I adore swimming and have been an avid swimmer since I was very young – I was even on the swim team at school. Sadly I don’t swim as much as I’d like to any more but luckily for me there are loads of open water and wild swimming spots in London for me to choose from!
If you’re looking to cool off in the heat in Summer, catch a tan (safely, of course) or you’re looking to get some exercise all year round – here are the best open water and wild swimming spots across London.
Hampstead Heath Swimming ponds
Within Hampstead Heath there are three different swimming ponds, where you can cool off and go wild swimming in central London! One is a mixed one, one is for men only and one is for women only.
None are free and some you need to book in advance. The best thing to do is to check the website of the swimming pond you wish to visit for up-to-date information and ticket prices. Every pond has lifeguards, changing rooms and toilets.
Hampstead Mixed Pond is for everyone and children between 8 and 15 are welcome as long as they are accompanied by an adult. If you’re a family looking to go swimming, then this is the best pond for you.
Highgate Men’s Pond is open to men only, and children between 8 and 15 are welcome as long as they are accompanied by a male adult.
Kenwood Ladies’ Pond is open to women only, and children between 8 and 15 are welcome as long as they are accompanied by a female adult.
Note that all the ponds are for strong swimmers only and children will be asked to complete a Swim Competency test on their first visit.
Parliament Hill Lido
Parliament Hill Lido is located right at the edge of Hampstead Heath, near Gospel Oak Overground. It’s a 60 metre open-air swimming pool that is open all year round, although it’s not heated. It was first opened in 1938!
The lido opens for swimming at 7 am and all swimmers need to vacate the pool by 8:30 pm. The times and whether you need to book or not is a bit complex so check the website before you visit.
There is a café on site, which is vegan and serves mainly Lebanese food. It’s run by Hoxton Beach.
Beckenham Place Park
Looking for an open lake to swim in, right in central London? Head to Lewisham to Beckenham Place Park – London’s first purpose-built swimming lake. The lake is not open every day for swimming so it’s best to check out the website before your visit for the latest opening times. Also, you need to book your swimming slot in advance and they are just an hour long.
Prices are £5 per adults if you are a Lewisham resident or £6 for non-residents. A child is £3 (resident) or £3.50 for non-residents and a family ticket (5 people, maximum 3 adults) costs £16. They also offer monthly memberships.
As well as swimming, they also have water sports such as stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) and even yoga SUP classes!
For those in South London, Brockwell Lido in Herne Hill, is the perfect place to swim. Opened in 1937, it then closed in 1990 only to reopen in 1994 after a local campaign to bring it back.
The pool is Olympic-sized at 50 metres and is open Monday to Sunday from 7:30 am to 3:30 pm. Booking is a bit tricky though as it’s run by Fusion and you have to book online or via an app and you need to register.
London Fields Lido
Located in Hackney, North London, is London Fields Lido. It’s an Olympic-sized swimming pool (50m) and is open all year round and is heated.
There’s also a large sundeck and sunbathing area for those who wish to get a tan, as well as a café. It’s also accessible for those who are disabled as it has ramp access, a poolside hoist and accessible toilet and changing facilities.
Check the website for opening times, however it is normally open from 6:30 am to 9 pm Monday to Sunday. The lido is part of Better, however non-members can pay to swim here. Check the website for prices for adults, concession prices and children (3 -15 years).
London Royal Docks
In East London you can go open water swimming in London Royal Docks where you can watch the cable cars go by. The swimming area is located by the pontoon at the west end of Royal Victoria Dock and is opposite the City Hall Building.
There are limited changing facilities so come swim-ready. There is a bag drop area, however it’s advisable not to bring any valuables with you.
You can check the temperature of the water on their website to determine if you need a wetsuit and warm clothes for after your swim. There are a limited number of wetsuits that you can hire for £10.
To swim here, you must have a NOWCA membership and book your swim in advance. Check their website for details of how to book and swimming times.
Another quirky outdoor swim is at Canary Wharf, amongst the skyscrapers! It’s managed by the same company as London Royal Docks so you need to be a NOWCA member to swim here and also book your swim in advance.
There is a mixed gender changing cabin but it’s recommended that you arrive ready to swim and that you have a warm change of clothing for afterwards. Take a look at the website to see the temperature on the day of your swim as it’s not recommended to swim in 15 degrees or less without a wetsuit and there are none to hire at the venue.
West Reservoir Centre
Fancy more wild open water swimming rather than swimming in a pool? Head to Hackney to the West Reservoir Centre near Manor House tube station for some wild outdoor swimming.
As well as open water swimming, there are a number of activities that take place on this 23 acre reservoir, such as sailing and canoeing. It also has a waterside café as well as an events space for weddings.
Check the website for opening times as it can vary season to season. For non-members, 16+, the price to swim is £11. Quite pricey but worth it!
Just outside central London, you’ll find Hampton Pool. It’s located near Royal Bushy Park, is open 365 days of the year and is heated.
Check the opening times before you visit as they vary. When the weather is hot, you definitely need to book in advance as they get full. As well as recreational swimming there is lane swimming and aqua aerobics classes.
Pools on the Park, Richmond
Another pool located just outside of London, in the Royal borough of Richmond is Pools on the Park. There is both an indoor pool (33 meters and 28 degrees in temperature) and an outdoor pool (heated to 24 degrees).
Opening times vary from season to season so check the website before you visit. Prices also vary depending on whether you’re going for a swim session or staying the whole day.