The Best London Lidos To Make A Splash In

As the weather reaches scorching temperatures, we're dreaming of considerably more exciting weekend activities: picnics in the park, rooftop drinks and, of course, cooling off poolside. With your towel and a summer read packed and ready to go, it's probably time to start thinking about where you're going to show off your front crawl.

Obviously, this is no ordinary summer – after months of working from home and strict lockdown conditions, the desire to go to the lido is stronger than ever but the rules are tighter than you may be used to. Pools and lidos were understandably closed during lockdown and only began to reopen in July (as long as they have plenty of COVID-ready precautions in place). What this means for you, intrepid swimmer, is that they are reducing numbers and spacing out swimmers, and booking a slot is essential.


London is still overflowing with incredible lidos to dip all 10 toes into – whether you're looking for a kid-friendly watering hole or somewhere to hang all day with friends, this city is a treasure trove of outdoor swimming options. From art deco beauties to 1970s restored gems via Bloomsbury-era natural ponds, there's a pool for everyone. All you need to do is make sure you have all the latest information (and have booked ahead) before setting out and diving in!

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Parliament Hill Lido

After a long, hard day of sunbathing on Hampstead Heath, nothing could be more welcome than a dip in Parliament Hill Lido. Right on the edge of the park, this 61-metre lido has plenty of room for everyone, as well as a fantastic café to wind down in afterwards. If you can handle a dip in colder weather, the on-site sauna does a lovely job of heating you up afterwards. Remember, swimming is for life, not just for summer.

You can book your session up to a week in advance here.

Parliament Hill Mansions, Hampstead Heath, Lissenden Gardens, Highgate, London NW5 1NA
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Brockwell Lido

Located in Brixton’s Brockwell Park, this 50-metre pool is a 1930s art deco classic that was almost lost to London. In 1990 the swimming pool was closed but pressure from a campaign group led to its reopening four years later. The lido is now Grade II listed and includes an award-winning café and a health and fitness centre.

You can book your session here.

Brockwell Lido, Dulwich Rd, London SE24 0PA
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Serpentine Lido

They don't come better than this: a swimming pool carved out of the main pond in Hyde Park. As with the ponds in Hampstead, you share the unheated, un-chlorinated waters of the Serpentine Lido with plenty of wildlife – and dedicated fans of wild swimming! The most committed swimmers come here all year round, including on Christmas Day to participate in the annual Peter Pan Cup race, but otherwise public access is generally restricted to the summer months. When you do visit, a nearby playground, paddling pool and deckchairs all extend an invitation to linger. It’s a unique slice of London life.

In order to swim you have to join the Serpentine Swimming Club, which you can do here.

Hyde Park, S Carriage Dr, London W2 2UH
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Hampton Pool

Way out west, on the edge of Bushy Park and near Hampton Court, is Hampton pool. The main pool is heated to a balmy 28 degrees, to guarantee you a great swim whatever the weather or time of day (there are nighttime sessions for anyone who fancies swimming under the stars). With an even warmer paddling pool, water slides and a large grassy area, it’s massively popular with families. And it’s more than just a pool: it’s made a name for itself as a concert venue, hosting gigs and theatre productions.

You have to book ahead via the app, which you can find here.

High St, Hampton TW12 2ST
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Hampstead Heath

My personal favourite. There are three ponds set aside for swimmers on the Heath – two (the Men’s and Ladies’ Ponds) are on the Highgate side, the other (Mixed Pond) is closer to Hampstead/Belsize Park. Beautiful settings and a quirky, dedicated troupe of regulars, including the ducks and swans, all set these apart.

Swimming sessions are bookable up to seven days in advance and charged at £4, or £2.40 for a concession. You can book here.

Hampstead Heath, London NW3 1BP
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Charlton Lido

Reopened to the public in 2013 following a £2 million refurbishment, this 50-metre outdoor pool in southeast London is a local favourite. Perfect for anyone craving an after-work dip, the pool is open until 8pm on weekdays. Charlton Lido is a popular spot in all weather, however, as the water is heated.

Sessions must be booked via the Better app.

Hornfair Park, Shooters Hill Rd, London SE18 4LX
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Tooting Bec Lido

This old-school lido has been in use since 1906 and the architecture alone is worth the visit to south London. Marked by distinctively coloured cubicle doors, it's prime Pantone fodder for Instagrammers. The pool, measuring 90m x 30m, is the largest freshwater open-air swimming pool in the UK and there’s a lovely café, too, for those looking to keep dry.

Sessions must be pre-booked either online or through the Places Locker app.

Tooting Bec Rd, Tooting, London SW16 1RU
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Park Road Lido

At 50m by 23m, Park Road Lido is one of the largest in London. It's also heated year-round and has had a major £8 million refurbishment (including the addition of a café and plenty of fun water features), making it a popular destination for family days out.

You can book here.

Park Rd, Crouch End, London N8 8JN
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Pools On The Park Richmond

While a little way out of central London, this heated pool is more than worth the visit. It is located in Richmond's picturesque Old Deer Park and is part of an extensive leisure complex (including an indoor pool). We recommend making a day of it and visiting the nearby Kew Gardens.

You can book a Pay As You Go session up to seven days in advance here.

Twickenham Rd, Richmond TW9 2SS
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London Fields

One of the most popular pools in east London, London Fields Lido was closed for serious repair work but since summer 2017 has been fully refurbished. As this lido was only kept open thanks to the efforts of a dogged pressure group, it's sure to be packed with locals who've missed being able to go for a dip. If it's too packed, there’s a nice sun terrace on the site and a café.

Swimming slots should be booked ahead here.

London Fields West Side, London E8 3EU
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Oasis Sports Centre

If you're trying to beat the heat in central London, the solution might be closer than you think. Just a stone's throw from the bright lights of Covent Garden and the treasures of The British Museum, Oasis Sports Centre offers year-round outdoor swimming with a 27.5m outdoor heated swimming pool, as well as a slightly smaller indoor pool. Pop in on your way to work for a water-based weekday workout or take a more leisurely dip over the weekend when the city heat gets too much.

You can book here.

32 Endell St, London WC2H 9AG
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Hillingdon Outdoor Pool

Formerly known as Uxbridge Lido, Hillingdon's outdoor pool is another classic 1930s build (and is even Grade II listed). Recently renovated to its former glory, Hillingdon features a kids' heated shallow splash pool, water fountains, and a café for poolside drinks and snacks.

You can book your swim online here.

Gatting Way, Uxbridge UB8 1ES
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Beckenham Place Park

Feel like a swim in a lake will set you right? You're in luck – if you head south you'll find Beckenham Place Park in Lewisham, which has London's first purpose-built swimming lake and is open again for summer swimming.

You can book your slot beforehand here.

Beckenham Hill Rd, Beckenham BR3 5BS

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