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By Penelope Bielckus (The Flyaway Girl)

Valentine’s Day is that wonderful day of the year where couples get even more loved up and singletons aim to avoid anywhere that might be full of cutesy couples on the 14th. It’s also (in)conveniently only two months after Christmas and New Year’s, so whether you’re trying to save those pennies or if you want to splurge, there are a whole lot of different things you can do to make the day special.

Whether you have been married for years, have only recently entered into a relationship (ah, young love), or are single and ready to mingle, there is always a way to celebrate the international day of amor. While Valentine’s Day is the ‘big day’ to do something fancy or go all out, you can also enjoy any of these date night ideas at any point during the year (and some are possibly even better during the warmer, summer months).

Many of the date night ideas below are also perfect for a Galentine’s (celebrating friendship between your gal pals) or whatever the guy equivalent of that is called (Man-entine’s? Lad-entine’s?).

A romantic dinner out is a classic Valentine’s Day date and for good reason! Who doesn’t like a little bit of wining and dining? If you and your partner are a big fan of a meaty platter (and no, that’s not an innuendo) then Gauchos Steakhouse is the perfect place to chow on some excellent steak. For that romantic sharing option, the Parillada platter with multiple meats involved is the perfect main course. We’ll leave the dessert to you, of course.

What says love better than scones with clotted cream?

If steak doesn’t whet your appetite so much, maybe an extensive wine selection and a whole host of delicious dishes will. My Wines, located down at Chatham Counterguard, is easily one of my top places in Gibraltar for wine. Their selection of over 500 wines covers a wide variety of countries and regions, so whether you’re a fan of a French Chardonnay, a New Zealand Pinot Gris or a Spanish Rioja then they will definitely have the perfect wine for you and your partner.

For those who have a sweet tooth, head up to the The Rock Hotel and indulge in a (literally) high tea, served as you enjoy the spectacular views over Gibraltar. What says love better than scones with clotted cream? Probably a few things, but it’s a pretty good message nevertheless.

Valentine’s Day also really doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive – after all, it really should be all about spending time with the one you love (cue a chorus of ‘aww’s). Head to The Gin & Wine Club at Chatham Counterguard for a tipple for two (obviously great for gin lovers but they also make an amazing rum cocktail called ‘Numb Rum’).

For those who aren’t feeling the tipple but would prefer a caffeine boost, head to the Top of the Rock Cafe for a coffee with a view. Move in nice and close to your SO and take in the stunning views over Gibraltar as you enjoy your beverage. It’s also a great chance to play tourist in your own backyard as you can take the Cable Car up to the top and attempt to avoid getting vertigo on the Skywalk.

This is sure to get the brain cogs turning.

Since this is a round-up of some very different date ideas, there had to be some more unique ones involved. If you and your partner are into logic and puzzles (or just want to test if you can avoid bickering), why not head to the Rock Escape Rooms and see if you can solve murder mystery? Whether you’re an escape room aficionado or a complete newbie, this is sure to get the brain cogs turning and will definitely be a memorable Valentine’s Day date.

The next idea is not for the budget-conscious, and also not for those who are scared of flying. However, if you’ve got the cash to splash and don’t mind heights and flying machines, a helicopter tour of Gibraltar (or even across to Africa) is an epic way to wow your date for Valentine’s Day. This is truly an incredible way of seeing Gibraltar from a totally different viewpoint! Prices start at £150 per person for a shared flight or £800 for up to four people (double date anyone?) for a private flight with GibHeli.

For some people, ‘dinner and a movie’ is the ultimate cliché Valentine’s Day date. If you dislike a cliché and want to organise something your date definitely won’t forget in a hurry, consider something a little more adventurous. How does via ferrata up some impressive rocks in Ronda sound? If you’re wondering what via ferrata even is, it’s a form of rock climbing involving a steel cable that runs along a route with iron rungs affixed to the rock that climbers use as an aid as they ascend. In2Adventures offers a selection of adventurous activities including via ferrata and canyoning that will pique the interest of any adrenaline junkie.

If you prefer the sea to land and an active date sounds like fun, stand up paddle boarding (SUP) can be a lot of fun. It’s also highly entertaining when your partner/friend/whoever you are taking on a Valentine’s date accidentally falls in…

These more adventurous options generally take you out of Gibraltar for the day (aside from SUP), which leads into the next (and my favourite) date ideas. While a staycation can be an amazing way to spend Valentine’s Day (did someone say yacht hotel?), there are so many beautiful places just a stone’s throw from Gibraltar and easily accessible by car and even by public transport.

Three destinations that are perfect for a little Valentine’s Day getaway are beautiful Estepona, with her whitewashed, historic centre and pueblo charm, the magical Vejer de la Frontera and the chic, foodie heaven of Marbella.

For those who love wandering small towns and enjoy discovering architectural gems, Estepona and Vejer de la Frontera are perfect options for your getaway. Since it’s Valentine’s after all, the romantic legend linked to Vejer de la Frontera is a definite reason to adventure to this beautiful pueblo blanco.

According to legend, the Moroccan Emir Ali Ben Rachid fell in love with an Andalusian girl named Zhora while in the pueblo of Vejer da la Frontera. When Vejer was reconquered by Spain in the 13th century the couple – who were now married – had to escape to Morocco as Moors were exiled from the town. The legend goes that Zhora was so sad that she would never find another village as beautiful as her home so the Emir, in order to cheer up his beloved, tried to recreate a town similar to Vejer with irregular streets and painted houses. The town he founded as a result is the beautiful blue town of Chefchaouen!

Whether you believe the legend of not (it is most definitely true that he founded the town of Chefchaouen, but the romantic side of the legend is more debatable), it really does play on the romance of the town of Vejer de la Frontera. You can meander down the whitewashed streets, hand in hand with your beloved and imagining that they might, someday, build you a beautiful town of your own. A girl can dream, right?

If you’re more into beachfront resorts, Michelin starred restaurants and feeling like you’re one of the rich and famous, then Marbella with its Golden Mile is an ideal escape from the day-to-day. Treat your Valentine to a walk along the promenade, a wander in La Alameda Park or even go and explore some of the art galleries or museums.

And there you have it – from the classic dinner date to the less classic canyoning or stand up paddle-boarding, there is truly a Valentine’s Day idea for everyone (both for star-crossed lovers and proud singletons). Put the overpriced chocolates down and choose a memorable date night to remember!

Follow Penelope’s travels on Instagram: @the_flyaway_girl or visit www.theflyawaygirl.com.

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