It you’ve heard that Cape Town, South Africa is one of the most beautiful parts of the country to explore, you’ve heard right. There’s good reason for the thousand of tourists that flock here every year.
From the incredible mountain ranges down to the sparkling coast, whatever you’re into, the Mother City can offer.
Now, if you’ve ever seen a postcard of South Africa, or watched the movie Invictus, you know that Table Mountain is your priority. If you do nothing else, do that. But once you’ve taken a swing at the big guns (Table Mountain, Robben Island, the V&A Waterfront and, of course, the beach), here are a few things I recommend you try next:
Take the bus to Hout Bay
The drive is scenic, the beach is exquisite, and the you can’t beat the view. There are a couple of museums on offer, as well as some old Dutch forts and hiking trails in the surrounding mountains. If that all gets a bit much, you can retreat to The Mariner’s Wharf for a merry mermaid and the best seafood of your life.
Visit the vineyards
You’ll need to have, borrow or rent a car to get there, but the drive out towards Franschoek is spectacular. Most of the vineyards offer wine tasting packages, and a couple have restaurants with a full menu. Wine from South Africa’s Western Cape is up there with Italian wine and German beer. They know what they’re doing.
The posher the vineyard, the earlier you’ll need to book. And they’ll throw a little rudeness into the price. Try for the ones that look a little more homely: you can just show up, they’ll let you sit and enjoy the scenery a bit longer, and they tend to be more generous with the cheeses.
Take a Hike
This really is the best way to experience Africa. You can’t quite wrap your head around the terrain, vegetation and wildlife until it’s right there in front of you. Lion’s Head is a very popular one, and not too challenging.
There are hundreds of walks to choose from, but make sure you pack a hat, some sun cream, and lots of water. Start early in the morning, to miss the worst of the heat.
And speaking of heat, don’t drop anything on the trails or into the bush. Fire is a huge problem in the Western Cape. You don’t want to be the guy that burns down Table Mountain, even if it does get you your own Wikipedia page.
Have a coffee
If you like your coffee handpicked at midnight by virginal woodpeckers, or if you’re below the age of 30 and have ever un-ironically owned a typewriter, Cape Town will be your happy place. I don’t know how it happened, but somewhere between my first and second visits, the hipsters arrived and they took control.
There really are some excellent restaurants and coffee shops in town, especially in the civic centre and out towards Greenpoint. Jarryd’s, Clarke’s, and Dapper are all very popular, and Truth Cafe was voted the #1 coffee shop in the world by The Telegraph. (Although that last one comes with waiters dressed up in Steampunk, which is a step too far for me).
This is a hidden gem: an exhibition space that hosts some really cool expos and art showings. Last time I was in town, they were busy with The Terracotta Army and the First Emperor of China, and it was mind blowing. And if you walk a little further up, you’ll find a free art gallery just before you get to the Wheel.
Soak up some Culture
From theatres to sports grounds, there’s bound to be something to fill an empty Saturday or a quiet evening. At Cape Town Stadium in Greenpoint you’ll find everything from Rugby and Soccer to Justin Bieber. Newlands is regarded as one of the most beautiful cricket grounds in the world, and the city is teeming with theatres from Kalk Bay to Artscape and the Theatre on the Bay.
Cape Town has never been more equipped for tourism
Whether you need your shot of adrenaline, a bit of sea air, or a few hearty meals near the beach, you’ll find it here. Pack your bags, grab a hat, get on a plane.