Exploring Cape Town, any which way.
The self-proclaimed sweetheart of South Africa, Cape Town annually draws thousands of tourists to its shores, inviting them to discover all that this internationally celebrated travel destination has to offer.
Found at the southwestern tip of Africa where the warm Indian Ocean meets its chillier Atlantic counterpart, Cape Town, which is fondly known as the ‘Mother City’, is where laid-back locals are found at home with their 17th-century castle, cluster of city bowl skyscrapers, trendy restaurants, organic markets, 350-year-old garden and endlessly beautiful beaches.
With an international flair and world-class service, the city retains its undeniably African character and charm, as much through its people as in its many attractions. But once there, what is the best way to get around and do your time justice? I suggest you look away from the obvious choice of a rental car or Uber and consider one of these more unusual modes of transport to add an edge to your time in the city, at least on one or two of your days here.
Red Bus Tour to Cape Point
A go-to in any city, these double-decker open-topped buses visit many of the most popular sites around the city and passengers can hop off and on at their leisure. Cape Town’s Red Bus offers over 30 stops across 4 different routes, giving you plenty of opportunities to hop off the bus and explore Cape Town landmark attractions from Table Mountain to the V&A Waterfront, from Camps Bay to Kirstenbosch, the Cape Winelands to Cape Point. You’d do well to explore the add-ons and if you’re in the city for a while, take the 3-day package. More at City Sightseeing Cape Town.
Epicurean Tour by Ebike
For all those who love a casual cycle but worry about hills and distance being too great a challenge, this is the answer for you. Book an epicurean food tour on the back of a sleek and stylish electric bicycle, which is guaranteed to award you superpowers for the day. Cruise along the Sea Point promenade taking in the views of the Atlantic coastline, stopping at the Oranjezicht City Farm Market for a taste of their organic fair before heading into historic and colourful Bo-Kaap Cape Malay Quarters, and on to the culinary mecca that is Bree Street.
Along the way sample South Africa’s eclectic mix of cuisine as you taste traditional Cape Malay and Afrikaans dishes as well as other foods such as samoosa, boerewors, koeksisters and biltong, before taking on the trendiest streets in Cape Town with your local guide in the know. If your legs are strong, simply rent a bike from UpCycles and make your own way through Sea Point and Granger Bay until you reach the Waterfront.
Bike and Sidecar the Atlantic Seaboard
This is bound to put a big smile on your face and is a more unique way to see Cape Town. Offering 2-hour, half and full-day options you can don a retro leather jacket, vintage helmet and goggles and take to the Atlantic Seaboard in one of their decommissioned military bikes originally used by the Peoples Liberation Army of China between the early 1950s and mid-1970s. They are known as cj750’s and are based on the old German BMW R71 used extensively during from World War II. Given that your driver is in charge, you’ll be free to sit back and admire the scenery and lap up the admiring looks along the way, although they will stop for photo opportunities too. Plus, you may get to double up with Brody the most adorable pup with his custom-made goggles. More at Cape Sidecars.
Scooter down Signal Hill
For the thrill-seeker who wants a quick way down from the Signal Hill or Table Mountain, jump on a Scooter and freewheel your way down the single track and into the City. Scootours offer a unique way to experience Table Mountain and it’s impressive views in a fun and active way with this particular 5km track doubling up for the adventurer. The Scooters are non-motorised, making them silent and eco-friendly, propelled by gravity you need to simply adjust your speed to suit your intrepid spirit. More at Scootours.
Take a flight over the Peninsular
Nothing quite beats an aerial perspective and a helicopter flight over Cape Town will certainly bring you a bird’s eye view of the mountain range, rugged shoreline, Table Mountain, Robben Island and False Bay beyond. With the option of a flight over the city bowl, to one over the three bays of Table Bay, False Bay and Hout Bay, or even beyond for a glimpse of the jutting point of the Cape of Good Hope. Alternately you may just opt to avoid the traffic and take a transfer to a Hotel or Winelands Estate for a meal; after all, if you can avoid traffic whilst on holiday, you are doing well. Private charters are the way to go with this company, and I’ve known James owner/pilot for at least 20 years and can’t recommend the special edge he gives to the experience enough. More at Silvercross Helicopters.
Tour the Cape Winelands in a classic car
Ever imagined stepping back in time and being chauffeur driven in a classic 1950’s Jaguar as you visit various Wine Estates for tastings and lunch? Your dream can now become a reality when booking a guided tour of the Cape Winelands in one of these beauties. Catering for all vintage car enthusiasts, Classic Cats are is guaranteed to add some flair to your touring experience. Of course, should you wish to use one of the classics to tour beyond the Winelands, this can be arranged on request. More at Classic Cars.
Always walk a city
Exploring Cape Town on foot is easy and will bring the character of the streets to life. Take time to stroll through the cobbled streets of Bo-Kaap on the slopes of Signal Hill, with its photogenic candy-coloured homes, or join the locals on the Sea Point Promenade that links to the V&A Waterfront and the Silo District. For the best views of Table Mountain take to the long barren beach of Bloubergstrand, or simply soak up the surfer’s paradise by walking the coastline between Muizenberg and Kalk Bay. Should you be a seeker of the urban edge, book a guided street art walking tour in Woodstock, an area seeing impressive regeneration and home to many fine restaurants and cool coffee shops.
Whichever you opt for, as long as you get out there exploring.
** Options and recommendations are my own.