Whether boating, watersports, swimming, or a spot of fishing floats your boat, we’ve rounded up some of the most desirable waterfront properties around Europe. From swanky oceanfront villas with sea views to die for to rustic lakeside cottages far from the madding crowds, we have something to inspire all families and groups looking for a fun, relaxing way to holiday on the water this summer.
1. Cruise control in Croatia
Perched just steps above the shimmering Adriatic, this pale-stone villa for 15 on the island of Brac is a sea-lover’s paradise—especially when you factor in the option of chartering the private speedboat to visit nearby coves, spot dolphins, or go waterskiing and donutting. Kayaks and snorkelling gear are also at hand for water-based fun. Afterwards, gear down on the three terraces, with loungers, a hammock, a hot tub, and a pine-shaded dining area scented by the garden’s lush Mediterranean plant life. Inside, retreat to one of the three entertainment rooms and six ensuite bedrooms, one with a sleek Philippe Starck bathroom. Venture out to discover non-touristy villages aplenty.
2. Sundowners in Sweden
Watching the sunset from the hot tub or the covered lakeside terrace and dining conservatory of this two-bedroom wooden cottage for four is the stuff holiday memories are made of. Cast off from the little wooden jetty in the motor boat, rowing boat, or canoe to explore this bewitching area in Kalmar County south of Stockholm, then cook up a storm on the fire-pit-style barbecue. Inside it’s cosy as can be, with a wood-burning stove and all the mod cons you could wish for. Among the local excursions are a narrow-gauge railway to the sea in Västervik and wildlife sanctuaries, including a moose park.
3. A dreamy Devon escape
With full-on views of the Hope Cove bay and harbour from its terrace and most of its main rooms, this 1920s cottage sleeping up to eight is just above the South West Coast Path—the perfect location for walkers. Cosy, stylish interiors include an Aga and a wood-burning stove in the open-plan Shaker-style kitchen, living room, and dining area, where you can feast on lobsters and crab caught in the bay just beyond the window. When you’re not ogling the Instagram-worthy sunset, you’re just a few minutes’ walk from Hope Cove fishing village with its pub, tea-rooms, and restaurants. You’re also a 10-minute drive from chic Salcombe and within easy reach of surfing, windsurfing, kiteboarding, and golfing.
4. Your own idyll in Italy
Follow the steps down toward the sea and you’ll find a vast terrace with loungers, sofas, a dining area with bay views, and even a heated outdoor shower--just a few of the niceties that make this former fisherman’s limestone cottage in Campania the ultimate coastal getaway. Within easy reach of Sorrento and Positano, this off-the-beaten-track rental within a friendly village is nestled between the Amalfi Coast and the Sorrento Peninsula, with a smattering of gelateria, coffee bars, and restaurants. Boat hire from nearby Marina del Cantone lets you discover the coast at your own pace, or a mountain trail will reward your efforts with heart-racing views. Sleeping eight, the rustic-chic interiors include antique floors and ceramic tiles from Vietri.
5. Seaside living in northern Spain
A waterfront location combined with a sparkling shared swimming pool makes this 13-person villa one of the most desirable on Spain’s Costa Brava. With the Mediterranean waters just 10 metres from your door and a sun terrace, barbecue, and shaded alfresco dining area at your disposal, it’ll be hard to tear yourself away. The fun continues indoors, too, where there’s a disco area with a mini-bar, retro lights, and a 1960s Wurlitzer electric piano. But do let the views towards the Cap de Creus Natural Park lure you out to discover the area, including the nearby village of Colera, Dalí’s former home at Cadaqués, and countless great beaches.
6. Coastal chic in Corsica
This whitewashed beachfront villa is blessed with in-your-face views of the glorious Gulf of Porto-Vecchio from its heated outdoor pool, hot tub, and various terraces—and even from the indoor gym--for a workout you won’t soon forget! The option of a concierge service allows you to customise your stay and make the most of this fabulous location—boat rental can be arranged for exploring local coves, as can fishing, waterskiing, and other aquatic activities. Decorated in a fresh contemporary style, this modern property sleeps 10 in four ensuite bedrooms.