AS the weather heats up, nothing is more enticing than spending time in the water.
For those looking for a change from the busy beaches, there are dozens of natural bathing spots around inland Spain.
From rivers and reservoirs, to man-made pools, they offer shade, and scenic views and, usually, a decent trail for a walk and a bar or restaurant nearby.
Everyone has their favourites, but here’s a dozen great options across Andalucia, Murcia and Valencia.
Cueva del Gata, Benaoján
FORMED by a cavern that gives way into the Guduares River, this natural pool has icy cold water that is derived from the cave itself, which visitors can explore while wading in the water. After leaving the mouth of the cave, the water creates a natural pool that is shaded by the nearby forest and mountains.
Canón de las Buitreras, Cortes de la Frontera, Malaga
AN official natural monument since 2003, this canyon makes for an adventurous swimming spot due to the Guadiaro river that runs through it, with its winding watercourse and vertical stone banks more than 100 meters in height. Visitors here can easily transition from swimming to hiking to canoeing. Due to its occasional fast-moving water, visitors are advised to wear a full wetsuit, to really enjoy the water.
Rio Guadalmina, Benahavis, Malaga
WHILE the Guadalmina River is 28 km long, this wider portion of the river offers a great place to swim or go on an exciting 30-minute river tour. The river can be easily accessed from the A-7175, where visitors can park in the lower area of Benahavis and take a short walk down to reach the starting point. Keep in mind that it has been growing in popularity due to visitors’ ability to safely jump from the small rocks surrounding the water. Unlike other natural swimming ponds, this river is regulated for swimming use and is only open between 10am and 8pm.
Majaceite river trail, Benamahoma to El Bosque, Cadiz
THE upper part of the Majaceite River between El Bosque and Benamahoma is found in the heart of the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park, and offers one of the most magical midsummer walks. Mostly in the shade, the walk follows the course of the river with bridges and, best of all, a dozen fantastic places to jump in for a swim. Even better, there are superb restaurants for a cool, shady lunch at either end, in particular in Benamahoma.
Poza de los Patos, Nerja, Malaga
THIS natural pool is formed by the well-named Chillar River, which has created small canyons that can be so narrow that visitors can touch both walls at once. In order to access it, visitors must embark on a short hike that runs along the river and leads to the wider portion meant for swimming. Since there is only one main area for swimming, it is best to go earlier in the day to avoid the crowds.
Salto Del Usero, Bullas
LOCATED in the town of Bullas beside the Mula River, this natural pool area has several waterfalls and walkways for those wanting to explore the above canyons after a swim. During the summer season (June 29th to September 2nd), access is limited and guests must reserve a trip here prior to visiting. Reservations are not required during the other seasons.
Somogil thermal pool, Moratalla
THIS hidden wonder in the town of Moratalla is for those looking to still enjoy a warmer atmosphere while swimming, this natural pool contains warm water from inside the earth. Its waterfall and surrounding vegetation create an oasis that is covered in shade.
El Jarral, Abarán
LOCATED on the bank of the Segura River, the dams and shallow water in this area offer the perfect atmosphere for those wanting to cool off and simply wade in the water. This area is a popular rest stop for cannoneers and others participating in water sports in the main river but is also a great family-friendly option.
Bercolón waterfall, Caserío Los Felipes
THIS waterfall on the outskirts of Tuejar is situated underneath a naturally forming rock bridge where those who are more experienced with rock climbing can abseil down the canyon to directly access the water. Otherwise, visitors can walk down the rocks in order to enjoy a more private swimming experience.
Por Clar, Ontinyent
LOCATED three kilometres from the center of Ontinyent, this river consists of multiple pools with varying lengths. It can only be accessed on foot, bike, or by free bus service that runs from the local sports center on the weekends, but its clear waters and waterfalls make the area worth the journey. Due to its popularity, you must book your reservation in advance in July and August here.
Gorgo de la Escalera, Anna
NEAR the village of Anna, you can directly access this natural pool from the car park by taking stairs that descend into the water. Apart from the pool, visitors can see the area’s large waterfalls by walking the “route of the three waterfalls,” which begins in the village. You can see the natural attractions throughout the year but in the summer it costs two euros per person due to council regulations.
Turia River Park, Turia
THIS wide 27 km river runs alongside a forest track, making it an excellent place to swim, go tubing, or participate in other water activities. It can be accessed through any of the Valencia municipalities through which the river passes and does not get too crowded due to the multiple entrance points.
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