Here is a list of the top things that will make you fall in love with Cape Town ~
1. V&A WATERFRONT
The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront is absolutely amazing. Whether you go for lunch, dinner, shopping or simply to walk around you’ll hardly be disappointed. Right in front of the Ferris wheel you’ll often see a group of musicians playing traditional style music, adding exciting and fun beats to your afternoon.
We loved Mitchell’s Scottish Ale House at the V&A Waterfront – good food, great beer (according to dad) and a casual atmosphere. For a coffee stop or a light meal you can stop by Vovo Telo with pizzas, fresh bread, sandwiches and salads for you to choose from – perfect for a quick bite (bottom-left photo below)!
2. CAPE PENINSULA LOOP
Rent a car and drive the Cape Peninsula loop for an all-round sea views, with some of the most amazing views in the world. Right between the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean, the Cape Peninsula has some of the most beautiful attractions you can dream of.
Camps Bay is the perfect backdrop for a photo, with the twelve apostles on one side and the beautiful white sandy beach on the other. You’ll notice the trendy neighborhood of this area with many cafés and restaurants facing the beach as you drive long Camps Bay.
Chapman’s Peak Drive
The Chapman’s Peak drive is a beautiful rocky coastal mountain drive from Hout Bay to Noordhoek. Drive slowly and stop often to see all the amazing panoramic views of Lion’s head and the deep blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Boulders Penguin Colony
Visit the super cute South African Penguin colony in Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town. There is a nice scenic walk from the town to the beach, where you can mingle and watch the penguins go about their day – safe to say it’s a popular tourist destination.
3. CAPE OF GOOD HOPE AND CAPE POINT
When you enter the Table Mountain National Park you will be greeted by ostriches and baboons, which run wild in the park. But the highlight is Cape Point, a long, narrow strip of land that lays in the Atlantic Ocean and is Africa’s southwestern-most point.
We took the Flying Dutchman Funicular to head up the lighthouse to look down the plunging cliffs where the Atlantic and Indian Ocean meet. The wind up here is crazy, so hold-on tight to your valuables – but the view is spectacular. Probably one of the most incredible sight in the world.
4. TABLE MOUNTAIN
Take the cable-car up to one of the ‘New Seven Wonders of Nature’ – Table Mountain – for incredibly breathtaking views. Make sure to bring a jacket to keep you warm, as the temperature is significantly colder and the wind is super strong. As the cable car goes up, the platform rotates 360 degrees to give you incredible views of the mountain, the ocean and the city. Walk around the top of Table Mountain and take a few minutes to really enjoy the spectacular views!
TIP: Buy your ticket online to skip the crazy long cue!
5. V&A FOOD MARKET
The V&A food market is an attraction on its own with tiny stalls offering local delights and delicious treats, from craft beer to sweets to local dishes. Sadly, we weren’t around long enough to try all the stalls but here are some of the highlights:
Stokkiesvraai Biltong – delicious biltong (dried meat) using only meat from natural grazing cattle. We tried all their flavours and brought back home the spicy beef, normal beef and the antelope. Highly recommended even as a souvenir – can be purchased in small vacuumed bags already sliced or as an entire piece.
Sweet Dreams – delicious creamy fudge that melts in your mouth. We tried to stay away but was too good to resist!
The Bottle Bank – probably what heaven looks like for beer lovers – a vast selection of bottled craft beers from all over South Africa – if you like beer, you can’t miss this!
6. ROBBEN ISLAND
Robben Island is a symbol of strength of humanity but it is also a constant reminder of a sad history that hurt and oppressed thousands of people. Home to many Black people held as political prisoners in the 1960s, such as Nelson Mandela, it held prisoners for decades in harsh and unliveable conditions. The tour on the Island is organised by former prisoners that take you around and tell their experiences about a time that we can hardly imagine ever happened. The island is a reminder of the power of humanity, freedom and the victory of democracy over a long time of oppression. It is definitely a must-do in Cape Town.
7. MZANSI RESTAURANT
Thanks to TripAdvisor we came across Mzansi Restaurant, a home restaurant in an apparently not-so-good neighbourhood. This lovely couple, with an interesting and fascinating story to tell, turned their home’s first floor into a restaurant – the wife as the chef and the husband as the entertainer. Safe to say this was a dinner to remember, and not just for the food! The buffet dinner included delicious traditional dishes made with locally sourced ingredients – my favorite was the spinach curry, the beef brisket curry (I forgot their names!) and of course the dessert – ginger cake with some sort of custard cream.
We were also extremely lucky to not only enjoy music and entrainment from the husband and their usual musicians but also enjoy a musical performance from the host’s relatives from Johannesburg – a foundation called Nokwe, which aims to promote the importance of traditional values through their music and performances. Do check their Facebook page www.facebook.com/tu.nokwe and see if they have any shows – highly recommended! They were amazing singers, actors and dancers who truly captivated us with their traditional performance. The host’s husband is such a fun person who entertained us with his very own “Paka Paka” dance – hard to explain, you will have to trust me and experience it yourself – I promise, it’s worth it!
8. BO KAAP
Take a walk around the colourful Malay neighbourhood of Bo Kaap. There aren’t specific places to see, just walking around the extremely colourful houses will be an unforgettable experience!
9. LONG STREET
Home to Cape Town’s nightlife, Long Street is worth exploring also during the day. The street itself has a very European feel to it, with shops and restaurants running along it. It’s a good spot for lunch or dinner and the place to be for a good night-out!
10. HALF-DAY SAFARI
We couldn’t have gone to Africa and missed all the wild animals it is known for – because of time constraints we booked an afternoon safari at Aquila through our hotel. The trip included hotel transfers (2-hour drive from Cape Town), a buffet lunch and a 3-hour game drive. We got to see all the animals except the lions (they apparently sleep for 19-20 hours a day – so they were most likely sleeping!)
Was it worth the money? Probably not, but we still had lots of fun – I’m certain there are way better safaris in other parts of Africa, but if you don’t have much time, it’s a good alternative.