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A shot of the outside pool at North Sydney pool. The Sydney Harb
Photograph: Steven Ward - Destination NSW

The best outdoor pools in Sydney

Take the plunge and clock up some laps at these pools around the city

By Olivia Gee and Maxim Boon

Tucked away in CBD parks, a stone's throw from the harbour and in quiet suburban parks, these superb swimming spots have got your back(stroke).

Our city's wonderful outdoor pools tentatively began to reopen on May 15 after weeks of lockdown. If you're after a leisurely paddle, make sure you check ahead. Many are open under strict "swim and go" rules, meaning lap swimmers will be happy, but loungers and sunbathers will need to look elsewhere to make a splash, like one of Sydney's fab beaches. If you’re not one for sand or waves, Sydney’s ocean pools will keep the high tide swell at bay.

RECOMMENDED: Sydney's best outdoor gyms and fitness stations.

Outdoor swimming pools in Sydney

Prince Alfred Park Pool
Photograph: Supplied

1. Prince Alfred Park Pool

Sport and fitness Surry Hills

Note: this pool is currently open to visitors with a "swim and go" policy. No bookings are required.

What sets this very, very central blue lagoon apart from many others is that it's fully heated, accessible and open year-round. The nine-lane, 50m pool has a ramp enabling swimmers of all abilities to enjoy a CBD paddle, and a toddler splash pool making life easier for parents. And there's a big focus on sustainability: we're loving the energy-saving measures, all the grass for poolside lounging and the green roof which features native plants and grasses that conceal the centre from the street.

People in the pool at Fanny Durack Aquatic Centre.
Photograph: Supplied/Sergio Montenegro

2. Fanny Durack Aquatic Centre

Sport and fitness Pools Petersham

Note: this aquatic centre will reopen to the public from October 5, 2020, with a venue capacity limit. 

As you’re strolling past a baseball game or languishing under the Whomping Willow-style trees lining the footpaths of Petersham Park, you may hear gleeful water-soaked cries. That’s because the Fanny Durack Aquatic Centre is tucked away within this unassuming Inner West green space. The centre is home to a sunny 25m heated pool, plus a splash deck and toddler pond, making it perfect for all the hip families who inhabit this region of Sydney. It's also fully accessible, with ramps and hoists readily available.

North Sydney Olympic Pool
Photograph: Supplied

3. North Sydney Olympic Pool

Sport and fitness Milsons Point

Note: this pool is open for booked lap swimming only, no casual entries are permitted. Make a booking here

Enjoy laps with epic views at the foot of the Coathanger. This beloved bathing spot is slap-bang in the middle of Sydney’s most iconic landmarks: Luna Park, Sydney Harbour and the Opera House. And if you can drag your eyes away from the horizon, you'll find Art Deco design and intricate decorative plasterwork. Facilities include the sky-facing 50-metre heated pool, gymnasium, sauna, spa, indoor 25-metre pool and café.

4. Andrew Boy Charlton Pool

Sport and fitness Sydney

Note: this pool is currently open to visitors with a "swim and go" policy. No bookings are required.

Perfect your freestyle and backstroke game at this fabulous outdoor swimming pool that's perched on the edge of the Royal Botanic Gardens. The eight-lane 50-metre pool is great for lap fiends working towards gold, but there is also a smaller pool for young flippers, sunbeds for heat-seeking lounge lizards and an on-site café. There's an action-packed fitness program here too, with swimming fitness sessions and regular yoga classes.

at Victoria Park Swimming Pool
Photograph: Michael Tyler

5. Victoria Park Pool

Sport and fitness Camperdown

Note: this pool is currently open to visitors with a "swim and go" policy. No bookings are required.

Within the nine lush hectares of Victoria Park, you'll find a sunny eight-lane 50m Olympic pool. The outdoor watering hole is open every day except for Good Friday and Christmas Day, and is consistently heated to 25 degrees. Visitors of all ages are able to join swimming classes at the pool or hire a lane to get serious with solo swim training. You can also get a bit of huffy puffy going at a boot camp, aquaerobics or group swim squad.

Botany Aquatic Centre
Photograph: Supplied

6. Botany Aquatic Centre

Sport and fitness Botany

Note: this pool is currently open to visitors with a "swim and go" policy. No bookings are required.

Outdoor pools in Sydney have been under threat as larger, indoor aquatic centres (that include gyms) have come on the scene, so a gem like the family-friendly Botany Aquatic Centre is to be truly cherished. There are three pools spread across lush green lawns peppered with trees, for plenty of shade. You can choose from a shaded, shallow baby pool, a waist-deep pool for bigger children and an Olympic pool for well-versed merpeople.

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