London’s Best Outdoor Pools and Ponds
Come rain or shine, there’s no better place to take a dip than a London lido. Whether you’re looking for a gentle swim or a place to top up your tan, our guide to the best outdoor pools in London will have a recommendation to suit.
Close to Brixton, this impressively-sized Lido (at 50m, it’s an Olympic length pool) is more than just a swimming spot. With a lovely park nearby, as well as an indoor cycling studio and gym on site, Brockwell Lido offers a fantastic day out. If breaking a sweat isn’t your thing, head to the Grade-II listed Lido Café instead, where you can bask in the Art Deco surroundings and enjoy some tasty treats.
Oasis Sports Centre
Often referred to as the West End’s only outdoor pool, this rooftop spot is just a short walk from Holborn – it couldn’t be more central. Open until 10 pm each day and benefiting from heating (in England, even the summers can be chilly…!), the Oasis outdoor pool is part of a complex that also includes an indoor pool, three squash courts and two fitness studios. However, this is one of the busiest outdoor pools during the summer months – somewhat unsurprisingly, given its fantastic location – and at only 30 m long, it’s a little small for the keenest swimmers.
Tooting Bec Lido
If smaller outdoor pools like the Oasis aren’t your thing, Tooting might be the perfect fit. This pool is, quite simply, massive – in fact, at over 90 m, it’s the largest outdoor freshwater pool in the UK. Open since 1906 and surrounded by vibrantly-coloured changing huts, Tooting Bec Lido also includes a café and a paddling pool for the kiddies, making it a great spot for advanced swimmers and families alike.
Hampstead Heath Ponds
Once dammed-off clay pits in Hampstead Heath, the famous Ponds have since become an iconic location for swimmers and North London revellers. Not including the Parliament Hill Lido, three outdoor pools are open to bathers: one for men; one for women; and a mixed pool. The men’s and women’s ponds tend to be less busy and can be used all year round – though even in the summer months the water can be chilly! Not for the faint of heart, but good fun all the same.
London Fields Lido
If you fancy an outdoor swim but would rather dip into less bracing waters, head to London Fields Lido. Here you can enjoy the atmosphere of being in the great outdoors within the relative luxury of heated waters. It’s open until 9 pm most evenings, too (as pictured), meaning that you can take a night-time dip when the waters are a little quieter.
Recently refurbished, the Lido’s 50-metre pool now offers lane-swimming, swimming lessons, and more relaxed sessions for families. After a refreshing swim, lounge on the sundeck whilst you get dry, and head to the café or explore the nearby food stalls of Broadway Market for a refuel meal.
The Serpentine Lake at Hyde Park
Though the much-photographed Serpentine Lake is only open to members of the Serpentine Swimming Club in the winter months, between June and September anyone can take a dip in the famous waters. If you’re not keen on a chilly swim, you can pedalo or row across the lake instead, or hire one of the sun loungers and top up your tan whilst enjoying the views across one of London’s most beautiful Royal Parks. For families, there’s a special gated section including a paddling pool and play area.
Beckenham Place Park
One of the newest additions to our list, Beckenham Place Park Lido can be found in Lewisham’s largest green space. A re-filled Georgian Lake – originally created by John Cator, a resident of Beckenham Place Mansion, back in 1800 – Beckenham Place Park has recently re-opened, and is set to be a popular wild swimming spot throughout the year. With lifeguards, water sports such as kayaking, and a brand-new café, this ancient lagoon boasts a plethora of modern comforts and is definitely worth the trip to South East London.