10 Places to Swim In and Around London
One must give credit where it’s due and commend London on its range of swimming facilities situated in and around the city. Compared to other European cities like Paris or Rome, London actually has enough indoor and outdoor swimming amenities that make one forget about the lack of beach in the summer.
Whether it’s natural bodies of water or public pools that you prefer, here are ten places where you’ll happily swim around London town.
1. Frensham Great Pond in London
The hills of Surry hold many natural bodies of water in which the city of London permits recreational swimming. The Frensham Great Pond is one of the larger ponds, spanning 50m in length.
It’s an old fishpond that was constructed under order of the Bishop of Winchester. Today it serves the people as a swimming spot instead. The safe swimming zone is clearly indicated by buoys. There is no cost to enter and the ponds do not close.
2. Balham Leisure Centre in London
The Balham Leisure Center is actually a gym, but they hold a very retro Olympic sized swimming pool on site as well.
You’ll pay to enter the entire facility; prices depend on the day of the week, time of day and status of the visitor (students and pensioners get discounts).
This is a great swimming spot for kids, and the pool is usually filled with families on weekends. There are also swimming classes during the week if you want to bring your little ones for some fun.
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday – 6:30am to 10pm
Address: Elmfield Rd, Balham, London SW17 8AN, UK
Subway STATION: Balham
3. London Royal Docks in London
There is open water swimming on offer at the London Royal Docks inside of the Thames River. If you’ve used the city airport or taken a guided walking tour you’ll likely have spotted the swimmers already.
The western section of the docks are covered off to allow for public activities, and the water is tested regularly to ensure it is always safe for human contact.
This is an amazing spot for an outdoor swim on a hot day in London. These are the docks that lie east of Canary Wharf.
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday – 5pm to 8pm
Address: Dock Rd, Royal Docks, London E16 1AH, UK
Subway STATION: Canning Town
4. Charlton Lido in London
If you’re in need of a swim on a particularly chilly day in London then you’ll love the Charlton Lido. London has hundreds of Lido’s scattered around the city, but very few of them are fully heated.
The Charlton offers heated water when days are cold, with two sun decks and a cafe where you can kick back for extensive relaxation. This is a popular swimming spot in both winter and summer, so booking your entry online is advised so you can skip the queues.
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday – 6am to 10pm
Address: Hornfair Park, Shooters Hill Rd, London SE18 4LX, UK
Subway STATION: Charlton
5. Hampstead Ponds in London
The Hampstead Ponds are the old reservoirs of Hampstead Heath in north London. There are three of them: one for men, one for women and another for mixed swimming.
The ponds sit between lush forest grounds that seclude you from any signs of the city. It is £2 per person to gain access to all three ponds; the mixed pond opens at 7am each day while the male and female ponds vary their opening hours depending on the season.
6. Park Road Pools & Fitness in London
This is one of the favorite lidos for the London locals; it’s usually packed on weekends, public holidays and during holiday seasons.
The lido dates back to 1926 and has been an important part of the community since. The water is also heated, which makes it a desirable attraction year round. Bathers can soak up the sun from anywhere on the grass that surrounds the pool area, and there is a cafeteria for refreshment throughout the day.
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday – 6am to 9:30pm
Address: Park Rd, Crouch End, London N8 8JN, UK
Subway STATION: Hornsey
7. The Berkeley Hotel in London
Of course staying at a hotel that has a pool of its own is a good way to save you the trouble of hunting down lidos in London.
The Berkeley sits right on the edge of Hyde Park and offers a rooftop pool that will make you swoon. In the 70s, this was the only hotel in London with a pool on its roof, and it became thee place to see and be seen. The perfect spot to cool off after a guided walking tour of the park and surroundings.
Opening Hours: Daily
Address: Wilton Pl, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7RL, UK
Subway STATION: Knightsbridge
8. The Porchester Spa in London
If you’re like me, a sucker for a good retro indoor pool, the The Porchester will make you very, very happy.
The pool sits in an arch-roofed building that was built in the 20s. Management does well to maintain an ambient environment for all; there are fluffy white complimentary towels, music is played at all times and Turkish steam rooms for those who want to get really into it.
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday – 10am to 10pm
Address: Queensway, London W2 5HS, UK
Subway STATION: Royal Oak
9. Henley-on-Thames in London
Henley is technically an hour outside of central London, which makes it more of a day trip for this swimming excursion. The river in Henley becomes a makeshift beach on the hottest days of the year.
The best ones can be found if you drive east from Marlow Station toward Cock Marsh. Pull over anywhere you see a gap and set up your spot for the day.
10. Repton Park in London
If you want to marvel at architecture while you swim one can absolutely do so while in London. The Repton Park pool sits inside of an old converted cathedral and it is astounding.
You’ll swim under stained glass ceilings with more history that any other swimming pool in town. There is also a jacuzzi and sauna available to all.