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From lidos to ponds: the best outdoor swimming spots in London

April 26, 2019
London’s outdoor swimming spots are some of the capital’s best kept secrets. In the 1930s, councils all over Britain were building outdoor swimming lidos and while lots have since shut, some remain, making for a brilliant day out. A few are heated so hardy swimmers can dive in year round and some are not heated and people dive in year round anyway! This summer, take an alfresco dip at one of London’s many outdoor swimming spots. From the historically significant Hampstead Ponds to 1930s lidos and exclusive rooftop pools, these are the best places to cool off on a scorching day in the capital city.

London Fields Lido 

Right in the heart of one of London’s coolest neighbourhoods, Hackney, you’ll find the London Fields Lido. This 50m outdoor swimming pool was saved from demolition by a campaign from local residents in 2017 and we’re so glad it was. In the summer queues to get in sometimes snake around the block so come early to secure your place poolside. There are changing rooms, toilets and lockers as well as heated outdoor showers. The pool is heated to 26 degrees all year round, so you can even swim here in the winter. 

 

Best outdoor swimming pools London

Source: Hackney Council

Brockwell Lido 

The 50m, unheated Brockwell Lido opened in 1937 and since then has been a popular swimming spot for south London residents. Like many of the other lidos on this list, the building is Grade-II listed, but unlike the others on the list, this one houses one of the best cafes in London. Far more than just a swimming pool cafe, you can enjoy a gourmet bite to eat and a cocktail after your swim.

 

Best outdoor swimming pools London

Source: Brockwell Lido 

Oasis Swimming Pool Covent Garden

If you find yourself in Covent Garden and need to cool off, then head to the Oasis swimming pool. Located in a municipal building with a gym and indoor pool for lengths, this is a true haven among the bustle of Theatreland. At 27.5m long, you can happily plod up and down it and soak up some rays on the side afterwards. 

 

Best outdoor swimming pools London

Source: better.org

Hampton Pool

This lido in south west London feels positively tropical compared to some of the colder waters on the list, with a year-round temperature of 28 degrees. It’s open 365 days a year and has a slide and paddling pool that make it popular with local families. They even host monthly moonlight swims when you can swim under the stars and enjoy the peace and quiet of zone 6. 

 

Best outdoor swimming pools London

Source: Hampton Pool

The Berkley 

The Berkley Hotel in London’s affluent Knightsbridge neighbourhood is one of the smartest hotels in the city and also happens to have a breathtakingly fabulous rooftop swimming pool. On the seventh floor of the luxury building you’ll get panoramic views of the city framed by charming arched windows. Sounds too good to be true? Well it is. You need to be a member of the fitness club here to take a dip, or maybe just be very good at blagging. 

 

Best outdoor swimming pools London

Source: The Berkley Hotel

Tooting Bec Lido 

Tooting Bec Lido is Europe’s largest outdoor pool, with over 90m of fresh water for you to splash and swim in. It has been open for over 100 years and is also home to London’s cold water swimming club who swim here in winter when the water temperature can drop to just 2 degrees. In the summer, the pool is warmed by the sun and you can enjoy lounging on the side of the pool all day. The iconic colourful changing huts won’t fail to make you smile. 

 

Best outdoor swimming pools London

Source: Hidden London

Serpentine 

The Serpentine Swimming Club which was founded in 1864 is the oldest recorded swimming club in the UK and you’ll still see them swimming in this Hyde Park lake every weekend. It’s also the location of the yearly Christmas swim. The temperatures in the Serpentine can drop dramatically in winter so we suggest waiting until the end of the summer when it’s warmed up to swim here. There’s a gated family area with paddling pool and play area for children, plus sun loungers for hire. 

 

Best outdoor swimming pools London

Source: Royal Parks

Parliament Hill Lido 

Built in 1938, this grade-II listed building is worth a visit for architecture lovers. It is located at the bottom of Parliament Hill and although it isn’t heated, it’s still a slightly warmer alternative to the nearby swimming ponds. And the cool temperatures will be very welcome on a hot summer’s day. 

 

Best outdoor swimming pools London

Source: Evening Standard

Hampstead Ponds 

Swimming in Hampstead Heath Ponds is an essential London summer experience. It’s rare to feel so immersed in nature in the middle of a city as you will during a visit to the swimming ponds on the heath. There is a men’s pond and a lady’s pond which are open all year round (and people do swim here every day, even on Christmas) as well as a mixed pond that is only open in the summer. People have been swimming here since the 1920s and it might be the only place in the capital that you can do front crawl alongside a group of ducks. 

 

Best outdoor swimming pools London

Source: Outdoor Swimming Society

Shoreditch House

The second home of London’s creative types, Shoreditch House is a London institution and in the summer there is no better place to see or be seen in the city. You need to be a member of the Soho House Group to gain access to the pool, or have well connected friends who can get you in, but we promise you it’s worth the hassle. The heated pool has views of the Square Mile’s iconic skyline and you might even spot a celebrity on one of the red and white striped sun beds. 

 

Best outdoor swimming pools London

Souce: Shoreditch House