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Swim spots: Chill off or warm up by taking an outdoor dip this summer

Swimming spot Lac de L'Eau d'Heure
11:53 14/06/2024

Make the most of Belgium's fleeting summer season by having a splash in these alfresco swimming places, from urban pools and provincial water parks to natural ponds and lakes.


Unlike other major European cities, the capital remains without a permanent outdoor swimming pool. Summer is around the corner, and the city still has only sporadic plans to rectify the situation, principally at Uccle’s Plateau Anglais and Forest’s Park Bempt.

Longstanding projects – all up for discussion – are a rooftop pool on Anderlecht’s Abattoir site, a swimming zone near Quai Beco and a swimming pond in Neerpede. But don’t hold your breath… Local organisation Pool is Cool is campaigning to change this sorry state of affairs as Brussels lags behind its European neighbours when it comes to urban swimming facilities.

Flow chaud

Meanwhile on a brighter note, the nonprofit’s FLOW is gearing up for its fifth season, officially opening on 1 July, along with its new sauna FLOW Chaud (pictured). Albeit quite small (17m x 7m), the free pool allows Brussels dwellers the chance to swim outside. The charming, home-made pop-up piscine on the Anderlecht canal has a summer bar and also entertains with a social programme, from fitness classes and swimming lessons for children and adults, to films.


However, if you want a heated pool, residents and tourists only have sports clubs such as David Lloyd in Uccle and Sterrebeek and Aspria’s Royal La Rasante. Otherwise, hotels like the Jam Hotel in Saint-Gilles and Jardin Secret in Ixelles (pictured) – both sporting bijou outdoor pools – are also an option. 


Flanders has suffered a number of pool closures, notably in Geraardsbergen, Huizingen and Oostend, but many pools remain open. Options close to Brussels include Bloso Domein’s picturesque Hofstade beach and the Kessel-Lo domain near Leuven – although this recreational pool is not very deep. There is also De Nekker’s extensive sports and swimming complex (pictured), a short walk from Mechelen-Nekkerspoel station, with beach and lake-side swimming and a new play park open. 

De Molen Ans Brys

Wetteren’s retro former Olympic pool, part of the De Warande domain in East Flanders, and open to the public in the warmer months, features slides, plunge pools and diving boards. More traditional outdoor options, each with 50m heated pools, are in Hamme near Sint-Niklaas and De Molen in Antwerp (pictured). Boekenberg’s beautiful chemical-free pool in Deurne is another spot near the port city. 


Many Flemish towns now prefer to concentrate on natural areas, rather than renovate existing indoor and outdoor pools. Popular choices include the albeit often overcrowded Blaarmeersen Lake near Ghent (pictured) with its giant water slides and small sandy beach; De Ster, a green oasis with a 400-metre swimming zone minutes from Sint-Niklaas (also in East Flanders); and Rotselaar’s delightful Domein ter Heide in Flemish Brabant – which again gets busy at weekends.   



This region is the clear winner for outdoor swimming options. In Brabant Walloon, a popular spot for bathers is Rénipont beach near Rixensart (pictured). As well as swimming, visitors can enjoy games such as volleyball and pétanque. In fine weather, the large outdoor restaurant terrace also draws the crowds. Other alfresco possibilities in the province include Waterloo, which opens the roof of its indoor pool Nausicaa in summer.


In Hainaut, Mons’ modern Lago complex offers lake swimming with endless slides and whirlpools, while Charleroi-les-Bains (pictured) near Marcinelle, is outdoor swimming heaven in a green oasis.

The province also features Belgium’s largest lake area – les Lacs de l’Eau d’Heure (Cerfontaine) – with a wealth of water sports and Red Crocodile. Supervised bathing areas (pictured, main image) open on 15 June.  You can also swim in the lovely Godarville lake, part of the Clairefontaine domain between Charleroi and La Louvière that also boasts a 900m2 Aquapark.

Swim trois ponts

In Liège province, bathing zones include Robertville lake near Malmedy, which even boasts an aquatic trampoline, as well as domains such as Wégimont with its three heated pools and l’Hirondelle with its aquatic centre. Picturesque, lido-style options are available at Trois-Ponts (pictured) and at Wiesenbach, Saint-Vith, near the German border, or Malmedy has the Olympic-sized ‘Mon Repos’. 

Bambois 3

The Namur region offers stunning Chevetogne near Ciney – a green holiday paradise with endless playgrounds, sports facilities and giant solar panel-heated outdoor pool. Or take a trip to charming Bambois Lake at Fosses-la-Ville, with its dedicated zone for swimmers as well as sunbathing and beach facilities. It is a beautiful natural spot and increasingly hosts other events and activities. 

Finally, Luxembourg province, as well as beautiful Neufchateau lake, proposes a number of bathing opportunities along the Semois river, for example at Bouillon, Herbeumont and Chiny.


Perhaps best of all, albeit rather remote, is Ocquier’s gorgeous outdoor pool that opened back in 1958 (pictured), 12km from Durbuy. This idyllic village makes the most of its key asset, holding a “fête de la piscine” every year. 

Note: some domains and pools require prior reservation.

Photos: (main image) ©Lacs de L’Eau d’Heure; JAM Hotel Pool ©Oana Crainic; De Molen Ans Brys

Written by Liz Newmark