London’s outdoor pools and lidos were in danger of disappearing but the great London lidos have been restored and outdoor swimming in London has had a massive resurgence with new outdoor pools opening.
They are an absolute god send in the summer if you can’t get out of London for a day trip to the beach. And in 2021 London’s outdoor pools are reopening from March 29th so are a great way finally to enjoy a swim.
So check out this guide to all of London’s outdoor pools and lidos to find the best places to swim outdoors in London near you and across the city.
You will find everything from Olympic sized lidos to ponds and lakes in the guide plus details of how to get there on public transport and local attractions close by so you can hit one of London’s great historic houses, museums or woods before cooling down at the pool.
Swimming In London’s Outdoor Pools
London’s outdoor pools and lidos do get busy when the weather is very hot so do be prepared for the crowds and the cafe queues! It’s worth booking ahead in the summer and taking your own picnic and drinks.
Many of London’s outdoor pools offer card membership schemes that are definitely worth buying if you enjoy outdoor swimming as they let you skip the queues.
Most of London’s big outdoor pools – such as Brockwell, Tooting & Charlton – run a mixture of lane swimming and free swimming for families and kids. The very early swimming sessions are usually reserved for lane swimming so do check times to confirm what is open before booking.
Do remember most of London’s outdoor pools are not heated and the water in spring and early summer can be bracing to say the least. So even strong swimmers should familiarise themselves with cold water swimming guidelines.
Central London Outdoor Pools
- Serpentine Lido : London’s most famous outdoor pool in Hyde Park.
- Oasis Outdoor Pool : a small heated outdoor pool handy for museums.
South London Outdoor Pools
South London is home to London’s three major 1930s Lidos and London’s new outdoor swimming lake :
- Beckenham Place Lake : new swimming lake in Beckenham Park.
- Brockwell Lido : 50 metre lido in Brockwell Park near Brixton.
- Charlton Lido : 50 metre heated pool in Charlton Park.
- Tooting Bec Lido : 100 metre pool on Tooting Bec.
North London Outdoor Pools
- Finchley Lido : 25 metre outdoor pool in Finchley leisure complex.
- Hampstead Ponds : 3 wild swimming ponds on Hampstead Heath.
- Park Road Pools : 50 metre lido & 10 metre kids pool in Crouch End.
- Parliament Hill Lido : 50 metre lido on Hampstead Heath.
West London Outdoor Pools
- Hampton Pools : 2 heated pools on the edge of Bushey Park
- Hillingdon Outdoor Pool : 50 m lido in Hillingdon leisure centre.
- Ruislip Lake Lido : a paddling only lake popular with small kids.
East London Outdoor Pools
- London Fields Lido : 50 m heated lido with sun decks in park.
Heated London Lidos & Outdoor Pools
Most London lidos and outdoor pools are not heated but these few are:
- Charlton Lido : 50 m lido in south London park with historic house.
- Hampton Pools : 36 m & 12 m kids pool near Hampton Court.
- London Fields Lido : 50 m lido in east London park.
- Oasis Outdoor Pool : a 27m heated outdoor pool in central London.
- Pools On The Park : 33 m heated pool on edge of deer park in Richmond.
Beckenham Place Swimming Lake
The lake is over 3 metres deep in some parts and is only open to children over 8 year old and those who can swim more than 25 metres.
Beckenham Place swimming lake has been very popular since opening and you now have to book swimming in advance. This will continue when the pool reopens in 2021.
The swimming lake is less than 10 minutes from Beckenham Hill station.
Brockwell Lido is a 50 metre 1930s built unheated pool on the edge of lovely Brockwell Park.
The Lido is just 5 minutes walk from Herne Hill station with regular 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 it does get very busy. So 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 try the wide range of independent cafes, restaurants and bars around Herne Hill station.
Charlton Lido is south London’s other big outdoor pool and is heated.
The lido is in Charlton Park which also contains beautiful Charlton House, London’s most haunted mansion.
Charlton Park is on the Green Chain Walk between the Thames Barrier and beautiful Oxleas Wood with Severndroog Castle which has stunning views across the whole of London and the lovely Woodlands Farm which is very popular with children.
You could enjoy any of these before hitting the lido
The lido is 20 minutes walk from Charlton station or you can get a bus from Charlton or Blackheath.
