Dating is a lot of fun but coming up with new ideas can be stressful, being put under pressure to come up with the perfect day or knowing what’s around in your budget. London is a big ol’ city; full of great things to do, so where do you start? That’s why I have put together this London date ideas guide to assist you in planning the perfect date!
London has a special place in my heart as it’s where I met my boyfriend. We had so many fun dates in this wonderful, buzzing city, and still do now. Needless to say that London is rich with culture, art, food and history. The list of things to do in London is endless for all kinds of budgets and interests. Although nicknamed “The big smoke” and famous for its iconic skyline of big skyscrapers; alongside the hustle and bustle of city life, there are also some wonderful outdoor corners of London that completely transport you from that world. Or you may be a city person at heart and love the craziness that central London has to offer. Either way, there are tonnes of things to do, and dating in London is a lot of fun! In this London date ideas guide, I have split the date ideas up into categories; Free, Brunch, Evening, Summer, Winter and Unusual. Although, these are not just ideas for dates, they are good ideas for anyone wanting something fun to do in London!
Free London Date ideas
Theres no such thing as a free lunch these days and London has a bit of a rep’ for being a little bit pricey, however there are actually lots of great things to do in London for free. Here are a few of my favourite free London date ideas…
The Sky Garden
This one usually shocks people when I tell them it is actually free… Experience an incredible 360 degree view of London, whilst wandering around a beautiful amazon rooftop, on one of London’s most iconic skyscrapers and it won’t cost you a penny… unless you want to grab a drink in their bar, that is! All you need to do is check their website on a Monday morning and book your free ticket. The Sky Garden releases new tickets every Monday but only a selected amount of tickets, so I would advise booking in advance.
Visit a market
This is one of my favourite things to do in London and a great way to get to know someone, a leisurely stroll, meandering down cobbled streets, finding some cool things and not having to spend a penny (although the food stalls may tempt you…). London has some of the biggest and best markets around. Whether you are just window shopping at fancy antiques, roaming through retro vinyl, searching for vintage clothing, tasting your way round the world at the food stalls or finding the perfect plant at a flower market, London has you covered. Some of my favourites have to be Borough Market, Portobello road and Camden lock! It’s a really fun way to spend a day with someone, plenty of time to hold hands as you stumble down the street, laugh at the quirky findings in the market and in true lady and the tramp fashion share some food.
A museum date
Most museums in the UK are free, and London has so many wonderful museums. This could cover a few London date ideas really as you have lots to choose from. They are great if you want to plan a day of different things to do with someone and you want something to fill some space that won’t cost you anything; or they are ideal if you are both really interested in something and have a whole day you want to spend together. Some of my favourite museums in London for a date are: The Tate Modern, The V&A and The Natural History museum.
Have a mooch around Covent Garden
Covent Garden is one of my favourite corners of London. It’s a really cute, quirky area, very close to the main theatres in the West End and the main square is just so beautiful. I especially like it around Christmas time! I think having a mooch around Covent Garden is a timeless London date idea, it will always be an interesting place to walk around, wander down the market and watch the street performers (not technically free). There are also a lot of cute cafes, coffee shops and restaurants near by if you needed refuelling.
A romantic park walk
Another thing London is full of…. great parks, which are all free to visit! Wrap up warm in the winter months and pack a flask to share a cuppa tea as you get to know one another. Or take a game with you in the summer and spend hours watching the world go by… Some of my favourite parks in London are: Hyde Park, St James Park, Holland Park and Regents Park.
London brunch date ideas
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day after all… If you want to take care of your date, then a brunch date is a great way to get to know someone and if it goes well you may want to continue the day together! There are tonnes of great places in London that offer brunch. Here are a couple of my favourites…
The Cereal Killer Cafe, nestled away in the quirky corner of London – Shoreditch. Filled to the brim with old movies and cartoon memorabilia this place is both a feast for the eyes and for all those cereal lovers out there. It’s a bit on the pricey side but a really cool place to visit and right next to Brick Lane if you want to double up on date ideas and visit a market!
Dirty Bones, honestly serves the best pancakes I have ever had. It’s a really cosy, intimate setting and would make the perfect date spot. Its a brunch turn bar sort of place so if you like it, maybe your next date could involve cocktails….
The Breakfast Club, as they have a fabulous brunch menu and serve great coffee too! Not to mention their quirky interior with all your fav movie soundtracks playing in the background – a great choice for any movie lovers out there. I love this relaxed, fun vibe the breakfast club brings and it’s very reasonably priced for London.
London evening date ideas
London has some of the best indoor crazy golf courses around. This makes for a great day time or evening date and is a fun and friendly way to get competitive with your date. Two of my favourites in London are: Swingers and Puttshack both have great restaurants inside and a beautiful bar area to warm up in before the show down or to chill out in after your round and get to know each other.
