Beckenham Place Park Pond, a natural place to swim in London

Best places to swim in London

Last year I lived in London for the summer, after living in Indonesia for 6 months and submerging myself in tropical waters almost everyday. To say that I missed being in the water would be an understatement, so I made it my mission to try out as many swimming spots around London as possible. Especially during the heatwave that hit London last year, these pools, lakes, and basins all provided a welcome relief. If you’re wondering where to swim in London, hopefully this can provide some useful information!

Shadwell Basin

Shadwell Basin is my favourite place to swim in London. It’s 40 minutes away from Central London (but if you’ve been to London you’ll know that basically everywhere is 40 minutes away from anywhere else), and is FREE, which by default has made it top of my list. It’s not the most scenic of places, being surrounded by buildings, but when the sun shines down on it, it could be heaven! Happy people playing happy music jumping into freshwater (you don’t have to jump, there’s a ladder too) – what more could ya want?

  • Location: East London
  • Distance from Central: 40 minutes
  • Price: FREE
  • Booking: None

Beckenham Place Park Swimming Pond

About 50 minutes southeast of Central London, lies a Georgian pond that has been reopened for the public. Beckenham Place Park pond feels like you just stumbled across a natural pond in a forest and decided to have a dip, surrounded by plants, flowers, and dragonflies. Then you turn around and realise there’s another 30 people in the water… but if you ignore that, it’s pretty magic. I even found some blackberries on the bank and ate them while swimming! They make you wear a tie-float around your waist, which I guess takes away from the natural feel as well, but I’ve decided to ignore all of that and put it second on my list. After your swim, the park is nice to chill in too.

  • Location: South East London (near Bromley)
  • Distance from Central: 50 minutes
  • Price: £6 per hour
  • Booking: Online

Brockwell Lido

For those that would rather have a cleaner place to swim in London, there’s a few chlorinated pools and lidos to choose from. I like Brockwell Lido as it’s quite a lot bigger than others, has space for sunbathing (it has sunbeds too), and has a cafe and pizza place within. It really feels like you’re in a resort on your holidays, and they let you dive into the deep end!!

  • Location: South East London (near Brixton)
  • Distance from Central: 40 minutes
  • Price: £8 for the day
  • Booking: Online – recommended on sunny summer days

Hampstead Heath Bathing Ponds

Probably the most well-known spots to swim in London, the Hampstead Heath Ponds are divided into Ladies, Men’s, and Mixed bathing ponds. The ponds are proper natural pools, which puts some people off as they may feel some squelchy bits on the bottom and see some duck poo floating about. But that’s why I love it! It’s real! It’s nature! The water is cold but it’ll warm your heart..! The walk through Hampstead Heath to get to the ponds is beautiful too. There are changing rooms and toilets, and a little green you can sunbathe in before or after your swim.

  • Location: North West London
  • Distance from Central: 30 minutes
  • Price: £4.50 for one hour
  • Booking: Mandatory pre-book online between 12pm and 4:45pm. There are free-flow sessions from 7-11:30am, and 5-8:30pm which are not pre-booked and work on a first come first served basis.

London Fields Lido

I was going to say that London Fields Lido is the closest pool to central London, which is definitely not true, but it was the closest to where I lived in East London (very selfish of me). This lido does the job if you want to do laps in the pool, but it’s quite small and there’s not much room to lounge around afterwards. But if you just want to get a dip in, it’s very handy, and you can always lounge around on the grass in London Fields afterwards. 

  • Location: East London
  • Distance from Central: 35 minutes
  • Price: £5.70 for one hour
  • Booking: Pre-book online in summer at peak times

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