Cape Town. – It’s an interesting thing, how by human nature we sometimes take what we have for granted, specifically the place we get to call home. Yet, this rule rarely applies to anybody living in Cape Town, where as locals we are known to brag unashamedly about the beauty, offerings and nature of our Mother City.
Here at the tip of Africa, it is easy to remain ever inspired by the melting pot of culture and flavours, the intense natural beauty, world class restaurants and strong international influences so delicately matched to tradition. Where adventure beckons, the city delights, history stares you in the face. And the rise of the artisan producer sees many carefully craft their passion to product. Not to mention the outpouring of inspired design and art and the interesting characters who follow their hearts here.
For the tourist wanting a more in-depth look at where and how to maximise on 48 hours in Cape Town, specifically in Winter, here’s an idea of what to do to ensure that by the time you get back on that plane, you’ll have fallen in love with this city.
My suggestion would be that you arrive as soon as you can on the Friday, allowing enough time to check in to your accommodation establishment and still allow you time for an evening activity.
FRIDAY – DAY 1:
4pm. Head straight to the Sea Point Promenade for a walk with the locals as the sun starts to descend over the Atlantic Ocean. It will allow you feel right at home as you join Capetonians jogging, cycling and walking their dogs along this established and newly upgraded paved and grassy route.
Start at the Sea Point Pavillion pools, walking towards Mouille Point. You can grab a coffee or snack before you go from the kiosk next to the pool. Remember to take note of the public art and benches along the way, there are some very poignant installations that deserve a second look. Should you prefer, rent a bicycle from UpCycle.
6pm. Fresh and assimilated, it may be time for a sundowner or cocktail – or both. Just further along, for this you have the option of either Grand Africa, which is the only Cape Town spot where you can have a drink on the beach with your feet in the sand. Or the Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront, which has wonderful views towards Granger Bay. Try a glass of Méthode Cap Classique or MCC, I recommend the Pierre Jourdan and Graham Beck Rose. After all, being in Cape Town is a celebration.
8pm By now you’ll be famished. Keeping with the theme of hanging with the locals, I’d suggest you book dinner at either Villa47, Black Sheep Restaurant (Gardens) or Mondiall Kitchen and Bar at the V&A Waterfront. You won’t go wrong with either.
SATURDAY – DAY 2:
9am. As tempting as it may be to lie in late, especially in Winter, I’d suggest an early start and that you dedicate to day to Urban discovery. Take to the heart of the city by four and really get a feel for it. First though, fInd your way to Hemelhuijs on Waterkant Street for breakfast and take a look at their beautiful homeware collection while there.
10am. From here you can do really good quality shopping at three unique stores, Wild Olive for wonderful soaps and body products, Avoova for luxury hand crafted ostrich shell gifts and MonkeyBiz, a non-profit dedicated to reviving the tradition of African beadwork. As you walk between them on Bree Street, you will find numerous other stores selling quality bespoke goods.
11.30am. For a taste of the extraordinary, book an urban walking tour with a touch of adventure with Escape+Explore, bespoke tour planners. Start with a 4×4 Scooter trip down Signal Hill with Scootours followed by a tour of Bo-Kaap with it’s colourful houses, with the option of a cooking class with Bo-Kaap Cooking School.
2pm. Spend the afternoon Museum hopping. Start in the Company Gardens in the city centre, which bears witness to the first days of European settlement in the city, when a garden was first established here to supply fresh produce to passing ships of the Dutch East India Company.
Clustered around this botanical garden are several of the city’s principal museums: the Iziko South African Museum with its collections from pre-history to the renowned Whale Well; South African National Gallery, housing art treasures and notable examples of resistance art; the SA Jewish Museum alongside the Great Synogogue; and the District Six Museum that commemorates this vibrant multiracial community that was forcibly removed by the apartheid regime.
If Museums aren’t your thing, let Escape+Explore arrange an Urban Street Art walk around the city and in Woodstock. See the Cape Town Street Art Instagram account for an idea of what can be seen.
7pm. Have dinner (or lunch) at either the magnificent Pot Luck Club or the number one restaurant in the country, The Test Kitchen. Either way, try and eat Luke Dale-Robert’s food. If you can’t get a reservation or are looking for something more casual, in the area you will find Devil’s Peak Brewery, which is said to make the best burgers in town. If you’re more inclined to head back to the city, don’t miss a tasting of our craft gins at our Mother’s Ruin Gin Bar.
If you’d like dinner at a tiny lesser known spot, try the very cool Mulberry & Prince on Pepper Street. Here contemporary New York style meets Cape Town’s need for the new and the deliciously hip. Offering gorgeous meals by this dynamic pair who have gained much international experience in their lead up to settling in this pink and grey designer touched space.
As seen at Pot Luck Club, one lucky lunch.
SUNDAY – DAY 3.
9am. – I know, I know, it’s Sunday. But you’re in Cape Town! Put on your walking shoes and take to the Elfin Trail in Constantia, a 2 hour fantasy rich guided VoiceMap walk. I just did this and loved being dwarfed by the tall trees, crossing bridges and rivers and discovering a part of the city that not many know. It will put you close to nature and allow you imagine how the Cape once was.
11am. – After your wooded walk, drive out towards Muizenberg, taking Boyes Drive towards Kalk Bay and Simonstown. There is much to enjoy on this False Bay coastline with it’s interlinked coastal villages; from the antique stores, Saturday market on Jubilee Square, the waterfront and penguins at Boulders Beach.