See a West End show
The West End is one of my favourite parts of London as I am a musical addict and absolutely love the theatre. Going to see a show is a great idea for a London date, either in the evening or catch a matinée, it’s a great chance to see something new and a little more special than a trip to the cinema! Some of my personal favourite shows for a date evening that are currently in the West End would have to be; Wicked, The Lion King, The School of Rock and The Woman in Black.
One of my favourite pre-theatre dinner places close to the West End is Pizza Pilgrims, it’s a really affordable, casual pizzeria but oh my… so yummy!
Some tips for getting West End theatre tickets; book online in advance and you could save up to 60% off on the door prices; two of my favourite sites to get tickets are LOVEtheatre and ATG, make sure you book on reputable sites. You can enter a theatre ticket lottery for certain shows and pay as little as £20 for top west end shows such as Hamilton, The Book of Mormon and Matilda – click here for a good, comprehensive post on theatre lottery. You can also get heavily discounted tickets at the TKTS booth in Leicester Square for on the day shows and up to a week in advance.
Not only a fantastically fun, active and friendly competition, Bounce also has you covered for delicious cocktails or even a spot of dinner in their restaurant. I have had a few dates in Bounce now and will keep on going back. It is such a fun place and reasonably priced. You rent a ping pong table and go head to head for as long as your time slot is, and if you are awful at ping pong like me, don’t worry, it’s unlimited supply of ping pong balls. *Tip – book in advance!
Visit a comedy club
Something a little different from a show on the West End, but equally as entertaining and a great idea for a date night… watching a comedy show! Have a couple of drinks and a night full of laughter! Two of my favourites are the Piccadilly Comedy Club and The Comedy Store in Leicester Square.
London date ideas in the Summer
A classic trip to the movies but with a quirky London twist… Why not cosy up whilst watching a movie on the big screen outside! Take a blanket and bottle of wine, how romantic? You can find outdoor cinemas dotted all over the city throughout the summer, whether that be on a big screen outside Somerset house or a more intimate affair on a rooftop of a cool bar somewhere.
For all those nature lovers out there this date idea is a sure way to end in marriage… Kew Gardens is honestly just magical, this place never fails to amaze me. It’s a winner all year round but the summer is perfect for a whole day of fun. Start the day with a little stroll through Kew, grab a coffee and pastry from a local cafe. Head to the gardens and just take in the beauty that Kew has to offer. You could perhaps have a picnic or maybe treat your date to lunch at the orangery if you really want to impress.
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
Dating a literature or theatre lover and want to impress? A tour of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre is a 10/10 date and one of my favourite London summer date ideas…. – I may be slightly bias as that is where Dan took me on our first date – but it’s a fantastic place to visit. Walk around the museum, before being taken on a guided tour of the theatre, you may be lucky enough to witness some rehearsals happening on the stage. You could go that extra step and book a show too!
This festival runs from July through to September. It’s a great location for a date, right on the Southbank, an outside festival surrounded with food stalls and pop up bars decorated with fairylights and picnic tables. There is such a wide variety of performances on through the festival from comedians to circus performers, a fabulous way to entertain you both on a date.
Row boat in Regents park
Is there anything more romantic than a date on a lake, gazing into each other eyes whilst rowing away into the sunset?! Well something like that anyway. Pair this up with some games and a picnic in the Park and you are all set for the perfect summer date in London! There is a great little rental hut in regents park.
Tower of London
History lovers are in for a treat in London, you are never too far from a piece of British history or museum filled with history. Visiting the Tower of London is a great London date idea as not only is this educational, but on a lovely day its actually a beautiful way to spend an afternoon, walking around the old walls and taking in the view of the city around you. When you’ve finished up learning, why not end the date with dinner along the river, overlooking tower bridge. It’s a really romantic setting!
Another great idea for history lovers, St Pauls is a fantastic location to take your date. You can take in this iconic London landmark’s beautiful architecture, sit inside with a guided audio guide, before wandering upstairs to whisper sweet nothing’s to each other across the whispering gallery. You can also venture up to the top of the dome for incredible views of this wonderful city. There are also lots of places near by if you want to stop for lunch too.
Another active date idea…. Get yourselve’s a Boris Bike and go sight seeing. A really simple but fun date and stop off at some quirky coffee shops to refuel along the way!
Take a walk along regents canal
I am sure there are so many great spots for a romantic stroll, but I found this one last year and just loved it. Theres some beautiful canal boats, ducks and even a floating book shop for you to get lost in whilst nattering away with each other. Again there are lots of eateries along the river and you are not too far from Kings Cross either!
The London Eye
This may seem cliche (and I apologise for the irony of this being a summer idea with a picture of rain…. but we are in Britain) but what more of a romantic way to see the city with someone you are dating than on one of the cities most famous landmarks. Come rain or shine, The London Eye is a great novelty experience and makes for a memorable and fun date. I include it in the London summer date ideas however this would make a great all year round date. Its not the cheapest at prices starting from £25!
