The sun’s shining.
And it’s time to hit the pool.
And luckily our wonderful old city, has got wonderful outdoor pools north, south, east and west.
And many of London’s outdoor pools are handily situated near other fun places to visit with kids.
So you can hit a museum or go wild in London’s woods before cooling down at the pool.
London’s Outdoor Pools
Now obviously London’s outdoor pools get busy.
So be prepared for the crowds.
And the cafe queues!
It’s worth taking your own picnic and drinks.
And be warned – many of London’s outdoor pools are not heated!
The water can be – shall we say – bracing.
Do keep a really close eye on your kids, even if they’re strong swimmers.
But London’s outdoor pools – many of them fantastic 1930s lidos – are a seriously cool part of London’s heritage, so wherever you are in the city, enjoy!
1. South London Outdoor Pools
I’m starting this guide to London’s outdoor pools in south London, as it’s home to three of the capital’s biggest and best 1930s lidos.
The kids really can spend a day at these splashing and swimming to their heart’s content.
And very first up has to be my local, Brockwell Lido.
It’s a 50 metre unheated pool on the edge of lovely Brockwell Park.
It’s 5 minutes walk from Herne Hill station (Thameslink and Victoria trains).
And the 37, 3 and 196 buses from Brixton tube stop right by the lido.
There’s a rather cool cafe at the lido, but after a long day swimming do like Herne Hillers and eat fish and chips from the famous Olleys in the park in the evening sun.
Or if you’re heading back to Brixton, eat yummy food in Brixton Village Market.
Tooting Bec Lido
Tooting Bec Lido is another beautiful 1930s London pool.
And at 90 metres – wow! – it’s a biggie.
Like Brockwell, it’s unheated.
On the edge of Tooting Bec, it’s about 15 minutes walk from Streatham and Streatham Hill stations.
There’s a cafe on the common.
And an Odeon close by on Streatham High Street, so you could wrap up the day with a movie.
Charlton Lido is south London’s other big outdoor pool.
And it IS heated.
Charlton’s not on everyone’s radar but there’s plenty to do locally.
Beautiful Charlton House – 10 minutes away – is London’s most haunted mansion.
You could enjoy any of these before hitting the lido.
Or take your bikes and get muddy on the BMX track in next door Hornfair Park first.
The lido is 20 minutes walk from Charlton station or you can get a bus from Charlton or Blackheath.
2. Central London Outdoor Pools
The Serpentine is one of London’s oldest outdoor pools.
It’s 100 metres and has a cafe bar, food kiosks and a play area.
And smack in the middle of Hyde Park it’s right next to English Heritage’s Apsley House.
And a 15 minute walk – 10 minute scoot – from the Science Museum, Natural History and V&A.
If you can’t bring yourself to brave the Serpentine, central London does have a heated alternative.
The Oasis pool is smaller at 27 metres so it does get crowded.
But it’s super handy for the British Museum, the Transport Museum and the National Gallery.
And if you can go in the holidays when other people at work less busy.
3. North London Outdoor Pools
North London has a whole load of outdoor pools you can combine with other outdoor fun …
The famous Hampstead Ponds are natural swimming ponds on beautiful Hampstead Heath.
Children need to be 8 and reasonable swimmers to swim in the mixed pool.
But if they are, then it’s a brilliant way to end a day marauding across the heath.
And you could even work a bit of culture into the day by checking out the art in Kenwood House at the top of the heath – it’s free – before wandering your way down to the ponds.
The mixed pond is 10 minutes walk from Hampstead Heath overground and Hampstead tube.
Parliament Hill Lido
If your kids aren’t old enough for Hampstead Pond, they can still swim outdoors on Hampstead Heath at the massive 60 metre Parliament Hill Lido.
Right at the bottom of Hampstead Heath, it’s next to Parliament Hill Playground. (We like!)
And it’s just a few minutes from Gospel Oak station.
Park Road Pools
An alternative to Hampstead is Park Road Pools, a 1920s 50 metre lido in Crouch End.
It’s about 20 minutes walk from Highgate and Hornsey stations.
You could combine a swim with some time going wild in lovely Highgate and Queens woods.
Or just hanging out in nearby popular Priory Park which has playgrounds and cafe etc.
Tucked next door there’s also a small nature reserve.
4. West London Outdoor Pools
Heading out west, there’s a number of outdoor pools you can easily combine with other fun stuff …
Hampton Pool has two heated pools – the 36 metre main pool and a children’s area.
It’s on the edge of family friendly Bushy Park. You can read a review from a local mum here.
And just the other side of the park is Hampton Court Palace.
So older kids could get down with the Tudors, then scoot over the park to the pools for a cool down.
The pool is 15 minutes walk from Hampton station.
Hillingdon Outdoor Pool
Hillingdon Outdoor Pool is a 50 metre 1930s lido.
The children’s splash pool is heated but the rest not.
It’s about 15 minutes walk from Uxbridge and Hillingdon stations.
But if you drive – and take bikes – you can also explore the enormous Colne Valley Park.
The Pools on the Park are in the old deer park just a few minutes from Richmond station.
The heated outdoor pool is quite small but there is also an indoor pool.
You could combine a swim with trips to Ham House, Kew Gardens or Richmond Park.
Ruislip Lake Lido
Now unfortunately, you can’t actually swim any longer at Ruislip Lake.
But there is a sandy beach and splash pools.
And a miniature railway round the lake, which was a big hit when we went.
Plus the lake is surrounded by the lovely Ruislip woods.
So a good one for littlies less bothered about actual swimming.
5. East London Outdoor Pools
Finally, heading out east there is …
London Fields Lido
London Fields Lido is a another 50 metre 1930s pool and is heated.
Set in London Fields park – paddling pool, play areas etc – it’s a few minutes from London Fields station (Liverpool St) and about 10-15 minutes from Dalston Junction and Hackney Central.
London Fields was closed for repairs in spring 2017 but will be open over the summer.
So there you go, all of London’s amazing outdoor pools.
I do hope you have fun exploring them – and London – with your kids.
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