1pm. – Lunch can either be at one of the cute spots on the main road in Simonstown, such as The Meeting Place with it’s rich collection of shopping options, The Lighthouse Cafe or the The Black Marlin for seafood with uninterrupted views.
At Boulders Beach, for the penguins.
If time allows, continue to Cape Point.
Note: If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in the Simonstown area, look to the Thalassa Seaside Cottage at 1 Castle Rock .
4pm. After your leisurely lunch and an optional stroll on the beach, head back to the city and on to the airport for your flight home. If you are driving straight from Simonstown to the Cape Town International Airport, you may opt to take the very scenic coastal road.
They’re iconic Cape Town for a reason.
Whether you’re a first time or return visitor, don’t be too cool to take to the most popular attractions in the city, they are called iconic for very good reason so if time allows or you prefer the deviation, remember to include a visit to Cape Point Nature Reserve, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Robben Island Museum, Table Mountain and the V&A Waterfront.
Alternate options you might prefer.
– The Constantia Wine Route, as no visit to the Cape – even if only for 48 hours – would be complete without a wine tasting. Visit Groot Constantia, the oldest wine estate in South Africa and a provincial heritage site, where you can look around the historic homestead and taste some of their fine wines. Make a note to try the Vin de Constance here, reputed to be requested by Napoleon on his death bed. Also in the Constantia Valley area are Klein Constantia, Beau Constantia and Eagle’s Nest.
– An outing an hour or so from the city could include a visit to Stellenbosch and the Spier Wine Farm or Babylonstoren for time exploring the land and a delicious farm grown lunch. Or head out to Darling for a visit to Darling Brew and Evita Se Perron, where regular shows are held. For a different look, especially appealing in the winter months, pack a picnic from a local deli and a flask of coffee, and drive to the beautiful West Coast National Park to seek out the flowering proteas and walk on the deserted 16 mile beach.
– If you’re travelling with your dog, both the luxury 12 Apostles Hotel and The Alphen Boutique Hotel are dog friendly, although Cape Town now has it’s very own Five Star Dog Hotel, @Frits, with tailored packages specifically to suit your best friend’s needs that include salon, snacks and 24/7 monitoring. That way you have the nights to yourself and can explore the surrounds by day with your best friend.
– Hout Bay is well known for its working harbour and excellent fish and chips, which you are often forced to share with the resident seagulls. From here though, you can also go snorkelling with the seals. I know we all identify the Atlantic waters with the Great White Shark and shark cage diving, but for something more authentic and special, join Animal Ocean who will take you out to Seal Island and let you climb into the water with these playful and beautiful animals.
– If travelling with the kids or just in the need for some fun, visit the trampoline park Jump Around in Paarden Island or Rush SA in Claremont. For zip lining, join SA Forest Adventures on the privately owned Silvermist Estate, which has one of Africa’s longest and highest Zip line tours. Try the tandem if you can, makes you go faster.
– To truly get a sense of Cape Town, book a helicopter flight with NAC Helicopters, even if the 15 minutes over the Atlantic Seaboard, the views are magnificent.
The view towards Table Bay and Table Mountain from the sky.
A walk on the beach near Yzerfontein.
Cape Town is an all year destination, we love it in Winter as much as we do in Summer, although the pace does often slow down in the colder months when fireplaces are sought out and much more red wine is consumed. The only thing you’ll need to adapt when packing for your visit, is your wardrobe.
Oh, and you’ll need more than 48 hours, but this is a very good start.
Meet the squirrels in the Company Gardens. You can buy food for them from a vendor at the Adderley Street entrance.
Useful tips when planning your visit.
– Do make dinner reservations at your favourite restaurants, most are really busy, even in the Winter months.
– If you arrive in the city and the weather is good and Table Mountain is clear and the cable car open, drop everything, and go up. The weather changes quickly and it may be the only chance that you have.
– If this is too active a routing, remember that you can cut down the options by half, spend more time relaxing and linger in each spot. We do know that you’ll be back for more.
– Remember good walking shoes, a rain jacket and fleece. Basically, layers as the weather may warm up, but there is always a chance of cold and rain in the Cape in Winter.
– You can pre-buy your tickets to many of the attractions such as Table Mountain and Robben Island on Webtickets, and to the theatre on Computicket. Log on to see what’s on when planning your weekend in the city.
– It’s tempting to rush from one place to the next, but ideally, rather pace yourself, savouring every experience, than just sampling it.
Where to stay.
You’ll be spoilt for choice with accommodation. The Waterfront, city centre, Constantia Valley and False Bay hotels and guest houses are all offering quality accommodation at reduced rates because of the season. Also have a look at the Airbnb offerings’ for Cape Town, wonderful options. All round excellent value for money.
If self-driving, Cape Town is serviced by two main highways, the N1 from the North and the N2 from the East. You are likely to arrive by one of these into the Foreshore and be able to direct from there to where you are staying, and the above attractions.
Should you be flying, Cape Town International Airport is approximately 20km from the city centre. You can opt to hire a car, take a metered taxi or catch the MyCiti shuttle bus into the city centre. There is of course also good old Uber.
How to get here.
For both international and local flights into Cape Town, have a look at Cheapflights for the best value deals across all airlines.
Disclaimer: This blog post is part of a #Blogathon campaign in collaboration with Travel Concept Solution, Cheapflights and Cape Town Tourism. Catch the hashtag on social media to see what the different bloggers recommend for your 48 Hours in Cape Town in Winter. Elfin Trail pic of me crossing the bridge, courtesy of Di Brown aka Roaming Giraffe.