London date ideas in the Winter
In my opinion, London is rather magical in the winter. Especially in the build up to Christmas. Just strolling the streets is pretty cool.
Impress your date with the most romantic cinema date they have ever had, at one of the oldest cinemas in London, the Electric Cinema is an old school, renovated cinema; with luxurious leather reclining seats, cashmere blankets and waiter service. Not your normal cinema date indeed!
Afternoon tea somewhere fancy
Maybe a more luxury style date, but who doesn’t love a good tea and scone? London has some of the best locations for afternoon tea, themed afternoon teas, luxury hotels, even on a red bus?! You name it, London has it… A couple of my personal favourites are: Harrods, it doesn’t get much more London than Harrods does it?! And Sketch… the interior of this place is insane, I’ve never recommended a place based on its bathrooms before, but you have to check them out! Aside from their awesome interior, they serve the best scones EVER!
Sunday lunch in a cosy pub
London is brimming with cosy and quirky little pubs and what is better in the winter than a traditional Sunday lunch in a good old English pub?! I am trying to find the perfect one still as my favourite is slightly outside central London. I recently went to one in Hammersmith, and would you believe it we were one of the only people in there, the food was really yummy and we even managed to play a few board games. It was the perfect way to spend a cold, wintery Sunday afternoon and makes for a great date idea!
I think things get really exciting as we enter the colder months of the year and its a great time for dating! Around bonfire night there are usually some incredible displays all through London. I have not personally been but know people who have and I have definitely got in on my list for things to do this year! A couple that I have been recommended are: Battersea Park, Alexandra Palace and Top of Primrose Hill for a fantastic view!
As mentioned above, things start to get really magical in London during the winter months (towards the end of the year) there are some amazing ice rinks that pop up in some really familiar locations. What’s more romantic than propping each other up as you glide past an iconic London Landmark? Or on the UK’s largest outside ice rink?! Some of my favs are; Somerset House, the Natural History Museum and the rink at Winter Wonderland (largest outside rink in the UK).
Not only home to the UK’s largest ice rink, Winter Wonderland is the epitome of Christmas in London! Grab yourself a mulled wine and a shed load of tokens for a wild night, or cosy up in the Bavarian village and dance the night away! This make for the perfect date night, double date, or even night out with friends, in the build up to Christmas and is one of my favourite traditions now!
Kew gardens Christmas lights
Another one of my absolute highlights for things to do in the build up to Christmas in London and one that makes for the perfect winter date…. Stroll through Kew Gardens Christmas lights. I love Kew all through the year and it’s a great date idea at any point, but in the winter months when they have their light display it turns into this magical, lit up, wonderland, paired with some beautiful music, it’s just wonderful and obviously has the necessary pit stops for mulled wine and hot dogs along the way.
Unusual London date ideas
When writing this list, I realised the amount of slightly out of the ordinary dates Dan and I have been on both in London and outside of London. I have also done a few of these with friends for birthdays etc… but know they would make great date ideas!
For the adventurous kind, climbing one of Londons well known landmarks could be the date for you. This date idea is a little different from your classic bowling and dinner! Its £35 per person, so a little more on the pricey side. You get to dress up in hiking gear, harness and all! Work hard to walk up one side of the 52m dome before stopping at the top for the all important photo op and chance to take in the views before heading back down the other side. You can also add a glass of bubbly for the experience if you want to make it extra special, or to help calm the nerves… It’s a really fun experience and something to tick off the bucket list for sure.
If you want to put your competitiveness to the test and learn a new skill, why not try this super unusual date idea, and go head to head in an axe throwing competition? It is as random as it sounds but we had such a fab afternoon at axe throwing. You can go head to head before being put in the ultimate competition with the whole group. Who will come out on top? Loser has to buy dinner?
For any Bake Off fans out there, London has its very own Bake Off tent which you can compete in! Nestled away in a pub garden, this makes for a perfect date idea! You can pair up to create the yummiest bake and all whilst feeling like you aren’t on the real bake off! It’s slightly more pricey but such a great ‘one off ‘ sort of thing to do!
If I haven’t already mentioned enough ideas for all you big kids out there… London have real ball pits for actual adults….And they include alcohol! This is something I am yet to try but definitely one that is on my list for sure!
Somewhere you could take your date, a bit more unusual than your ordinary bar…. wrap up in thermal layers whilst sipping cocktails out of ice cube glasses and posing with ice sculpture gorillas at the Ice Bar!
Lots of these date ideas pair up well to make a whole day out of it or likewise, if you are planning a weekend in London! The list of things to do is pretty big and I could go on with more! Let me know if you would like any more info on specifics and maybe I can put together a smaller post on specific things like museums etc.
I hope you found this guide to London Date Ideas useful, and happy dating!