“Public pools.” Do these words conjure up images of overcrowded, lukewarm pools? Of screaming kids and uncomfortable water slides you get tired of after 10 minutes? Well, here are five great public pools that may radically change your thinking!
1. Thermae Bath Spa
There’s nothing like bathing in Bath. The biggest visitor attraction in Britain outside the well-known sights of London, the town’s Thermae Bath Spa – which boasts three natural-water pools (including a heated one on the roof), all the spa facilities you could ever wish for, and a whirlpool – bubbles with history and Ancient Roman splendor. Sink into the 91ºF natural water and take in the magnificent panorama of 17th-century Bath Abbey and the surrounding hills.
2. Blue Lagoon
The vivid blue of the water here gives you the feeling that you’ve landed in a tropical paradise, but, well, you really can’t get any more nordic than Iceland. The lagoon’s hot water, which is surrounded by contrasting black lava blocks, has a reputation for its therapeutic and healing qualities – it’s said to cure skin diseases – and also serves as the decor for the Blue Lagoon Chill, a unique party at the Iceland Airwaves festival, which draws hoards of music lovers from all over the world every November.
Voted the world’s most beautiful public pool at the prestigious Piscine Global Europe event in Lyon, France, the Noorderparkbad in Amsterdam Noord is a true architectural showpiece. Spacious and family-friendly, the complex is quickly becoming a crowd favorite in the city’s most up-and-coming area. "Thanks to its bright, airy architecture," the jury said in their report, "the pool fits in perfectly with its surroundings." Jump in!
When the Badeschiff was built in 2004, it was not expected to become a permanent fixture. Designed by Berlin artist Susanne Lorenze, the idea was that the pool – located on the river Spree between Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg, set at a balmy 24 degrees celsius – would be mobile, but it proved so popular that it stayed exactly where it was. Swimmers and bathers can enjoy city views, an open-air bar, parties, music – even yoga. The Badeschiff is great in the summer, then, but is also great in the winter, when you can then make use of the sauna, the bar and, yes, the warmth of the covered pool.
5. Piscina das Marés
In 1966, renowned Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza Vieira completed one of his finest early works: Piscina das Marés, two natural pools filled with fresh sea water right on the beach of Leça da Palmeira, just north of Porto. Designed in such a way that you can hardly see where the Atlantic ends and the pool begins, the Piscina is the perfect place from which to take in your soul-soothing ocean view – and cool off at the same time.