South Bank London

Romantic South Bank: Where to take your date

Great theatres, restaurants and bars, stunning city views and that iconic riverside walk make South Bank one of London's most romantic destinations.

Whether you are here for a first date, celebrating an anniversary or just looking to put some romantic sparkle into your day, here are some ideas for where to take your date.

A romantic stroll along the Queen's Walk

Whatever the stage of your relationship, when it comes to romance, in a busy global city like London, a leisurely stroll along the river in South Bank is hard to beat. The reflections of the light on the water, the sounds of buskers strumming their guitars illuminated by strings of lights and old-fashioned Edwardian lamps… memories are made of this!

Along the section between Blackfriars Bridge and Westminster Bridge you can soak up some of London's most iconic views, while the quieter tree-lined stretch between Westminster Bridge and Lambeth Bridge is a great place to stop and rest your feet on one of the benches that overlook the parliament across the water.

An art gallery date

A great option for a daytime date is to take in an art exhibition and then head to a cute café to discuss the works over brunch. At the Southbank Centre the Hayward Gallery is one of London's leading contemporary art galleries with new blockbuster exhibitions usually opening every quarter. Grab lunch or brunch nearby at somewhere casual like The Green Room or The Black Penny. In the summer head up to the adjacent rooftop garden at Queen Elizabeth Hall for light refreshments and super views.

Slightly off the beaten path, the Garden Museum also hosts several major art exhibitions a year, usually focusing on major artists whose work follows themes of nature, botany, gardens and landscapes. Their elegant Garden Café that adjoins the museum is the perfect place for lunch afterwards, especially in spring or summer when you can sit inside their verdant courtyard garden. The menu changes regularly with the seasons with a keen focus on locally sourced ingredients.

Classy cocktails at an exclusive bar

Meeting up for a drink date? Set an impressive note with cocktails at the multi-award-winning Lyaness bar, a frequent feature in the World's Best Bars list. Located at the glamorous Sea Containers London hotel next to Blackfriars Bridge, the hotel also has a second rooftop cocktail bar 12th Knot.

If a hidden speakeasy vibe is more your scene book a seat at the dark and moody cocktail bar, the Lost Property Office, hidden deep inside The Sidings at Waterloo Station. The brainchild of top mixologist Rich Woods, this is a slick, intimate spot (seating is very limited so it's recommended to book!) that couldn't be more different to the busy BrewDog bar in which the hidden entrance is located.

Dinner and a show

South Bank is home to two of London's most famous theatres, The Old Vic and the National Theatre, both known for their daring and original programming, as well as the immense concert hall Royal Festival Hall. Atmospheric restaurants nearby that are known for their pre-theatre menus include Brasserie Blanc, La Gamba, Skylon and Côte Brasserie at Southbank Centre. National Theatre is also becoming a foodie destination in its own right with two highly acclaimed restaurants to choose from that make the most of the building's distinctive architecture in their design; the brilliant British brasserie Lasdun and the more casual small plates wine bar Forza Wine.

If you enjoy a gripping whodunnit, you’ll love Agatha Christie’s Witness for the Prosecution at County Hall. The play takes place in what was once the London council chambers, making for an especially immersive theatre environment. Book a seat in the jury box for the best seats in the house! Many nearby restaurants at County Hall such as The Strings and Gillray's at the Marriott offer pre-theatre menus to enjoy before the show.

Read our guide to pre-theatre dining in South Bank for more on what's on offer.

Movie night at the BFI

The BFI Southbank is one of London's most famous cinemas, known for its brilliantly curated programme that mixes the latest releases with themed seasons celebrating the greatest creators in world cinema. Whatever day it is, there's always something good to watch here making it a perfect date night destination.

After your date head to the BFI's Riverfront Bar for coffee or drinks while you discuss the film or head across to the ever-popular terrace at Forza Wine at the neighbouring National Theatre. For a quick and casual bite before or after the film the colourful Mexican street food joint Wahaca is right next door at Queen Elizabeth Hall. If it's an early screening, dinner and drinks afterwards at The Archduke is a great way to end the night - especially on Thu, Fri and Sat when there's live jazz (until 10pm).

Special occasion restaurants 

Looking to push the boat out with an extra special dinner? South Bank has some special options to lend the occasion that essential je ne sais quoi. For dazzling rooftop views that look out across the river to St Paul's book a table at the OXO Tower Restaurant, Bar & Brasserie. The restaurant serves up fine dining tasting menus and a la carte options, while for something a little more casual there's the bar or brasserie.

Serious foodies should look to Hannah Restaurant, a luxurious omakase restaurant discreetly tucked away inside County Hall. Chef and owner Daisuke Shimoyama serves up extravagant six and ten-course seasonal omakase menus with optional sake pairings (booking is essential).

A romantic ride on the London Eye

A ride on the iconic London Eye is always a special experience. If you want to go that extra mile to impress your date, add in some Champagne when you book. Or go even bigger and reserve your own ‘Cupid’s Pod’ package. A popular choice for proposals, you'll get your own private pod for two plus a bottle of Pommery Rose Champagne and a luxury box of Hotel Chocolat Pink Champagne truffles.

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