Planning a first date can be nerve-wracking – you want to make a great impression but without coming on too strong. Whether you met them on a dating app or you’ve been checking them out on Instagram and finally slid into their DMs, you can show them a good time thanks to the variety of activities and first-date restaurants London has to offer. From cosy drinks and meals to cultural activities, you can find something to do whatever your interests are. This is our guide to where to go on a first date in London.
Guide to where to go on a first date in London
In this guide
- First date-friendly restaurants
- Explore nature together
- Cultural and creative dates
- Energetic activities
- Date-friendly drinks
- Coffee shop dates
- Unique date experiences
First date-friendly restaurants
Intimate tapas spot
With a cosy candlelit atmosphere and food made for sharing, The Port House is an ideal venue for a first date. Low lighting and wood panels give the place an intimate feel and the menu includes bites to satisfy every taste. Port and wine from Spain and Portugal are also available here.
Hip seasonal menus
The minimalist candlelit Jolene is comfy and relaxed, and has quickly become a local favourite. The seasonal menu changes every day so there are always fresh tastes to discover. Order a few small plates to share between you like risotto or salad niçoise.
Elegant date destination
For a refined first date meal, Hush in Mayfair is a top choice. Hidden away from the busy streets, there’s a classic interior and an elegant floral-laden terrace that’s sure to impress your date. On the menu you’ll find sophisticated European dishes like risotto, grilled lobster, and slow-roasted lamb shank.
Social Italian pizza
Authentic pizzeria Berberè has locations in Italy as well as London. This is award-winning sourdough pizza served in comfortable restaurants. Each pizza is cut into eight slices to encourage sociable dining - grab a couple to share with your date. Toppings range from classic margherita to four cheese with mushrooms and truffle.
Rustic Italian cooking
The warm and rustic setting of Campania & Jones is ideal for a dinner date. This is a Southern Italian restaurant serving generous portions of authentic food. There’s an à la carte menu plus a monthly-changing set option. Antipasti, pasta, and meat and fish are served, as well as curated Southern Italian wines.
Explore nature together
London's own rainforest
Enjoy a peaceful walk together in any weather at the Barbican Conservatory. Open on selected days, you can explore 1,500 species of plants and trees from all over the world. Orchids and cacti are amongst the plants you’ll see here. There are also three pools with carp, koi, and terrapins.
Lush plants and fab views
Sky Garden offers plenty of options for a first date. Take in fabulous views of the city surrounded by plants at the city’s highest indoor garden. Sometimes there’s live music too. Bars and restaurants are on-site if things are going well and you want to settle down for a bit longer.
Acres to explore
Hampstead Heath is a great place for a long stroll whilst you get to know each other. Covering 800 acres of land in North London, there are spots with fab city views, ponds full of wildlife, and lots of open space. Stop on a bench along your walk to admire the sights.
Cultural and creative dates
Charming modern art gallery
If your date is an art lover, take them to Estorick Collection in Islington. Set in an attractive townhouse, you’ll find three floors of 20th century Italian art, focusing on Futurism in particular. After you’ve seen the work you can stop at the café for Italian coffee and food.
Get creative with clay
If you fancy trying a creative activity together, head to a sought-after pottery class at Skandihus. Public and private sessions are available for adults. A taster day session is ideal for beginners as a first date. If you're more experienced you can join one of the drop-in sessions to work without guidance.
Discover contemporary art
Whether you're a visual art expert or you don't have a clue, you can enjoy discovering contemporary art at Camden Art Centre. Housed in a historic building that was originally a library, the centre has exhibition spaces, a café, bookshop, and a secluded garden. There's a busy programme of exhibitions, events, and activities.
Test your puzzle-solving skills
For an action-packed date, take on an escape room at ClueQuest. A variety of games are available and they’re suitable for two people, as well as groups of up to six. There are puzzles and challenges for every age and ability, as well as three different immersive VR games.
Crazy golf games
Play nine holes of crazy golf at one of Plonk’s courses. These fun and tricky games are sure to break the ice. Afterwards you can head to the bar to get cosy with a drink and a board game, or you can check out the arcade games and carry on getting competitive.
