Car-free trips toOutdoor poolsaround the UK
Sunny days are here again! (Well, sometimes…) Here are ten lidos and outdoor pools you can visit by public transport. Cool down by the sea or dive into an art deco treasure (or both). At all of these places, you can also find interesting sights close by: museums, country walks, sculpture gardens, boat trips... The new pool at Jupiter Artland near Edinburgh has proved so popular that this summer's swimming sessions are sold out already, but the park is still a great place for a shady summer stroll with watery works of art.
1. Lido Ponty, Pontypirdd, Glamorgan
Besides the three heated pools, the National Lido of Wales also a locally-themed playground with tunnels, swings, slides and seesaws. And a visitors’ centre above the café, celebrating the lido’s history, from its opening in 1927 to its rebirth in 2015, after a £6 million renovation. The terracotta tiled roof over the original poolside changing cubicles gives it a Mediterranean feel.
Where? Ynysangharad War Memorial Park in Pontypridd, a trad market town about twelve miles north of Cardiff. The town was home to James James, who composed Wales’ national anthem, and his dad Evan, who wrote the words (“Land of my fathers” in English). There’s a monument to father and son in the park nearby.
When’s it open? Sadly, the National Lido of Wales was damaged by Storm Dennis in February 2020 so won’t be reopening for a while. But, we’re leaving this info here, hoping for the happy day when we can enjoy it again.
How do I get there? Hop on a train or regular bus from Cardiff. The train takes half an hour with views of the River Taff along the way. The lido is less than ten minutes’ walk from Pontypridd station (see map below).
What else can I do nearby? Check out our guide to Cardiff for more car-free things to do in the area. One stop further on the train towards Treherbert, Rhondda Heritage Park is close to Trehafod station.
2. Jubilee Pool, Penzance, Cornwall
With elegant art deco architecture and new geothermal heating set to warm part of the pool later this year, the salt water Jubilee Pool bills itself as “the UK’s coolest”.
Where? Right on the beach near Penzance harbour with views straight out to sea, this 1930s lido is a short walk from the railway station – see map below.
When’s it open? Check the website
How do I get there? Get the train or bus to Penzance and walk about ten minutes towards the harbour. Keep the water on your left and follow Battery Road past the Dolphin Tavern.
What else can I do while I’m in the area? Stroll through the subtropical Morrab Gardens to visit Penlee House gallery and museum.
3. Jupiter Artland, near Edinburgh
A really unusual place to visit, the sculpture park at Jupiter Artland has a new installation, Gateway – a work of art people can swim in. Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos has created a 9-metre long pool, decorated with colourful hand-painted Portuguese tiles with a mirrored changing dome. Even if swimming sessions are sold out, Jupiter Artland is an extraordinary place for a shady walk and a stroll round the many ponds. The new water garden will be a site for performances, feasts and gatherings. For updates, including news on future public bathing sessions, follow Jupiter online or sign up to the newsletter.
Where? In the countryside west of Edinburgh, with views of the Forth Bridges and the Pentland hills, this magical landscape feels a world away from the busy city, but is just a half hour bus ride away from Scotland’s capital.
When’s it open? Check website
How do I get there? Follow Good Journey’s directions
Refreshments? There’s a great café with seasonal food, run by legendary Edinburgh restaurant Fhior, The café walls have been colourfully painted by Nicolas Party so you can eat surrounded by art, with sculptures on the lawn outside…
And for more things to do in the area? See our guide to car-free Edinburgh. Much further afield, Scotland has several great lidos, like the open air pool in picturesque Stonehaven, not far from Aberdeen.