50 Date Ideas in London

13 Dec

First dates are almost always a mixture of two primary factors: optimism and nerves. While we would rather dispel the later, feeling nervous or a having a hint of anxiety on a first date is part of the experience. It’s natural to feel nervous but it’s also important to feel optimistic and excited - you are, after all on a date.

dates in london

50 Date Ideas in London

The Complete Date Guide for Dating in London

When it comes to dating, especially first dates, it’s important to be upfront and honest, and while it’s a cliché, being yourself tops the list of priorities. First dates are about excitement and the prospect of potential courtship and what you don’t want to be focusing on before your date is – where to go.

Fortunately, London has an abundance of places to go on a date, but it does make choosing a date location slightly more difficult.

At Vida, we believe there are no strict ‘rules’ or guidelines regarding where to take someone on a date. Of course, your first date should be fun and relaxed, but everyone has different ideas of the ‘perfect’ first date. For example, going straight for a romantic dinner at The Duck and Waffle may prove too intense for some people, and going bowling or doing something active may not be another date’s idea of fun.

So, I’m looking at dating ideas in London that cover a variety of interests and activities. I’ve handpicked 10 of my favourite date ideas within the following categories:

All my date options look to offer something for everyone, from exploring museums and wine-tasting to more active dates like kayaking through London’s canals and climbing the O2 Arena.

Romantic Date Ideas London

1. Gordon’s Wine Bar – another wine bar to visit on the list.

Gordens wine bar
Image courtesy of Absolutely London

Gordon’s Wine Bar is located on the Embankment and is widely thought to be London’s oldest wine bar, dating back to 1890 and hosted the likes of Rudyard Kipling and Gilbert Keith Chesterton. Gordon’s is the perfect place for a first date because of its quaint, delicate atmosphere, supported only by candlelight (plus award-winning wine and an exceptional food menu).

2. Visit Boundary in Shoreditch

London hides much of its romanticism on rooftops, so you’d be forgiven if you hadn’t thought of having a romantic date on one of London’s rooftop bars. There’s a fair few to pick from but we personally love Boundary in Shoreditch. It’s perfect for a romantic outing, and with a full 30-degree view across the bustling Shoreditch nightlife below, it’s definitely one of the most romantic places to take a date in London.

3. Wyld Afternoon Tea at Dandelyan

If you’re looking for a day-time date with a bit of a classical touch, you may want to consider Dandelyan Wyld’s Afternoon Tea. With three dining options (one of which includes their own expertly crafted botanical cocktails), and a stunning historical setting, Wyld Afternoon tea is definitely a day-time date worth considering.

4. Dine with Style in the Aqua Shard

Aqua shard
Image courtesy of Aqua Shard

Do you want one of the best high-top views over London paired with exceptional food and drink? London’s Aqua Shard should be at the top of the list. It’s been specifically designed to showcase London in all its glory, with huge windows and minimalist furniture, there’s nothing to draw your attention away from London’s stunning city lights. Available for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this is another date idea in London you may want to seriously consider.

5. Rent a Hot Tug

While Hot Tugs usually cater for around six people, there’s no reason you can’t hire one out for a date in London. This is definitely one for the quirkier couple and offers one of the most unique dating experiences in London. The Tugs are self-drive boats (basically hot tubs with motors) putting you in control over where you navigate London’s waterways. This is more than just a hot tub that floats around, you have full control over your desired route, meaning you’ll be able to drive anywhere you want, depending on your start location. For more information on this epic date idea in London, visit Hot Tug’s website.

6. High-top Drinks at the Gherkin

Another high-rise delight, The Gherkin offers a phenomenal view over London and the sunset over the scenery is something you really don’t want to miss. It’s actually so high up that it requires not one, but two elevators to reach the Helix (the restaurant) – trust me, it’s worth the trip. So, if you’re looking for one of the most romantic date ideas in London, this is a major consideration for a top spot.

7. Walk Along the Glass Path Above Tower Bridge (and then grab some food)

Lying at 42 metres above the Thames, Tower Bridge never fails to impress. The walk across Tower Bridge is always spectacular, especially during the evening when the sun sets on London’s vast cityscape. It’s a simple pleasure that offers so much. Couple your walk with dinner at one of the nearby restaurants and you’ve got yourself a classic date in London.

8. Dinner at Duck and Waffle

Duck and waffle
Image courtesy of Duck and Waffle.

