London knows how to do date night right. From cosy cocktails in underground speakeasies to strolls along the River Thames, there’s a lot to choose from. In search of some date night ideas? Here are 18 romantic things to do in London to get you started.
Alright peeps. I see the scenario – you’ve got the date and now you’re looking for a night that will show them that you mean business. Or you’ve been in a relationship for years and you want a special night out.
Londoners don’t have a reputation for being soppy but we sure know how to do a cracking date (let’s face it, we’ve had enough practice over the years).
It’s a difficult balance right?
Ideally you want to avoid the stuff that makes you want to vomit, but that will show the other person that you’ve put some thought into the time you spend together.
Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered with these date-worthy romantic ideas for London.
Romantic Things to do in London During the Day
Go for a Picnic in St James’s Park
Let’s set the scene. The sun is shining, you have a picnic of tasty delectable treats (perhaps with a bottle of bubbly), a nice comfortable blanket and gorgeous views out over the water on one side and Buckingham Palace on the other.
St James’s Park is the prettiest of all the London parks and the perfect spot for a romantic picnic. If you really want to push the boat out for your picnic shopping, I should also mention that Fortnum & Mason is just around the corner…
Read More: The Ultimate London Bucket List
Soak Up the Views from Greenwich Park
Another of London’s Royal Parks, Greenwich Park has a lot going for it when it comes to romantic things to do in London. First up, it’s a bit further out, so it’s always easier to find a nice private spot for a cosy tete a tete.
Secondly, and more importantly, it boasts gorgeous views out over Canary Wharf and Central London.
It’s a bit of a steep walk to the top – but the views are 100% worth it.
Read more: The Best Things to do in Greenwich
Take a Ride on the London Eye
What could possibly be romantic about hopping into a capsule with 26 other people for views of London? Fair question. A visit to the London Eye should be at the top of any London itinerary but it doesn’t immediately scream romance does it?
That’s where the London Eye’s Cupid’s Capsule steps in. At £470 a pop, this is strictly in the realm of really special celebrations, like engagements and anniversaries – unless you’re so well off that this just sounds like a standard Saturday.
What do you get for your money? Well, a completely private capsule ride (30 mins), a bottle of Pommery Brut Champers, Hotel Champagne truffle and a private guide. Time your booking for sunset for one hell of a romantic evening in London.
Visit Kew’s Royal Botanic Gardens
The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew make for a lovely date. The expansive gardens are located in West London but once inside, you could be forgiven for thinking that you’re well away from the city.
The gardens were first created as royal pleasure gardens in the 18th century and have been nurtured and cultivated ever since. It’s now one of the leading botanical research gardens in the world and is spread out over a whopping 300 acres (plenty of secret spots for a cheeky kiss then).
Be sure to visit the beautiful Palm House – the most famous of Kew’s many glasshouses. The imposing structure is filled with pretty much every known palm species, clustered together under the glass and iron roof.
Read next: 20 Cool Day Trips from London
Take a Stroll Along the South Bank
The South Bank is home to some of London’s biggest landmarks including The London Eye, The National Theatre and the South Bank Centre. It’s a bit of a surprise that even amongst the tourists and the big tickets, it’s still an incredibly romantic walk.
The views help of course – if you start the walk at Albert Bridge in Battersea, you’ll spot The Tate Britain, Westminster Palace and the Houses of Parliament and Somerset House on the North Bank.
The Thames glitters as small boats clip along its waters – and you remember that London might not be the city of love, but it’s pretty enchanting anyway.
Read more: Self-Guided London Walks
Go Rowing on the Serpentine
It might sound too twee to be true but who cares?
Hyde Park is well suited to romantic strolls and a leisurely row on The Serpentine. Hire a rowing boat and paddle off onto the lake. It’s not expensive and it’s about 10/10 on the romance scale. Who hasn’t dreamt of a loved-up poetry recital during a chilled out rowing trip.
Just remember to keep an eye out for the SolarShuttle – a solar-powered boat that navigates the park’s waters. That could get awkward.
Shop for Flowers at Columbia Road Flower Market
Columbia Road Flower Market is no secret – it sometimes feels like the whole of London pops up on a Sunday to buy some fresh blooms.
It’s still a sensory experience like no other – stall after stall selling beautiful blooms and colourful arrangements. Grab a coffee and breakfast and pick up some flowers to bring home for a perfect romantic London Sunday.
Read more: Cool Things to do in Shoreditch
Shop for a Special Meal at Borough Market
I know that it’s normal to go out for a romantic evening in London but, if you really want to impress your date, why not stay in and cook? Borough Market is heaving with fresh, quality produce that you can use to create a completely knock-your-socks-off meal.
My partner and I are unfortunate to have our anniversary just before Valentine’s Day and, as the idea of having our special night surrounded by other doe-eyed couples makes my stomach churn, we decided to start celebrating each year with a blow-out home cooked meal.
Not only is it excellent value, but it totally allows you to experiment with ingredients and recipes you might not otherwise try. Add a fancy bottle of wine, and you’re set.
