There are lots of different ways to enjoy the water in London. You can rent a boat and cruise up one of London’s lakes, discover the hidden waterways of the city’s canals or take a dip in one of the many outdoor swimming pools, some of which are open all year round! However you like your water attractions you will find no shortage of ways to explore it in London.
Outdoor Swimming and Lidos
London’s outdoor swimming pools and lidos are a great way to enjoy the sun during the warmer months. There are quite a number to choose from so we have just picked a selection of our favourites.
Hampstead Heath and Parliament Hill
There are three freshwater pools at Hampstead Heath and with a stunning backdrop of the city’s skyline they are one of the most picturesque places you could choose to go for a swim in the city too. There is a mixed bathing pond and then separate ponds for male and female swimmers. Swimmers must be aged 8 or over and they may be required to take a short swimming test to prove their ability before they are allowed to take a dip. For families or those with smaller children, you might prefer the paddling pool and lido on nearby Parliament Hill instead.
Image Credit: Chris Seddon
Hyde Park Serpentine Lido
The Serpentine Lido is open on weekends between May-June and then open seven days a week between June-September. It’s the ideal choice if you are staying at one of the Mayfair Hotels in London and there is a little paddling pool for younger children to enjoy as well as a café. The Serpentine Swimming Club which meets here year round even morning is the oldest swimming club in Britain.
Tooting Bec Lido
This is one of the best known lidos in London and at 90m is one of the largest open air pools in Europe as well as being one of the oldest. It’s open to the public from May until September with a paddling pool for children, a grass area for those who want to catch some sun and a café for refreshments.
Boating in London
As a city which was built around its connection to water, there are plenty of opportunities to hire your own boat and give sailing a whirl when in the city. It might be a little more slow-paced than taking to the high seas but it’s an enjoyable way to spend some time nonetheless.
Hyde Park Serpentine Lake
As well as being open to swimmers it is also possible to hire a boat on the Serpentine Lake. This lake covers a large part of Hyde Park and hiring a boat offers a great way to see this picturesque landscape. You can choose between a traditional rowing boat or a pedalo, or there is also a steamboat which cruises along the lake if you don’t fancy taking control of your own boating experience. This is the perfect place to head if you are staying in the Montcalm Hotel Marble Arch London as the hotel is less than 5 minutes walk from the park.
Image Credit: chrisdorney
Regent’s Park has a large boating lake and a smaller one for children. You can hire a boat between April and September and it is a lovely way to relax and enjoy the wildlife which also makes their home on the lake. Look out for many different species of water bird including herons.
Regent’s Canal in Camden is one of the most picturesque and tranquil spots in the city; a visit here makes it hard to believe that you are anywhere near the bustling centre of one of the world’s biggest capital cities. A walk along Regent’s Canal and into the neighbourhood known as Little Venice with its waterside pubs and restaurants is a lovely way to spend the afternoon or you could hire a canal boat and cruise down the water for an hour or two taking in the slower pace of life on the water.
Image Credit: Will Rodrigues
During July and August you can hire row boats and pedalos and explore the lake in the park. Lots of water birds come to nest here including herons and cormorants so keep your eyes peeled for those too.
The River Thames played a huge part in the creation of London as a city and so it’s no wonder that there are a number of attractions which take you through the river’s history and the role it has played in London’s heritage.
Museum of London Docklands
Discover the story of the River Thames and the growth of the London Docklands in this fascinating museum. This East London museum is located on the Isle of Dogs and offers insight into how the Thames influenced the development of London’s trade, the type of produce which was brought into London from countries such as India and China, how ships were built at the shipyards along the Thames and much more. Entry to the museum is free and there is an interactive gallery for young children too.
Image Credit: Chris Harvey
London Museum of Water & Steam
Discover the inner workings of Victorian London’s sewerage system in the Museum of Water & Steam. You can get up close with giant beam engines, walk through sewers and get hands on in the Splash Zone.
River and Rowing Museum
Set a little bit out of central London in Henley on Thames you will find the River & Rowing Museum. This museum is dedicated to the sport of rowing, the history of the River Thames and the subsequent development of Henley on Thames and younger visitors can even discover the magical story of the Wind in the Willows too.
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