London: Where to go swimming in the city

Posted in: London Outdoors

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Serpentine Lido
Serpentine Lido is an oasis in the middle of London for a swim in between sightseeing. Photo: justinberman

If you happen to be in London for one of those rare but glorious sunshiny days, sometimes a park just won’t cut it.

So why not consider one of the city’s great outdoor pools or even swimming ponds? It’s where you’ll find the locals cooling down and soaking up the sun.

Park Road Leisure Centre

Park Road, Hornsey N8 8JN
Getting there: Finsbury Park Underground Station to the W7 bus which stops right outside.

While this north London pool does get busy, at 50 metres it’s big enough to ensure you can still claim your patch of grass for the afternoon. To avoid the crowds head down early in the morning when the water is cooler and those who dare to brave it reap the rewards (my mother is a regular 8 AM swimmer!). The whole leisure center has been undergoing refurbishment this year, meaning the outdoor pool is not yet open for the summer, but it is due to open its doors in late July with a spangly new cafe, kiosk and changing rooms. Prices will be kept around the same as last year at £5.60 a swim.

Brockwell Lido

Brockwell Lido makes a fine place to take a dip amid Art Deco architecture. Photo: stevecadman

Brockwell Lido

Dulwich Road, SE24 0AP
Tube: Herne Hill Overground Station

Located within Brockwell Park, this Olympic sized lido is surrounded by Grade II listed Art Deco buildings and a real favorite with South Londoners. As has been the fate of many London lidos, it was closed in 1990, but heavy campaigning from locals led to it being reopened in 1994, and it is now a regular fixture on the summertime agenda and is often referred to as Brixton Beach. The pool is open from 6:30 AM until 8 PM for lane swimming or a general splash about. Entry prices are £3.10 for a pre-10am swim, £5.90 between 10 AM and 5 PM and £3.30 after 5 PM.

Related: Best views in London…for free!

Hampstead Ponds

Feel like you’re in the middle of the country with a swim at Hampstead Pond, open everyday of the year! Photo: stevecadman

Hampstead Ponds

Hampstead Heath, NW5 1QR
Tube: Hampstead Heath Overground Station

Hampstead Heath offers some of London’s loveliest outdoor swimming and a truly unique experience. Nestled amongst the trees, you can choose from a women’s, men’s or mixed swimming pond, which you’ll be sharing with the ducks. All the pools are life guarded and open to the public every single day—the icy Christmas Day swim is a bit of an institution, but we’d recommend starting with a summertime dip. The pools aren’t heated, so even in summer it can be chilly, but the beautiful setting makes this a London day out to remember. What’s more, entry costs just £2 a person!

Serpentine Lido

Located close to some of London’s biggest attractions, Serpentine Lido is a great pit stop for a little sun and fun. Photo: justinberman

Serpentine Lido

Hyde Park, W2 2UH
Tube: Hyde Park Corner Underground Station

For a truly central London swim that will likely fit in nicely with your sightseeing plans, head to Hyde Park and the Serpentine Lido. The pool forms part of the main Hyde Park lake and is open daily from 1 June to 12 September. It’s a good option for families too as, away from the unheated Lido, there is also a chlorinated paddling pool and play area for children. Entry is priced at £4.50 for adults and £1.50 for children.

Related: Five central hotels for under £100 per night in London

About the author

Nina Derham

About the author: Nina is a freelance travel writer who will leave no stone unturned in her quest to discover the very best on offer in a destination. She recently relocated to London after spending over four years in Madrid and is currently enjoying rediscovering her home town.

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