Ideas for everyday living

Six inspiring date ideas for under £20

A successful date needs a large budget to impress – or does it? Check out our ideas for day and night, all for £20 or less.

Research from 2021 found that the cost of a single date night in one of the UK’s cities will set you back at least £72 – and more than £100 if you’re in London. Ouch. But we’ve discovered that you can do it for a lot less.

A little bit of thought and a few special touches will often mean more than expensive roses and a table at a posh restaurant. So, if you’re willing to think outside the box, there are plenty of savvy ways to woo the object of your desires for £20 or under, whether for a first date or to keep the spark alive in a long-term relationship.

Online cooking class

Cost: Free, plus the cost of ingredients
Best for: Adding spice to a long-term relationship

Cooking a romantic meal with your other half can be way more fun than simply booking a table somewhere. Roll your sleeves up, learn some new skills and even if it goes a bit wrong, at least you’ll have something to laugh about. In-person cooking classes can be pricey. A masterclass for two will set you back more than £100. But there are lots of more affordable options you can try out from the comfort of your own home.

You can watch free online cooking classes on homemadecooking.com, where you can learn to prepare anything from vegetable ramen to cider braised chicken. Sign up to cook along live or watch recorded sessions back at your own leisure. All you’ll need to pay for is the ingredients, and choosing a veggie meal option will help to keep costs low.

Play tennis together

Cost: Free, plus £10 for rackets
Best for: Raising your heart rate

Fitness lovers can get the blood flowing with an active outdoor date by booking in a session of outdoor tennis. The cost of hiring a court varies, but you can pay an average of £15 per hour in many parts of the country, and up to £60 for an indoor slot in a big city. Seriously pricey. The good news is that you can find outdoor tennis courts and join in with free sessions if you use the aptly named Tennis For Free.

Tennis For Free runs inclusive, mass-participation, coach-led sessions at public parks all over the country, completely free. You’ll need rackets, but you can buy a basic set for two for as little as £10 from Argos. A tennis date is a fun way to get your pulse racing with the object of your desire while bonding over learning a new skill together. Use the rest of your £20 budget to treat your date to a coffee after your game. You’re sure to have worked up a thirst.

Romantic walking tour

Cost: Free or low cost
Best for: Getting to know each other

A long walk as a first date has huge potential for the possibility of romance, with plenty of chances to chat and get to know each other. Up the stakes and make your walk even more special with an expert guide to help you see your city or town through fresh eyes, without the need to take an expensive train to a cultural hotspot.

On Freetour.com you can find free walking tours across the country that take you around heritage sights and hidden gems where you live. Or, if you want something for just the two of you, download a free walking tour using the VoiceMap app, where you can find Harry Potter-themed walks around Edinburgh and a royal tour around Windsor, among others.

All tours are narrated by expert guides, journalists, novelists and filmmakers. Some guides are free, while others have a small charge.

Local live events

Cost: Free
Best for: Entertainment enthusiasts

There’s nothing quite like the buzz of seeing live music, theatre or comedy – the atmosphere is electric and the memories are the kind that tend to stay with you. Live events are the perfect setting for a fun, unique date night, but tickets to gigs and plays can easily reach eye-watering territory. However, if you’re willing to keep a look out and be flexible on dates, there are free events happening all over the country that will keep you in your other half’s good books.

Check out the free listings on Data Thistle – whether it’s an orchestral concert in Leicester, a folk evening in Newcastle or DJs in Brighton (and the chance to try spinning records yourself), there’s truly something for everyone. Another fantastic resource is Eventbrite. Check out its free listings, which could also make for memorable dates.

Museum dates with a difference

Cost: Free or low cost, plus refreshments
Best for: Revealing your quirky (but cool) side

You may already know that many UK museums are free to enter, but ancient paintings and statues aren’t everyone’s jam. However, if you look a little harder, museum visits can be much more surprising and unique than you think.

Whether it's Teapot Island in Kent, the British Lawnmower Museum in Stockport, Cuckooland Museum in Cheshire or Derwent Pencil Museum in the Lake District, there are some incredibly fun and quirky exhibitions that will be sure to delight your date.

There’s even an exhibition of dog memorials in the V&A in London and The Bubblecar Museum in Langrick, Lincolnshire, which is dedicated to the world’s tiniest cars. To find an unusual museum near you, check out this comprehensive list and get your next date booked in.

Bowling and a drink

Cost: £10 each
Best for: Competitive couples, but be gracious if you lose!

Bowling is a perfect activity for a date, particularly when you’re still getting to know each other. From the comedy shoes to the flirty tension of being in competition, you’ll be having a ball in no time.

The average cost of a single game of bowling for an adult is around £8 each, which can quickly add up if you want to make an evening of it, but this affordable offering at Tenpin will certainly sweeten the deal. On Thursdays, you can play two games and enjoy an alcoholic or soft drink for just £10 per person. Or you can forgo the drink and choose a burger and chips meal instead for the same price. With locations up and down the country, there’ll almost certainly be a venue close enough for your next date night.

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Natalie Morris

Natalie is a journalist covering lifestyle, culture, race and identity. She’s also the author of Mixed/Other.

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