High-rise dinner dates seem to be a popular theme when it comes to romantic dates, and The Duck and Waffle is one of the few that offers a truly spectacular experience. Located on the 40th floor of 110 Bishopsgate, is the illustrious Duck and Waffle, which combines Portuguese-style flooring with chandeliers made from old wine bottles. The design isn’t where the magic stops either, because of the exuberant wine list and menu crafted by the exceptional Dan Doherty – who previously ran the pans at several Michelin-starred restaurants and was the youngest ever chef to join The Royal Academy of Culinary Arts. One of the major perks to the Duck and Waffle, is that it’s open 24/7, meaning if you fancied Nduja seared octopus at 4am, you’re more than welcome.

9. Wine and Dine at Clos Maggiore 

A quaint setting in the middle of Covent Garden, Clos Maggiore is able to shut you off from the hustle and bustle of central London and make you feel as if you’re dining in the Cotswolds. Clos Maggiore caters for both winter and summer customers, with its retractable roof making for a cosy, toasty winter dinner experience and in the summer, it’s open for alfresco dining and warm summer night stargazing. It’s also known for being a popular place to propose because of its stunning scenery and peaceful ambience.

10. Tour London’s Secret Gardens

Another peaceful and romantic date idea in London. London has the luxury of boasting several stunning gardens dotted around the city, some being harder to find than others. You can either select a few gardens close by to stroll around and admire the scenery, or you could even bring a picnic basket and set up camp while enjoying a quiet lunch. There are too many gardens to name but if I had to pick a few of my favourites, they would be:

  • The Phoenix Garden
  • Postman’s Park
  • Inner Temple Garden
  • St James’ Park (there are pelicans!)
  • St George’s Garden
  • And Hampstead Pergola

Fun Date Ideas in London

11. Explore One of the Many Art Galleries in London

An art galleryLondon has a wide variety of eccentric art galleries and there’s an incredible amount of diversity. If you’re looking for a more active date, then you might want to take a walk around one or two art galleries. The Tate Modern and Hayward Gallery are only a 15-minute walk away from each other, so you may be able to squeeze both in.

12. Champagne on the London Eye

The London Eye offers a variety of exceptional wine and dine experiences for you to choose from. My personal favourite is the Eye Lounge and Champagne Experience. You and your date will love relaxing with a glass of Pommery Brut Royal Champagne overlooking the stunning cityscape.

13. Wine Tasting at Humble Grape

humble grapeThis might sound strange, but you don’t need to know anything about wine for this one. The point of the Humble Grape is a wine tasting experience. The Humble Grape specialises in a good night out, and you’ll learn everything from the basics of wine tasting to meeting one of their favourite winemakers. Even if you don’t like wine, this an experience you don’t want to miss.

14. Late Museum Openings in London

One of the best first date ideas in London. Numerous museums and galleries across London have late openings and offer everything from talks and workshops to late-night films, food and drink, and even DJs. For more information on what events are on, keep an eye out for updates via their independent websites.

15. Jazz it Up in Cahoots

For fans of 1940’s fashion and lifestyle, Cahoots won’t disappoint. Located just off Carnaby Street, Cahoots offers an escape to the 1940s. Everyone is dressed to impress and you’re sure to meet some characters there. Everything from the decor to the staff is pulled straight from the 1940s. There’s a lot of fun to be had at Cahoots, if you embrace it.

16. Codebreaking at The Bletchley

Codebreaking at The Bletchley
Image courtesy of The Bletchley

Run by the same people that gave us the Breaking Bad cocktail bar, the Bletchley, without doubt, it is one of the most unique and mind-boggling cocktail bars in London. Once you find your way to their secret location, you’ll need to fill out a small personality questionnaire and insert it into a cipher machine. Then, the machine will translate your answers and devise what flavours and textures will be added to your cocktail. Once this is done, you’re given a special code that is sent to mixologists that will craft the perfect drink for you. If that doesn’t hit the spot, they will offer you another two to try. After your date comes to an end, you will be handed the ingredients of your specific cocktail in a top-secret envelope. Take a look at their website here.

17. Bowling at All Star Lanes – always a classic date.

Bowling at the All Star Lanes is one of the most popular and best-loved fun dates you can have in London. This is a classic bowling alley, and they’re proud of it. With its retro decor, photo booths, snazzy American artwork, and old-school lighting, this is the perfect place to break the ice.

18. Making Magic Cocktails at The Cauldron

Always good fun and impossible not to have a good time. The co-founder of The Cauldron is the renowned mixologist, David Duckworth, who is also responsible for the dazzling concoctions found at The Bletchley and ABQ (mentioned in our list). What separates this cocktail bar from others around London is not only its curious ingredients but the rustic decor and eerily ambiguous atmosphere. It’s not called The Cauldron for nothing..

