Where To Swim Outdoors In London And Bars To Dry Off In

Published . By Olivia Cheves.

If you're 80% of people that live in London, summer means two things: day drinking and desperate attempts to stay cool. Thankfully London's outdoor swimming pools are rising to the latter occasion, with affordable entry fees and a range of wet and wild activities, from serious open water workouts to spluttering about in your local lido. As for getting sloshed in the sunshine, we've tracked down the best bars in walking distance of your preferred bodies of water, so you know where to head for those all-important post-paddle pints.

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Parliament Hill Lido

The Splash: Open to the public year-round, the Parliament Hill Lido is one of London's oldest surviving outdoor swimming pools. If you're heading over in summer you'll find cool waters and crowds of locals bringing a buzz to the art deco surrounds, while in colder months you'll meet the serious dippers heading in for an icy pick-me-up.

The Sips: A short walk over Belsize Park way you'll stumble upon The Stag. A firm favourite in the area, you'll be able to refuel with craft beer and gastro-level pub grub, before taking to their pretty garden to see out the evening in one of their cosy cabanas.

Outdoor Pools In London Parliament Hill Lido

  One of London's oldest outdoor swimming pools is still the perfect place for a hot day's dip.

West Reservoir Centre

The Splash: Located over in Stoke Newington, the West Reservoir offers open water experiences for swimmers of all levels. One for those looking for a more serious splash around, WRC have a host of highly-trained open water swimming instructors on hand to get you kitted out and show you the ropes.

The Sips: Fancy a post-swim walk through Woodberry Wetlands? Stop by The Naturalist en route, where they're sure to sort you with a revitalising pint, or glass of vino, and few of their delicious seasonal plates.

Outdoor Pools In London West Reservoir

  Get the real deal over at West Reservoir Centre where they're offering open water swimming experiences to all levels.

Tooting Bec Lido

The Splash: The largest outdoor lido in the UK, Tooting Bec is only open to the public from May through to September. Head down early in the summer months to nab a spot beside the water, and if you're looking to get your winter dips in, the South London Swimming Club are stationed there year-round.

The Sips: A Streatham favourite just 10 minutes from the pool, The Manor Arms is the perfect place to warm up or dry off depending on the season, with eye-catching interiors, fresh, healthy plates of food and a sunshine-ready beer garden.  

Outdoor Pools In London Tooting Bec Lido

  This South West London lido is the largest in the UK. 

Pools on the Park

The Splash: Located within the sprawling Richmond Park, Pools on the Park incorporates both indoor and outdoor swimming facilities. Naturally, it's their open-air offering we're the most interested in, with facilities accessible at weekends from early spring to the end of the summer season.

The Sips: Easily one of the best pubs in Richmond, The White Cross is where you'll want to head post-swim. With the Thames on their doorstep, you'll be treated to glorious views across the water, and you'll have your towel handy for if you get caught during high tide.

Outdoor Pools In London Pools on the park Richmond

  Enjoy a dip in Richmond's best outdoor pool, followed by a dip in their best pub's front garden.

Serpentine Lido

The Splash: A very swanky swim, if we do say so ourselves, you'll find the Serpentine Lido right in the heart of London's Hyde Park. Open only during times of clement weather, make the most of it between June and August and get your float on in one of the city's most iconic locations.

The Sips: You don't need to travel far here to find a sweet spot to get your sip on. The Lido Cafe stays open until 9pm during summer, serving up coffee, craft beer, wines and few classic cocktails on their waterside terrace.

Outdoor Pools In London The Serpentine

  Get your swim in the very centre of London's most iconic park.

Oasis Sports Centre

The Splash: An outdoor swimming pool in London's busiest locale, Oasis Sports Centre is a must-visit if you're in need of lunchtime cool downs on weekdays. Hidden away between Holborn, Covent Garden and Tottenham Court Road, it's an oasis in more than just name, with a sundeck and sauna facilities to boot. 

The Sips: Keep the post-dip energy high and head over to the Jerusalem Bar & Kitchen afterwards for the chance to dive into drinks deals, drag nights and souped-up music quizzes.

Outdoor Pools In London Oasis Covent Garden

  You'll find this secret swimming pool hidden within London's busiest district.

Brockwell Lido

The Splash: Set amongst the rolling hills of Brockwell Park, this popular lido stays open all year round until late into the evening. It really hits its stride in summer though as people swarm in from across London to play about in and around this beaut South East London pool.

The Sips: Drag your damp heads around the corner to The Half Moon, where this refurbished old pub brings a slew of craft pints, cask ales, tasty bites from breakfast through dinner, and a bustling beer garden complete with kids' play areas and fire pits.

Outdoor Pools In London Brockwell Lido

  A favourite amongst locals, Brockwell Lido is South East London's number one cool-off.

London Royal Docks

The Splash: A scene for the well-versed open water wader, London Royal Docks is home to one of the city's best swimming basins. While beginners are more than welcome to head in for a quick dip, the Love Open Water team offer a range of events for the more experienced, from late night and solstice swims, to mass mini marathons. 

The Sips: Less than five minutes away you'll find the Good Hotel, a floating lodge with a focus on sustainability and a sleek rooftop terrace offering some astounding views across London, alongside local beers and café snacks.

Outdoor Pools In London London Royal Docks

  Explore a huge London dock before taking to the rooftops for booze with a view.

London Fields Lido

The Splash: An Olympic sized outdoor swimming pool in Hackney’s favourite summer hangout, the London Fields Lido offers an idyllic East London cool down when the heat hits the city. Luckily for you year-round dippers though, the water comes heated so you can keep swimming through the winter as well.

The Sips: Wander across the green and you’ll find Pub on the Park waiting to greet you with chilled pints and gorgeous views over London Fields from their expansive outdoor deck.

Outdoor Pools In London London Fields Lido

  London Fields Lido is fully heated so you can swim in the warmth all year round.

Hampstead Ponds

The Splash: Some of the most well-known outdoor pools in London, the Hampstead Ponds are spear-heading wild swimming in the city. With ladies', men's and mixed-gender areas, these bathing institutions let you enjoy the finest natural swims amongst the idyllic surrounds of Hampstead Heath.

The Sips: Set on separate sides of the Heath, we've got two different pubs for if you're going for a mixed or single-sex swim. Helpfully they're both called The Flask. If you're flapping about in the mixed pond, you'll want to head for The Flask, Hampstead, and if you're in the Men's or Ladies' Pond, make a bee-line for The Flask, Highgate.

Outdoor Pools In London Hampstead

 While they might name all the pubs the same, Hampstead Heath's ponds offer something a little different in a swim.

Looking for more outdoor activities? We've got the lowdown on things to do this summer.