INSPIRATION • December 2018
These gorgeous beaches are proof that the most beautiful sunbathing spots can often be found in the most surprising of places. Tamara Hinson is your guide
Known as nature’s playground, Lake Weissensee has the cleanest water of any lake in the Alps. Two thirds of its shore are untouched, while the more developed stretches have the feel of a Californian beach resort. Adrenaline junkies can sign up for wakeboarding, water-skiing or banana boat rides, and it’s a popular diving spot.
Make the trip: Fly to Salzburg, then a 2hr 30min drive.
Known affectionately as the Hungarian Sea, Lake Balaton has been a magnet for the country’s wealthy elite since the 18th century, when the first lakeside resorts appeared. The hotel-filled southern shore has a string of grassy beaches and some artificial sand ones, many of which double as a venue for summer beach parties. Several beaches have Hungary’s equivalent of Blue Flag status.
Make the trip: Fly to Budapest, then an hour’s drive.
Don’t let this lake’s position at the northern edge of the Alps put you off – in summer the water is surprisingly warm. In fact, this part of Switzerland is known as the Riviera of the Bernese Oberland due to its mild weather. My favourite bit is the lake’s western end, which is also the departure point for paddle steamer tours. Lake Thun has several volleyball beaches and is a popular windsurfing spot.
Make the trip: Fly to Basel, then a 1hr 45min drive.
During Poland’s hot summers, Warsaw’s residents flock to the sandy beaches that line the section of the Vistula River which winds through the city centre. One of the trendiest spots is Miami Wars – sip cocktails while swinging in a hammock then take one of the bar’s speedboats for a cruise along the river.
Make the trip: Fly to Warsaw, then a 1hr 20min drive.
Lake Lucerne’s shores give St Tropez a run for its money. Although there are plenty of deserted stretches of shoreline, at Lucerne Nationalquai you’ll find changing rooms inside a beautiful belle époque building, two enclosed swimming areas and a sunbathing deck. Lay out your sun towel and enjoy breathtaking views of Mount Pilatus.
Make the trip: Fly to Zurich, then an hour’s drive.
For something different, why not head long haul to Ethiopia? Take a dip in Lake Langano where you’ll enjoy a backdrop of the Arsi Mountains and an exotic soundtrack, thanks to the birds that flock to Africa’s Rift Valley lakes. Langano is also one of the few lakes declared bilharzia-free, so it’s perfectly safe to swim in. Base yourself at the Sabana Beach Resort, with its clifftop bungalows and spectacular sunsets.
Make the trip: Fly to Addis Ababa via Doha and oneworld partner, Qatar Airways, then a four-hour road trip.