Love Your Lido: Where To Go Outdoor Swimming In London

Love Your Lido: Where To Go Outdoor Swimming In London

We're giving London's Lidos some love this summer. Whether you're an outdoor swimming fanatic or are yet to dip your toes into the water, there are plenty of options for an al fresco swim all over the capital (yes, even one in central London). So cossies on, keks off and let's jump right in. Enjoy.

London's best lidos and outdoor swimming: Brockwell Lido
Brockwell Lido. Usually not quite so empty.

Brockwell Lido, Herne Hill

Where: Brockwell Park, Dulwich Road, SE24 0PA. Visit the website
When: Open all year round, but opening times vary dependent on the time of year. Here's a link to the current opening times, 6.30am-8pm seems to be the norm on weekdays.
How big: 50 metres
How much: Prices differ by time of day, but a single entry visit for an adult is around £3.50 on weekdays and £6 on weekends. Check the price list on the website for full details.
How warm/cold: It’s unheated, so expect the pool temperature to rise to around 20°C come mid-June, peaking at 25°C by July. For the colder months… grit your teeth and keep your wetsuits handy.
What else: There’s a fully equipped gym and mini-spa on-site. The Lido Cafe is available for breakfast, brunch, lunch and tea throughout the day.

London Fields Lido, one of the best places for outdoor swimming in London
London Fields Lido in 2009. Photo: Dean Nicholas

London Fields Lido, Hackney

Where: London Fields West Side, Hackney, E8 3EU. Visit the website
When: Open all year round. The centre is open 6.30am-9pm and the pool usually opens at the same time, but check the website in advance before heading out.
How big?: 50 metres long and 17 metres wide
How much: £5.10 (adults), £3 (children) without membership, £3.55 (adults) and £2.05 (kids) with membership. Booking in advance online is recommended to avoid the on-the-day queues
How warm/cold: It’s heated and kept at a balmy 25°C year-round
What else: There's a kiosk run by Hoxton Beach Cafe, serving snacks, falafel and salads. Plus a members only sun terrace overlooking the pool.

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Oasis Sports Centre, Tottenham Court Road

Where: Oasis Sports Centre, 32 Endell Street, WC2H 9AG (yep, central London's only heated, outdoor pool). Visit the website
When: Open all year round. The centre is open 6.30am-10pm on weekdays and 9.30am-6pm at weekends, but the lido times can vary and it's worth checking beforehand here.
How big: 27.5 metres long
How much: £6.15 (adults), £2.05 (children) and under fives go free. It's even cheaper if you're a member; check out the (slightly overwhelming) range of membership options here.
How warm/cold: An all year, outdoor heated swimming pool, so hopefully your 'nads should be fine
What else: There’s also a 25m indoor pool, rooftop sun terrace, sauna and gym

Hampstead Bathing Pond, not technically a Lido but still one of London's best outdoor swimming spots
Hampstead Heath mixed bathing pond. Photo by Laura Nolte.

Hampstead Men's, Ladies' and Mixed Ponds

Where: All three bathing ponds are located on Hampstead Heath — Ladies’ and Men’s on the east side and Mixed towards the south of the park. Visit the website
When: Open all year round but times vary so best to look at the timetable here. During the peak summer season (15 May-18 August), the Ladies’ and Men’s ponds are generally open 7am-8.30pm, while the Mixed pond is open 7am-6.30pm.
How big: We haven't got out our measuring tape, but we can confirm they are all... big pond-sized. Men's is the largest, while the Ladies and Mixed Ponds are both slightly smaller.
How much: £2 day ticket (adult) or £1 (concessions). Season tickets also available.
How warm/cold: As of 13 May 2019, temperatures were as follows: Ladies' and Mixed Pond 13°C, Men's Pond 14°C. During the summer months, the temperatures rise to a more balmy 20°C. The City of London publish temperatures on their website, along with water quality tests.
What else: Ok, they’re not technically lidos, but they're outdoor swimming, so we're bloody well including them. The Ladies’ and Men’s Ponds are unique in the United Kingdom in being the only life-guarded open-water swimming facilities open to the public every day of the year. Here's a handy resource from The Outdoor Swimming Society on how to acclimatise to cold water swimming.