Hampstead Swimming Ponds
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 or alternatively can swim at Parliament Hill Lido at the bottom of Hampstead Heath.
The mixed pond is 10 minutes walk from Hampstead Heath overground and Hampstead tube on the west side of the Heath whilst the mens and women’s ponds are on the other Highgate side of the Heath.
It’s worth remembering that Kenwood House – which includes Rembrandts and Vermeers and is free to visit – is also on Hampstead Heath and just 10 to 15 minutes walk from Hampstead swimming pools so you could combine dipping into some culture with an outdoor swim.
Alternatively, the National Trust’s Fenton House is also close by.
Hampton Pool has two outdoor pools – the 36 metre main pool and a a separate 12 metre children’s pool – and they are both heated to 28 degrees.
Hampton pools are on the edge of family friendly Bushy Park and you can walk or cycle through the park to Hampton Court Palace.
The pools are 15 minutes walk from Hampton station.
Hillingdon Outdoor Pool
Hillingdon Outdoor Pool is a 50 metre 1930s lido with a heated children’s splash pool that is part of Hillingdon Sports & Leisure Complex which also has indoor pools and other sports facilities.
Hillingdon outdoor pool is 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 which is just a mile away.
London Fields Lido
London Fields Lido is a 50 metre 1930s outdoor pool with sun decks and is heated. The lido is set in London Fields park which has a paddling pool, play areas, tennis courts, cricket pitch etc and the lido itself has a cafe.
The lido is just a few minutes walk from London Fields station with trains from Liverpool Street and about 10-15 minutes from Dalston Junction and Hackney Central.
London Fields Lido is just 15 minutes walk from Sutton House a lovely National Trust property in Hackney.
Oasis Outdoor Pool
If you can’t bring yourself to brave the Serpentine, central London does have a heated alternative.
The Oasis outdoor pool is smaller at 27 metres long so it does get crowded but it is heated and has a sun terrace.
The Oasis outdoor pool is super handy for the British Museum, the Transport Museum and the National Gallery but also for little hidden gems like the John Soanes Museum and the Grant Museum of Zoology.
And if you can go in the holidays when other people at work less busy.
Parliament Hill Lido
The massive 60 metre Parliament Hill Lido is at the bottom of Hampstead Heath and is an alternative to wild swimming in Hampstead Ponds especially for children under 8 who can’t swim in the mixed pond.
The lido has it own’s cafe and is right next to Parliament Hill Playground which is usually a big hit with kids.
Parliament Hill Lido is just a few minutes walk from Gospel Oak station.
Park Road Pools
Park Road Pools in Crouch End combines a 1920s 50 metre lido with a small 10 metre outdoor pool for children right next to it.
Park Road Pools are about 20 minutes walk from Highgate and Hornsey stations.
The pools are very close – only 10 minutes walk – from lovely Highgate and Queens woods so you could easily combine outdoor fun in the woods with a swim in the pools. There is no cafe at the pools but there is a popular cafe in the middle of Highgate wood.
Pools On The Park
The Pools on the Park in Richmond are in the old deer park adjoining Kew Gardens just a few minutes from Richmond station.
The 33 metre outdoor pool is heated and there is also an indoor pool.
Ruislip Lake Lido
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 is a big hit with little children.
The lake is also surrounded by the lovely Ruislip woods.
The H13 and 331 buses from Ruislip station stop by the lido.
The Serpentine’s lido is 100 metres long 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.
The Serpentine is also just a 15 minute walk from the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum and the V&A so an outdoor swim can easily be combined with some indoor culture.
Tooting Bec Lido
Tooting Bec Lido is another beautiful 1930s London outdoor pool and at 90 metres – wow! – it’s a biggie. Like Brockwell Lido, Tooting Lido is unheated.
On the edge of Tooting Bec – a large south London common – the lido is about 15 minutes walk from Streatham and Streatham Hill stations.
There’s a cafe at the lido and another on the common.
And there you go, a huge guide to all of London’s amazing outdoor pools and lidos that really do come into their own on hot days in summer.
For more fun things to do in London in the summer do check out these other guides :
- Pick Your Own Farms In London
- Best Sandy Beaches Near London
- 55 Historic London Houses With Gorgeous Gardens
- 14 Best London Woods & Forests
- 101 Free Things To Do In London
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