Ralph Hoppe/fottoo/Adobe Stock