In 2004, the Badeschiff (literally: bathing ship) dropped anchor in Berlin’s river Spree to enliven the German capital’s former East with another unusual and makeshift attraction. Transformed into a stunning inner-city oasis, the former barge (and brainchild of Susanne Lorenz, AMP arquitectos, and Gil Wilk) invites summer-soaked hotheads to cool down and chill out in this equally cool water-in-water construct. And while the project Spree 2011 continues to work on getting people into the actual river, swimmers can enjoy Badeschiff’s 32 x 8-meter pool until the river is finally cleared for public bathing – plus a stunning view of the city as well as a sandy beach, gigs, and plenty of parties. With the change of the seasons, the floating pool also switches function and character: From November to April, this popular bathing boat turns into a sauna retreat with a covered pool. Open from 8 am every day, Badeschiff charges €5 euros admission (adults).

Now, for something truly special: Introducing the hotel pool of The Joule in Dallas, Texas. This particular luxury joint boasts a sky-high pool with just the right amount of thrills and spills for those with a decent head for heights – the basin juts out beyond the edge of the roof!

photo: Courtesy of The Joule Hotel

In nearby Austin, a more tranquil and leisurely soak beckons at Zilker Park. Situated right in the middle of Barton Creek, a tributary of the Colorado River, and tucked away in verdant hills, the Barton Springs Pool – fed by underground springs – allegedly also served as the setting for actor Robert Redford’s first swimming lessons.

With a steady and pleasant water temperature of 20 to 22 degrees Celsius, swimmers flock here all year round to enjoy the surprisingly affordable pool: While admission fees range between 1 and 3 dollars during peak time and season (8am and 9pm from mid-March to November), use of the pool is entirely free during the winter months and between 5-8am or 9-10pm. Just don’t pack your gear on a Thursday – the facilities are closed for cleaning on this particular day.

All photos: Victor Ovalle, Barton Springs and Recreation

Paris Plages may not be an actual swimming spot, but nevertheless deserves a mention in this feature. During midsummer, most of Paris leaves the sweltering city to seek a cool breeze in the countryside or somewhere near the seaside – but not everyone is lucky enough to actually go on vacation. In order to spread a little cheer to those who have to stay behind, the square in front of Paris’ Hôtel de Ville (city hall) has been turning into a veritable beach for a month since 2002. Furthermore, one of the city’s main throughways, the Voie Georges Pompidou on the river Seine, is cordoned off for the entire duration to become a partially pedestrianized zone. And although there is no swimming in the Seine due to the river’s high quay walls and traffic volumes, the area offers many other fun attractions between the scattered sun loungers, beach volleyball courts, and strategically placed palm trees. For example, those in need of a cooling spritz can simply dash through banks of refreshing nebulizers! Bankrolled by the city and several sponsors, the center of Paris once again prepares to offer its citizens – and visitors – an urban oasis from July 20th to August 18th.

So, if you are heading for faraway shores, we hope you have a great trip! All those forced to stay behind should simply check their home town’s own summery treats – you might be surprised at the secret gems, hideaways or leisure options your city has to offer. Why not make the most of this chance to recharge your batteries before it’s back to the daily grind!

Text: Alexandra Schade
Header image: BADESCHIFF/ Torsten Seidel