19. Book a Reservation at the Circus – not your average circus, mind you.

Circus is actually a restaurant where performers from all backgrounds and specialties (including fire eaters) will perform on the table you’ve just eaten your starters at. Don’t worry, the performances happen between meals, meaning your food and drink won’t be flung from the table mid-performance. The entire evening is separated between meals and performances and everything is planned to perfection. So, if you’re looking for something a little more daring and entertaining, this date idea should rank highly on your list.

20. Gin Making at The Distillery – another place to hone your cocktail crafting skills, except, it’s purely gin.

The Distillery is four stories high of gin, including a micro hotel, a 400-litre gin distillery tank and three gin bars. Upon your visit, you’ll be greeted and swiftly directed downstairs (with a gin) for the first half of your visit. Then, you’ll be introduced to your Gin Instructor, who will explain the format of the day, the history of gin and then it’s time for another G&T. I won’t spoil the rest of the day, but let’s just say you and your date will be given the opportunity to craft your own gins to take home to cherish and of course, drink.

Cute Date Ideas London

21. Pickup a Picnic Basket from Borough Market

This one’s simple, no real planning required, just bring yourself and your date to Borough Market and start choosing your picnic selection. As we all know, Borough Market boasts an incredible selection of food, and picking your own basket is part of the fun. All you need to do is find a quiet place for you to set up and enjoy your spoils. This is a simple, yet cute idea for a date in London.

22. Glassblowing at Peter Layton

If you’re looking to think outside the box for a cute date in London, you may want to consider glassblowing. You’ll spend the entire day at the studio (09:30 – 17:30) and you’ll make four completely bespoke pieces that will last a lifetime. It’s notoriously difficult to book because of how popular the classes are, but you can find out about their availability on their website.

23. Candlelight Tour at Sir John Soane’s House

Taking a tour around one of London’s most revered and respected architects definitely enters the cute dates ideas in London’s checklist. The house has been perfectly preserved since Soane’s death and makes for one of the most authentic tour ideas in London.

24. Pottery Spinning at The Kiln Rooms

When most people think of pottery spinning, they think of the film Ghost, so it’s tough to argue this cute date idea’s romantic potential. The Kiln Rooms offers a beginner’s guide to pottery and the opportunity to design and take home your own bowl, pot or mug. This is a very popular place, so book in while you can.

25. Star-gazing at Culpeper Rooftop

It’s hard to find anything more typically cute than star-gazing, and The Culpeper offers something a little extra. The night begins with biodynamic wine and a glorious main course curated by The Culpeper Kitchen. Then, you and your date are taken to the rooftop greenhouse, where you’ll be given a brief introduction of the cosmos, shortly followed by an observation session where you will be able to use Dobsonian telescopes. If you’re looking for a truly unique and breathtaking cosmic experience, this is the one for you.

26. Visit Keats’ House and Embrace Poetry

Keats’ house has long been an abode of romanticism and inspiration. You can now visit the renowned poet’s house with your date to get a better understanding of why and how he became one of the world’s most respected, romantic poets. The house also hosts special events throughout the year, from performance poetry to family fun days. You can, of course, listen to some of Keats’ poetry and watch a short film about his life living in Hampstead or, if you’re feeling really romantic, write your own poem (maybe, even, to your date).

27. Cheese Tasting at La Cave

If you and your date are a fan of cheese, you’ll find it tough to find a better place to take them than La Cave à Fromage. This is one of the most bespoke cheese cafes in London, with a new ‘cheese of the week’ every week. The most popular offers and vouchers can be found here and I guarantee you won’t find a better cheese venue to take your date in London.

28. Rent a Boat in London – or a pedalo!

London has several riversides and lakes scattered throughout the city and a few businesses have set up boating and lido activities for romantic dates. Regent’s Park is exceptionally popular thanks to its many species of birds and fish.

29. Midnight Apothecary

Campfire cocktails in the city is a pretty romantic idea for a date, I think. Midnight Apothecary has been voted one of the best pop-up cocktail bars since 2012 and has been featured in Vogue’s ‘World Best Bar’. Located above Brunel’s Thames Tunnel, you and your date can relax around a firepit, delve into exquisite ‘alcoholic prescriptions’ infused with ingredients grown in their own back garden or plucked from nearby gardens. They also delight in an exceptional menu – primarily locally sourced street food from Farm Street Kitchen. This is a cute date idea in London that has everything.

30. Visit an Open-air Theatre

London is renowned for its theatre but what a few people don’t know about is London’s open-air theatre scene. Regent’s Park is arguably one of the best open-air theatres in the UK and has performed everything from Shakespeare to Jesus Christ Superstar. Cosying up under the stars in front of one of your favourite performances is definitely a contender for a great cute date in London.

