Hello, heatwave!

When the sun (finally) comes out, you can’t beat a dip in a chilled London lido. And luckily, these outdoor pools are allowed to open to the public again. The city is flooded with outdoor options, so when the temperature rises, it’s a total breeze to find a lovely lido or outdoor pool to splash around in. 

Things might look a little different now – one-way swim lanes, reduced capacities and lots of hand sanitiser once you’re out of the water – and you will most certainly have to pre-book a spot at any of the pools below for the foreseeable future. It’s worth checking out all the rules and policies of the lido or pool you want to visit before you get there. It may kill the spontaneity of making a splash, but anything is worth it for that feeling of dipping a toe back into the water. 

These are the best lidos and outdoor swimming pools in London. 

Beckenham Place Park Swimming Lake

City-dwellers hungry for their alfresco swim fix now have a new expanse of chilly open water to throw their shivering bods into. The Borough of Lewisham’s largest green space is officially London’s latest wild-swimming spot. Only technically, it’s pretty ancient. The park has refilled its lost Georgian lake, which was initially created by Beckenham Place Mansion’s former resident John Cator in 1800. Now, the lagoon has been brought back to its former glory. 

Swimmers have to book in advance and pay electronically before taking the plunge from the jetty, but a beach area will be free to use for paddling. In the Before Times, you could try kayaking and other water sports on the new lake, but now it’s reserved for swimmers as it reopens for the summer. The swimming spot is allowing 60 swimmers at a time in the modern era of social distancing, with lifeguards on watch and changing facilities available.  

Price: £5.50. Book here

London Fields Lido

Reopening on July 25.

A dogged 18-year campaign by the London Fields User Group saved this 50-metre lido from demolition, and it reopened in 2006. After a nine-month refurb in 2017, it’s looking super swanky once again. Usually open year-round, it’s heated and well-used: during busy holiday periods, it closes at lunchtime between sessions to make sure as many people as possible can enjoy it. Stay tuned for how it’ll timetable its return.

Price: £5.10 for non-members, various discounts for members. Book here.

Serpentine Lido

Now open for members of Serpentine Swimming Club

Early mornings and the winter months are the preserve of the Serpentine Swimming Club – but then usually from June to September, there’s a warm welcome for everyone in this section of the Serpentine lake. This year, it looks likely that the lake will remain open to just club members.

The water is not heated or chlorinated, and you may find yourself sharing a dip with the local ducks and swans. But still, we look forward to the opportunity to return, thanks to its great facilities – from a gated family area with paddling pool and play area, plus sun loungers for hire if you want to make a day of it. 

Price: £4.80, £3.80 concessions, £1.80 children.

Hampstead Heath Swimming Ponds

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Open for bookings from July 18.

Hampstead Heath’s swimming ponds were originally dammed-off clay pits. Three pools are open, to ladies, men and mixed groups. The Men’s and Ladies’ Ponds are open all year round but to use the Mixed Pond in the winter season, you must join the Hampstead Heath Winter Swimming Club. Even in the summer, the water is chilly. You have been warned. 

The ponds have introduced an online booking system now that they’re reopening to the public, with swimmers allowed to book up to three sessions per week.

Price: £4 for a single day ticket. £2.40 concessions. Book here.

Charlton Lido

Now open for bookings.

After an extensive, £2 million refurbishment, this 50-metre, Olympic-sized pool in the heart of Greenwich reopened to the public in early 2013. The facility is thoroughly heated and has two sun terraces, with a café, gym and fitness studio also on the site. 

Price: £10, £5 concessions. Book here.

Brockwell Lido

Brockwell’s 50-metre pool is surrounded by art deco Grade II-listed buildings that house the Lido Café and exercise studios that offer year-round dance and pilates classes and activities for pre-school children. Once you’ve perfected your backstroke, enjoy an eclectic range of events on-site, from film nights to furniture fairs. 

Price: £8 for a 50-minute slot. Book here

Hillingdon Lido

Now open for bookings.

Formerly known as Uxbridge Lido, the Grade II-listed, 50m, the open-air swimming pool has been recently restored to its 1930s glory, complete with cascades (fountains) at either end and a new, heated shallow splash pool for children. The outdoor pool is now part of a new leisure centre that includes an indoor pool of the same size. Out in the open, there’s space to chill by the pool and a café for post-swimming snacks. 

Price: £4.60 for non-residents, £2.15 for non-resident concessions. Discount available for residents. Book here.

Parliament Hill Lido

Open for bookings from July 18.

Built in 1938, the Grade II-listed Parliament Hill Lido measures a generous 60 by 28 metres. It has a stainless steel pool liner (the only one in an outdoor pool in the UK) which gives the water a metallic shimmer – not that you’ll be able to tell when it’s packed full of people on a sunny day. The lido is unheated, and there’s also paddling pool for under-fives and a café on site. 

Price: £4, £2.40 for concessions. Book here.

Park Road Leisure Centre

Open for bookings from July 18.

On busy weekends and during holiday periods, separate sessions for lane and fun swimming operate at Crouch End’s 50-metre lido, which is heated and dates from 1926. Now run by Fusion Lifestyle, there are diving areas, a children’s pool, grassy slopes for sunbathing and a cafeteria. The centre also has an indoor pool, exercise studios and therapy rooms.

Price: £8 for a 50-minute slot. Book here.