Looking for a lido or in need of an outdoor pool in London? As the weather heats up, these swimming pools and ponds across the capital become very popular for cooling off, so we recommend booking in advance where at all possible. And if the weather's not quite so warm? Plenty of London's outdoor pools are heated. Read on to plan your next al fresco dip.
1. Brockwell Lido, Herne Hill (open all year, unheated)
The inspiration for Libby Page's 2019 debut novel The Lido, Brockwell Lido is something of a local legend. Located in the corner of Brockwell Park and surrounded by low line art deco redbrick walls, the unheated 50m pool has a dedicated army of year-round swimmers, though naturally it's more popular in the summer and queues often stretch around the block on warm days.
For fair weather swimmers, summer season tickets are available, running from April-October. Those made of sturdier stuff can buy annual passes.
There's also a gym and fitness centre on-site, all operated by Fusion, with the added bonus of an outdoor sauna available during the winter season. The Lido Cafe is open all day, currently operated by pizza restaurant 400 Rabbits. It serves breakfast and brunch, before the pizza menu takes over for the rest of the day.
Brockwell Lido, Brockwell Park, Dulwich Road, SE24 0PA.
2. London Fields Lido, Hackney (open all year, heated)
If the unheated waters of Brockwell don't tempt you, head east to London Fields for a 50m long, heated outdoor pool — it's kept at about 25°c all year round. It's floodlit too, making morning and evening swims all the more appealing, and there's often a spectacular sunrise to be seen from the water.
Though there's been a pool here since 1930, it was left closed for several years until a campaign by locals saw it reopened in 2006, with the changing rooms and lockers around the perimeter of the pool painted in primary colours.
There are usually around four lanes dedicated to fitness and lane swimming, with the rest of the pool given over to more casual activities. Hoxton Beach operates the refreshment kiosk, selling hot and cold drinks, cakes, falafel and salads, and an additional kiosk opens on the Sun Terrace during summer months.
For swimmers with physical accessibility requirements, London Fields Lido is one of the better options in the capital. The whole building, from entrance through to poolside, is ramp accessible, and the pool itself has a hoist and a ramp for getting in and out. There are disabled toilets and changing facilities too.
London Fields Lido, London Fields West Side, Hackney, E8 3EU.
3. Tooting Bec Lido, Streatham (currently closed, usually open all year for members, unheated)
*June 2023: Tooting Bec Lido remains closed for refurbishment. Originally it was due to reopen in August 2023, but this has been delayed.*
The main pool at Tooting Bec is a seriously impressive 91m long, and there's also a 19m long paddling pool for younger swimmers, making Tooting Bec Lido the largest outdoor lido in the UK (and one of the oldest — it's been around since 1906). Bear in mind that it's not heated.
There's a cafe and a picnic area so you can make a day of it in the balmy summer months, and the pool is fitted with a hoist to help disabled swimmers into the water. The public season runs April-September, and although the lido remains open all year, you'll need to become a member to use it in the winter months (membership also allows access to Putney Leisure Centre, Balham Leisure Centre, Tooting Leisure Centre and Latchmere Leisure Centre). Don't be put off though; the club welcomes members of all ages and abilities, whether you fancy doing a casual couple of laps a few times a month, or you're carving up the water every day of the year.
4. Parliament Hill Lido, Hampstead Heath (open all year, unheated)
Located at the south-eastern tip of Hampstead Heath, the unheated, Grade-II listed Parliament Hill Lido was first opened in 1938, and is now open to the public 365 days a year. The 61m long pool draws crowds from all over on summer days, and diving is allowed in certain areas at certain times. Food and drink can be bought at the Lido Cafe, operated by Hoxton Beach.
A smaller pool for under fives sits to the side of the main pool. With the mansion blocks of Gospel Oak overlooking the pool on one side, and the huge expanse of Hampstead Heath on the other, Parliament Hill Lido really is the best of both worlds.
Season tickets are available, including passes which allow you to combine dips at the Lido with swims in the Ponds on nearby Hampstead Heath.
Parliament Hill Lido, Parliament Hill Fields, Gospel Oak, NW5 1LT.
5. Oasis Sports Centre, Tottenham Court Road (open all year, heated)
Central London's only heated outdoor pool, this one comes with the added bonus of being located on a sun terrace. The pool is just one part of the Oasis Sports Centre, which also houses a gym, indoor pool and exercise studios.
The 27.5m long outdoor pool is surrounded by a patio area and sunbathing deck, with the added bonus of a sauna nearby. Sure, views of the rooftops of Covent Garden mean you can't quite imagine you're in the south of France, but from the street below, you wouldn't even know the pool was there, making it feel like something of a hidden gem.
Oasis Sports Centre, 32 Endell Street, WC2H 9AG.
