Wild Swimming in Spain: Best Places to Swim in Spain & Other Water Fun

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Wild swimming in Spain: have you tried it? The Spanish summer is a hot one. That’s why during our month-long road trip from Valencia to Santiago de Compostela, we looked for places to cool down and swim in Spain. And you know what? wild swimming in Spain is not nearly as difficult as we had anticipated.

Places for Wild Swimming in Spain and Other Water Fun

WILD SWIMMING IN SPAIN WITH KIDS

With its exceptional coastline and pristine natural settings, there are countless opportunities for wild swimming, beach swimming, lake swimming and open water swimming in both the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.

If you’re like our family, then water fits into your family travel plans. We love swimming pools and waterparks, of course, but there’s something special about swimming in open water.

Keiko and I aren’t exactly “beach people,” but we have fallen in love with the lakes, waterfalls, and rivers in Spain. On our recent Spanish road trip, we hit a lot of great spots for swimming in Spanish waters, and I’d like to share them with you.

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Places for Wild Swimming in Spain and Other Water Fun

What is Wild Swimming?

Places for Wild Swimming in Spain and Other Water Fun

I’ll be honest and say that I had never even heard the term “wild swimming” until very recently. “Wild swimming” isn’t in the typical North American vocabulary, I reckon.

Similar to open water swimming, wild swimming is simply choosing to swim in more natural environments, often without parking, lifeguards and other trappings of civilization. Wild swimming is usually at a river or abandoned beach and may require a long walk or hike to reach. Wild swimming also happens at local creeks or ponds.

When you were growing up, you probably just called it “swimming.”

River swimming, lake swimming and swimming at an empty beach all count as wild swimming in Spain. This is our family’s favorite way to swim. Whether it’s a river in Sumatra, Borneo or Kyoto, we love being near mountain streams.

Our Favorite Rivers for Wild Swimming in Spain

There are many places to go swimming in Spain with kids. Here are just a few of them, but I hope to keep adding more great places. Do you know any good places to go wild swimming in Spain? Tell me about them!

 Rio Ladrillar (Riomalo de Abajo, Cáceres) – Swimming in Extremadura Spain

We found this nice little wild swimming spot about 1.5 hr southwest of Salamanca. It’s deep and cold, but there’s almost no current, so little kids can swim with ease.

Parking is easy and right next to the water, and there is a small beach on one side and picnic benches on the other. There’s a town here, but you may not get any reception or cell service, being in the middle of nowhere. Make sure to be clear where you’re going before Google Maps stop working.

Rio Tormes (Castillo de los Dávila, Puente del Congosto) – Swimming in Salamanca Spain

Places for Wild Swimming in Spain and Other Water Fun

This place for wild swimming near Salamanca is located about one hour south of the city in a small village called Puente del Congosto. Head straight for the town’s old castle. Park here and follow the path towards the sound of rushing water.

This place may be problematic with kids under five as there aren’t easy ways to get into and out the water except for jumping 10 feet and then cautiously crawling out on a slick angle. For older kids who like that thrill, this is your place. Ours were 10 and 13 the last time we visited. They enjoyed it so much so we went back a second time.

Rio Torio (Vegacervera, Leon) – Wild Swimming in Leon Spain

Places for Wild Swimming in Spain and Other Water Fun

The waters of the Rio Torio follow along the 2-lane road from Leon to the Calpoquero Caves. Find a place to pull over in this rugged granite valley and have a dip. Parking is a challenge here as it’s a two-lane road with limited shoulder space, but the water is spectacular and ice-cold. Possibly coming from the subterranean rivers in the nearby caves.

We found a nice spot in a small town called Vegacervera. Look for Restaurante Las Rocas, about 45 minutes north of Leon. You will see several nice steps down to the water.

Rio Minho – Burga de Canedo (Ourense, Galicia) – Wild Swimming in Ourense

Places for Wild Swimming in Spain and Other Water Fun

Most wild swimming in Spain happens in places like this: large rivers that run straight through a town. This particular river is a double treat as it offers both hot and cold water experiences. The Rio Minho runs directly through downtown Ourense and is flanked on both shores with natural hot springs. Some hot springs are free to the public, while fancier ones charge various fees.

Places for Wild Swimming in Spain and Other Water Fun

We chose Burga de Canedo because it was free and right next to the bridge near where we parked. The hot springs and the river are less than a hundred meters away from each other, but be careful what you wear in the tubs. Keiko and our girl were actually kicked out, but not for the reasons you might expect. More on that here.

This place is a bit tricky to get to. We drove around for a long time until finally figured out where to go. What you need to do is to park your car (or take a bus #5 or #19) at Estacionamiento Termas Outariz, and walk over the bridge to the spot about 10 minutes away.

