Cyprus was the country with the largest percentage of excellent bathing waters in 2023, at 97.6%, according to data released by the European Environment Agency and the Commission.

The countries with the highest percentages after Cyprus were Austria (96.9%), Croatia (96.7%) and Greece (95.8%). In Belgium, Bulgaria, Luxembourg, Malta, Austria and Romania, all officially identified bathing waters met at least the minimum quality standard in 2023.

At the EU level, 85.4% of bathing water sites met the most stringent ‘excellent’ bathing quality standards in 2023. As much as 96% of all officially identified bathing waters in the EU met the minimum quality standards, with only 1.5% rated as ‘poor’.

The assessment focuses specifically on safety for bathing, through monitoring of bacteria which can cause serious illness in people, rather than general water quality.

The bathing quality of coastal water is generally better compared to inland water. In 2023, 89% of coastal bathing sites classified are of excellent quality, compared to just under 79% of inland bathing waters.

Since the adoption of the Bathing Water Directive in 2006, the share of bathing waters with poor water quality has dropped and is now stable since 2015. However, health risks from swimming in bathing waters are an ongoing issue with 321 ‘poor’ sites in the EU reported in 2023.