Active Date Ideas London

31. Hit the Slopes… in Chelsea

Aptly named Chel-ski is London’s biggest indoor ski centre, offering the closest thing to skiing in the Alps. Chel-Ski offers a great experience for both beginners and experts, meaning there’s something for everyone. You also have a choice between snowboarding or skiing. Each slope can be angled to match your ability, and then there’s the Alpine Bar, where you can chill and unwind after your time on the slopes.

32. Kayak to Crate Brewery – hosted by Secret Adventures

Kayak to Crate Brewery
Image courtesy of Secret Adventures

This kayak tour of London’s oldest canal is a must-do and a definite ice-breaker for a first date in London. You start at the beginning of Limehouse Canoe Shed and make the 6km kayak down to CRATE Brewery, where you’ll be able to get out of your wet clothes and sit down to a deserved drink and a pizza.

33. Climb the O2

Yes, you can now pay to climb the O2 arena, supervised by climbing experts. At the end of your 52-metre climb, you can reward yourself with a glass of champagne and a glorious view over the city. If you’re looking for an active date in London, this is bound to get your heart racing.

34. Beat Your Date at Table Tennis at Bounce

Another active date in London to tick off the list is ping pong at Bounce. Bounce offers a combination of drinks, food and, obviously, ping pong. This is a date sure to break the ice and add a bit of competitiveness to your evening. If you’re looking for an active date idea in London, this might be it.

35. Swingers Crazy Golf 

Who doesn’t love a cheesy crazy golf date? Definitely one of the more active date ideas in London, Swingers offers two crazy golf locations, The City (8 Brown’s Buildings) and the West End (15 John Prince’s Street).You’ll be able to play nine holes through one of two incredibly detailed courses: The Lighthouse or The Windmill. Definitely a strong contender for one of the craziest first dates in London.

36. Boris Bike Around Tourist Attractions

boris BikeAt some point, everyone in London has come across a Boris Bike. While they were primarily designed to get around London quickly, there’s no reason why you can’t turn the experience into an active date around London. I suggest cycling to a few of your preferred tourist attractions (the London Eye, Big Ben, museums, art galleries etc) or even a smooth cycle across the South Bank. It’s a great chance to get to know your date a bit better and everyone likes an active date in London, right?

37. Take a Ride on Thames Rib Experience

If you’re looking for a thrill ride, hopping onto London’s Thames Rib Experience (TRE) should be at the top of your list. Offering some of the fastest speedboat trips across the River Thames, TRE operates from several docking points across the Thames and each trip includes a tour of the most famous and historic London sites. You will have your own tour guide who will give an in-depth background on each of the sites. If you’re looking for a white-knuckle date, it doesn’t get more exhilarating than this:

38. Fly Up High on London’s Helicopter Tours

HelicopterIf you’re looking to enjoy the landscape of London without dining at one of our suggested skyline restaurants, The London Helicopter is probably your best bet. You and your date can choose from a range of tours (found here), and you even have the choice to hire out the helicopter privately. Definitely one of the headlining dates in London, this is surely one for the thrill-seekers.

39. Ice-skating at the Natural History Museum

There are many fantastic places to take your date ice-skating during Christmas, but I personally love the ice-skating rink at the Natural History Museum. Everything from the incredible lighting to the beautiful Christmas tree glistening in the centre, it boasts one of the brightest and best-decorated ice rinks in London. If you’re looking for an active date in London, this might be it.

40. Kayak Down the Thames 

If you and your date fancy yourselves as adventurous types, then kayaking down the Thames is definitely something you should consider. Kayaking London is one of the most popular urban kayaking companies and caters for beginners all the way up to experts. Whether you’re looking for a physical exercise, or a day of being a tourist, Kayak London offers both.

Unusual Date Ideas London

41. Enter House of Dreams

Located in East Dulwich, the House of Dreams is arguably the most lucid and eccentric art exhibitions in London. Designed by the infamous Stephen Wright, the House of Dreams merges everything from kitschy mosaics to rooms filled with pen lids and weird and wonderful quotations picked up by Stephen over the years. The House of Dreams is only open a few days a year, so book in while you can!

42. Backyard Cinema

Backyard Cinema
Image courtesy of Winterville

Arguably the quirkiest place to take a date in London. You’ll be able to find it (if you look hard enough) at Winterville, located on Clapham Common. The way it works: you’re presented with four doors, each of which leads you on a different path to the centre of the maze. Along the way, you will encounter hidden bars and even a talking taxidermy. Once you find the illustrious cinema room, you and your date will be able to sit down and relax with mulled wine, cider, popcorn and hot chocolate in front of some classic Christmas films.

