For outdoor swimming pools, it’s hard to beat London’s lovely lidos.
Al fresco swimming first became a trend back in the 1930s, and councils up and down the country set up hundreds of outdoor pools for their residents to enjoy – nowhere with greater enthusiasm than London. A number of those lidos may have closed since, but committed campaigners have saved many others from city hall penny-pinchers, protecting these gorgeous civic amenities for future backstrokers. And, with outdoor pools allowed to reopen after the UK lockdown on March 29, there’s no better time to seek one out for a dip.
Here are some of our favourite outdoor swimming pools in London – we’ve highlighted the heated pools first, for you hardy wintertime swimmers! In the summer, they get very busy on sunny weekends, so it’s best to get there early if you want to avoid the queue. Exact opening hours and dates are subject to change; so do check the venue’s site for updates before you go.
Heated outdoor swimming pools in London ♨️
1) Oasis Swimming Pool, Covent Garden
Just a short walk from Theatreland – and behind an univiting, municipal frontage – lies the outdoor swimming pool of Oasis Sports Centre. It’s 27.5m long and heated, with just enough room for a sunbathe, too. A second swimming pool, inside, is usually used for lessons and aqua-fitness classes, leaving this one for free for a few gentle lengths. A swim will cost non-members £6.05.
2) London Fields Lido, Hackney
Having had a protracted refurb a couple of years ago, London Fields Lido is back later this month. It’s a whopping 50m long, and heated to a balmy 25℃ year round, so you can even take a dip even in the winter. Open (usually) from 6.30am until 9pm, it’s also floodlit after dark for late-night swims. A real bobby dazzler, a dip here is a mere £5.10 for non-members.
3) Charlton Lido, Charlton
Head out past Greenwich and Blackheath to Charlton, where you’ll find this glittering 50 metre pool on Hornfair Park, heated to a comfortable temperature. An outdoor swimming session for adults here costs £10, and it’s open 6:30am – 8:30pm on weekdays, and 9am-5pm on weekends.
4) Hampton Pool, Hampton
A seriously splashy offering in deepest Zone 6 (the posh bit of it) this charming pool is heated to 28℃, making it guaranteed fun whatever the weather – and even at night, if you’re lucky enough to pop along for one of their monthly ‘Moonlight Swims.’ They’re open 365 days a year, for all your keen Christmas Day swimmers: in the summer, however, usual opening hours are 6am – 9pm, and weekend swimming costs £7.50.
5) Park Road Lido, Crouch End
Crouch End gets much-needed representation on our roundup of London lidos, with this toasty pool. Dating back to 1926, the pool is open once more after the lockdown for adult lane swimming. A 50 minute swim here will cost you £8, and it’s open from 8am-6pm on weekdays and 8am-3pm on weekends.
Unheated outdoor swimming pools in London ☀️
This south London suburb boasts the largest freshwater swimming pool in the UK – it’s a whopping 91 metres long. The colourful changing cubicles are a cute touch, too. They’re open from 6am – 8pm each day, with admission costing £7.50 for adults (although just £4.60 after 6pm). It’s unheated – so hopefully that surface area soaks up some serious sunshine.
7) Brockwell Lido, Herne Hill
A 50-metre outdoor pool operated by the same folks as London Fields Lido, this Brixton-adjacent swimming spot is noted for its art deco buildings. The café here is actually rather well regarded, and the surrounding park is a splendid place to spend the rest of your afternoon. A swim here costs £8 for a 50 minute session.
8) Parliament Hill Lido, Hampstead
A north London classic (and marginally warmer alternative to the wild ponds – see below) Parliament Hill Lido is available for three swimming sessions each day. £4 for a single session.
9) Serpentine Lido, Hyde Park
While others might pedalo or row across the surface of Hyde Park’s freshwater lake, you are made of stronger stuff, and instead plunge into the frigid waters ‘for fun’. It’s open 10am – 6pm every day, and an adult swim is £4.80.
There are over 30 ponds on Hampstead Heath, but three have been specially designated for swimming – one just for men, another for women, and one that’s shared by both. Facilities are provided and a plunge into the chilly (but clean!) water will cost you £4.
11) Hillingdon Lido, Uxbridge
Out on the western end of the Piccadilly Line lies this retro beauty: an eight-lane, 25 metre outdoor pool for sunny swims. Open from 7am-3pm on weekdays, and 9am-3pm on weekends, a dip will cost just £4.70.
12) Pools On The Park, Richmond
Situated next to the Deer Park in Richmond, this fitness complex has a neat outdoor pool along with an indoor pool. In normal days, a swim costs £5, and opening times are: Mon, 6.30am to 7.45pm; Tue-Fri, 6.30am to 8pm; Sat-Sun, 7am to 5.45pm.
Need more aquatic options? Check out our guide to beautiful beaches near London, the UK’s best surfing spots, and the best wild swimming spots near the city!
Also published on Medium.