Pop-Up Urban Beaches In London: Summer 2023

Pop-Up Urban Beaches In London: Summer 2023
There's a pretty pastel theme at Fulham Beach Club this year.

The sun is (sometimes) shining, and sand is returning to London's streets in the form of pop-up urban beaches. Here's where to find them in summer 2023.

1. The Beach at Brent Cross 2023

Your best option if you've got kiddies in tow, The Beach at Brent Cross is one of London's biggest — and therefore busiest — urban beaches. It pops up in a car park at the north west London shopping centre, bringing with it rides for adults and kids, and food and drink stalls. There's a paddling pool and splash areas for cooling off (capacity is limited so there may be a queue during busy times, with your dip limited to 10 minutes). Look out for special events including magic and puppet shows.

There's a bar at the beach, and a limited choice of meals such as fish and chips, burgers and hot dogs. You can bring your own food in, either from the cafes and restaurants in the shopping centre, or from home — but no glassware, knives or alcohol.

The Beach at Brent Cross. Entry £3.50 in advance of £4 on the day, extra charge for rides etc. Open 13 May-3 September 2023.

2. Summer Splash at the Royal Docks 2023

As part of the At The Docks 2023 series of summer events, a temporary lido is being constructed in Royal Victoria Dock, complete with sandpits, deckchairs, and swimming areas.

There will be a shallow swimming area for younger children, and the lido is open to everyone, free of charge, though under-8s must be accompanied by an adult on a 1:1 ratio.

Royal Docks Summer Splash, 31 July-20 August 2023. Free, no booking required.

3. Fulham Beach Club at Neverland 2023

Outdoor riverside bar Neverland once again hosts the Fulham Beach Club, a sand-sprinkled bar and party venue with beach huts, sofas, day beds, cabanas and beach bubbles (igloos, but make it summer) to hire, all in Instagram-friendly pastel hues. There's a bar where you can buy drinks, and a kitchen serving street food — pizzas, burgers, wings and the like — and you can order from your phone and have it delivered to your table. The venue is strictly 18+ after 5pm, and well-behaved dogs are welcome.

Fulham Beach Club at Neverland. General entry is free (no reserved seating), extra charge for beach huts, sofas and bubbles. Open 28 April-7 October 2023.

London's year-round beach: Ruislip Lido

No need to wait for these pop-up beaches to roll out their sun loungers. Ruislip Lido in Hillingdon has a natural beach year-round, as long as you don't mind sharing sand space with swans. There's even a miniature railway to make getting there that bit more fun. Be aware though, that swimming in the lake is always prohibited.

The Thames Foreshore

A particularly sandy bit of foreshore
Image by Matt Brown.

And no list of London beaches would be complete without the natural ones, along the Thames foreshore. Well, we say 'natural', but some of the choicer spots have clearly had sand imported over the years. Stairs down to the foreshore can be found all along the South Bank. One notable area is close to Gabriel's Wharf where a particularly sandy patch often attracts sand sculptors.

A view of the towers of the City of London from the Thames foreshore. The water is reflecting a blue sky and looks like snow
The river looks almost frozen solid in this deceptive image from the foreshore. Image Matt Brown.

Another excellent patch is the beach in front of Tate Modern. This one is more pebbly, but is a fascinating place to explore with children. Always be careful when on the foreshore for sharp flotsam and jetsam, and beware of rising tides.

Looking for the real seaside? Check out our guides for the best real sand you can get to on a day trip from London:

Last Updated 02 June 2023

Continued below.