If you’re all about the romance on Valentine’s Day but can’t bring yourself to spend a fortune on an over-priced lunch or dinner on Sunday then you’re going to love this list of free and affordable things to do on Valentine’s Day in Cape Town and Johannesburg! From a picnic in the gardens to hiking, star gazing and more there’s something for every type of couple on this list.

Cape Town

Have a picnic at The Company’s Garden

Cost: It’s free to visit
Address: 19 Queen Victoria Street, Cape Town

Company Garden
Situated in the city centre of Cape Town, The Company’s Garden is the perfect spot for a quiet picnic with your special someone. Bring a blanket and some nibbles and spend Valentine’s Day afternoon relaxing in the shade of tree, while you soak up breathtaking views of the mountain and watch the world go by. We love this spot because it’s so peaceful and even though it’s smack-bang in the middle of the city you can hear little but birds cheeping and kids playing when surrounded by the trees of the garden. Once you’re done chilling out, take a walk around the garden to explore the rose garden and aviary and meet the cheeky squirrels.

Explore the Helderberg Nature Reserve

Cost: R20 for adults, R10 for students, R10 for pensioners, R10 per vehicle
Address: Corner Helderberg Nature Reserve Road/Verster Avenue, Jeep Trail, Helderberg Rural

Helderberg nature reserve

Picture credit: Geoffrey Chisnall

If you and your Valentine are the outdoorsy types then you can’t go wrong with a visit to the Helderberg Nature Reserve. Located in Somerset West, this serene spot is the ideal place to take a break from urban life and it’s just a short drive from Cape Town! Pack a picnic and spend your day exploring the plant herbarium, Guinea Gift Shop, environmental education centre, and lush lawns of the picnic area. Once you’re done chowing down you can also go bird watching, or head out for a slow walk or a hike on the many hiking trails.

Take a tour of the Diamond Museum

Cost: R50 per person
Address: Clock Tower, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town

Diamond Museum

If you’re getting ready to tie the knot then why not seal the deal with a visit to the Shimanksy Diamond Museum in Cape Town. This unique museum offers visitors great insight into the South African diamond mining industry and houses millions of Rands worth of diamonds. Learn all about the history of the precious gem and find out how diamonds became a girl’s best friend. Great tip for the men out there who are preparing to pop the question – nothing ends off a romantic day out like a trip to the diamond museum! It’s also the ideal spot to get down on one knee and make it official (wink wink).

Enjoy dinner and a show at The Labia Theatre

Cost: R40 per person
Address: 68 Orange Street, Gardens, Cape Town

Labia Theatre

Spend an evening soaking up some old movie theatre charm at the Labia Theatre in Cape Town. The spot was originally an Italian embassy ballroom and these days it’s known as the oldest independent art cinema in South Africa. The Labia screens a wide range of movies including arthouse films and big box office releases. The theatre also offers dinner and a movie specials including Fish & chips for 2 at Ocean Basket Kloof Street and a movie for R110 per couple on Monday nights and 2 pizzas and movie tickets at Diva Cafė Ristorante for R99 per couple from Wednesday to Sunday. Vouchers must be purchased at the restaurant and thereafter exchanged at box office for movie tickets. For more information visit the Labia website.

Have a picnic on Signal Hill

Cost: It’s free to picnic on the hill
Address: Signal Hill, Cape Town

signal hill Cape Town

This unique hilltop in Cape Town overlooks the city and offers breathtaking views of Cape Town – especially at sunset! Pack a picnic basket and take a quick drive to the top and toast to the good life as you watch the sun set over the city. Just make sure you get there early to reserve your spot as we’re sure this will be a popular place on Valentine’s Day! You could also go for a lunchtime picnic and then go for a walk up the mountain for a more active date.

Go stargazing at The Planetarium in Cape Town

Cost: R40 per person
Address: 25 Queen Victoria Street, Cape Town

the planeterium

Iziko’s popular “theatre of stars” is one of only two planetaria in South Africa and offers visitors the ultimate armchair travel experience. The unique celestial theatre in the round uses a top notch star machine and multiple projectors to transport the audience through the wonders of the universe. The best thing about this venue is that it’s open no matter the weather outside! Inside the domed auditorium, the night sky is recreated, so no matter the weather the Planetarium sky is always clear. Shows take place daily – Monday to Friday shows at 14:00; Tuesday evening show at 20:00 and Saturday and Sunday shows at 12:00, 13:00 and 14:30.

