Everything You Need To Know Before Visiting London's Hampstead Heath Ponds
Did you know London has ponds? Yeah, me either. The ponds (which are more like large lakes) are in London’s North West Neighborhood, Hampstead. It’s a bit away from the touristy parts of central London and that’s the point! Swimming at the Hampstead Heath Ponds is one of the best things to do in London.
I understand how cool it is to go to a famous city and see its top attractions. But what happens next? The best experiences I’ve had in a new city is doing normal things that locals do and that’s exactly what Hampstead Heath’s Ponds is like for a tourist - an insider’s look into what Londoners do on a hot summer day. I know it’s a hot girl summer (word to Meg) but in London it’s more like a wet girl summer, winter, fall and spring.
On the rare sunny days all the outdoor spaces, parks, rooftops, and pools are filled with Londoners desperately trying to enjoy every ounce of sun. If you’re in London on a day like this, don’t skip the ponds.
Here’s everything you need to know about visiting he Hampstead Heath Ponds:
Get There Early
The ponds open around sunrise but you won’t need to be that early. On a hot day, it's best to arrive just before the afternoon. If you come later than 12 PM, you might not get in. The ponds themselves are large but the grassy area where you’ll find sunbathers and beach bags are not. So to keep the area from being too crowded the lifeguards stop letting people in at a certain point. I recommend arriving between 10 - 11:30 AM.
It’s So Cheap
The entry fee to get into the ponds is only 2 pounds. If you’re a student, it’s 1 pound. My friend and I couldn’t believe how inexpensive it was. Visiting the ponds won’t hurt your pockets.
There are Three Different Ponds
There’s a men’s, women’s and a mixed pond. Don’t ask me why - I really don’t know but I feel like it’s some old, outdated thing that has stuck around until the present day. If you identify as transgender, you can use whichever pond you’d like! We went to the mixed pond—mostly because it’s the closest to the entrance and we’re lazy. Pick your poison.
INSIDER FUN FACT: The ponds at Hampstead Heath have been open since 1926.
4. Bring A Picnic
I probably don’t need to tell you this but pack snacks! There aren’t any food stalls at the ponds to purchase snacks or drinks. You’ll see that most people come with food and have some sort of picnic. It’s a good idea to bring a blanket or beach towels too as the lounging area here is mostly grass. We opted for some fresh fruit and water but I whole picnic spread could be lovely by the water.
5. You’re Phone Won’t Work
Well, it could but ours didn’t. The ponds are located very deep within Hampstead Heath Park. As soon as we got to the surrounding areas near the ponds our reception was shot. Keep this in mind when you’re mapping out your route ahead of time.
6. Explore The Park
Hampstead Heath Park is one of the most beautiful parks in London. It’s massive and feels like a land far, far away. Seriously, it’s so lush and otherworldly that you might not feel like you’re still in London. There are large trees that remind me of the redwoods of California and beauty natural flower walls for your next Instagram picture. It’s truly beautiful so make sure to carve out some time before or after your swim to explore.
This is one of the most unique things to do in London , so be sure to add it to your list! Questions? Hit me up on Instagram: @briyoumetravel.