14 Awesome London date ideas for under £20
London, the UK's capital city. Buzzing with history, culture and sights to see, it's easy to find plenty of things to do during the day (and as darkness falls) in the city, but what about if you're looking for date ideas? Unfortunately, London can be expensive, and an afternoon out can quickly turn into an afternoon of spending (and spending your evening looking at the dent in your wallet). Luckily, if you know where to look, there are some great, affordable things to see and do in London. With Valentine's Day right around the corner, we thought we'd come up with 14 awesome date ideas to make you go all starry eyed - and they all cost less than £20!
#1. The British Museum
It's hard to believe that the British Museum is totally free to visit. Open daily from 10am to 5.30pm (8.30pm on Fridays), the museum's collection consists of over 8 million objects, including Cleopatra's mummy, Greek and Roman sculptures and the Rosetta Stone. The museums hosts a regular programme of events and exhibitions, for which you will need tickets (most are affordable) but it's easy to spend a whole day wandering around the collection, and it won't cost you any more than the price of a coffee or lunch in the museum's cafe.
Great Russell Street, WC1B 3DG (Nearest tube: Tottenham Court Road, Russell Square, Holborn or Goodge Street)
3/5 - Free, so great for students or anyone on a budget, and provided you're both into history, it should give you plenty to talk about!
#2. Street Art Spotting
London's home to some of the best grafitti around, but with the council quick to hose down the work of Banksy and other street artists, you'll need to be quick to catch some cool pieces. Head for Bethnal Green's Pollard Street (E2) to check out Banksy's iconic yellow flower, and look out for the Kray twins and Kate Moss on a wall at the Shoreditch end of Hackney Road, whilst you're in the area. Shoreditch is a prime spot for street art spotting - make sure you look up as you're walking and you might even see some of Space Invaders' street art; colourful little critters usually lurking under bridges or near rooftops. Being able to point out some of the best street art to your date is sure to impress!
Head for Shoreditch and Bethnal Green for some of the best street art around.
2/5 - If they're into art, bonus points. If not, wandering around in the cold weather might not do you any favours - plus some pieces can be hard to find!
#3. Dodgems and Retro Games
Getting in touch with your inner child is the perfect excuse to let go of stress and relax whilst showing your date how fun you can be! Namco on South Bank is a great place to head for a date - you'll need some cash for the dodgems (£2), there's ten-pin bowling for under a fiver and plenty of pool tables, dance machines and retro arcade games. Everything is token-operated, which means it's pretty cheap, and all that activity will soon get those endorphins flowing, leaving you feeling happy! Open until midnight, there's even a reasonably-priced bar.
Namco Station, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 7PB (nearest tube Waterloo)
4/5 - Some healthy competition on the dodgems and bowling, plus retro arcade games are sure to bring you two closer together!
#4. Foodie Fun at Borough Market
Borough Market is one of London's oldest and largest food markets and it's a real haven for foodies from across the city. Whether you're looking for organic fruit and vegetables, Spanish olives or the finest Italian tortellini, you'll find food from across the world here. Many stalls offers samples, so a great day out can be hand by wandering around, sampling food as you go - and all for free! There are also plenty of bars, cafes and restaurants where you can stop for a bite to eat, if you're still feeling hungry - we recommend Feng Sushi for its relaxed environment and healthy sushi and sashimi dishes loaded with omega 3.
Borough Market, 8 Southwark Street, SE1 1TL (nearest tube London Bridge)
5/5 - Maybe pick her up a bunch of flowers whilst you're wandering around?
#5. Watch Glassblowers at London Glassblowing
Peter Layton's London Glassblowing studio is the perfect place to watch in awe as craftsmen painstakingly melt glass and shape it into vases, paperweights and more - each item created is unique. Of course, purchasing a creation doesn't come cheap - perfume bottles start at around £100, but it's totally free to watch a demonstration during working hours, and you can just drop in (avoid between 1 and 2pm). A great way to spend a couple of hours - perhaps pop for a coffee afterwards or head for nearby Borough Market.
London Glassblowing, 7 The Leather Market, Weston Street, SE1 3ER
4/5 - Perhaps 5/5 if you can stretch to buying your date a unique hand-blown glass creation.
#6. Life Drawing at Dr Sketchy's Anti-Art School
This monthly artists salon was founded in New York in 2005 and now takes place in over 40 cities across the globe - if you're not bothered by nudity, this could be a fun place for a date! The London branch is similar to the original; semi-naked burlesque beauties strike a pose for a mixed group of artists. It's a fun evening; drawing contests, drinks and prizes for the best work awarded at the end. If you've always fancied giving life drawing a go, take an open-minded date along and prepare to try something new!
Dr Sketchy's Anti Art School takes place at various venues; for more information visit the website here.
5/5 - But be warned, this class could leave you feeling a bit hot under the collar - perhaps not ideal for a first date!
#7. Try Afro-Brazilian Drumming
Energetic carnival-style Samba-Reggae outfit TRIBO, originally from Salvador, have been hosting regular two-hour workshops in London for years, so if you've always thought, "I could do that," now's your chance! Learning how to beat a samba drum to a set rhythm and finding your groove is not quite as easy as it sounds, but the classes have a relaxed, casual vibe and cost £7 per person - you can attend one session or go back and improve your skills - many students take part in the annual parade. The perfect quirky date, ideal for those who are looking to impress someone new with an original idea.
