These are the six most romantic places in Durham to visit for a first date

Helping you to become part of the 70 per cent of cuffed students

As the clock sneaks back and steals an hour of light from our day, the fizzing excitement of a new year is paralysed quite suddenly, and a more brooding air settles in Durham. Schedules begin to fill rapidly and summative deadlines glare at us from the dark distance.

What better way to brighten up the autumn afternoons or evenings than with the company of prospective partner, someone from Hinge, perhaps, who caught your eye, or even a budding romance that has yet to have any label?

You ask them on a first date, and now it’s up to you to choose where to go.

I think it is time to remove the stilted panic and unnecessary fretting that surrounds the first date. Durham has an array of romantic places to offer so it’s perhaps not a complete surprise that The Independent once claimed that just over 70 per cent of Durham students will marry each other. Whether you would like to get conversation flowing like wine at dinner, or would like a lighter chit-chat by the river, the places listed below will hopefully give you a range of first date ideas for this autumn, and you can find the one that suits you.

Bistro Italiano

Whether I am listing places alphabetically or to my own preferences, Bistro Italiano takes first place.

This beautiful, cosy, softly lit restaurant practically sponsors my current relationship; the saxophone rendition of Another Day in Paradise that played from the speakers during my first date here certainly cemented that. The quintessential spot for Italian dining in Durham is of course La Spaghettata, but for only a little difference in price and a breezy walk up Claypath, this hidden gem is perfect for a quiet and intimate dinner as well as easy conversation …but perhaps lay off the spaghetti for the time being.

La Spaghettata

What to say about Spags that hasn’t been said already?

It’s certainly a safe bet for a first date. Relaxed, an open atmosphere and candlelit. Great food, even greater wine (from what I slightly remember, the sleepy Spags wine deal really is on par with the Woodgate). The real joy of Spags is telling your mates that you went there, so a first date there might seem a bit cliché. But hey, it’s all part of the Durham experience.


It’s all in the name.

Nestled in the Elvet area, Zen is a niche choice for a first date and is on the fancier side. Nevertheless, you are guaranteed not only a delicious dining experience for either lunch or dinner, but also a cheeky ten percent student discount. For aesthetics, Zen gets a gold star. They are simply unrivalled. The pink hanging blossoms and the warm mood lighting bathes the restaurant in a soothing aura, perfect for calming the first date nerves!

Lane 7

If fine dining is too daunting for you, bowling at Lane 7 is a less intense and more playful first date idea that will certainly break the ice! Lane 7 has an alternative, funky atmosphere, inviting “friendly” competition and barrels of laughs. But, this isn’t Wii Bowling, and so I’d recommend keeping the bumpers up. It can get intense. Now that the game of bowling has dispelled the nerves, you can get a drink at the Lane 7 bar, play some arcade games, or even head to Spoons nearby. It’s up to you! But whoever lost at bowling has to pay…surely?


I like the view. You’re my best view.

Riverview is perfect for a wholesome first date in a more casual scene where you’re less in the spotlight and in a more open and relaxed environment. Whether you choose Riverview for a quick coffee, brunch or to satiate your sweet tooth, the real allure is its location in the heart of Durham and its terrace and window seats which offer a serene view of the river. Truly, it does what it says on the tin.

A River Walk

The romantic poets would approve.

I once read someone say that Durham in autumn is like living inside of a John Keat’s poem, so what can be possibly more romantic than a walk by the river in a reverie of falling leaves? It is simple. It is charming. Especially alongside the prospect of walking off the stack of Riverview pancakes you have just devoured or perhaps going for a coffee or hot chocolate to warm up afterwards. It can get quite nippy.

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