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Five of the best outdoor swimming spots in London

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With soaring days approaching London, here are five outdoor swimming locations guaranteed to cool you down in the heat of the city.

Warmer weather and sunny days are fast approaching, so we’re sure you’ll be swapping the cosy Sunday lunches for sunkissed swims soon, if you haven’t already. Whether you want to be fully immersed in the wilderness or are longing for a calming dip surrounded by the sounds of the city, these outdoor swimming locations will provide you with that holiday feeling, right here in London.

© Kallerna via Wikimedia Commons
Discover the crystal-clear waters of Brockwell Lido in Herne Hill

Open all year round, Brockwell’s outdoor pool stretches across 50 metres, featuring deep waters perfect for diving into during the high temperatures of summer. On your visit, be sure to make the most out of the on-site terraces — ideal for soaking up the sun. After a refreshing outdoor swim, indulge in artisan pizzas served by the lido café, 400 Rabbits, which overlooks the pool. And, as the lido is surrounded by the beauty of Brockwell Park, your visit doesn’t have to end there — spend the rest of your day strolling around its hills and gardens.

Plan your visit

Open Monday to Sunday, Brockwell Lido is easily accessible with several connections to nearby transport links. Herne Hill train station is a five-minute walk away, while the closest Tube station is Brixton, around a 15-minute walk away. For opening hours, click here. The price for adults is £8, and £5 for children. Book here.

Read more: The best London gardens, parks and green spaces to visit
© Nick-D via Wikimedia Commons
Immerse yourself in the wilderness of Hampstead Heath Ponds in North London

During the summer months, there’s truly nothing better than heading into the depths of the heath to sample its wild swimming offerings. On the northeastern edge of Hampstead Heath — a sprawling green space that covers 790 acres — you’ll find Kenwood Ladies’ Pond and Highgate Men’s Bathing Pond. Walk across the heath in a south-westerly direction, and you’ll find the Mixed Bathing Pond. Perfect for experienced swimmers, these ponds have deep waters, ducks and bracing temperatures, and are open to the public throughout spring, summer and autumn. In winter, they can only be used by the Hampstead Heath Winter Swimming Club. After a refreshing dip in your preferred pond, you can dry off on the bank before exploring the surrounding nature trails of Hampstead Heath.

Plan your visit

Opening times vary as the ponds are inaccessible to swimmers at certain times of the year, so check that they’re open for wild swimming here. Getting to Hampstead is easy, with its connections to the Overground and Northern line. The closest station is Hampstead Heath Overground, just a 10-minute walk away from the Mixed Pond. Adults pay £4.70, and it’s £2.80 for concessions. Book here.

© Royal Docks / Tian Khee Siong
Discover the vibrant waters of London’s Royal Docks

Experience open-water swimming in the heart of one of London’s most scenic locations. Swimming in the historic Royal Docks is an unforgettable experience thanks to the rugged city landscapes that surround its waters. In order to swim here, you’ll need to become a member of the National Open Water Coaching Association (NOWCA), which costs just £15 a year. Access to swimming in London’s Royal Docks is open all year but look out for additional summer activities. After your swim, stop by one of the nearby cafes for a warming drink and pastries.

Plan your visit

The Docks are open to swimmers four times a week: Wednesday 4pm-8pm, Thursday 6am-9.30am, Friday 4pm-8pm and Sunday 7am-10am. For more information click here. The closest station is Pontoon Dock, which is an eight-minute walk away, with access via Jubilee line and other DLR links, too.

Read more: These are the best short-haul holidays for a quick fix of sunshine
© The Royal Parks
Experience a historic London swimming spot: Serpentine Lido, Hyde Park

Open daily year-round for members and between mid-May and mid-September for non-members, Serpentine Lido is in the middle of London’s iconic Hyde Park. Initially a private hunting ground for royals, the park was opened to the public in 1637 by King Charles I. In 1730, Queen Caroline (wife of King George II) had the Serpentine created as an ornamental lake. Records show that the Serpentine Swimming Club (the oldest in Britain) hosted Christmas morning races as early as 1864. The waters here are brisk and refreshing — just make sure you dodge the resident birdlife. After your swim, sit back and relax by visiting the Lido Cafe, which serves all kinds of delicious snacks and refreshments. There’s no need to pre-book, just turn up and pay a small fee. More details here.

Plan your visit

The lido is open for public swimming every weekend from 10am-6pm from mid-May until mid-September, and every day between 10am-6pm between June and mid-September. The closest underground station is Knightsbridge with access via the Piccadilly line and just a short walk away on foot. Adults pay £7 for a full day’s access; it’s £3.75 for kids.

© Peter Smith via Wikimedia Commons
Embark on an aquatic adventure in London Fields

London swimming has rarely felt more welcoming than it does at London Fields Lido, which is in the vibrant borough of Hackney. Open all year round, this lido is the perfect spot for a relaxing swim. The pool is heated and stretches across 50 metres, making it ideal for all types of weather. With summer around the corner, the lido is a great location for soaking up the sun — be sure to make use of the surrounding sunbathing area and bathing chairs, great for drying off on after an uplifting swim.

Plan your visit

Open Monday to Sunday 6:30am-9pm. The closest underground station is Bethnal Green, via the Central line, around a 20-minute walk away, but it’s served by several Overground stations, too. Book here.

Words: Iman Mohammed

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