Go rose picking at Chart Farm

Cost: Rose picking R5 per stem (pick your own) and R3 a stem on Sundays (pick your own).
Address: Chart Farm, Klaassens Road, Wynberg Park, Wynberg, Cape Town

chart farm

Nothing says; “I love you” like a bunch or freshly picked roses. Chart Farm boasts a wide variety of roses for flower lovers to pick and enjoy at home. Their garden is a sea of beautiful colours and the roses here are always in full bloom! Head through with your special someone for lunch at the Chart Farm coffee shop and then spend the afternoon picking your favourite blooms to display at home. Click here for more information.

Johannesburg

Relax at Zoo Lake

Cost: Free to visit!
Address: Corner of Jan Smuts Avenue and West World Street, Parkview, Johannesburg

Zoo lake

Pack your picnic basket, a blanket and head to Zoo Lake for a lunch to remember by the lake. Pick a shady spot under a tree and then spend your time chatting, laughing and enjoying each other’s company. Once you’re done with lunch spend some time enjoying the beauty of the gardens, it takes roughly one to two hours to walk around the lake, depending on the route you take, or head to the lake bed to feed the ducks. The possibilities are endless!

Hold hands while skating at Northgate Ice Rink

Cost: R60 per person | Skate hire: R25
Address: Northumberland Avenue & Olievenhout Avenue, Johannesburg

Northgate ice rink

The ice rink at Northgate Shopping Centre is the ideal place to cool down this Valentine’s Day. Head through for an evening session from 19:30 – 22:30 for a classic romantic date. This is the perfect date for new and long-term couples and you could start the night off with a relaxed dinner at the mall before heading to the ice rink for some exercise. Click here for more information.

Get active at Melville Koppies Reserve

Cost: Free to visit!
Address: Judith Road, Emmarentia, Johannesburg

Melville Koppies

If you and your Valentine love doing anything active and outdoors then a hike at The Melville Koppies will be right up your alley. Melville Koppies East is open to the public daily and is a great place to enjoy the sweeping views of northern suburbs of Joburg all the way to the Magaliesberg. Secure parking is available at Kloof Road off 7th Avenue, Melville.

Cheers to love at Northcliff Hill

Cost: It’s free to visit!
Adress: 1391 Roodeberg Avenue, Johannesburg

Northcliff Hill

Picture credit: MEN Media

If you’re looking for a romantic place to have sundowners then Northcliff Hill is just the place! Northcliff Hill is the second-highest point in Johannesburg and sitting up on this hill you can take in the expansive, far-stretching views of the leafy northern suburbs. Pack a picnic basket and a bottle of champagne and enjoy each other’s company before heading home for a romantic dinner by candlelight.

Have a picnic at the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens

Cost: Entry is free!
Adress: Olifants Road, Emmarentia, Johannesburg

Johannesburg botanical gardens
The Johannesburg Botanical Garden is a popular spot for picnickers – especially picnickers looking for a spot for a quiet date. Bring a blanket and a picnic basket and while away the afternoon with your special someone. With over 30 000 trees, a large rose garden, and plenty of space to relax and stroll the gardens are the ideal place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city on Valentine’s Day.

Take a lift to the ‘Top of Africa’ at the Carlton Centre

Cost: Adults: R15 per person
Address: 150 Commissioner Street, Johannesburg

carlton centre

At 223 metres, the view from the 50th floor of the Carlton Centre is one of the most unique in South Africa. Take in the uninterrupted views of the city and beyond from one of the tallest buildings in Africa. If you want a bird’s- eye view of Joburg then there’s no doubt that the Carlton Centre is the place to go! The building has a rich history in South Africa and was once the go-to place for the rich and famous to shop up a storm. The building is open from 09:00 – 14:00 on Sundays and is the perfect start or finish to any romantic date.