Serpentine Lido: one of the best places to swim outdoors in London
The Serpentine: take a dip here any time of the year. Image: Shutterstock

Serpentine Lido, Hyde Park

Where: Centre of Hyde Park. Visit the website
When: Open on weekends throughout May (including the May Day Bank Holiday) and then every day from 1 June until early September. Daily opening times are 10am to 6pm in June, July and August.
How big: It's a whopper, at 30x100 metres
How much: £4.80 (adults), £3.80 (concessions), £1.80 (kids), but it's 70p cheaper after 4pm. Family tickets also available and under 16s must be accompanied by an adult.
How warm/cold: In summer the water temperature is forgiving, often settling around 20-24°C, but in winter you may actually have to break through the ice to access the water. Yikes
What else: The Lido Cafe Bar has waterside tables for those who want to enjoy the proximity of the water, but keep nice and dry. If you're in need of a little encouragement to dip your toes in, the Serpentine Swimming Club jump in every day, including Christmas Day, and are a welcoming bunch.

London's best Lidos: Charlton Lido
Charlton Lido

Charlton Lido

Where: Hornfair Park, Shooters Hill Road, London, SE18 4LX. Visit the website
When: Times vary throughout the year, but summer opening is usually 6.30am-8pm on weekdays and 9am-5pm on weekends. Check the pool timetable before you go
How big: 50 metres
How much: £7 (adult), £4 (children) and £3 (seniors) with discounts for booking online or if you’re a Greenwich resident
How warm/cold: It’s heated, with temperature kept around 25°C
What else: There's a cafe for recuperating after your dip, but if you want to keep active you can hop onto the adjacent BMX race track instead.

Take a dip at Uxbridge/Hillingdon Lido in London
Hillingdon Lido

Hillingdon Lido (formerly Uxbridge Lido)

Where: Hillingdon Sports & Leisure Complex, Gatting Way, Uxbridge, Middlesex, UB8 1ES. Visit the website
When: Times vary year round, although 7am-6pm seems to be standard during summer weekdays. Check the timetable to plan your visit
How big: 50 metres
How much: £6 (adult), £4 (children) and under 3s are free. There are discounts for local residents, as well as for early morning and evening swimmers.
How warm/cold: Unheated, so can be chilly depending on the weather
What else: In addition to the Grade II listed outdoor pool, there’s also a heated splash pool for little swimmers and another 50-metre indoor pool. It’s part of Hillingdon Sports & Leisure Complex so there are plenty of facilities

Tooting Bec Lido in London
Changing rooms at Tooting Bec Lido.

Tooting Bec Lido, Streatham

Where: Tooting Bec Lido, Tooting Bec Road, SW16 1RU. Visit the website
When: The Lido is generally open to the public between May-September, from 6am-7.45pm until the end of August, and then 6am-4.45pm throughout September. The paddling pool opens slightly later.
How big: It has a 91.5 metre pool and 19.5 metre children's paddling pool
How much: £7.70 (adults), £4.70 (children, seniors and concessions). Cheaper after 6pm.
How warm/cold: Unheated, so you might want to run a few laps around Tooting Bec Common before jumping in during colder weather.
What else: If you want to swim during winter, you'll have to join the South London Swimming Club. There’s a cafe and Tooting Bec Common is lovely for a stroll too

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Parliament Hill Lido, Hampstead Heath