Rio Zadorra (La Puebra de Arganzon, Burgos) – Swimming in Castille & Leon Spain

Places for Wild Swimming in Spain and Other Water Fun

Just outside the center of the small medieval town called Arganzon, this pleasant rolling stream runs under an old Roman bridge. Compared to the crystalline waters of Olla de San Vincente, this place doesn’t have the clearest water we’ve found, but for a lovely picnic and swim in the bucolic countryside, it’s pretty nice.

It’s located about one hour south of Bilbao. If you are driving by, it’d be a nice place to take a break. I wouldn’t drive out of my way, though.

  • Google Map link to La Puebra de Arganzon

Rio Dobra (Olla de San Vincente, Asturias) – Wild Swimming in Asturias Spain

Places for Wild Swimming in Spain and Other Water Fun

Wow. If you want to try wild swimming in Spain, this is your spot. While perhaps not the easiest place to access, this swimming hole is the best wild swimming in Spain we’ve ever experienced. The trail to Olla de San Vincente is beautiful, with a Roman bridge along the way and at least three other crystal-clear swimming holes that would make for a fine afternoon.

Part trail, part gravel road, the path to the swimming spot is longer than you think (count on 45-90 minutes, depending on who’s walking), but it’s a fairly easy hike for those who are mobile.

This is we love about wild swimming in Spain: the search, the hike and then the payoff.

Places for Wild Swimming in Spain and Other Water Fun

Follow the River

To get here, simply follow the river…and possibly other swimmers as the place is not a tightly kept secret. We bumped into around at least 15 people coming and going along the way — some with kids as young as 3 or 4.

What makes this the best wild swimming in Spain is the place’s versatility. On one end, you have a wide and shallow pool with a pebble beach. On the other side, you have a deep, narrow pool with a perfectly positioned cliff for big jumps. A small field at the top makes an ideal picnic spot, but we were so busy leaping off the rocks that we forgot to eat.

A small parking area for this swimming spot is less than 10 minutes south of Congas de Onis, where we took a bus to Lakes of Covadonga.

There is no large sign indicating any wild swimming place, so it’s kind of tricky. Look for a restaurant called Restaurante Puente Dobra on the road N-625. Right before you cross the Dobra river itself, you will see the restaurant on the left (if coming from the North). Park the car, and walk in. Don’t forget to bring water and some snacks.

El Pou Clar (Ontinyent, Valencia) – Wild Swimming in Valencia

Places for Wild Swimming in Spain and Other Water Fun

We discovered this wild swimming place at the tail end of our month-long trip around northern Spain. The day we went it was super crowded. It’s possible that it was so crowded because it was the hottest day of the year and the peak weekend of the summer holiday. Still, the water was cold, blue and beautiful, and we all loved taking the big jump — probably 3 or 4 stories high.

This is the only place for wild swimming in Spain where we saw security guards. They are not lifeguards. Instead, I think they’re there simply because of the crowds. We saw several groups being asked not to bring any glass or silverware to the river. No complaints here. Glass and other sharp metal objects usually aren’t a good idea at a crowded riverbank.

Beaches, Water Sports, and Waterfalls in Spain

We enjoyed our wild swimming in Spain, but also had fun at beaches, on boards, and in canyons, as well. Here are a few other places for swimming in Spain, as well as other water-based fun.

Canyoning with Guias Malouco: Galicia

Places for Wild Swimming in Spain and Other Water Fun

No, this isn’t wild swimming in Spain. It’s wilder. MUCH wilder. Canyoning in Galicia was possibly our favorite activity in a month of driving around Northern Spain. It’s river swimming to be sure, but much more. Canyoning involves climbing, abseiling and the occasional tolerance for heights. We used Guias Malouco and would go with them again. They have a lighter course than we took for younger kids, as well.

Canyoning involves climbing, abseiling and the occasional tolerance for heights. We used Guias Malouco and would go with them again. They have a lighter course than we took for younger kids, as well.

Playa de las Catedrales – Beautiful Beach in Galicia

Places for Wild Swimming in Spain and Other Water Fun

Come for the pictures. Stay for a dip. This geological marvel is an excellent place to go for a swim. However, even if you don’t get in the ocean, wear your swimsuits because at low tide there are lots of beautiful passageways you can walk through, but only if you’re willing to get wet.

Gijon: Beach Swimming in Asturias Spain

Places for Wild Swimming in Spain and Other Water Fun

This small and sophisticated beach town in the Asturias region of Spain is an excellent place to take a dip in the Atlantic. Playa de San Lorenzo is a very nice sandy beach straddling the city, but walk past its western end around Cimavilla and find rocky coastline and stone outcroppings that make for a nice place to swim and hang out in low tide.

