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Ten romantic things to do in London will make your heart soar.



Romance doesn't have to cost the earth, that's why many of the romantic things to do in London are actually free, so that you can be as spontaneous, fun and loving as you want. Walks in Hampstead Heath, or a free picnic listening to music floating across the hill, and capped off with a beautiful firework display could be the perfect romantic evening in the summer. If you happen to visit London in the winter, then you can still enjoy the many parks and gardens, perhaps in the warm tropical glass houses in Kew Gardens, or inside eating at Petersham Nurseries, just up the river in Richmond.

Flying high above London on the London Eye while holding hands and ooohing and aahing at the enormity of this mega city could also be considered romantic. Surprisingly, London Zoo can also be very romantic. Particularly around February and Valentine's day, the zoo likes to advertise its loving couples and babies born, and watching comical chimpanzees or the love of a penguin for its fluffy baby can inspire warm loving feelings in almost anyone.

Books are often a romantic escape for many people, so the Charles Dickens Museum or various literary walks around Bloomsbury might be the perfect romantic day for a bookish couple. If you are not a Dickens fan, then head over to the British library for great informative exhibitions and lots more books to choose from. At least one of these will rekindle that loving feeling.


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This institution is part gallery, part museum, and part library. With its fascinating exhibits, the library is a great place to learn about British history, especially political and literary history. Items such as the Magna Carta, which changed the world of politics in 1215, and the Gutenberg Bible, which in 1455 was the first book printed using Gutenberg's world-altering printing press, are awe-inspiring and well presented. Exhibitions on greats such as Oscar Wilde or on particular literary styles make the library a must for visitors interested in the written word. More recently the library has been exploring the changing nature of English and how it is spoken differently not just around the UK but around the world. TUBE: King's Cross St. Pancras or Euston Square

Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Learning something new can be very romantic and the building itself lifts your heart to the skies.

Emma's expert tip: There are lots of free exhibitions in the entrance hall and a great cafe to meet up in after you have learnt something.

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Churches, apart from St Paul's are mostly free to access in London, whether you want to get a bit of history, or take some time for quiet contemplation. St Bride's Church on London's fleet street is one of those places. Known as The Journalist's church, because of it's proximity to the historic site of London's journalistic trade, there's been a place of worship on this site probably since the 7th century AD. In the crypt of the church you can take a free tour through the history of the site and its places of worship that have stood there. The current version of St Bride's was built in 1672 just after the Great Fire of London in 1666, by Sir Christopher Wren, he who designed St Paul's Cathedral too. The tiered spire of St Bride's is said to have inspired the traditional shape of a wedding cake too.

Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: You can't get more romantic than a wedding, so St Bride's Church is a must see and free too.

Emma's expert tip: There are any number of free churches in London and just down the road from St Brides is the round chapel where the knights of the Templar are said to have worshiped, also featured in the Da Vinci code book and film.

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Built in the Eighteenth Century as a pleasure palace for the Prince Regent, George IV, the Brighton Pavillion makes a great focus for a family day out from London. Its elegant onion domes and carved exterior cuts a breathtaking dash in the heart of Brighton. Inside you can see the best Chinoiserei in the British Isles, and children will love learning about George IV and his predecessor's escapades. This is the cream of regency society, and it's worth stopping here first for a tour, before taking in the rest of this regency jewel in the South Coast's crown. Outside the Pavillion, there is plenty of fun to be had in Brighton itself, and if you have time, spend a few days here, chilling out at the beach and getting to know it's brilliant shopping streets, the Laines.

Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: A romantic day trip out of London could be the perfect present to your love, so try Brighton and its romantic pavilion.

Emma's expert tip: Gives you an introduction to regency history before hitting the rest of Brighton. Before you go, watch the Madness of King George, and the building will be brought alive.

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Chelsea Physic Garden


Established in 1673, London's first botanical garden is a quiet, green spot near the Thames. The park is now primarily a research and education facility, and several plant-based products have been discovered and tested here. Climate-controlled greenhouses filled with horticultural treasures also delight plant enthusiasts. Extended Wednesday hours (until 10pm) in July and August. In 2014, the garden is busy working on its garden of medicinal plants and holds regular talks from big name people both in gardening and culture who will help revive your interest in beautiful plants and gardens and their uses to society. There are family activity days too. TUBE: Sloane Square

Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: There is something very romantic about plants and healing, which is exactly what you'll find in the Chelsea Physic garden.

Emma's expert tip: Look on the website to see if there is an interesting talk when you are planning to visit, then book accordingly.

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Spread across 300 acres, these gorgeous gardens are a year-round wonderland of sights, scents, and beauty. Horticultural specimens from around the world can be found either on the grounds or in a number of climate-controlled greenhouses. You'll also find lakes, pathways, and other eye-catching landscape features, including a Chinese pagoda. Tropical to arctic-adapted plants mesmerize visitors, who get a broad overview of the entire complex at the visitors center. A gift shop is available as well where you can not only buy beautiful plants, plant pots and tea towels but also books about horticulture and its history. This is also where many of Britain's top gardeners trained. TUBE: District line, Richmond overground train

Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: The Royal Botanic Gardens provides a very romantic backdrop winter or summer as you stroll around the tropical glasshouses hand in hand.

