The weather here in London can be admittedly gloomy. But during summer, you can enjoy the outdoors wearing only your trunks or a bathing suit without heading to a beach.
Believe or not, there are plenty of outdoor swimming pools in London, as well as ponds and historic lidos – many of which are free of charge.
So, when you fancy escaping the indoors and having a splash under the sun, check out our favourite outdoor swimming pools in London (please don’t swim in the River Thames no matter how enticing it may be).
Hampstead Mixed Pond
Take a gander at Hampstead Mixed Pond, and you won’t believe you’re only four miles away from the mayhem of Oxford Street. Surrounded by greenery and wildlife, this outdoor swimming area provides a welcome escape from the urban metropolis.
On some days, you might find you’re the only person swimming in the golden-brown water of Hampstead Mixed Pond. You will, however, probably swim alongside a coot or two. This is definitely one of the best places to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of London. Better still, you can dive in for just £2.
Kenwood Ladies Pond, Hampstead Heath
Further north on Hampstead Heath, you’ll find Kenwood Ladies Pond, which is even more secluded and serene than Hampstead Mixed Pond. As you’ve probably guessed, this swimming area is for ladies only. If you want to have a dip in a place where style is irrelevant, this is the place to go.
Kenwood Ladies Pond has welcomed lady swimmers since the 1920s. Just over a decade ago, the City of London proposed to close the pond. The plans were met with strong opposition. As a result, this outdoor swimming area is safe for the foreseeable future.
Men – don’t get angry that this beautiful pond is off limits to you. Highgate Men’s Bathing Pond is just a few hundred yards away.
Kings Cross Pond
Kings Cross Pond is one of London’s newest outdoor swimming facilities. It opened in 2015 as part of a redevelopment project in the heart of the City. With its flower-covered banks, kidney-bowl shape and submerged wooden walls, Kings Cross Pond is more of an art installation than a leisure facility.
Half-built apartment blocks, cranes and piles of rubble somehow add to the charm of this fantastic swimming pond. You need to book your ticket in advance, but a morning lap costs just £3.50.
Charlton Lido, Southeast London
So far, we’ve talked about some of the City’s best bathing ponds. But if you’re an avid swimmer, you might prefer doing a few lengths than simply bobbing about. Charlton Lido is a heated swimming pool divided into lanes so that you can perfect your front crawl (and give your health a boost). Looking for an all-season outdoor swimming facility in the Capital? This is it. The admission fee is just £6.
Tooting Bec Lido, South London
Despite being over a century old, Tooting Bec Lido is the largest of its kind in Europe with a length of 90 metres. During winter, this swimming facility can be admittedly cold. Over summer, however, it attracts swimmers and sunbathers in their masses.
Thanks to the lido’s immense size, you’ll have enough space to swim without any jostling regardless of the season or time. Tickets cost £7.80. Kids aged between five and 15 get in for £5.20. Outdoor swimming experiences don’t get much better than this.
For more great days out in London, take a look at our half-day tours. From gin distilleries to rock-and-roll-themed tours, you’ll find everything the city has to offer.