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The Coolest Urban Swimming Pools

Escape the blazing city heat and go for a dip (without leaving town).

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The Badeschiff, Berlin

This 90-foot pool, which floats on a massive barge in Berlin’s Spree River, started as a temporary art installation but locals fell so head-over-heels that it stuck around. Besides the pool, there’s a laid-back deck with a sandy man-made beach dotted with hammocks and a bar serving all manner of wine and beer. (It is Germany we’re talking about!) Bonus: daily yoga classes, concerts and movie screenings throughout the year.

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Kitsilano Pool, Vancouver

At 150 yards long, Kitsilano Pool (known as Kits Pool to regulars) is one of the biggest in the country. The saltwater soak sits along a beach and overlooks the English Bay, Stanley Park, Grouse Mountain and downtown Vancouver. There are three slides for kids and a cafe (with an impressive drink menu) for adults, so everyone stays happy.

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Photo by William Short Photography


Annenberg Beach House, Santa Monica

The real spotlight at the 1960's Modernist Annenberg estate (formerly owned by actress Marion Davies and now open to the public) is the swanky pool scene. Plush daybeds and peach umbrellas separate the area from Santa Monica Beach, and there’s beach volleyball set up for those who want to show off their bronzed bods.

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Harbour Baths, Copenhagen

Copenhagen’s harbour baths tops our list of cool urban pools, thanks to its gorgeous skyline views. Jump off the angled platform that resembles a ship into the deepest of the three watering holes, then soak in the hot Danish sun in the amphitheater seating.

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Bondi Icebergs Club, Sydney

Everyone knows the iconic olympic-sized lap pool facing Bondi Beach. You can feel the Pacific spray as the turquoise waves crash against the edge of the surrounding rock cliffs. After a dip, refresh with a tipple at the cool clubhouse, where there’s a gourmet bistro, two bars and a 1,600-square-foot deck perfect for spotting dolphins and whales splashing in the ocean.

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Water Cube, Beijing

Want to be the next Michael Phelps? Practice your butterfly stroke in the same pool he swam in during the 2008 Summer Olympics. The iconic building that hosted the games in Beijing is now a public pool with the most epic water park in the area.

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Széchenyi Thermal Baths, Budapest

Budapest’s City Park is home to not one, but three outdoor pools. And if you’re of the pasty white breed, you’ll love the 15 indoor baths, which are fed by two thermal springs and housed within a gorgeous Neo-baroque-style building. Trust us, these 80-degree hot tubs will beat your hotel jacuzzi any day.

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Barton Springs Pool, Austin

They say everything's bigger in Texas, and this three-acre swimming hole in the heart of Austin is as large as it gets. Crowds pack the Barton Springs Pool for a dip and kick back on grassy patches underneath shady oak and pecan trees in the surrounding Zilker Metropolitan Park. Rather have a lawn to yourself? Head to the manicured Isamu Taniguchi Japanese Garden nearby.

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Pop-up Pool, New York City

Brooklyn’s five-year running pop-up pool is one of the city's unsung treasures. Made from massive shipping containers, it's just 3.5-feet deep and so small that there are enforced 45-minute swim sessions to handle the crowds. So while it’s definitely more of a soak than a swim, we’ll take anything when it’s 100+ degrees out. But go now — this free spot overlooking Manhattan will close for good after Labor Day.

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