Friendly people, beautiful beaches, great shopping and culture – the Mother City has it all
See and do
Cape Town, or the Mother City, has perhaps one of the most famous natural skylines in the world. With Table Mountain providing a stunning backdrop, the city, its beaches and cultural hotspots beg to be explored.
Going up Table Mountain is a must: you’ll not only have an incredible view of the city, but there are more than 1,500 plant species here, not to mention cute dassies (or rock hyrax) – strange creatures that are actually genetically related to the elephant! Table Mountain Aerial Cableway, Lower Cable Station, Tafelberg Rd. +27 21 424 8181. $21 adult return. On the back slopes of Table Mountain lies another natural wonder: Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. It’s devoted to indigenous flora; visitors can walk, hike or simply chill out with a picnic on its diverse 36 hectares. Summers see Sunday afternoon concerts attracting thousands. Rhodes Drive, Newlands. +27 21 799 8783. $4.40 adult.
While the Atlantic Ocean surrounding Cape Town is icy at best, it doesn’t deter avid beach-goers. Head to Camps Bay or Clifton for some trend-watching, southwards to Muizenberg or Fish Hoek with its slightly warmer waters for family fun or Blouberg to the north for that quintessential view.
If you’re keen on some history, the city centre is the best place, with museums and galleries aplenty. A stroll up vibey Long Street and more sophisticated Kloof Street make for a pleasant day of shopping, gallery-hopping and eating. The burgeoning gritty suburb of Woodstock is seeing a good dose of regeneration, particularly at the Old Biscuit Mill which hosts the perennially popular Saturday Neighbourgoods Market, where you can shop for local produce and nibble to your belly’s content. Old Biscuit Mill, 375 Albert Rd, Woodstock. +27 82 370 4075.
If you’re seeking gourmet fare, Cape Town and the Cape Winelands lead the pack in South Africa’s culinary game. For artisan breads, head to Jason Bakery. But be warned, the bacon croissants are addictive. Cnr Bree & Bloem Sts. +27 21 424 5644.
South Africa is synonymous with good meat, and if you want an experience that’s a cut above your average steakhouse, Carne SA is the place to go. You can feast on a T-bone for two, Karoo lamb or game dishes, prepared in an understated Italian style. 70 Keerom St. +27 21 424 3460.
Another thing you expect on the menu in Cape Town is fish: head to Harbour House for well prepared local specialities. They’ve recently opened a restaurant in the V&A Waterfront, as well as the harbourside favourite in the fishing village of Kalk Bay. V&A Waterfront. +27 21 418 4744. Kalk Bay Harbour. +27 21 788 4133.
For a dose of international flair, Nobu has taken the local restaurant scene by storm with its innovative sushi, subtle Asian fish dishes and dash of South American flavours. The striking modern setting adds to the mood. One & Only Cape Town, Dock Rd, V&A Waterfront. +27 21 431 5111.
If you’re keen on trying new things, the Raw Bar at Bistro Sixteen82 is a great option. Taste some estate wines while digging in to locally inspired ceviche, tartares and carpaccios. For more substantial fare, the bistro menu hits the right notes. Steenberg Estate, Steenberg Rd, Tokai. +27 21 713 2211.
Cape Town’s sunsets over the ocean are simply spectacular, and luckily many bars make the most of the seaside setting. Brand new on the block, Shimmy Beach Club has all the pretty people lounging on white sofas right on the water’s edge, splashing in the pool or putting their feet in the sand under the bar stools. South Arm Rd, V&A Waterfront. +27 21 200 7778. Afterwards head to Trinity, one of Cape Town’s biggest and hottest clubs with three levels, lounges and a roof garden. 15 Bennett St, Green Point. +27 21 418 0624.
If you’re more of a connoisseur than a voyeur, Bascule Bar with its marina setting and more than 400 whiskies will do nicely. Cape Grace Hotel, West Quay Rd, V&A Waterfront. +27 21 410 7082.
And let us not forget the hipsters… Craft beer? Check. Artisanal pork products? Check. Checkered clothing? Check. Welcome to &Union. Chill out with a cold one, listen to live music on the cobbled courtyard and compare your moustache growth. 110 Bree St. +27 21 422 2770.
Around the 2010 FIFA World Cup, thousands of new hotels and guesthouses sprang up in Cape Town, so there’s no lack of beds in the city; you’ll find everything from five-star to funky.
One of the newest designer hotels, African Pride 15 on Orange Hotel, exudes style and the glass-fronted pod rooms looking out onto the atrium are great fun. Orange St. +27 21 469 8000.
If you’re after serious luxury with the best service in town, One&Only Cape Town is the top spot. With resort-style rooms dotted about the marina, a world-class spa and excellent restaurants, it’s pretty much perfect. And good news for families is that they take entertaining and catering to little ones’ whims as seriously as you do. Dock Rd, V&A Waterfront. +27 21 431 5888.
Party-lovers and bright young things head to well priced Protea Fire & Ice! Cape Town with its cool bar, pool deck and spa. New Church St. +27 21 488 2555. Taking funky to the furthest level is the Airstream Rooftop Trailer at the Grand Daddy Hotel. Decorated by local artists, the trailers make a fun, if slightly cramped, place to rest your head. If you need more space, the rooms in the main hotel do very nicely. 38 Long St. +27 21 424 7247.