When I arrived to Cape Town as a first-time visitor, I was not quite ready for what was about to unfold before my eyes: a thrilling overplay of cultural, natural and gastronomical wonders, shadowed by Table Mountain. The majestic mountain range is the clear landmark of this buzzing city, and I promise you I never got bored of admiring the striking sight. Known as the “Mother City”, Cape Town offers you capsules of amazement under the African sun, and perhaps the hardest part is prioritising your time so to explore all its wonders. I have listed my must see and do when in this South African metropole, so sit back and have a “lekker” time!
Best Things to do in Cape Town
Cape Town offers amazing activities where you can have fun while appreciating the history and traditions of this great city!
Walk up Lion’s Head
One of the best features of Cape Town is the proximity to nature, and you will not regret taking a walk up Lion’s Head. If you stay in town, it is less than a R40 taxi drive to the bottom of the mountain. While your fitness level will determine your timing, on average it takes 45 minutes to walk up to the top. The route is highly recommended for sunrise or sunset during the summer season, and remember to pack sunscreen, water and some snacks for the top.
African Contemporary Art at the ZEITZ Mocaa
The ZEITZ Mocaa is the first museum of Contemporary African Art in Africa. What was once an unused concrete grain silo, was magically transformed into an edgy museum by British Architect Thomas Heatherwick, who designed the renovations in respect of the site’s history and surroundings. German entrepreneur Jochen Zeitz partnered by housing his collection of contemporary African art in the 100 galleries. Exploring the 9-storey museum, dubbed “Africa’s Tate Modern”, is tiring, but there are great eateries close by, in the silos district. Don’t rush through the gift shop!
Wine Tasting in Constantia
Cape Town has its very own wine route, tucked away in the city’s green belt, Constantia, a beautiful twenty minute drive from the city centre. The route, which is an easy morning or day trip, includes 8 wine estates that enjoy a rich winemaking history that goes back to 1600s. The farms are open for wine tasting, wine sales, and all boast exquisite food menus.
Best Places to Eat in Cape Town
Where to begin? Here my top 3 restaurants to add to your list!
Eat Malay Curry in Bo Kaap
Bo Kaap was the first muslim settlement in Cape Town, and it is now distinguished by its brightly painted houses, named 4th on world’s most colourful cities list. It is located on the slopes of Signal Hill in the city bowl, and it is still the historical centre of Cape Malay culture in Cape Town. Its cuisine is curry inspired and it can be best appreciated at Bo-Kaap Kombuis (Bo-Kaap Kitchen), where you will be introduced you to sensational dishes, with a breathtaking view over the City centre. It is open for lunch and dinner with vegetarian options available.
Fish & Chips at Lusitania
Nothing screams of sunny summer days like a golden Fish & Chips platter! Lusitania Fisheries in De Waterkant is the fish & chips landmark in the city, and the lunchtime queue is a testament to it. This delicacy comes with hand-cut slap chips (South African slang for sloppy french fry). Best tasted with a sprinkle (or more) of salt and vinegar.
Pizza in Cape Town Bocca
Since I am Italian, the search for the best pizza is an instinct, a pull that drives me wherever I go. I am delighted to announce that while competition in Cape Town was fierce, Bocca was the supreme winner. Located on the corner of Bree Street and Wale Street, Bocca has informal settings, with a contemporary terrace overlooking the buzzing city bowl, while the pizza oven is at work inside. The dough is just perfect, with a crunchy crust and a delicious tomato sauce. Italian approved!
Top Secret Beaches in Cape Town
Have you ever envisioned yourself lounging on a long, sandy beach with clear blue waters and mountain sight behind you? You are in the right place! While I love beach adventures, I enjoy the more secluded spots, where you can appreciate nature in all its beauty. My three top beaches are as follows.
Driving from Camps Bay to Llandudno, you will find Cozy Bay on your right hand side, with comfy but limited parking. You can get a taste of its beauty as soon as you get out of the car, as this is a corner of paradise. When walking down, you can turn left into a petite beach, sheltered by big boulders; if you don’t mind rock hopping, go to your right and put down your bags wherever it feels right!
Tucked away off Victoria Road in Camps Bay, Bakoven is strictly for beach connoisseurs who love lounging on rocks and dive into the ocean. This is a five star beach that will also afford you privacy from the crowded Clifton beaches nearby.
This is the best hang out beach in Sea Point, with a mixed crowd that adds to its peculiar flavour. Saunders has a tidal pool and lovely spots you can jump off for a fresh dip in the ocean. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll be able to catch the informal musicians that get together by sunset to welcome the evening in.
Top Bars in Cape Town
While the nightlife in Cape Town will have you bar hopping, please make sure to visit my top two spots.
The Gin Bar
The Gin Bar is located in a secret courtyard behind Honest Cafe’ on Wale Street. Get ready to taste the house gin and tonics (Head, Hope, Heart, Ambition and Soul), which feature the best of the local gins and botanicals. Private gin tastings can be arranged.
Roxy’s on Wandel Street is an institution in Cape Town, located in the quirkiest square of the city, Dunkley Square. The bar is located in a two storey Victorian Building and it is very popular for locals to catch the happy hour on selected beers with a game of pool. Roxy’s is open until late and it has a menu for dinner and early morning snacks. The vibe makes the bar a must-visit in the city.
I wish you a memorable time in Cape Town!