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9 distinctly British lidos and outdoor pools to enjoy this summer

With their Art Deco architecture and enviable locations, the historic lidos of the UK are great places to swim, unwind and hang out when the weather gets hot. Here are the coolest to take a dip in...

Jubilee outdoor pool, Cornwall (Shutterstock)

1. The Lido, Bristol

The Lido, Bristol (Lido Bristol's official website)

The Lido, Bristol (Lido Bristol's official website)

Located in trendy Clifton, close to the River Avon, the Bristol Lido is one of the oldest in the UK. First opened in 1849, it fell into decay by the 1990s, before being rescued by a ‘Save The Lido’ campaign in 2008.

Today, the Grade II listed site is one of the most popular spots in Bristol, with an award-winning restaurant and spa for those looking to do more than swim a few laps. The new renovations and alterations also mean that the pool is open all year round.

2. Lymington Seawater Baths, Hampshire

Officially the oldest outdoor baths in the United Kingdom, the seawater baths in Lymington opened in 1833 to great acclaim. People flocked to the baths from all over the country to benefit from the health-giving water and natural mud minerals. The view, looking out across to the Isle of Wight, was much appreciated too.

These days, the lido here is popular with the more active type of swimmer. As well as swimming, visitors can go paddle boarding, water zorbing and aqua jousting, all in a convivial heritage-listed environment.

3. Stonehaven Open Air Pool, Aberdeen

Stonehaven Open Air Pool (Stonehaven Open Air Pool)

Stonehaven Open Air Pool (Stonehaven Open Air Pool)

With its colourful Art Deco buildings and enviable position by the sea just outside of Aberdeen, the Stonehaven Outdoor Pool has been a favourite with locals since it opened in 1934.

The Olympic sized pool is filled with filtered seawater and heated outside of the summer months. The sessions with floats and inflatables help capture that ‘Day By The Sea’ vibe, but many are drawn to the baths by their authenticity and original features.

4. Brockwell Lido, London

Brockwell Lido (David Grafton)

Brockwell Lido (David Grafton)

Tucked away in the north of Brockwell Park and camouflaged by a stand of mature trees, Brockwell Lido is an Art Deco gem and one of the last remaining lidos in London. A multi-million pound makeover has restored it to its 1930s glory days.

The lido has also been dragged into the 21st century with new health and fitness facilities that offer dance, Pilates and yoga classes all year round. The new poolside café is also a great place to unwind on a hot summer’s day.

5. Tinside Lido, Plymouth

Tinside Lido (Dreamstime)

Tinside Lido (Dreamstime)

Voted one of the top 10 lidos in Europe, the Tinside Lido is a reason to visit Plymouth in itself. Extensively renovated in 1992, it retains its Art Deco charm while offering all the latest facilities. 

Built in 1935, the lido offers the unique chance to swim and sunbathe in a truly beautiful location, surrounded by iconic seaside architecture. The reasonable entrance fee is good value and sun loungers and deckchairs are available for hire.

6. Jesus Green Outdoor Pool, Cambridge

At 91m long, the Jesus Green Pool is the longest outdoor pool in the country and a great place to cool off on a hot summer’s day. Built in the classic 1930s style, the lido also has lots of grassy areas surrounding for the visitors to relax.

The pool is situated deep in Jesus Green Park in Cambridge, so, after swimming, visitors can enjoy a peaceful stroll in the park or along the River Cam.

7. Jubilee Outdoor Pool, Cornwall

Jubilee Outdoor Pool (Shutterstock)

Jubilee Outdoor Pool (Shutterstock)

Another product of the 1930s, the Jubilee Outdoor Pool is regarded as one of the most unusual and well-designed lidos of the era. The recently-renovated café has proven just as popular with locals looking for an atmospheric latte to start their day.

The pool opens everyday from 10.30am to 6pm. Visitors are welcome to bring a picnic so they can eat their food while enjoying the scenery.

8. Bude Sea Pool, Cornwall

Bude Sea Pool (Shutterstock)

Bude Sea Pool (Shutterstock)

Bude Sea Pool is a partially man-made tidal swimming pool, nestled under cliffs in a conservation area near Summerleaze Beach. It was built in the 1930s to provide a safe environment for the residents of Bude to swim and enjoy themselves without worrying about the dangers of the sea.

Topped up daily by the Atlantic Ocean, the Bude Sea Pool is free for all visitors and hosts a variety of swimming-related events throughout the summer.

9. Tooting Bec Lido, London

The Tooting Bec Lido was built in 1906 and is the largest freshwater pool in England. It's famous for its iconic brightly-coloured changing room and is open to the public from 1 May to 30 September. 

That’s not to say the pool is unused for the rest of the year. Members of the South London Swimming Club use it all year round. It also hosted the Cold Water Swimming Championships in 2017.

Discover more activities inspiration:

The UK's top 5 wild swimming spots 

The best wildlife trips in the UK

8 of the best treehouses in the UK

The world's best natural swimming pools

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