Museums And Galleries

Galleries and museums are perfect spots for first dates (and beyond).

There’s no time limit, so you can take things at your own speed, and they give you plenty to talk about, but without the awkward eye contact and pressure to fill every silence that can sometimes come from sitting across a table from someone you’ve never met before.

The large ones are your safest bet for a first date, as you won’t run out of things to see. They’re also usually in touristy areas, so if things are going well, you’ll almost certainly be near a bunch of cafes and restaurants.

But don’t forget about the smaller ones: London is also home to dozens of amazing niche interest museums exploring one thing in depth.

The Big Ones

The Victoria and Albert Museum \ Knightsbridge

The VA has a staggering 2.3 million items, so if you and your date can’t find something to talk about here then you’re probably with the wrong person.

Take in 3,000 years of art and design, with collections including everything from mediaeval jewellery to 1970s futurism in interior design.

The VA’s younger sibling, the VA Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green, is also a great date spot to spark conversation about your own childhoods.

Price: FREE (apart from special exhibitions)

The British Museum \ Bloomsbury

People looking at statues in the British Museum. By Nicole Baster.
By Nicole Baster

With over 8,000,000 items, the British Museum is one of the largest collections of artefacts in the world and covers just about every continent and element of human culture you could imagine.

If you’re not sure where to start, check out their planning your visit pages for ideas. You could drop in on one of their object handling sessions, free talks and lectures, or just stroll around and see where the walk takes you. It’s open ’til late, so you’ve got all the time in world.

Price: FREE (apart from special exhibitions)

Museum of London \ Islington

Stretching from prehistoric times (when hippos and lions lived where there would later be Starbucks and tube stations) through to the present day, the Museum of London is a fascinating way to get to know the city – whilst also hopefully getting to know your date.

One highlight is the recreations of places and buildings that you can actually go into and walk around. Get some pics of yourselves hanging out in Victorian shops, an old-fashioned debtor’s prison, and Georgian pleasure gardens.

Price: FREE (apart from special exhibitions)

The Little Ones

The Old Operating Theatre \ Southwark

Courtesy of The Old Operating Theatre

Explore this old hospital from a time when anaesthetic wasn’t yet a reality and chloroform was still used for operations.

If you’re not squeamish, you can also see a Victorian surgery re-enactment with commentary within a seat at the theatre itself.

These are popular, so book early to get a spot.

Price: FREE

Grant Museum of Zoology \ Bloomsbury

Fancy seeing extinct species floating in formaldehyde? Then this is the place for you.

Check out our unusual date ideas page for more info!

Price: FREE

Cartoon Museum \ Fitzrovia

With over 5,000 books and 4,000 comics, this museum packs in 300 years of British cartoon history, including animation, caricatures and comic strips.

N.B. The museum is closed as it moves to Wells Street, reopening in a few weeks’ time.

Price: £7 (£3 for students)

Dennis Severs’ House \ Spitalfields

Dennis Severs’ House is best described as multi-sensory piece of immersive theatre where you tour all ten rooms of this lavishly-decorated house and explore the story of a family of silk weavers down the generations, from the 1700s to the early 1920s.

Whilst the concept can be a bit pretentious (each room is supposed to relate not only to a different period of history, but to different stages of a child growing up as well), the house is beautiful and the tour-and-theatre set-up means it isn’t your average trip to a museum.

Find it: 18 Folgate St, London E1 6BX

Price: £10

Museum of Brands and Packaging \ Notting Hill

Courtesy of The Museum of Brands

Take a trip through this museum’s Time Tunnel exhibition to explore more than 100 years of consumer culture with iconic brands like Oxo, Persil and Marmite.

See how Cadburys has evolved through the decades, see a century of TimeOut covers, or just prepare to feel older than usual as you see toys and magazines from your childhood in a museum (90s girls will remember Mizz and Sugar, on display here).

Find it: 111 – 117 Lancaster Road, Notting Hill, W11 1QT

Price: £9


National Portrait Gallery \ Covent Garden


This was the first portrait gallery in the world, but don’t think it’s all oil paintings of Shakespeare and the Royal Family – this gallery is a who’s who of significant people and celebrities, from Darwin to Ed Sheeran and celebrates a huge range of styles including caricature, fashion photography, cubism, surrealism and more.

Not sure where to begin? You can use the portrait explorer touch screens in the gallery to search over 70,000 works and find your favourite people.

Tate Modern \ Bankside

A girl looking at a gallery wall in the Tate Modern, London. By Samuel Zeller.
By Samuel Zeller

Housed in an old power station at Bankside, the Tate Modern just became the most visited attraction in the UK (overtaking the British Museum, above) and features a rotating programme of provocative modern art, as well as talks, poetry readings and indie movie screenings.

Whilst not everyone will relate to Cildo Meireles’ political statements on three coke bottles, or Ai Weiwei’s pile of sunflower seeds (also a political statement relating to how the sunflower was used as a symbol during China’s cultural revolution), you should see still the Tate Modern even if you don’t like modern art. Why? Because if that feeling is mutual with your date, you’ll still have plenty to discuss.

Price: FREE

London Photographer’s Gallery \ Soho

A vintage camera and photographs
By Congerdesign

London’s first gallery devoted entirely to photography is the home of the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize and runs thought-provoking exhibitions – but this isn’t just a place to see pictures on walls.

Here you can get into the real nitty gritty of photography with talks from artists, events and guides on subjects like mental health and photography, or building a career as a photographer.

Price: £5