Come On In, The Water's Fine -- Unless You're In Italy

european lake pier swimmers photo

Photo via European Commission

If you're planning to spend some time this summer lazing on the beach and taking refreshing dips in the sea, you might want to consider giving Italy a miss: The country had more coastal bathing sites banned due to poor water quality last year than any other European nation.In general, both seaside and river and lakefront beaches in Europe are clean and continue to improve in quality, the EU Observer reportedly recently. According to the latest "bathing water report" from the European Commission, "a full 96 percent of coastal beaches met EU minimum standards [as did] 90 percent of beaches next to rivers and lakes."

Clean Beaches in Cyprus, France, Greece, and Portugal
This marks a dramatic improvement over the past two decades, especially for inland waters: Only 52 percent of them met the standards in 1990.

Seaside beaches in Cyprus, France, Greece, and Portugal -- all popular summer holiday spots -- ranked well, the report said, adding:

However, some two percent of coastal bathing sites had to be banned in 2009 and most of these were in one member state -- Italy. Additionally, just 46.4 percent of Italian inland bathing sites met the EU's minimum quality levels last year, down 19.4 percent from 2008. The findings prompted the [EU's environment] commissioner to suggest he would not go swimming in the country.

For swimming in rivers and lakes, Finland, France, Germany, and Sweden are Europeans' best bets.

More about beaches:
A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches
Great Beach Moments
Beautiful Jewelry de-Plastics Our Polluted Beaches
Plastic Beach: New Gorillaz Album Inspired By Our Plastic Problem
Jack Johnson's Beach Clean-up Concert Kicks Off Tour
Beach Butts Scarier Than Sharks, Survey Says
How the Climate Bill Will Clean Up Our Beaches

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