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Tihany Benedictian Abbey with the Lake Balaton, Hungary

These landlocked beaches are better than the seaside

No coastline? No problem. These gorgeous lakeside beaches are proof that the most beautiful sunbathing spots can often be found in the most surprising of places

01/11/2021Updated 06/03/2024

The town of Därligen sits on Lake Thun in the Bernese Oberland, Switzerland (Getty)

Lake Thun, Switzerland

Don’t let this lake’s position, at the northern edge of the Alps, put you off. During the summer, the water’s surprisingly warm. In fact, this part of Switzerland is known as the Riviera of the Bernese Oberland due to its mild weather. Our favourite bit is the lake’s western end, which is also the departure point for the popular paddle steamer tours. Lake Thun also has several volleyball beaches, and it’s a popular windsurfing spot, too.

Experience Lake Thun in Switzerland

Elephants on parade by Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe (Getty)

Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe

Lake Kariba is the largest man-made lake in the world and was created after the completion of the Kariba Dam in 1959. At its widest point it spans 40km, making it easy to forget it’s in a landlocked country. Its residents include razor-toothed tiger fish, along with Nile crocodiles, hippopotamuses, elephants, lions and cheetahs, which come to the lake to quench their thirst.

Visit Lake Kariba

The east side of Lake Weissensee in Carinthia, southern Austria (Adobe Stock)

Lake Weissensee, Austria

Known as nature’s playground, Lake Weissensee has the cleanest water of any lake in the Alps. Two thirds of the lakeshore are completely untouched, while the more developed stretches have the feel of a California beach resort. Adrenaline junkies can sign up for wakeboarding, water-skiing or banana boat rides, and it’s also a popular diving spot.

Discover Austria’s landscapes

Poniatówka beach, near Warsaw

Vistula River, Poland

During Poland’s hot summers, Warsaw’s residents flock to the fine golden beaches that line the section of the Vistula River that winds through the city centre. One of the trendiest spots is Miami Wars, where you can sip cocktails while swinging in a hammock before taking one of the bar’s speedboats for a cruise along the river.

Plan a trip to Poland

A local gazes out over Lake Titicaca, Bolivia (Adobe Stock)

Isla del Sol, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia

Straddling the border between Bolivia and Peru, Lake Titicaca is the world’s highest navigable body of water, at 3,800m. There are 40 islands on the lake, including Isla del Sol, which is home to more than 100 Incan ruins – and this rather gorgeous beach. A narrow strip of sand overlooked by the Andes, it’s one of the highest places in the world to lay down your beach towel.

Take off to South America

Ducks glide across a calm Lake Balaton (Getty)

Lake Balaton, Hungary

Known affectionately as the Hungarian Sea, Lake Balaton (also opening image) 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 along with some artificial sand alternatives, many of which double as a venue for summer parties. Several of the beaches have Kék Hullám Zászló (Hungary’s equivalent of Blue Flag) status, too.

Take a dip in the Hungarian Sea

Grand Hotel National on the banks of Lake Lucerne, Switzerland

Lake Lucerne, Switzerland

Lake Lucerne’s shores give St Tropez a run for its money. Although there are plenty of deserted stretches of shoreline, one of our favourites is near the Lucerne Nationalquai, where you’ll find changing rooms tucked inside a beautiful Belle Époque building, two enclosed swimming areas and a sunbathing deck. Lay out your sun towel here and you’ll enjoy breathtaking views of nearby Mount Pilatus.

Explore Switzerland

Sunrise at Lake Langano in Ethiopia’s Oromia region (Getty)

Lake Langano, Ethiopia

Take a dip in Ethiopia’s Lake Langano and you’ll enjoy a backdrop of the Arsi Mountains to the soundtrack of exotic birdlife, thanks to the presence of the animals that flock to Africa’s Rift Valley lakes. Langano is also one of the few lakes in Ethiopia to be declared bilharzia-free, so it’s perfectly safe to swim in. Base yourself at the Sabana Beach Resort, with its cliff-top bungalows and spectacular sunsets.

Enter Africa