Read More: The Foodie’s Guide to Borough Market
The View from the Shard
Ah, The Shard. If you want stellar views of London, it makes sense to head to the top of its tallest building right? While I think that The View from the Shard is a little overpriced (hey, it’s London, what isn’t?) there’s no denying that the view is pretty spectacular and it’s a must-try while you’re in the London Bridge area.
If you’re not overly keen, you could go to Gong in The Shangri La – the cocktails are prohibitively expensive but the views are just as good and at least you get something tangible for your money.
Book ahead if you don’t want to end up in one of the cruddy seats with no views (the cocktails aren’t really good enough to justify the price without a side of view to accompany them).
Read More: The Best Bars in and Around London Bridge
Romantic Things to do in London at Night
Book Tickets to see a Play at the Theatre
London has no shortage of theatres – it feels like there’s always something new opening – a new West End Production or a cool play at the several theatres that dot the city.
Going to see a play, followed by a splash-out dinner is a classic romantic evening in London. I personally love The National and The Barbican, but check around to see what’s on.
Word of warning – date night probably isn’t the time to save a few pounds and buy a restricted view seat. Lovely as looking at your date is, that might be the only thing you can see for the whole of the night (Almeida, I’m looking at you).
Enjoy some Jazz at Ronnie Scott’s
“Carrie likes jaaaaazzz”. If you’re an old relic like me and love SATC, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you’re not, just ignore.
Moving swiftly on… Ronnie Scott’s is one of London’s best-known jazz clubs. Anyone who’s anyone in the jazz world has played at Ronnie Scotts – which has been bringing jazz to life for Londoners since the 1950s.
Ronnie Scott’s Sunday jazz lunches are legendary – but their fame is only surpassed by the difficulty in being able to get a ticket. Fret not, there are shows on every night – just make sure you book ahead if it’s a big name.
Read More: Cool Things to do in Soho
Dinner at Bob Bob Ricard
If you don’t fall just the tiniest bit in love with Bob Bob Ricard’s eccentric fin-de-siecle glamour, I hate to tell you, but you’re probably a bit dead inside.
Bob Bob Ricard in Soho is the restaurant you head to when you want a romantic night in London accompanied by great food and perhaps a cheeky tipple to go with.
It’s very much a high-end restaurant, so not only do you find classics such as beef wellington and slow-roasted pork belly, but you also find real treats such as oysters, caviar and steak tartare.
You know that a restaurant is serious when your private banquette comes equipped with a press for
Read more: Bob Bob Ricard Review
Go and See a Film in one of London’s Fancy Cinemas
Gone are the days when going to see a film meant crap popcorn and an uncomfortable seat. These days, London’s posh cinemas really know how to put on a show.
We’re thinking leather chairs, snuggly sofas, cashmere blankets, *ahem* beds (feels a bit presumptuous to me – but it’s your call) and cool film. Sounds like a pretty romantic night in London to me. Start with the Curzon at Mondrian Sea Containers.
Stargazing at the Greenwich Royal Observatory
Greenwich’s Royal Observatory opened in 1675 – it’s kind of impressive that it is still used for astronomy to this day.
You can visit the Planetarium and watch a show every night – but keep an eye out for their astronomy seasons when the observatory opens after hours and you’re given a chance to examine the night sky under the guidance of professional astronomers.
Jazz and Cocktails at Oriole Bar
You still have the world-class cocktails (settle in before you start looking at the cocktail menu – it’s something of a tome) and the live jazz but there’s a tonne more space, service is better and it’s not full of wannabe posers.
Sounds like a winner right? It is.
Read more: The Best Farringdon Bars
Speakeasy Cocktails at Found
If you do want to go for cocktails in Shoreditch, make a beeline for Found – one of my favourite cocktail bars in London.
The cocktails are stellar, the seats are cosy and it’s tucked away down in a basement so you get that “oh let’s just head to this cool little speakeasy bar I know” vibe that always adds that extra something to your night.
Read more: The Best Bars in Shoreditch
Hole Up for the Night in one of London’s Romantic Hotels
Even if you live in London, sometimes it’s nice to splash out and treat yourself to a romantic hotel stay in one of the city’s many cool hotels.
Claridge’s is great if your wallet can afford the strain, as it Dukes. Bingham, in Richmond offers something a little more secluded or you can plump for one of The Nadler’s natty hotels for a more affordable option.
Or Just do Something you Both Love
Can I be honest?
Sure, I could write loads of romantic things to do in London but I think there’s always a danger of applying some cookie-cutter approach to romance that doesn’t actually work for everyone.
I wanted to write this piece to give you some ideas but don’t be afraid to do something that is totally mundane or, on the other hand, absolutely bonkers.
Because really, there are a few questions that you should be asking. Among them, What does your date like? What is your partner absolutely obsessed with?
Do something that means something to both of you – that could be as simple as a nice meal at home or back-to-back Lord of the Rings screenings.
It’s too easy to see a date or a relationship through the laughable eyes of a rom-com film, where we’re all whisked to Paris for a blow-out dinner or any special moment has to be the product of a grand overblown gesture.
But I know that you’re smarter than that. We all know better than that and we can all do better than that.
Romantic Things to do in London: Map
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