London News

Our Guide to the Capital’s Wet Spots

Hampstead Heath Ladies Pond. London outdoor swimming

Dip into one of the city’s cool pools or picturesque ponds…

Hampstead Heath Bathing Ponds

It would be hard to find a more picturesque setting for your outdoor swim than one of the three bathing ponds on Hampstead Heath. Weeping willows trail in the water, ducks paddle by and there is a wonderful sense of bucolic calm. The Men’s, Ladies’ and Mixed Ponds are all fed by the springs of the River Fleet, and the water is cool and refreshing, even if it’s rather muddy at times.

Open all year round, times vary according to season

Brockwell Lido

Brockwell Lido. London outdoor swimming

Brockwell Lido. Credit: Steve Cadman

Brockwell Park is one of the loveliest green spaces in south London, with the late Georgian Brockwell Hall perched on top of its hill. Sitting on the edge of the park, Brockwell Lido is known to locals as ‘Brixton’s Beach’. Like many of London’s lidos, it was built in the 1930s. The unheated 50-metre pool is surrounded by a Grade II listed Art Deco building housing a modern gym, exercise studios and café.

Open all year round, times vary according to season.

Serpentine Lido, London outdoor swimming

Serpentine Lido. Credit: Lasse Socker, Flickr

The Serpentine Lido

The Serpentine Lido is famous for its Christmas Day Race, but taking a languid summertime dip in the elegant surroundings of Hyde Park seems a much better idea. On a hot, dusty day in central London, the cool waters of the Serpentine are extremely welcome. There’s a paddling pool for children and the elegant Lido Café Bar nearby for snacks, meals, teas or something stronger.

Open 1 June-12 September, 10am-6pm

Parliament Hill Lido outdoor swimming

Parliament Hill Lido. Credit: Martin Deutsch, Flickr

Parliament Hill Lido

This unheated pool on the edge of Hampstead Heath is huge, measuring 60 by 28 metres, meaning plenty of room for serious swimmers and fun seekers alike. The pool’s stainless steel lining shimmers invitingly in the sunlight, although its chilly depths can be a shock when you first plunge in. But after a hot hike over the heath, the experience is deliciously refreshing and you can always warm up with a cup of tea from the beautiful 1930s café.

Open May-September, 7am-9.30pm

September to April, 7am-12noon

Charlton Lido

Open air pools that are heated are few and far between in London, especially Olympic-sized ones, so this charming pool near Greenwich is particularly welcome. It’s located in Hornfair Park and surrounded by sun terraces, with a café open from June to September.

Open all year round, times vary according to season.

Tooting Bec Lido, London outdoor swimming

Tooting Bec Lido. Credit: Wandsworth Council, Flickr

Tooting Bec Lido

Situated in the green spaces of Tooting Bec Common and surrounded by trees, the Lido is a haven in this built-up area of south London. Built in 1906, making it one of Britain’s oldest outdoor pools, it is also the largest open air fresh water swimming pool in the UK, measuring 91 by 30 metres. Anyone can swim here during the summer, but from October to April it is only open to members of South London Swimming Club (SLSC).

Open all year round. Summer season: May to August 6am to 8pm, September 6am to 5pm (open to the public). Winter season: October to April (open to SLSC members only)

pool building 300x104 - Our Guide to the Capital's Wet Spots

Hampton Pool

Hampton Pool

Hampton Pool is tucked away in south-facing woodland on the fringes of Bushy Park in south-west London. The rural feel is completed by the grassed area where you can lounge, sunbathe and have a picnic. And there’s no chilly shock when you plunge in the 38-metre pool as it is heated to a pleasant 28°C. It also has a shallow learner’s pool, a poolside gym and fitness studios.

Open all year round, times vary according to season.

Hillingdon/Uxbridge Lido

Formerly known as Uxbridge Lido, this beautiful Art Deco Grade II listed pool has octagonal fountains at either end and was restored in 2010. The 50-metre pool is unheated, but youngsters can splash around for hours in the shallow heated children’s pool nearby. It is part of Hillingdon Sports & Leisure Complex, which offers a huge range of facilities and activities, including another 50-metre pool indoors.

Lido open summer months only, times vary.

Oasis outdoor pool. London outdoor swimming

Oasis outdoor pool

Oasis outdoor pool

Located in the heart of the west end, the Oasis Sports Centre boasts that it has the only outdoor heated pool in central London. Not surprisingly, it isn’t the biggest pool in our selection, measuring 27.5 metres long and is rather narrow too, with three swimming lanes. That said, it really does feel like an oasis after a hard day’s work or shopping in the busiest streets of the city. The centre also has a gym, exercise studios, an indoor pool and a sauna overlooking the outdoor pool.

Open all year round, times vary according to season.

Park Road Lido, Hornsey

Originally opened in 1926, this heated pool on the edge of Crouch End playing fields has recently been renovated with new landscaping and water features. Although popular on hot days, it measures a spacious 50 by 23 metres and there is a children’s pool and fountain as well. On the same site you’ll find a host of other activities for all the family, including soft play, basketball courts, gyms, a running club and outdoor boot camp.

Open May to October, times vary according to season