With the city right there and festivals happening throughout the warmer months, food and drink are never too far away.

Playa de Guadamia/Los Bufones: Beach Swimming in Ribadesella, Asturias Spain

Places for Wild Swimming in Spain and Other Water Fun

Like saltwater geysers, Los Bufones is a series of large cracks in the cliffs that look down at a turbulent section of the Atlantic. At high tide, massive waves crash alongside these cliffs blowing ocean spray through the cracks in an aquatic spectacle.

At low tide, however, there is a cove about 100 meters away that is an excellent place to play with young children. Remarkably flat, Guadamia Beach stays really shallow for a long distance, with a few small pools that are perfect for toddlers to safely play in. Walk about the length of a football pitch and you reach the real waves.

Playa Somo: Surfing & Beach Swimming in Santander Spain

Places for Wild Swimming in Spain and Other Water Fun

This is a great, compact public beach on Santander’s western coast. Our kids took surfing lessons on Somo Beach.

There are lifeguards and a first aid crew on duty (we met them personally, in fact) and the cafe that overlooks the beach has excellent food, good coffee, and a halfway decent wifi signal. Many other restaurants and cafes are nearby, as well.

San Sebastian – Best Beach Tow in Spain

Places for Wild Swimming in Spain and Other Water Fun

I’ve met very few people who leave San Sebastian unimpressed. It’s certainly the most impressive beach city I’ve ever been too. Beaches and water sports are basically built into San Sebastian city life. La Concha beach is packed and pulsing,  Zurriola Beach has excellent surfing, while the beaches of Ondaretta and Santa Clara Island have a more family vibe.

Places for Wild Swimming in Spain and Other Water Fun

Playa la Concha — the largest of San Sebastian’s beaches — was packed and pulsing when we were there. That’s not my favorite way to enjoy a beach. However, there was a shaded path near the sand where Keiko and I could sit and wait while the kids tried stand-up paddle boarding.

Our Top 16 Favorite Places to Go Swimming in Spain with Kids

Stand up paddleboard rental is right next to the entrance to Playa de Concha. The boards cost 12-15 euro an hour, with life jackets. The waves were pretty strong when we visited, so I helped the girl get past them and out into open water. From there, the kids could have spent the rest of the day.

Puente de la Hispanidad: Zaragoza Spain

Places for Wild Swimming in Spain and Other Water Fun

So this isn’t exactly a place to go wild swimming in Spain. Or swimming at all, really. I certainly found it refreshing, however, to dip my feet in when the temperature rose above 40ºC (or 100ºF). This fountain is right in downtown Zaragoza, about a 2 -minute walk from the Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar and the Catedral del Salvador de Zaragoza.

Monasterio de Piedra: Waterfalls in Spain (near Zaragoza)

Places for Wild Swimming in Spain and Other Water Fun

Ok, ok, I’m cheating with this one as well. If this place allowed wild swimming, then it might very well be one of our favorite places to swim in Spain.

I wish that this was true because the waterfalls at Monasterio de Piedra are truly breathtaking. However, don’t try to practice your backstroke here. The entire grounds are maintained and manicured as more of a decorative garden, so you’ll just have to be content with looking at them. Same goes for the trout ponds.

Playa Malvarrosa, Valencia – Beach Swimming in Valencia Spain

Places for Wild Swimming in Spain and Other Water Fun

I can’t leave out our home beach, can I? Malvarrosa beach in Valencia is a beautiful stretch of sand along the Mediterranean coast. The promenade is full of cafes and restaurants selling paella and local seafood. An excellent way to finish our summer.

Further Reading:

Have You Been Wild Swimming in Spain?

Where did you go? How crowded was it? How easy was it to access? We love wild swimming in Spain and anywhere else, so tell us your favorite open water swimming spots.

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Places for Wild Swimming in Spain and Other Water Fun

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. This means, at no extra cost to you,  we might receive a small commission if you make a purchase or book using those links. My opinions are my own and I only recommend places/services that I believe will genuinely help your travel.

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Comments

  1. Denell Thomas says:

    We will be driving between Barcelona and Valencia at the end of July with our 15 year old son. Any suggestions of places to see and things to do as we drive between the two?

    • Hey Denell. We’ve usually taken the train between these two cities, but 2 places we like are:
      #1: Peniscola: an old Medieval town with a cool castle. They filmed some of Game of Thrones here
      #2: Sagunto: another cool castle on a hill, and a Roman amphitheater. Very cool if they have a festival going on.

      If you’re in Barcelona with a car, then I hope you drive a little north to Salvador Dali’s mausoleum. It’s amazing!

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