Hampstead Heath Bathing Ponds
The wood-shrouded ponds in Hampstead Heath are one of the capital’s best-kept secrets. Split into three sections – mixed, men and women-only – these natural ponds take things back to basics in the best possible way. All three sites are fed by the springs of the River Fleet and are open to adults and children over the age of eight. There are no lockers or toilets, but – thankfully – the ladies pond has hot showers. Perfect, as the men and ladies ponds are open year-round.
Hampstead Heath, NW5 1QR
Tooting Bec Lido
This south London spot boasts the UK’s largest open-air swimming pool. It’s also one of the oldest – having opened in 1906. The alternating bright red, yellow, and green doors of the changing cubicles seen above the turquoise water make this a popular place for shoots (especially of the Instagram variety).
Tooting Bec Road, Tooting Bec, SW16 1RU
London Fields Lido
London Fields Lido is a 50m Olympic-sized heated outdoor swimming pool that’s open all year. The pool offers all-day lane swimming, lessons for children and adults, and one-to-one swimming tuition. There’s a café, plus a large sundeck and sunbathing area that expands during the summer months.
London Fields West Side, Hackney, E8 3EU
This Hyde Park swimming pool stretches across 100m of the Serpentine River. It’s home to the Serpentine Swimming Club, the oldest in Britain – members swim in the river every day including Christmas Day, when they hold its famous race. Facilities include the Lido Café Bar, which serves hearty and healthy refreshments both indoors and on its outdoor terrace.
Hyde Park, Knightsbridge, W2 2UH
Parliament Hill Lido
This listed lido, which dates back to 1939, is also known as Hampstead Heath Lido. Bordering the parkland, the outdoor pool features a stainless-steel lining – the very first in Britain to do so. Today it boasts changing rooms, hot and cold showers, a supervised left-luggage facility and separate areas for lane swimmers and leisure users.
Heath Lodge, Highgate, NW5 1NA
Oasis Sports Centre
Oasis Sports Centre is a leisure centre with an indoor and large outdoor pool that are open all year. Originally a Turkish bath in the 1700s, it became a dedicated pool in the 1930s, and today it’s the only outdoor heated pool in the West End. Surrounded by patio areas and a sunbathing deck, there’s also a sauna overlooking the pool; perfect for a spot of extra relaxation before or after a dip.
32 Endell Street, Covent Garden, WC2H 9AG
Located in leafy Brockwell Park, Brockwell Lido has been around since 1937. It closed in the 90s, but a vocal campaign from the community saw it relaunched a few years later. Today, it is run by volunteers, has Grade II-listed status and a recently added sauna. Come summer, it transforms into a pop-up outdoor cinema in the evenings.
Dulwich Road, Brockwell Park, SE24 0PA
Charlton Lido and Lifestyle Club is an all-round fitness destination, complete with tennis courts and a state-of-the-art gym. The wellness studio overlooks the club’s spectacular Olympic-sized, heated outdoor pool. During the summer months the sun terraces are a great place to soak up the sun while sipping a cool drink from Coffee Corner.
Hornfair Park, Shooters Hill Road, Charlton, SE18 4LX
Finchley Lido is a great place for family swimming, with a leisure pool that includes a wave machine, jets and other fun features. The 25m pool boasts a comprehensive ‘Learn to swim’ programme, while the outdoor pool is a great place to swim when the temperature soars. Last summer saw the poolside changing facilities benefit from a refurbishment, which now provide more family changing areas.
Currently under refurbishment, Finchley Lido will reopen this autumn.
Chaplin Square, Finchley, N12 0GL
Park Road Leisure Centre
At 50x23m, Park Road is one of the largest heated lidos in London and has been a popular summer swimming spot since 1926. Following an £8m investment last year, the lido has been given a complete makeover, with brand new changing areas, bathroom facilities, a new reception area and cafe. The pool has also been renovated and new landscaping and water features give the whole site a relaxing, family-friendly feel.
