Photo: xbrchx/Shutterstock

For the Cleanest Coastal Waters in Europe, Skip Italy and Greece for This Country

Croatia Europe Travel
by Katie Scott Aiton Jun 20, 2024

Croatia’s stunning Adriatic coastline has been crowned the champion for clean swimming spots, according to a recent report by the European Commission and the European Environment Agency (EEA).

The report analyzed data from 2023 and assessed the water purity of around 22 thousand bathing spots across 29 EU member states. Croatia came out on top, with an impressive 96.7 percent of its bathing sites classified as “excellent” in terms of water quality. This translates to 905 out of 936 tested locations (894 coastal and 42 inland rivers and lakes featuring freshwater) meeting the EEA’s strictest standards. Greece, Cyprus, and Austria were runners-up.

A woman swimming in the water with rocks in the background Croatia

Photo: Vinsi/Shutterstock

The EEA report also highlighted the overall improvement in Europe’s bathing water quality. Across the continent, more locations are meeting the “excellent” water quality standards. This positive trend is likely due to continued efforts by European countries to implement stricter regulations and improve wastewater treatment practices.

Crystal clear blue green Adriatic sea and a rocky beach on the island Krk, Croatia, with some tourists snorkeling and swimming, with other islands in the background

People snorkeling off Krk, the largest and most northern part of Croatia’s Adriatic islands. Photo: Thoom/Shutterstock

Croatia’s achievement is not just a statistic but a reflection of its unwavering commitment to preserving its environmental heritage. The country’s Adriatic coastline is renowned for its crystal-clear turquoise waters, jaw-dropping beaches and islands, and laidback beach towns.

Some of the best places to swim include Vis Island, the furthest inhabited island which is home to Stiniva Beach, a secluded cove carved into the limestone cliffs. Head here if you want to escape the crowds. Or, consider Zaton, a small harbor community ten minutes from Dubrovnik. This romantic pebble beach has the clearest water I’ve ever seen and, in my opinion, it’s just as pretty as the Amalfi Coast — without the price tag or footfall.

If you don’t mind sharing the beach with others, or if you are visiting Croatia in September when the water is still warm but there are considerably fewer tourists, consider Zlatni Rat Beach on Brač Island. It’s famous for good reason. Known as the Golden Horn, the beach juts into the shallow, calm turquoise water.

Zlatni Rat Beach on Brač Island. Photo:

Another popular option is the Pakleni Islands near Hvar. Hvar Island has many beautiful beaches, but a boat trip to the Pakleni Islands makes a superb day trip. You can explore pebble beaches like Palmižana Bay or find secluded spots on Vlaka Cove or Jerolim Island.

Waterfall in the Krka National Park, in Croatia

One of the seven waterfalls in the Krka National Park, situated along the Krka River in southern Croatia. Photo: ilcsi/Shutterstock

Many of Croatia’s inland fresh waters are protected. Swimming regulations exist to preserve the country’s delicate ecosystem, but there are still designated areas where you can enjoy a refreshing dip. The Krka National Park is famous for its cascading waterfalls. Swimming is permitted in the designated zone beneath the final fall, Roški Slap, where the Krka River carves out calm pools. This spot can be busy in summer, so consider visiting first thing in the morning or in the shoulder season.

Discover Matador

Save Bookmark

We use cookies for analytics tracking and advertising from our partners.

For more information read our privacy policy.