In a city as big as London, the opportunities for fun dates are pretty much endless. But where do you go when you’re struggling for inspiration for date choices? Whether it’s a first date with someone you meet on an app, a romantic night with a long-term love, or a friend date, trying something new is always fun. We’ve made a list of slightly quirkier date night alternatives – and if you end up not liking the date idea, at least you’re doing it with someone you’re really into.
Go for a London bike ride
Richmond Park is a great spot to cycle
London isn’t as cycle-friendly as, say, Copenhagen or Amsterdam, but there are some really nice places to go for a ride. The Greenway route from Victoria Park to Beckton in East London is lovely, or go for a leisurely cycle around Richmond Park. There’s Santander Cycles dotted all over the city, and if you’re after a nicer ride, try Tokyobikes.
The crazy golf course at Swingers also offers street food and drinks
At Swingers (yes, the name is a terrible pun, and you might have to explain it to your date in advance), try one of their crazy golf courses to see which one of you has the best putting skills. It’s a fun, unusual date, and the venue has some of London’s best street food names on-site, too – not to mention a huge drink selection, which may or may not improve your game.
If you’re one of those people who always end up playing table tennis in your parents’ basement/the office/that ping-pong table in the park, Bounce is for you. Inspired by table tennis venues in the US, Bounce offers table tennis, digital beer pong, happy hours and sharing food as well as pizzas. Perfect if you’re both competitive – maybe the winner can pay for the next date?
Grab a view of the city from Parliament Hill in Hampstead Heath
Spendthrifts can head up to Primrose Hill or Hampstead Heath. The beautiful parks offer a great view of London; bring your own carefully packed picnic for extra romance. If you’re after a more upmarket culinary experience, choose Aqua Shard or Searcys at The Gherkin to watch dusk fall.
Have an unusual film experience at Backyard Cinema
Backyard Cinema finds unique settings for its film screenings
Backyard Cinema shows films in quirky settings, so you can watch Romeo and Juliet in a chapel or enjoy a Grease sing-a-long in a winter garden. The long-running event now boasts a permanent space in Wandsworth, as well as a series of regular pop-ups. A classic date night – with a twist.
The Parkland Walk in Haringey, north London, is a picturesque four-and-a-half mile walk along an old railway that’s now London’s longest local Nature Reserve. It’s overgrown and beautiful, with old railway structures and graffiti along the way. Start in Finsbury Park and end the walk with a cosy dinner in one of Highgate’s many pretty pubs.
The ‘food theatre’ Arcade at Centre Point in central London is actually a gigantic food court. It’s got seven different kitchens, including cult bakery Popham’s, and three all-day and evening bars. The perfect place for a date when you’re not sure what you want to eat – mix and match!
Hang out among the greenery at Barbican Conservatory
Botanical Garden, Park
Discover the hidden Conservatory at the Barbican
The beautiful Brutalist exterior of the London culture centre Barbican not only hides art galleries, music venues and a cinema, but also the second largest conservatory in the city. A date and an exotic mini-holiday in one.
Ramp up the va-va-voom at Baranis, where you can play pétanque or, if it’s a nice day, head to Cleaver Square in Kennington to watch locals play in deadly serious matches (while you sip pints from the square’s posh pub).
Tate Modern is one of the UK's most important art institutions
On the first Friday of every month, gigantic art gallery Tate Modern holds free “late-night” events with DJs, performances, workshops, drinks and food. Great for a cultural date night, as you’re guaranteed to have things to talk about.
At the Electric Cinema in Notting Hill, you can book a sofa (and enjoy the stylish diner with a French-American menu in the same building); meanwhile at Genesis in Stepney Green, you get a sofa, table and wine.
Sky Garden is located at the top of 20 Fenchurch Street in London
The view from Sky Garden is beautiful – it’s London’s highest public garden. As well as observation decks and an open-air terrace, it’s home to a number of restaurants, which is perfect for when you’re celebrating something special.