Discover the city from the water
Experience London in a new light with boat hire from GoBoat London. These little grey vessels are self-drive electric boats and you don't need any experience. There's a choice of three routes to explore, including seasonal options. Make it even more enjoyable by bringing a picnic along for the journey.
Cosy up in a traditional pub
The Holly Bush in Hampstead dates back to the 18th century. The traditional wood-panelled venue gives the feel of a country pub. There are plenty of corners to nestle into with a drink. The choices at the bar include something for everyone and upscale pub food is served too.
East London roof bar
If you want to impress with a stylish bar, PocketSquare is a great option. This Whitechapel sky bar offers panoramic views and has a vibrant and cool atmosphere. At this modern bar you can try well-presented food and drinks, including elaborate signature cocktails. Elevated nibbles like a sashimi mosaic are available too.
Drinks and games
Get comfy with a drink and a board game at Draughts. These bars are reinventing board games for modern times, with a lively and competitive atmosphere. Take your pick from the thousands of games on offer. You can enjoy drinks from beer to cocktails, plus burgers and tacos if you’re hungry.
Two top bars in one
At Swift Soho you’re not restricted to just one bar – you have the choice of two under one roof. Upstairs there’s an award-winning modern cocktail bar with a big selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic mixes. There are over 300 whiskies too. Downstairs there’s an intimate drinking den with live music performances.
Hidden basement cocktail bar
To let your date in on a well-kept secret, take them to Discount Suit Company. Disguised as an old warehouse, this is a cosy secret basement bar serving inspiring cocktails. There’s a soundtrack of northern soul and vintage rock ‘n’ roll in this low-ceilinged space with smart wood panelling.
Coffee shop dates
Indulge in artisan coffee
If you love nothing more than a hot and fresh cup of coffee, check out Allpress. This roastery supplies a great number of cafés but also has its own sites in East London. These modern spots serve espresso drinks and filter coffee, with understated outdoor seating available. Light food is served too.
Top coffee shop in Holloway
Holloway Road's Vagabond N7 is a popular local café. Making use of reclaimed materials and secondhand items, the venue has a homey and eclectic feel. There are indoor seats plus a peaceful walled garden where you can easily chat with your date over a drink. There's a changing food menu too.
Vibrant colours and flavours
For casual café bites, Apple Butter Café is a top choice. This vibrant eatery is packed with bursts of colour and an apple tree growing right inside the space. There are outdoor seats too. Pop in for a coffee or tea or try the Middle Eastern-inspired food options like sandwiches and salads.
Coffee with personality
F. Mondays has loads of personality and not just in its cheeky name. You'll see lush green plants and laidback outdoor spaces. Come in for a coffee to soak up the atmosphere. You can also buy deli products here like bread, cheeses, meat, dairy, cupboard essentials, and of course, coffee and tea.
Much-loved Tooting café
With weathered flooring and exposed brick, Juliets Quality Foods has a pretty typical coffee shop look. The focus is really on the menu, which has imaginative dishes that have made this place a favourite in Tooting. Chat with your date over a coffee or try snacks like house-made cornbread.
This simple, unpretentious eatery is inspired by Scandi smorgasbord, letting you build your own board of deliciousness, whether its brunch items throughout the day or cheese and charcuterie in the evening. Is your potential partner a spicy chorizo or a saucy saucisson? Will you have to spend the rest of your life fighting bitterly over the last scrap of cheddar, or are they more of a Baron Bigod? Negotiate and share your way through the menu, add some cocktails, and see what happens.
Unique date experiences
Release your inner child
A museum unlike any other, Dopamine Land is a carefully-designed multi-sensory experience. This interactive and immersive venue is intended to boost your mood and release your inner child. There are several rooms to enjoy featuring digital forests, mirror mazes, and pillow fights. The whole thing takes 30-50 minutes to fully explore.
A thrillseeker's ideal date
For a unique first date, climb up The O2 with Up at The O2. Daytime, sunset, and twilight climbs are available, and you can arrange a glass of champagne at the top to make it more memorable. You’ll get excellent views of Greenwich, Canary Wharf, and the Olympic Park with this thrilling activity.
View the sights of London in a unique and impressive way on the London Eye. Millions of visitors head to this observation wheel on the South Bank every year. The transparent pods give you uninterrupted views and the experience lasts about half an hour. Book a private pod to make it even more special.