Every Saturday from 2pm-4pm at The Albert, 1 Albert Road, NW6 5DT (nearest tube Queen's Park)
3/5 - Perfect to find out if your date has rhythm and an unusual ice-breaker.
#8. Go Dutch
We're not talking about making your date pay for half of everything - but about London's only Dutch cafe-bar! If you've never heard of De Hems, now's the perfect time to check it out. Once a refuge for Dutch sailors pining for home, it was also later a base for the Dutch Resistance during the war. Today, it's a cosy pub with dark wood interiors, spread across two floors. You'll find the usual array of Dutch beers (Oranjeboom anyone?) but also more unusual bottled beers such as Orval and Vedett. The traditional Dutch bar snacks are well worth trying and affordably priced, at £3.95 for a portion of bitterballen (deep-fried meat balls), but you're also close enough to Chinatown that you could pop for some healthy noodle soup or steamed dumplings, if you like.
De Hems, 11 Macclesfield Street, W1D 5BW
3/5 - It's a pub, but it is Dutch, and there's the opportunity to impress your date with your knowledge of Dutch drinks and food. Plus, the atmosphere is pretty relaxed - just make sure you don't drink too much!
#9. All About L'Amour
The French certainly know a thing or two about romance, but if a trip to Paris is just slightly out of your budget, why not take your date for an afternoon filled with Gallic flair at the Institut Francais? Every Sunday afternoon at 2pm they host 'Cine Lumiere', with screening of classic French films for just £7-9 a ticket. The recently refurbished cinema shows classics from the likes of Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut - the perfect romantic date.
Cine Lumiere, Institut Francais, 17 Queensberry Place, SW7 2DT
5/5 - Just make sure your date's happy to read subtitles!
#10. Green Gym Workout
Going on a date with a gym addict? Working out indoors at the gym can get a bit boring, but Green Gym, organised by the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers, is a breath of fresh air in a world of stale date ideas! Improve your fitness whilst helping the environment - you'll burn up to a third more calories in an hour of Green Gym activities than you would in a step aerobics class as well as soak up plenty of vitamin D. Activities include building paths and outdoor seats or clearing undergrowth, with a focus on enhancing the local environment. Groups run in Lewisham, Newham and Camden.
You'll find more information on the BCTV website here.
3/5 - Could be higher if they're seriously into health, fitness and the environment, but it's the perfect way to do something meaningful together!
#11. Lionel Rich Tea Night
If you're looking for something fabulously fun that's sure to have your date and you in tears of laughter, we recommend the regular Lionel Rich Tea night at Drink Shop Do. It's a biscuit decorating night where you'll get your own Rich Tea biscuits to decorate with your version of Lionel Richie's face - a prize is awarded for the best biscuits! Gobbling up the biscuits with a cup of tea afterwards almost seems a shame. The night runs regularly and is free!
Image credit: Drink Shop Do
Drink Shop Do, 9 Caledonian Road, Kings Cross, London, N1 9DX
5/5 - For sheer silliness, this night is sure to bring the two of you closer!
#12. Breakfast at Dishoom
For a date-with-a-difference, forget meeting for lunch or a drink and go for breakfast. But not just any breakfast, a Bombay-style feast! Dishoom serves an eclectic menu packed with delicious healthy (and not-so-healthy) options including the tempting sounding Bacon Naan Roll (£5.20) or 'Kejriwal', two fried eggs on chilli cheese toast (£4.90), or try spicy 'Akuri' scrambled eggs or a Bombay Omelette with Fire Toast and Masala Baked Beans. Lighter options include fresh fruit with Keralan vanilla-infused yoghurt and porridge with Medjool dates and bananas - yummy and a great way to start your day!
Image credit: Londonnightguide.com
Dishoom has branches in Shoreditch, Covent Garden and Kings Cross
5/5 - Staring into each other's eyes over a cup of hot, milky chai first thing in the morning is sure to leave you feeling romantic!
#13. An Afternoon in Chinatown
For a great free date - well, you can spend as much or as little as you want - why not meet up in London's Chinatown? Head to New Loon Moon on Gerrard Street to find products from China, Japan, Korea, Indonesia and more. Huge slices of spiky Jackfruit or fresh Gai Lan (crystal pears) are a bargain and great to expand your fruit horizons, or take a stroll to the Good Harvest Fish Market on Shaftesbury Avenue, London's answer to the traditional Chinese 'wet market', where you can find live seafood including razor clams and lobsters as well as plenty of sashimi-grade salmon and tuna. Whether you pick up some ingredients to whip up sushi at home later or head for some healthy stir-fry and dumplings at one of the district's countless restaurants, it's a great day out!
It's an easy walk from Leicester Square or Piccadilly tube station
5/5 - Trying new things together is sure to encourage romance!
#14. Try a Game of Bike Polo
Nothing brings out your healthy competitive side like a game of bike polo! You play in teams of three using a wooden mallet to score goals whilst riding on a bike. Just turn up with your bike - balls and mallets are provided. A pretty cool way to spend an afternoon and if your date (and you) are both into fitness, this is sure to go down a treat! Games run regularly in South, West and North-East London, with more info available on the website.
Visit the website for location information and dates/times.
3/5 - You could always treat each other to a relaxing massage for those sore, aching muscles afterwards!
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