Where: Southeastern tip of Hampstead Heath park. Visit the website
When: Morning swimming from 7am, day swimming from 10am and evening swimming (only available Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights) from 6.30pm. Keep up to date with opening hours on the website.
How big: 61 x 27 metres
How much: There are lots of possible combinations, but a peak-time adult ticket is £7, concessions £4.50. Go early morning, late evening, winter, as part of a family or with a season pass to reduce the price. View all prices here.
How warm/cold: It's unheated, so it's at the weather's mercy.
What else: It's a pretty standard lido but there are hot showers and, of course, Hampstead Heath is on the doorstep

Finchley Lido

Where: Great North Leisure Park, Chaplin Square, Finchley, London, N12 0GL. Visit the website
When: Usually only opens when the air temperature is 22°C+. It's not an exact science, but rule of thumb is you can swim from May on weekends until the summer holidays, and then it opens every day. *Please note that renovation work is currently taking place at Finchley Lido and the centre is due to reopen late summer/autumn 2019*
How big: 25 metres
How much: £6.80 (adults), £4.15 (children). The cost also covers access to the indoor and leisure pools inside the Leisure Park.
How warm/cold: It’s unheated, but the indoor pools nearby are heated if you need to thaw out
What else: There's a gym and two indoor pools nearby.

Hampton Pool, one of London's best lidos
Moonlight swimmers at Hampton Pool

Hampton Pool

Where: Bushy Park, off the High Street, Hampton, Middlesex, TW12 2ST. Visit the website
When: Open 365 days a year. From April to September the pool is usually open from 6am on weekdays and 9am on weekends, closing at 5pm. Evening swims until 9pm are available on Wednesday and Friday nights.
How big: 36 metres
How much: There are peak, off-peak and weekend prices, ranging from £5.60-£7.60 (adults), £4.30-£4.80 (concessions) and £3.60-£4.40 (children).
How warm/cold: Heated and kept at a toasty 28°C year-round.
What else: The Summer Picnic Concerts at Hampton Pool are utterly charming

Park Road Lido

Park Road Lido, Crouch End

Where: Park Road Pools and Fitness, Park Road, Hornsey, N8 8JN. Visit the website
When: Open all year round. 7am-8pm is normal on weekdays but check the timetable before you go
How big: 50x23 metres
How much: £6 (adult) or £4 (concessions). £1 cheaper before 9am or after 6pm.
How warm/cold: Heated
What else: You're spoilt for choice pool-wise at Park Road. In addition to the 50m lido, there's also a 25m indoor pool, a teaching pool, paddling pool and... drumroll please... a diving pit.

Best lidos and outdoor swimming in London: Pools on the Park in Richmond
Pools on the Park

Pools on the Park, Richmond

Where: Pools on the Park, Old Deer Park, Richmond, Surrey TW9 2SF. Visit the website
When: Due to popular demand this outdoor pool now opens year-round, but the timings are a little higgledy-piggledy and it can close at short notice. They recommend you keep up to date with them on Twitter for the latest info.
How big: 33 metres
How much: Pay-as-you-go prices are £5.50 (adult), £4.60 (concessions) and £4.20 (children). Under 5s go free
How warm/cold: Heated and kept at 24°C
What else: There's also a 33 metre indoor pool for those feeling less brave

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Kings Oak Lido, Epping Forest

Where: Tucked away in Epping Forest at Kings Oak Hotel, Paul's Nursery Rd, Loughton, IG10 4AE. Visit the website
When: Only in summer
How big: 30 metres
How much: You have to be a patron at this gastropub/wedding venue hybrid, so prices will radically differ dependent on how luxurious you're feeling
How warm/cold: Kings Oak Lido is unheated: you could always warm yourself up on with champagne and cocktails from the tiki bar after a dip  
What else: The website is eager to inform us that 'several episodes of TOWIE have been filmed in this magnificent Essex venue.' Make of that what you will.

Which of the above is your favourite? Have we missed something? Let us know in the comments below. We can also recommend Swimming London by Jenny Landreth, an excellent guide to both indoor and outdoor swimming in the capital.

Last Updated 06 June 2019