Emma's expert tip: If you want to lengthen the day here, take a walk along the river to Richmond, shop along Richmond high street, sip a glass of sparkling wine by the river, or walk just a bit further to Petersham Nurseries and Richmond Park, complete with deer and a lot more green space to enjoy.

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Enthusiasts of English literature find much to appreciate in this fine home, the only one of Charles Dickens' residences still remaining. "Oliver Twist" and "Nicholas Nickleby" were penned here, and visitors can examine photographs and other items left by the renowned author. Much of the house has been restored to its original appearance, which has led Simon Callow, the renowned British actor, to declare that "Dicken's presence is remarkably strong here" and he should know as he has had to channel the writer several times in his own work, when bringing his characters to life on stage or screen. TUBE: Chancery Lane

Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: If romantic or historic literature is your thing, then you will find the Charles Dickens Museum very romantic.

Emma's expert tip: The Charles Dickens museum is housed in one of the writer's London homes, and has just been beautifully restored.

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Sited on what was originally the location of a Roman residence, this Gothic cathedral was built in the 15th century. In fact, a church has been on the site for hundreds of years. During its long history, Southwark was attended by Chaucer, Shakespeare, James I of Scotland, and John Harvard, founder of Harvard University. In the 20th century, the church was completely restored, and it's still an active parish today. Exhibits charting the cathedral's history are available for viewing. This is also a beautiful Church for the carol service and Midnight mass when the whole Cathedral is lit with candles. Nearby, you can see lots of London's historic links to the docks and the sea, and it's great to combine it with a walk along the South Bank, and a visit for food to nearby Borough market. TUBE: London Bridge

Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Southwark Cathedral is a very romantic space and in the middle of a long romantic walk along the South Bank.

Emma's expert tip: Combine a visit here, with a stop off for food and drink at brilliant Borough market, at its feet, and then a lovely walk along the South Bank, taking in London's historic connection to its river, history and the rest of the world.

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Camden Town


London Zoo may have been open for 180 years, but its policy of survival through evolution, especially in the context of a growing awareness of animal rights, has paid off. This is a zoo you can visit with a clear conscience. Everything you'd expect (and much that you wouldn't) is on view here, but the absolute star attraction is the Gorilla Kingdom, where you can get dramatically close to the Tony Sopranos of the jungle. Or watch the Penguins slip, slide and entertain you as they waddle across their enclosure in Charlie Chaplin style. The elephant house is warm and smells of dung and straw but those wise beasts with their big eyes will charm even the hardest of hearts, when there's a baby in residence, even better. TUBE: Camden Town

Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: London Zoo likes to advertise its romantic side and there are lots of happy couples and babies born there if that floats your boat.

Emma's expert tip: Children love the nocturnal house where darkness reigns and the animals big eyes glow at you through the gloom.

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London offers many places to catch great panoramas of the skyline and the Thames, but this attraction is one of the best. Run by British Airways, the Eye opened to great acclaim at the start of the new millennium; well-managed ticketing ensures that the wait is never more than a half-hour, despite the Eye's overwhelming popularity. The 30-minute guided "flight" reaches a peak of 450 feet (it's the tallest observation wheel in the world) and offers panoramic views. During the day, guides point out all the sights within a 25-mile radius, giving folks a good introduction to the city's layout. At night, when London is lit up, the view is even more amazing, and romantic. A must-see. If you purchase a Fast Track ticket in advance (on-line or via phone), you can skip the usually lengthy queues. TUBE: Waterloo

Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: There is something very romantic about looking down upon London from above, holding hands in a pod as you catch the panorama.

Emma's expert tip: Book ahead, then afterwards, walk across Westminster Bridge to look at the Houses of Parliament, the Cabinet War Rooms, Whitehall, and number 10 Downing Street, the heart of the British Establishment.

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Hampstead Heath is a sprawling, tree-lined area popular with walkers, joggers, and sports enthusiasts. Surrounded by attractive residential areas, the Heath includes several widely spaced hills that often host concerts, lakeside events, and tours. The green space is also home to Kenwood House, which boasts a large collection of paintings and fine furnishings and has been the scene for many a film including Notting Hill and several other films involving either Richard Curtis or Jane Austen. A bit out of the centre of town, but worth the trip, particularly for special events like the firework concerts in the summer, just pack a romantic picnic and take your loved one up there for the perfect romantic London summer evening. TUBE: Hampstead

Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Hampstead Heath is extremely romantic at any time of the year, for a walk, a picnic, or a run. Lots to see and do.

Emma's expert tip: In summer, Hampstead Heath hosts great firework concerts so pack a picnic and prepare for a super romantic evening with your partner.

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Meet Emma Wallis

London gives Emma a warm fuzzy feeling every time she gets back to her home city. As a writer and broadcaster she travels extensively round Europe and the world, but is always happy to return to...  More About Emma

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