Exploring the Mother City
Cosmopolitan Cape Town is quite the oasis if you visit after a few days (or weeks) spent amongst the rugged safari landscapes. It is a diverse, vibrant city that is filled with cool bars, eclectic art galleries and funky cafes, flanked by the beach on one side and the impressive Table Mountain on the other.
The neighbourhoods of Cape Town are quite varied, however one of the safest areas to stay is the trendy Victoria & Alfred Waterfront area. This is a hub of great restaurants, many of which fuse traditional African flavours with other modern cuisines to create a unique and delicious style of cooking that is recognisably from the Western Cape. You’ll find many of the best bars and restaurants in this area – a delicious sushi feast at Willoughby and Co or a luxurious old-fashioned cocktail at Bascule is sure to go down especially well after your more rugged adventures. If you’re feeling particularly indulgent, we’re also slightly obsessed with the incredible seafood on offer at trendy Baia.
As the sun goes down, the party starts in vibrant Cape Town and there are a seemingly endless number of venues ready to welcome you. There’s the Sky Bar at Village Lodge, where you can sip your drink of choice while taking in the quintessential Cape Town view over Table Mountain, or alternatively if you prefer your venues a little more laid back, hit up Alba Lounge for some relaxed beverages and tasty tapas. Of course, if you prefer your reveling a little more raucous there’s plenty of those options too. Near to the Waterfront, our pick is the expansive Shimmy Beach Club. With the lofty aim of being a pool, nightclub, restaurant and beach all rolled into one, it really is a glamorous experience you have to try!
By day, there are many great cafes for a late brunch and invigorating juice (especially if you’re sporting a headache after your night out at the Waterfront). Half the fun is stumbling upon one that takes your fancy, however we love Tasha’s and the Chef’s Warehouse and Canteen if you’re not sure where to start. We'd also highly recommend the food market if you're not sure what you fancy - not only is it well priced but the food is pretty great and there's lots of variety to choose from.
Once you’ve checked out the Cape Town nightlife and gorged yourself on delicious, multicultural cuisine, it’s time to check out the attractions within and around the city. There’s certainly no shortage of them!
Cape Town is a city surrounded by the beach on one side and a mountain on the other – so you can’t leave without checking them both out. Nearby, you can try your hand at paragliding or for something a bit more sedate, check out the Camps Bay for a relaxed afternoon on the beach with some lovely cocktail bars on the beach road to quench every thirst!
If one beach isn't enough, you'll be spoiled for choice with the beautiful beaches of Cape Town, with the beautiful Clifton Beaches and Hawston Beach.There’s also the Muizenberg Beach, which features bright and colourful beach houses that make for a great view or backdrop for photographs. Even on a cloudy day it is a fun place to visit!
To conquer Table Mountain, you can either take a hiking trail such as Kloof Corner to the top, or alternatively admit defeat and jump aboard the Cable Car for the view without the sore legs! Either way, the view from the top over Cape Town is simply stunning and an absolute must-do in the city. For the very daring, you can even abseil to the bottom for an entirely different way of getting of getting back down!
The next must-do attraction is Robben Island, the island where ‘Madiba’, Nelson Mandela, was imprisoned for a gruelling 27 years before he was eventually released. There are several ferry trips daily so be sure to plan ahead and leave a few hours to discover the island and its history. To learn more about South Africa’s dark apartheid history, a visit to the District Six Museum is also informative and interesting.
Cape Town boasts many beautiful green spaces so if you’re looking for some fresh air in the city, you’re in luck! A favourite is Kirstenbosch National Botanic Gardens, where you'll find many relaxing trails, or it’s a great place to just take a book and a picnic and relax for an afternoon in the shade of Table Mountain (yeah, it’s pretty hard to get away from in Cape Town).
A little outside of Cape Town is Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope, situated in the vast reaching Table Mountain National Park and features a gorgeous lookout over the cragged coast, and the most Southwestern point of the African continent. There’s also a picturesque lighthouse that once kept sailors safe as they navigated the rocky coasts. This is well worth a day trip out of the city and usually includes a drive via one of the most scenic routes in the world, as well as a stop at Boulders Bay which may not be the most spectacular beach in Cape Town, but the adorable penguins that live there more than make up for it!
To discover even more of what Cape Town has to offer, there’s a fun hop on hop off bus which will give you a good overview and orientation of the city and its major highlights. You might even find some hidden gems that you can return to later. There's even a "wine route" that you can join which takes you through one of the nearest wine regions to the centre of the city, Constantia, allowing you to enjoy as much wine as you want without worrying about the drive!
If you do enjoy a glass of wine or two and want to see more of the famous wine regions, check out our blog on exploring the nearby Stellenbosch where we would highly recommend a trip with Wine Flies to get the most out of your day, or alternatively head to Franschhoek and join the Wine Tram, an alternative hop on hop off experience which is a lot of fun!
All in all, there’s certainly no shortage of things to keep you busy in Cape Town, so put the safari clothes away and dive into this metropolitan hub!