Swimming outdoors might be something you only associate with foreign holidays but hurrah, it is possible to swim in the outdoors in London. A multitude of lidos, ponds, lakes and docklands give city dwellers the chance to dive in a cool off.
Many lidos offer kids the chance to splash, swim, play or take swimming lessons. Be sure to check each website for family-friendly swim times and to see if kids are required to have a certain level of proficiency.
Here are some of the best outdoor swimming locations in London – always check their website and social media before heading for a dip as weather, renovations, and other issues can cause opening times to change.
Swim outdoors in heated water all year round! Hampton Pool, known as “South West London’s best kept secret” is situated next to Royal Bushy Park. The main pool is 36 metres long and there is a learner pool dedicated to children and their parents. There is also a pool-side gym and fitness classes, outdoor concerts and events. Kids can partake in lessons and activity camps.
Hillingdon Outdoor Pool
A grade II-listed, 50m open-air swimming pool with cascades fountains at both ends and a heated shallow splash pool for children. Part of the Hillingdon Sports & Leisure Complex managed by Better.
Pools on the Park
Pools on the Park comprises an outdoor heated pool and grounds, indoor main and teaching pools, fitness suite, indoor cycle studio and class studio. There is a range of adult group exercise classes and swimming lessons offered. The leisure complex is in Old Deer Park and within easy reach of the train station.
An iconic London ‘open water’ swimming location. Swim in this ornamental lake in Hyde Park – not chlorinated or heated. Birds will be amongst you! Alongside the Serpentine Lido is the Lido Cafe Bar which has waterside tables and is the ideal place to enjoy a snack, meal or a glass of wine. There is a paddling pool and play area for kids, as well as sun loungers.
Just outside of London, this historical lido has been fully refurbished with heated outdoor main pool, heated outdoor children’s pool plus grass and terraced sunbathing areas. There is also a gym with all the latest gym and fitness equipment, an extensive programme of group exercise classes such as yoga and pilates, indoor cycling studio, football, tennis, café plus much more!
Hampstead Heath Swimming Options
Choose from four options in gorgeous Hampstead Heath: Parliament Lido, the men’s pond, the women’s pond or the mixed pond. The lido is a big unheated outdoor pool popular with families and the ponds are adult havens, set in lush natural settings with birds bobbing along with you.
Finchley Lido Leisure Centre
Finchley Lido Leisure Centre is located in Great North Leisure Park in Barnet. It is a great place for family swimming with a leisure pool that includes a wave machine, jets and other fun features. The 25m pool offers a comprehensive ‘Learn to swim’ programme and during the summer the outdoor pool is a great place to swim and have fun.
London Fields London, Hackney
London Fields Lido is a 50m Olympic size, heated outdoor swimming pool open all year round and located in Hackney, central London. The swimming pool has lane swimming available all day, swimming lessons for children and adults, one-to-one swimming lessons. Facilities also include a café as well as a large sundeck and sunbathing area.
Art Deco Grade II listed buildings that house a cafe and fitness studios surround a 50m pool. Swim lessons are available and the studios offer exercise classes and activities year round.
Tooting Bec Lido
(Closed due to renovation and asbestos removal works, check website for updates)
Tooting Bec is the UK’s largest freshwater pool. At 91m long, the lido offers a cafe, lounge area, paddling pool and free parking.
West Reservoir Centre, Open Water Swimming, Hackney
A big yet tucked-away reservoir where you can open-water swim various length circuits and partake in water sports. There are beautiful views surrounding it and the neighbouring reservoir is the peaceful Woodberry Wetlands, perfect for a post-swim stroll and coffee.
Take a dip in the waters of Middle Dock enjoying the views of the tall towers of Canary Wharf whilst swimming. The water here is regularly tested and safe to swim in. Every session is lifeguarded and can be enjoyed by competent open water swimmers over the age of 10.
Beckenham Place Park Lake
A lovely lake with swimming and boating areas. The lake was reinstated in 2019 by Lewisham Council as part of the historic restoration of the park. It is based on the Original Georgian lake that once stood.
A 50-metre, heated Olympic-sized pool in Greenwich. The grounds consist of two sun terraces, a café, gym and there are year-round fitness classes on offer.
Park Road Lido
A 50m heated pool in Crouch End surrounded by new landscaping, water features and a cafe.
In the heart of London you’ll find a heated 27.5m outdoor pool, outdoor sauna and a large rooftop terrace open year-round. There are swim fitness classes and Swim For All Sessions which children are welcome to join.
Open water swimming in what was once the scene of London’s thriving hub of trade. Experienced open water swimmers can choose laps of varying lengths and competent swimming children ages 10 and up can swim here as well.
And one last thing…
Special mention for that famous west London landmark, the rather confusingly named Ruislip Lido. Of course, it’s not a lido in the sense of the outdoor swimming pools mentioned above, but a 60-acre lake with its very own sandy beach on the edge of Ruislip Woods. Swimming is not permitted but there is a playground, a water splash pad, a miniature railway and woodland walks. All accessible by the Tube!
If you’re planning on visiting any of the above pools, we highly recommend you check the sites first, not only for opening times and price information but also to make sure you’re not going to gate-crash any pre-booked activities or classes. And if it’s a hot day, there’s a very good chance you won’t be the only person taking their family for a dip in the pool—aim to leave early or be prepared to join the queue!
Updated June 2023.
Featured image is Brockwell Lido.
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