43. Mr Foggs Orient Express

Located in the ever-quirky Covent Garden, London’s illustrious travelling bar is an eclectic, low-lit Victorian bar, inspired by the art of exploration. The main attraction, however, is the Orient Express-esq carriage that lies right in the middle of the bar. This is one of the most unique date ideas in London, so book up your place here.

44. Bob Bob Ricard’s ‘Press for Champagne’

Bob Bob Ricard’s ‘Press for Champagne’
Image courtesy of Bobbobricard

Like champagne at the click of a button? Bob Bob Ricard is certainly one of London’s most iconic and visually stunning services at your disposal. The name ‘Press for Champagne’ is quite literal, as each booth comes with its own two-button champagne button, so you can imagine how much champagne they have behind the scenes. This is a romantic and lively date idea in London and the architecture and interior design is utterly breathtaking.

45. Journey to the Underworld

Again, another weird and wonderful offering from London’s date scene, Funicular’s Journey to the Underworld offers a train experience like no other, you’ll journey through Hell and be served some seriously impressive food along the way, curated by 2017’s Masterchef finalist Louisa Ellis. This is a date filled with immersive roleplay and stories of the underworld.

46. Order for Your Date at Dalston Jazz Bar

Dalston Jazz Bar While not immediately quirky on the surface, the Dalston specialises in exotic cuisine and I strongly encourage you to choose your date’s dinner. With everything from kangaroo to crocodile and frogs’ legs, this is a date in London that you’re bound to remember. If the eclectic menu doesn’t entice you, then the live music will. A live jazz band headlines during your meal in a way that’s highly entertaining, yet non-invasive. After your meal, the resident Chef (Robert) becomes a DJ, playing the best-loved jazz and soul hits throughout history. If you’re looking to jazz up your date ideas in London, this is one worth considering.

47. Watch a Film at Institut Francais

If you’re looking to have a cultural evening, you may want to consider the Institut Francais. Definitely falling under the ‘unusual’ category, this is a French cinema experience located in South Kensington and boasts a number of notable French films to enjoy with your date. Even if you’re not a fan of French cinema, this is certainly a unique cultural experience to get involved in.

48. Breaking Bad Cocktail Making RV

cocktailsFrom the same company that brought you The Bletchley Codebreaking den, the Breaking Bad Cocktail RV offers a chance to test the chemistry with your date by making some inventive cocktails. Parked up in East London, not only can you craft cocktails inside the RV, they’ve now opened an outdoor chemistry field offering more seats and more science stuff. If you’re looking to stock up on some good food after your done experimenting with chemical cocktails, there’s a pizza restaurant located in the outdoor lab. Even if you’re not into science, or Breaking Bad, this is a date idea that will certainly test you and your date’s chemistry.

49. London Dungeons – With Cocktails

While not one of London’s most romantic date ideas, it’ll certainly be one to remember! From Jack the Ripper to Sweeney Todd, this is a tour that combines London’s dark history with cocktails in a weird and terrifying way. There are only a few dates for this event, so book yourself in fast.

50. Get Chilly at Belowzero Ice Bar 

If you’re looking for a ‘chilled’ date, you have to consider sitting down to a few drinks at Belowzero Ice Bar. Ice bars definitely fall under the more ‘alternative date ideas’ section, considering they’re 90% ice. Everything from the bar stools to the glasses are made from ice. You’ll have a tough time finding something that isn’t frozen solid. Don’t worry, though, you’re given giant blankets and coats as you enter, so the only thing frozen is the environment around you.

What’s your Perfect Date?

The perfect date is different for everyone. While some may enjoy more active dates, such as climbing the 02 Arena or kayaking down London’s canals, this may not appeal to others. It’s important that people looking for dates in London have somewhere to visit when they require some inspiration. Hopefully, our list has provided some guidance and helped you pick an appropriate idea for you and your date to experience. Alternatively, if you’re considering membership or would like to know more about the bespoke service we provide, you can call or email us now via our Contact Us page.

by Rachel Vida MacLynn

Founder & CEO

Rachel Vida MacLynn is reputed as being a world-leading matchmaking and dating expert. Registered as a Chartered Psychologist with the British Psychological Society, Rachel advocates a professional matchmaking approach based on psychological principles and professional consultation. Rachel also sits on the Board of Advisors for the Matchmaking Institute.More by this author

LinkedIn | Matchmaking Institute | The British Psychological Society |