Park Road, Crouch End, N8 8JN
Pools On The Park
Pools on the Park (previously known as Richmond Baths) is a Grade II-listed swimming pool and leisure facility in Old Deer Park in Richmond. The building, which includes 33.3m pool and a learner pool inside, has an open-air pool outside – complete with a new sand pit for little ones – plus a long-established physiotherapy and osteopathy clinic on site.
Twickenham Road, Richmond, TW9 2SF
ACROSS THE UK:
Thames Lido, Reading
Thames Lido is the result of a three-year restoration project of the Edwardian Kings Meadow baths. Tucked away on a quiet corner of Kings Meadow, right by the River Thames, the 25m heated pool is now open to the public year-round. It also boasts a spa (with saunas and a hot tub), massages, and poolside tapas bar.
Napier Road, Reading, RG1 8FR
Bristol Lido, Bristol
Hidden within the residential Georgian streets of Clifton, this urban retreat is open to the elements. The 24m outdoor swimming pool is heated throughout the year and is low on chlorine, thanks to the team’s ‘wash naked’ policy. The award-winning, poolside Bristol Lido restaurant and a spa are also on hand for when you’re done.
Oakfield Place, Bristol, BS8 2BJ
Saltdean Lido, Brighton
Restored and reopened in 2017, following decades of closure, the clifftop Saltdean Lido overlooks the sea, and Brighton beyond. The elegant art-deco lido has already welcomed over 40,000 visitors, and now a campaign is underway to help finance the restoration of its grand modernist pavilion. As broadcaster David Dimbleby puts it: “Saltdean Lido is a beautiful and fascinating example of the belief in a healthy lifestyle, fresh air and exercise. It is a particularly fine building that deserves to be preserved for future generations to enjoy.”
Saltdean Park Road, Brighton, BN2 8SP
Tinside Pool, Plymouth
Tinside Pool is a 1935 art-deco lido in Plymouth. This semi-circle coastal pool comes complete with three fountains and is overlooked by two of the town’s landmarks – Plymouth Hoe and Smeaton's Tower. The summer-only spot is filled with salt water (so it’s not heated, alas), but it does offer a slice of seaside nostalgia.
Hoe Road, Plymouth, PL1 3DE
Pells Pool, Lewes
The Pells Pool is the oldest documented freshwater outdoor public swimming pool in the UK, set in the beautiful town of Lewes in East Sussex. The Pells is an unheated spring-fed pool with facilities for the whole family to enjoy, from a tree-lined green lawn, sun terrace and exercise lane, to children's paddling pool, floats and other recreational equipment. The pool is heated only by the sun, so water is usually cool at the start of the summer, and warms up as the season goes by.
Brook Street, Lewes, BN7 2BA
Jubilee Pool, Penzance
Notable art-deco architecture gives this beachside open-air lido an exotic feel. Located on Penzance promenade, it makes an ideal spot for all ages to swim safely in fresh salt-water. High walls protect swimmers from strong, offshore winds and form terraces for spectators and sunbathers. Last year, the venue added a geothermal pool, all-year café and further terrace facilities.
Battery Road, Penzance, TR18 4FF
Sandford Parks Lido, Cheltenham
Sandford Parks Lido is an outdoor swimming pool, set in landscaped gardens in Cheltenham. The lido consists of a 50m main pool (heated to 26°C) and a children's pool (heated to 30°C). The lido is open from March until October and is a children's paradise with slides and a paddling pool. The 50m pool is also an ideal place to train – two lanes are reserved most days.
Keynsham Road, Cheltenham, GL53 7PU
Lymington Sea Water Baths, Hampshire
Lymington Sea Water Baths is a lifeguarded open-air lido in Hampshire. Built in 1833, it is the oldest lido in the UK, and at 110x50m is also one of the largest in area. Today, young and old still swim in the waters and enjoy the location, which has views over to the Isle of Wight. As well as paddle boards and hot tubs, the venue has installed the South Coast’s biggest inflatable obstacle course, which is available to book in advance.
Bath Road, Lymington, SO41 3SE