13 Must-Try Spots For Wild And Open Water Swimming In London (And Nearby)

From outdoor pools to beaches right here in the city, it’s about time you made the most of what the capital of our gorgeous isles has to offer. Up next on our summer-ready list? The best wild swimming spots in and around London to try… for when you're looking to get into the open water for a fitness and wellness kick or take up a new hobbie.


Serpentine Lido, Hyde Park

A West End icon, the Serpentine Lido at Hyde Park is home to the oldest swimming club in Britain and probably the most iconic on our list. Whether you're here for a summertime swim or the famous Christmas Day race, make sure you hit up our favourite bars and restaurants near Hyde Park for a post-dip refuel. It's £7 for adults to nab a full day here.

Hyde Park Serpentine Swimming London | DesignMyNight

One of the best places to book wild swimming in London? The Serpentine is a great shout.

Divers Cove Reservoir, Surrey

Just as beautiful as it sounds, Divers Cove in Surrey is a must-visit when it comes to wild swimming near London. The reservoir spans over 7 acres, with spots for swimming, diving and even a café. Whether it’s a swim or a hot tub and sauna session with a cold dip afterwards, make sure you book in advance. Prices start at £10.49 per person, or you can upgrade to different tiers of membership to save on each booking and get a discount on food and drink.

Divers Cove Wild Swimming London | DesignMyNight

Best places for open water swimming near London? I'm about to dive in...

Merchant Taylors' Lake, Middlesex

Open during the warmer months, Merchant Taylors' Lake is home to clear blue water and peaceful surroundings for an idyllic experience. Choose between a range of loops spanning between 150m and over 1km, spying the lake's treasured heron sitting on her favourite log or geese flying overhead as you exercise. There are season and monthly passes available, as well as bookings for individual sessions starting at £8.50.

Merchant Taylors' Lake Open Water Swimming | DesignMyNight

Merchant Taylors' School in Northwood is home to a fabulous swim spot.

Redricks Open Water Swimming Lake, Hertfordshire

The clue's literally in the name at this great choice in Hertfordshire, so you know you're in good hands at Redricks Open Water Swimming Lake. Open in both the warmer and winter seasons, this is somewhere to swim all year round. There are induction programmes to get beginners comfortable, as well as coaching if you want to improve your skills - plus full moon swim events each month for an ethereal experience. 

Redricks Open Water Swimming Lake | DesignMyNight

You'll find a real sense of community at Redricks Lake, where members swim for £7 and non-members, £9.

Middle Dock, Canary Wharf

In partnership with Love Open Water, Middle Dock's open water swimming in Canary Wharf is returning for 2024. Enjoy views of One Canada Square and Newfoundland while making a splash in the stunning clear waters here, which have been extensively tested for cleanliness and form part of  NOWCA - the UK’s largest network of safe open water venues meeting EU Bathing Standards. It's £8.50 per swim here.

Canary Wharf Open Water Swimming | DesignMyNight

It's only £15 a year for a  NOWCA membership, granting you access to 40 open water locations UK-wide and saving some dough.

London Royal Docks, Docklands

Whether you're looking for a little toe-dipping action or going more hard-core, London Royal Docks has scenic spaces dedicated to open water swimming. Grab those goggles, bring your wetsuit and be sure to pre-book at this NOWCA spot. Choose between 400m, 750m and 100m loops before a rest in the 'casual dip' area. 

Royal London Docks Wild Swimming | DesignMyNight

From advanced to beginner wild swimming, Love Open Water are letting you dust off that cossie.

River Colne, Rickmansworth

If you’re after free open water swimming near London, then Hertfordshire's River Colne should be on your hit list. Located within the M25, the natural beauty touts plenty of space for bathing, as well as a circular 6-mile walk offering a little escapism. If getting the Metropolitan line to Rickmansworth isn’t an option, then it’s only an hour’s drive from Central London. The recommended swim spot is between Stocker’s Lake and Bury Lake by Willow Court, within the wider nature reserve.

River Colne Wild Swimming | DesignMyNight

For free wild swimming near London, check out these Insta-worthy scenes in Rickmansworth.

Hampstead Heath Ponds, North London

A wildly popular destination, Hampstead Heath Ponds are one of the most famous on our list. The open water swimming spots that open all year round here are split into the Kenwood Ladies’ Pond and Highgate Men’s Pond, while the mixed pond is a warm months-only affair. A session at any of the three will set you back £4.70, or there are season tickets available that also include access to Parliament Hill Lido.

Hampstead Ponds | DesignMyNight

These bathing ponds have been around since the 17th century.

West Reservoir Centre, Hackney

If you're wondering where to swim in the open water, head north of the river. Straddling Finsbury Park and Clissold Park, the West Reservoir Centre is a great choice for watersports and wild swimming, all set across a staggering 23 acres of water. If the likes of Hampstead ponds and London Fields Lido don't float your boat, get to N4 to get stuck into the full 200m loop and a 100m warm-up lane. It's £12.30 per one hour-long session, which can be booked via the Better app.

West Reservoir Centre Swimming London | DesignMyNight

Splish splash: go open water crazy with some of the best wild swimming in London.

Frensham Great Pond, Surrey

If you live in South or West London, then Frensham Great Pond is easily within an hour’s drive - plus the bus from Farnham station stops right outside too. Sandwiched between Farnham and Hindhead, this Green Flag-winning space is one for lakes near London to swim open water and wild; think dedicated dog-walking routes, sandy beaches, the neighbouring Little Pond's picnic spots, and Insta-worthy views of heathland and wildlife that’ll have you feeling like you’re on the ultimate retreat.

Frensham Great Pond Wild Swimming | DesignMyNight

You'll be spoilt for space here.

River Medway by Ensfield Bridge, Tonbridge

Just past the M25, the River Medway runs through Tonbridge in Kent. A much lesser known and more natural destination, the easily accessible half-mile of water by Ensfield Bridge is just a drive away from London. Open stretches and deep water make for a great swim, but for a real challenge, grab your bicycle and follow the regional cycle route downstream to the lakes too.

River Medway Wild Swimming | DesignMyNight

Open water swimming never looked as good as this Kent spot.

Beckenham Place Park, Lewisham

South Londoners: here's a pick for you. One of the capital's newer swimming lakes can be found at Beckenham Place Park. Bookings are available in one-hour slots for £6.20 per adult. The lake is 285 metres long, reaching depths of up to 3.5 metres, which is ideal whether you're a beginner or seasoned veteran - making it a top choice for the best open water swimming in London.

Beckenham Place Park Swimming Lake | DesignMyNight

Beckenham Place Park was London's first purpose-built swimming lake.

Walpole Bay Tidal Pool, Margate

Walpole Bay Tidal Pool - built and opened in 1937 - is now a Grade II listed location covering four acres and is also believed to be the UK's biggest tidal pool. It sits on the shores of Margate, promising sea swimming with the added benefit of fresh water springs within its walls. Another great free pick on this list, it's best enjoyed at low tide when waters are calmer.

Walpole Bay Tidal Pool | DesignMyNight

Enjoy a mix of salty and fresh water in Margate.

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