Valentine’s Day is coming. As if you didn’t know. If you’re like me, you’re scrambling for a date idea at the last minute. Or trying to find romantic places in London. Or boycotting the whole thing. But once the rose-infused chaos subsides, there are plenty of other days to go on dates. So if you’re stuck for inspiration this week or any other, here are 9 date ideas for London that can help you out.
Date Ideas for London
I’ve been on my fair share of dates in London, from dinners and movies to less traditional adventures. But the following are some of my favorite dates, or just things I’ve always wanted to do on a date (hint to my boyfriend…).
1. Explore South Kensington
One of my favorite date ideas for London is to spend an afternoon exploring South Kensington. Meeting for lunch at one of the restaurants around the station is a good way to start. From there, three of London’s biggest and best museums—the V&A, the Natural History Museum, and the Science Museum—are right around the corner. They’re good for proving topics of conversation, which helps keep awkward silences to a minimum. And once a month all three museums stay open late and have music and drinks, making them even more date-friendly.
2. Walk the Thames Path
I like getting outdoors on dates, if for no other reason than that it provides an activity to keep things interesting. The Thames Path is long and picturesque, so it’s a great choice for a date you hope won’t end. My favorite part to walk is the stretch between Hammersmith and Chiswick, but there are plenty of others to enjoy as well.
3. Browse the Markets
The best way to a lot of people’s hearts is through their stomachs, and I’m no exception. I love going on dates to London’s markets, grazing through flavors and taking in sights and scents. My favorite markets for dates are Maltby Street Market, Broadway Market, and—if I’m not hungry—the Columbia Road Flower Market. My boyfriend and I once got up early to go to Maltby Street Market and loved having the whole place to ourselves before the crowds came.
4. Picnic in the Park
When the weather is warm, I love a good picnic date. My preferred spot is Hampstead Heath, one of the biggest and wildest parks in the city. It’s a great place to enjoy a picnic lunch and a long walk, not least because the nearby Pergola Garden is one of the most romantic green spaces in London.
5. Soak up the Views
There’s nothing like a good view to put me in a romantic mood, and London has no shortage of them. Whether it’s having a sunset dinner at The Shard or soaking up the panorama from outside Greenwich Observatory, there are a lot of ways to incorporate a skyline into a date in London.
6. Get Bookish
I love books. On one of the most memorable dates I went on in college, we went to a bookshop and each chose a book for the other. He chose Nineteen Eighty-Four for me and I chose The House of the Spirits for him. It was a really fun way to get to know each other, guess at what the other would like, and get a new good read in the process. Given London has so many amazing bookshops, it’s an easy date to replicate.
7. Stroll along the South Bank
One of the things I love about the South Bank is that there’s always something going on. Whether it’s a summer festival or winter market, a concert or play, there’s a date waiting to happen. I like going early and meeting for drinks (especially in the summer when the rooftop bar opens), then exploring what’s on along the waterfront or attending a show as the evening progresses.
8. Explore a New Neighborhood
I always enjoy exploring new-to-me places in London, and some my best dates with my boyfriend have revolved around doing just that. From Dulwich to Walthamstow, we’ve spent many Saturdays discovering parts of London we’ve never seen before.
9. Play Tourist
Sometimes it’s fun to play tourist in your own city. Given London’s wealth of world-class attractions, it’s not hard to find something fun to do on a date. From the London Eye to a boat ride on the Thames, there are lots of ways to have an enjoyable time while doing something locals rarely do. My second date with my boyfriend was lunch and a browse through the British Museum. It not only gave us a chance to get to know one another, but also to explore one of the city’s most iconic museums.
I hope you’ve found these date ideas for London helpful, whether you’re planning a Valentine’s Day surprise for a long-term partner or a February first date with someone you’ve never met. Writing them all down has motivated me to get more creative with my own dates, so I hope to share some of the highlights with you soon.
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