Here’s our inside track on the Mother City; inspiration for an unforgettable day in South Africa’s most beautiful city.
Start the day like a local; riding a few waves off one of the city’s stunning beaches. Within half an hour from the city centre you can be at one of the most iconic beaches, ‘Muizenberg’, distinctive not only for its gentle conditions for surfers of all levels, but for its great atmosphere – ideal if you prefer to just watch from the beach, soaking up the vibe.
Cape Town boasts plenty of surf shacks and shops happy to rent you a board and wetsuit or take you out for a lesson.
Wake up and smell the coffee
If your idea of starting the day right is less ocean and more slow motion, then take it easy and begin with a leisurely morning mocha. Coffee beans are one of Africa’s most important exports, so understandably Cape Town’s café culture offers some pretty nifty neighbourhood venues for your caffeine fix.
Department of Coffee is an artisan espresso bar in Khayelitsha, Cape Town’s largest and fastest growing township. This trendy community coffee shop, right by the train station, promises the best cappuccino in Cape Town. Check out their Facebook page for details of township events and markets.
For an immersive Cape Town coffee experience head to the HQ of the Origin Roasting Company, in the über cool De Waterkant district. Once you enter their iconic artisan roastery and barista school you’re entering coffee central, where you can sit and relax in the tasting room, ordering from the chalkboard food menu, and of course try some of the best coffee in town
DownTown Arts Scene
Cape Town is rapidly becoming South Africa’s go-to cultural hub. The downtown district, around The Company’s Garden, a central city park, is where to go for the authentic, multi-cultural urban vibe. It’s a fascinating mix of city offices, historical institutions (think the South African Parliament and Michaelis School of Fine Art) as well as contemporary art galleries, boho fashion boutiques and indie design stores.
Check out eclectic Kloof Street for great places to eat and shop; whilst for a flavour of emerging and established South African artists, then walk over to galleries on Church Street.
2016 will most definitely cement Cape Town’s position as a cultural capital, with the opening of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa. Stated to be the largest contemporary art museum on the continent of Africa it will also be home to the exceptional collection of contemporary African art, offered by businessman and philanthropist Jochen Zeitz.
It will be a great reason to head to Cape Town’s touristy V&A Waterfront dockside area.
Enjoy Cape Town from the ultimate perspective – from the sky! If you want to avoid the tourist queues at the city’s spectacular Table Mountain Aerial Cableway, then why not take a tandem paragliding flight instead?
Signal Hill and Lion’s Head are the favourite spots to fly from. Both are beside Table Mountain and just minutes from the city centre. You’ll have the most exhilarating view of Cape Town’s stunning Atlantic seaboard.
The experience is unforgettable, but you can also have a video and stills to take away with you. With all that adrenalin pumping, you’ll be sure to have a healthy appetite for lunch.
Lunch isn’t for wimps
Cape Town is undeniably a foodie destination, so don’t miss a chance to tuck into some tantalising treats. Lunch here can be anything from gourmet street food nosh to fine-dining.
For a world-class taste experience, it has to be ‘The Test Kitchen’, a smart yet unpretentious restaurant, the latest showcase of Luke Dale-Robert’s culinary creativity. As the restaurant’s name implies, this is a hub of gastronomic innovation.
If you’re looking for more budget lunchtime bites, yet equally impressive grub, then make it a fun and social lunch at ‘The Pot Luck Club’. Found on the top floor of the trendy ‘Old Biscuit Mill’, this striking loft-style eatery with open plan kitchen has a cool urban feel. Here, Head Chef Wesley Randles follows in the footsteps of his mentor, Luke Dale-Roberts. Order lots of scrumptious sharing plates and let everyone dig-in; that’s the fun of The Pot Luck Club.
Afternoon in Woodstock
After lunch, while away the afternoon in the hipster heaven of Woodstock, Cape Town’s oldest suburb, and without doubt its most creative, foodie, artsy neighbourhood.
There’s a load of cool places, and new ones opening all the time, from designer fashion boutiques, vintage clothes stores, architecture & design studios, indie bookshops, artisan food producers, and some of the best places in the city to eat.
Two places not to miss include the small ‘Salt Circle Arcade’ shopping centre and also the ‘Old Biscuit Mill’, now converted into space for photographers, artists and designers.
It has the best Saturday market in the city too – just get there early as it’s very popular, thanks to great street food.
Check online for the latest on festivals and events that coincide with your visit.
It’ll be hard to prise yourself from the temptations of the Woodstock neighbourhood, but don’t miss the sunset in Cape Town. Jump in a cab and end the day in style with sundowners at the ‘12 Apostles Hotel’. The Leopard bar is pretty much a city institution. Order a classic cocktail, mix with the smart crowd and get drunk on those panoramic ocean views.
Dinner amongst the vines
If you want to make dinner something special, and at the same time you want to experience South Africa’s world-class wine scene, you can do both without leaving the city. The Silvermist Lodge organic wine estate is in Constantia, a super slick and stylish Cape Town suburb that’s just around Table Mountain. The place to eat here is ‘La Colombe’ – an internationally recognised restaurant with Head chef Scot Kirton. Amazing food that is perfectly paired with wines from the vineyards around you.
Start the party
Get into the party mood with drinks and music at ‘The Village Idiot’. Quoting cartoonist Oliver Gaspirtz, the bar believes “It’s better to dance like a fool, then stand around like an idiot”. That pretty much sums up the relaxed feel of this downtown watering hole, offering local and international beers and wines, and authentic South African braai grilled meats and foods on the menu. It’s a welcoming place to visit at any time of day, but on a live music night it’s the place to enjoy an animated evening.
During the summer season, Cape Town’s beach clubs and hotel bars pulsate with energy well into the small hours. Plus, with seasonal festivals and music events, you’re not going to be short of options to end your day in Cape Town in a party mood. If you end up short of ideas, Hope Street and Long Street have plenty of bars and clubs for different music tastes and scenes.
Images supplied by Manley Communications
Text by @andrewaforbes