People and Places

Romantic Places to Visit in London that are not too Crowded

Valentine’s Day often succumbs to clichés with single red roses, pink bubbly, and restaurants vying for the attention of hopeful Romeos with uninspiring set menus. But fear not, Cupid, not today.

While Paris may claim the title of the official City of Love, London is a close second, boasting an abundance of romantic settings that transcend the ordinary.

Distinguish yourself from the dating app masses, where interests revolve around reading, films, and Sunday roasts, by steering your romantic rendezvous to unexpected and enchanting locales.

Share a rum-spiked hot chocolate amidst the enchantment of London’s hidden gardens, witness the steadfast loyalty of swans in the city’s expansive parks, or immerse yourselves in the allure of sensual nudes within the capital’s premier art collections.

Discover some of London’s most romantic spots, tailor-made for rendezvous, whether you’re in the early stages of dating, a seasoned married couple, or simply seeking a touch of (PG-rated) self-love.

After all, February 14 may come around just once a year, but life becomes infinitely better when infused with a perpetual touch of romance.

1. St Dunstan-in-the-East

Romantic Places to Visit in London that are not too Crowded

This enchanting ruined church embodies romance with a capital ‘R.’ Bathed in ethereal light streaming through its colossal shattered windows, vines gracefully trail their way up the weathered stones, remnants of a WWII bombing raid adding an element of poignant history.

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It provides an idyllic setting for a winter picnic, the crisp air adding a rosy glow to cheeks (perhaps complemented by a reading of Byron for the bold), followed by a retreat to a nearby wine bar to thaw hands chilled by the unromantic cold.

2. Crazy Coqs at Brasserie Zédel

Romantic Places to Visit in London that are not too Crowded

Descend into the subterranean realm beneath Soho’s splendid Brasserie Zédel, and you’ll discover an abundance of glitzy Jazz Age romance. The century-old bar, adorned with sensuous curving lines and draped in rich red fabrics, provides an exquisite backdrop for an evening filled with tantalizing performances.

Whether you opt for a piano-based cabaret or a burlesque night, the ambiance is heightened as you revel in the entertainment from the intimacy of a candlelit table for two.

3. Viewing Level at Switch House, Tate Modern

Romantic Places to Visit in London that are not too Crowded

While there are numerous vantage points to appreciate the London skyline, the viewing terrace at Tate Modern offers a panoramic 360ᵒ perspective.

Revel in the cityscape, but exercise caution not to engage in too much eye contact with the Tate’s neighbors, who may not be thrilled about the Switch House crowds peering through their curtains.

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As you ascend, explore the works of groundbreaking artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Sarah Lucas, and Ai Weiwei. Top off the experience with some delectable snacks from the nearby bar, creating an ambiance that couldn’t be more romantic.

4. Little Venice

Romantic Places to Visit in London that are not too Crowded

If you’re in the mood for a solo celebration with a glass of wine and a good book, Little Venice is the perfect oasis along London’s waterways. Take a pause at a canal-side café – both The Waterway and Café Laville are highly recommended – or simply embark on a leisurely stroll along the towpath.

Revel in the sight of vibrant narrowboats, and let the scene evoke nostalgic flashbacks to the charming days of ‘Rosie and Jim.’ Little Venice provides a uniquely calm slice of London, ideal for a peaceful and solitary escape.

5. Wilton’s Music Hall

Romantic Places to Visit in London that are not too Crowded

Wilton’s, recognized as the oldest grand music hall globally, has endured more than its fair share of tribulations. Having withstood the Blitz, served as a rag sorting warehouse, and faced the looming threat of demolition, the fact that it endures today as a Grade II listed theatre stands as one of London’s small miracles.

Crafted from a fusion of five Georgian houses, its paint-stripped frontage conceals a sumptuous concert hall, essentially functioning as Shadwell’s very own time machine.

The bustling Wilton’s schedule, featuring a diverse array of gigs, theatre performances, and cabaret, not only preserves its historical significance but also renders it a captivating venue for a date.

For those inclined towards such experiences, Wilton’s offers a unique and immersive journey through time, blending the charm of yesteryears with the vibrancy of contemporary arts and entertainment.

6. Columbia Road Flower Market

Romantic Places to Visit in London that are not too Crowded

Who needs flowers from someone else on Valentine’s Day? Head over to Columbia Road Flower Market just before noon, and treat yourself to a fantastic deal on a generous bunch of tulips. And why stop there? If the mood strikes, splurge on a fabulous lemon tree for a mere tenner.

Taking a leisurely stroll down this road on a Sunday morning is an olfactory delight that can cure almost any hangover.

For the early birds who manage to arrive by 8am, the experience is akin to stepping into a Kendall Wylie painting, only with the added bonus of bagel and pastel de nata vendors sprinkled along the way. Embrace the opportunity to create your own floral haven and indulge in the vibrant atmosphere of Columbia Road Flower Market.

7. Hampstead Heath Pergola and Hill Garden

Romantic Places to Visit in London that are not too Crowded

For a Valentine’s experience that channels the full Brontë, embark on a dramatic solo walk through Hampstead’s Pergola, a raised walkway with a commanding view of the West Heath. Optimal during mid-April when the roof is adorned with lush vines and wisteria, this atmospheric stroll promises a romantic ambiance.

Originally conceived by Lord Leverhulme as a backdrop for his extravagant Edwardian soirées, the Pergola may not witness much Viscount debauchery these days, but it stands as a splendid location for reenacting a Sixpence None the Richer music video.

Immerse yourself in the timeless allure of this historic structure, where nature intertwines with architecture, offering a perfect setting for a Brontë-inspired solitary sojourn.

8. Royal Observatory

Romantic Places to Visit in London that are not too Crowded

London’s skies, marred by light pollution, may not be the ideal canvas for stargazing, but you can still indulge in a moon-eyed rendezvous with the big dipper at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. Gain perspective by gazing through the Great Equatorial Telescope or immerse yourself in a guided tour of the night sky at the Peter Harrison Planetarium.

And, if you find yourself compelled to capture the obligatory selfie on the Prime Meridian line, let it be our little secret. The Royal Observatory offers a celestial escape within the city limits, where astronomy enthusiasts and casual sky gazers alike can appreciate the wonders of the cosmos.

9. The John Madejski Garden, V&A Museum

Romantic Places to Visit in London that are not too Crowded

The V&A exudes romance from every corner, but the allure of its Italian Renaissance architecture is heightened when viewed from an outdoor suntrap. If you find yourself with some spare time, yearning for moments of solitude with your profound thoughts and a good paperback, head to the John Madejski courtyard.

This outdoor space at the V&A is a genuine oasis, boasting its own feature: an oval pool surrounded by verdant expanses perfect for reclining. Whether you seek quiet contemplation or simply want to immerse yourself in the scenic beauty, the V&A’s outdoor haven provides a serene escape within the heart of the city.

10. Barbican Conservatory

Romantic Places to Visit in London that are not too Crowded

What could be more romantically unconventional than admiring some of London’s most prominent Brutalist architecture? Well, how about Brutalist architecture enveloped in a tropical jungle?

Discover this well-hidden and remarkably serene green oasis tucked away in one of the wings of the Barbican Centre, where over 2,000 species of tropical plants thrive. While this free attraction is only accessible on selected Sundays (do double-check before setting off), it provides an extraordinary setting for a unique romantic day out.

Conclude your adventure with a touch of culture, indulging in film, theatre, or art at the neighboring world-class arts center.

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