6. Charlton Lido (open all year, heated)
Charlton Lido and Lifestyle Club has all the equipment and classes a gym fanatic might need, but we're here to talk about the outdoor pool. 50m long, heated, surrounded by a sun terrace in the summer months (with some of the most luxurious loungers we've seen at a London pool), with drinks available to buy from Coffee Corner in June-September. There are always at least a couple of lanes dedicated to fitness swimming, and if you're not a member of the gym, you'll need to book your swim in advance. Members can take part in classes such as aqua aerobics in the outdoor pool too.
Charlton Lido, Hornfair Park, Shooters Hill Road, SE18 4LX.
7. Hillingdon Lido (formerly Uxbridge Lido, open May-October, heated)
They take their swimming seriously in Hillingdon; the fitness centre boasts both a 50m indoor pool and a 50m outdoor pool. The Grade-II listed, heated open-air offering has plenty of paving around the edge for soaking up rays, and fountains at either end, lending a playful vibe. A gym, football pitches, fitness studios and athletic track can also be found on-site, if that's your bag. Us? We're all about the pool.
Hillingdon Sports & Leisure Complex, Gatting Way, Uxbridge, UB8 1ES.
8. Finchley Lido (open summer only, unheated)
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After an extensive refurb in 2019, Finchley Lido Leisure Centre's three swimming pools are looking better than ever. The outdoor pool's opening is weather dependent, but generally May-September is when you can indulge in open-air swimming followed by a relaxing afternoon in the garden area or an ice cream from the snack hut.
The indoor offerings (open all year) comprise a 25m pool (with hoist for accessibility) and a leisure pool complete with wave machine and rapids, and unlike most leisure centres, there's plenty of natural light inside, meaning you can *almost* convince yourself you're outside, without having to brave the unpredictable British weather.
Finchley Lido Leisure Centre, Great North Leisure Park, Chaplin Square, Finchley, N12 0GL.
9. Hampton Pool (open all year, heated)
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Hampton Pool is well-known for its famous moonlight swims, taking place late at night in the summer months. Not a night owl? During the day, two outdoor pools are available — a 36m one for the adults, and a 12.5m long one for learners and toddlers. They're heated year-round, with a mechanical chair to help anyone with accessibility issues into and out of the water, and there's a grassy area next to the water for a post-swim sunbathe. You're right on the edge of Bushy Park too.
As well as the moonlight and Christmas Day swims, Hampton Pool offers other special events including picnic concerts in the summer months. The pool operates as a charity, so fundraising events help with maintenance costs.
Hampton Pool, Bushy Park, off the High Street, Hampton, Middlesex, TW12 2ST.
10. Park Road Lido, Crouch End (open all year, heated)
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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.
If you're willing to brave the outdoor pool in the winter months, moonlight swims are held regularly. More of a fair-weather bather? You'll enjoy the grassy area surrounding two sides of the pool, which is packed with towels during hot days.
Park Road Pool and Fitness, Park Road, Hornsey, N8 8JN
11. Pools on the Park, Richmond (open summer only, heated)
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With a main and indoor teaching pool, and an outdoor pool in the summer months, Pools on the Park is one of west London's finest swimming facilities. The open-air 33m pool comes with a hoist to help disabled swimmers, and the added bonus of an adjacent garden area to explore.
Pools on the Park, Old Deer Park, Richmond, TW9 2SF
Wild swimming spots and ponds in London
Prefer your swimming spots with fewer tiles and more ducks? Read on. All are unheated, obviously.
12. Hampstead Bathing Ponds, Hampstead Heath (all year)
The Ladies', Men's and Mixed Bathing Ponds on Hampstead Heath are the stuff of legend, and due to a quirk in the political management of London, Hampstead Heath's ponds are operated by City of London Council.
All three are natural bathing ponds (so yes, ducks, yes, weeds, and yes, can be on the chilly side), but that does mean that they're open to strong swimmers only, age 8+ — and younger swimmers have to do a swimming test to prove their competency before they're allowed in.
Changing room and shower facilities vary between ponds but are generally limited, and there are no locker facilities available at any of the ponds — your local leisure centre it certainly isn't. But for swimming in nature, this is London's finest offering.
At time of writing, improvement works are underway at all three ponds to add accessible toilets and changing facilities, and hoists.
13. Serpentine Lido, Hyde Park (public swimming summer only)
Best-known for its famous Christmas Day swim, the Serpentine Lido is open all year-round for anyone who wants to give it a go. At 100m long by 30m wide, it's a whopper — and it's a beauty too, located in the Serpentine lake and overlooked by the gorgeous pavilion-style cafe and Serpentine Bridge.
To take part in that festive swim though, you need to be a member of the Serpentine Swimming Club, apparently the oldest swimming club in Britain. They also hold various other races and events throughout the year.
Serpentine Lido, Hyde Park
If you're more into open water swimming — which comes with its own set of dangers, and should only be attempted by confident swimmers — try West Reservoir Centre in Green Lanes or Beckenham Place Park.
Looking for a lido further afield? Take a look at our guide to outdoor pools surrounding London — ideal for a day trip out of the sweltering capital.