You might not be desperate to swim somewhere described as ‘serpentine’.
But rest assured that the sprawling lake in the middle of Hyde Park is named after its sinuous shape… and not a hidden pit of sea snakes lurking at the bottom.
In fact, the Serpentine Lido is one of the capital’s most iconic outdoor swimming spots, open officially since 1930. It’s a little rectangular patch roped off from the rest of the lake (to avoid any collisions with pedalos and/or wildfowl), and is one of the more comfortable of London’s wild swimming spots thanks to its facilities — you’ll find changing rooms on-site, and sun loungers for hire along the lake’s banks.
It’s open daily throughout the summer, but hardcore members of the Serpentine Swimming Club can take a dip any time of the year, famously coming together on Christmas Day to swim the Peter Pan Race. An annual tradition since 1864, swimmers tackle 100 yards (through water that often freezes over entirely), to win a cup originally presented by J. M. Barrie, the author of Peter Pan.
After a bracing dip, dry off on the sunbathing lawn or take a load off on the outdoor terrace at The Lido Café, where you’ll find brunch dishes like sweet potato cakes with smashed avo and poached eggs; lunch numbers like giant reuben sandwiches and burgers; and sundowners in the form of draught beers and pitchers of Pimms. And once you’ve recovered? The whole park’s there for you to explore, with row boats to hire, the free-to-visit Serpentine Galleries, and all of Knightsbridge’s finest restaurants at your feet. In fact, if you want to make a day of it, we’ve laid out the perfect Hyde Park itinerary for you here.
NOTE: The Serpentine Lido is open to the public daily throughout the summer (10am-6pm), until mid-September. Entry depends on the time of day, but costs between £2-7. No need to book ahead; just turn up — you can find out more HERE.
Serpentine Lido | Hyde Park, London W2 2UH
Love the outdoors? Check out these other great outdoor swimming spots in London.