1 Royal Docks Summer Splash
The Royal Docks Summer Splash pop-up returns for free paddling and aquatic pootling, ideal for families. The outdoor lido comes with deckchairs and “super sandpits” alongside other various pool-side play. Also look out for a programme of creative workshops on things like dream shoe design and an upcycling class on transforming waste bottles into attractive self-watering plant pots. Children aged 8 or under need to be accompanied an adult in the lido.
Dates: July 31-August 20
Address: Royal Victoria Dock, E16 1AG
2 Hampton Lido, Hampton
Perched on the corner of Royal Bushy Park, Hampton Lido is heated throughout the year and is even open on Christmas. In addition to regular lap and splashing about session, the pool, on occasion, opens for moonlight sessions, which sounds like a lot of glorious fun.
Address: High Street, Hampton TW12 2ST
3 Tooting Bec Lido, Tooting
**Currently closed for refurbishment** The legendary Tooting Bec Lido is every bit as glorious as they say. Those colourful changing rooms doors, the glistening blue waters, the lush green backdrop of mature trees… And it’s not just a pretty face, it’s the largest outdoor fresh-water pool in the UK, measuring 91.44 metres long by 30.18 metres wide. Visitors to the pool can relax in the sunbathing area, splash around in the paddling pool, strap on goggles and swim laps, or grab an ice-cream cone at the café
Address: Tooting Bec Road, Tooting SW16 1RU
4 Beckenham Place Park Wild Swimming Lake
Beckenham Place Park’s wild swimming spot launched in 2019 and is a 283 metre-long, 45 metre-wide lake created as part of a £6.8 million park regeneration project. A recreation of an original Georgian water feature, it has a sloped beach that creates shallows for younger children to play in for free (up to 1-1.2metres in depth). In addition to open water swimming sessions, boat hire and stand up paddleboard hire is also available. the lake is open all year round and children must be eight years old or older, and supervised.
Address: Beckenham Hill Road, Beckenham BR3 5BS
5 Brockwell Lido, Herne Hill
Nestled in the corner of Brockwell Park, Brockwell Lido is one of south London’s absolute gems with glistening blue waters, art deco surrounds and palm plants giving the place an almost Mediterranean feel. The lido, known locally as Brixton Beach, has set times for general swimming and lap swimming, so check online before you go. There’s also the lovely poolside Lido Cafe, if you want to grab a bite to eat in the sun after your swim.
Address: Brockwell Park, Dulwich Road, Herne Hill SE24 0PA
6 London Fields Lido, Hackney
Pre-pandemic, the que to London Fields Lido would stretch around the building’s corner. However, this is a thing of a past as pre-booked times slots look like they’re here to stay. Still, the lido remains as popular as ever. Heated all year round (with the best hot showers for a post-winter swim treat) and on the original site of the 1930s pool, the lido is always divvied up for lap and leisure swimming. On Tuesday evenings, the pool is open for women only from 7pm onwards (and it’s usually quieter too).
Address: London Fields West Side, Hackney E8 3EU
7 Park Road Pools & Fitness, Crouch End
One of London’s largest lidos, people have been flocking to Park Road Pools since 1926. But things are anything but tired here – Park Road Pools underwent an £8 million redevelopment project in 2016. The Olympic-sized main pool is just one of five swimming pools – lucky ol’ Crouch Enders – and there is also a play area, fitness facilities, changing areas, sun loungers and fun water features.
Address: Park Road, Crouch End N8 8JN
8 Parliament Hill Lido, Hampstead
Built in 1938 and Grade II-listed, Parliament Hill Lido is the only stainless steel-lined outdoor pool in the UK. The shiny metal lining makes the whole pool shimmer with a deep royal blue hue, plus, the water is heated (handy, since it’s open all-year round. There are also splash pools, sports facilities, playgrounds and gardens, making this a great family spot for summer. Plus, if it’s too crowded, the famous Hampstead ponds are just a stroll away, making the Heath one of London’s best open-air swimming areas.
Address: Parliament Hill Mansions, Lissenden Gardens NW5 1NA
9 Hampstead Heath Ponds, Hampstead
Hampstead Heath’s famous ponds are legendary. Locals have kept fit and healthy splashing about in the ponds since way before open water swimming became a thing, but now that it is, well, you know where to head. It’s ‘cold, muddy and glorious’, as one local puts it. The mixed pond is on the Hampstead side of the Heath, near Hampstead Heath overground station, while the ladies’ and men’s ponds are on the Highgate side. The mixed pond is only open to the public in summer, whereas the ladies’ and men’s ponds are open all year round.
Address: Hampstead Health, NW3 1BP
10 Serpentine Lido, Hyde Park
The Serpentine Lido and its accompanying paddling pool is located in the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park and open to the public during the summer months, from May. It is home to the Serpentine Swimming Club, which is the oldest swimming club in Britain. Members of the club may swim all year round at the lido and are famous for their crazy Christmas day race. You might even find yourself sharing a lane with swans or ducks. There is a gated family area with a chlorinated paddling pool and swings, as well as a private sunbathing area.
Address: Hyde Park W2 2UH
11 Hampton Pool, Hampton Court
Hampton Pool – one of south west London’s best kept secrets – is a 36-metre long open-air pool. The lido is heated to provide for 365 days of outdoor swimming, split in half at all times to allow for lane swimming on one side and family swimming and fun on the other. Hampton Pool has an even warmer paddling pool for beginners, and a large grassy area for picnics or lazing in the sunshine. Once inside, you can stay all day, or follow your swim with a walk or cycle ride at Bushy Park next door.
Address: High Street, Hampton TW12 2ST
12 Charlton Lido, Greenwich
Located in Hornfair Park, the Lido at Charlton Lido & Lifestyle Club is the capital’s second 50-metre, Olympic-sized heated outdoor pool after London Fields. Whether you want to improve your freestyle technique, get fit, compete, meet fellow swimmers or have some family fun, you’re sure to love splashing about in the Charlton Lido. Fitness lane swimming is always available, but water games and fun with noodles are also encouraged.
Address: Hornfair Park, Shooters Hill Road, Charlton SE18 4LX
13 London Royal Docks Open Water Swimming
Give open water swimming a whirl at London Royal Docks, where the Summer Season runs from March until late September, with 400m, 750m and 1000m loops available for swimming. Safety is paramount, with fortnightly water tests and a NOWCA safety tagging system in place. Sessions are held Tuesday to Thursday and at the weekend.
Address: Waterfront Studios, 1 Dock Road E16 1AG