Cool down when the city warms up this summer in one of London’s most popular outdoor swimming areas
Words Helen Brown
Swim away your city stress at one of London’s top outdoor pools and ponds. With cafes, fitness classes, deck chairs and even cinema screenings, most offer more than just a spot to swim and splash. Below are a few of our favourite places for outdoor swimming in London.
This Grade II listed lido boasts an Olympic length pool, gym, hydrotherapy zone and an indoor cycling studio. It’s perfectly positioned for a day trip in South London with an award-winning cafe serving breakfast, brunch, lunch and afternoon tea. Dry off after your dip in front of an al fresco film from Luna Cinema. They are hosting screenings all summer of Jaws, The Graduate and Splash.
TOOTING BEC LIDO
At a whopping 90m x 30m, Tooting Bec is the largest freshwater open-air pool in the UK. Although the place can still get pretty crowded so an early start is advised. There’s a café too to rest and refuel once you’re done swimming.
HAMPSTEAD HEATH PONDS
Hampton offers three dedicated pools for swimming on the Heath – one men’s, one women’s and a mixed pond. Picturesque surroundings and a variety of wildlife – ducks and swans are swimming regulars – set Hampton Ponds apart. Look out for late night events throughout the summer, last year they proved very popular.
LONDON FIELDS LIDO
If you’re not one to brave the chill – this is British summertime after all – you’ll want to hit up London Lido Fields. This 50-metre pool is heated and gets packed during summer. Besides swimming, they host workout sessions, yoga and aquaerobics. There’s also a cafe and a sundeck, perfect for an afternoon doze sunshine.
Bang smack in the heart of London is the Serpentine Lido, carved out of the main pond in Hyde Park. Like Hampton Ponds, regulars to the waters include some of the city’s finest wildlife. But don’t let the ducks deter you. This place is open all year long and has a nearby playground, paddling pool and deckchairs so you can chill out all day.
PARK ROAD POOLS AND FITNESS
Park Road recently benefitted from a cool £8m revamp and now boasts a host of cutting edge facilities. Along with its roomy 50m long pool, the space has a gym, health suite and play areas for the little ones. The cafe is also worth a trip while you’re there.
OASIS SPORTS CENTRE
A mere five minutes from Holborn, this is one of the West End’s only outdoor swimming areas. The location is prime and it tends to pack out on warmer days and stays open until 10pm during the week. When you’re done with your dip there are three squash courts and two fitness studios to enjoy.
The Parliament Hill lido is unheated, regularly attended by lifeguards and clean. Offering adult-only swimming sessions, it’s perfect for anyone looking to get away from the persistent splashes of children during the summer holidays.