Vibrant and multicultural, Cape Town is at the tip of Africa where the warm Indian Ocean meets its chillier Atlantic counterpart. Ready for a lingering exploration? Then Buy Now your T-shirts and sneakers and make use of this Ultimate Guide to Cape Town to ensure you see the best of the Mother City.
The best things to see, do, and explore in the city
With international flair and world-class service, Cape Town has retained its undeniably African character and charm, as much through its merging of cultures, as its diverse attractions. The iconic Table Mountain stands tall, offering panoramic views of the city and Cape coastline. Take a cable car ride to the summit or embark on a rewarding hike to witness the beauty of this natural wonder. Adjacent to it is Lion’s Head, an easy climb that’s popular with Capetonians. The V&A Waterfront and it’s impressive Silo District anchor the Table Bay shoreline, while the beaches of Camps Bay, Hout Bay, and Bloubergstrand draw the sunseeker.
It is no wonder that Cape Town is regularly voted one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The Cape Peninsula presents coastal scenery with rugged cliffs and generous beaches. Walk in the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden where fynbos – indigenous to the Cape, is often in bloom. The African penguin colony at Boulders Beach in Simonstown is always a delight and can be visited on foot or by kayak. Offshore is Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela spent 19 years of his incarceration, taking a tour with one of the ex-political prisoners once held here. In season, seek out Southern Right Whales, dolphins, sunfish, and seals playing in the bay. Walk, run, or cycle the Sea Point Promenade to experience the city like a local.
Art, Culture, History and Culinary Delights
Cape Town is steeped in history, and its multicultural heritage is reflected in its architecture, cuisine, and vibrant neighbourhoods. Visit the historic Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was held as a political prisoner and gain insights into South Africa’s struggle for freedom and democracy. Walk the colourful Bo-Kaap district, renowned for its brightly painted houses and Cape Malay culture. Immerse yourself in the city’s artistic scene at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zietz MOCAA) and explore the galleries and studios in regenerated Woodstock. The Cape’s impressive culinary scene sees world-class restaurants serving dishes influenced by Cape Malay fusions, traditional African fare, freshly caught seafood and products sourced from the surrounding farmlands making it easy to understand why Cape Town has become a mecca for food lovers.
Gastronomic Gems and Foodie Favourites
The Cape’s impressive foodie scene draws on international influences, Cape Malay infusions, African tradition, and locally sourced farm produce from the outlying farmlands. For consistently delicious meals, visit Chef’s Warehouse at Beau Constantia, Black Sheep on Kloof Street, Harbour House in Kalk Bay, and Ramenhead for intense Asian flavours and finesse. Fine dining options include Fyn, Salsify, and the award-winning La Colombe Restaurant. For more relaxed yet remarkable dining, try Foxcroft in Constantia or the Foodbarn in Noordhoek. The Belly of the Beast in the heart of the city is a hidden gem, while Chef’s Warehouse at Tintswalo Atlantic, which has you dining right on the ocean and overlooking Hout Bay, is well worth the drive. Il Leone Mastrantonio, Villa 47, Between Us, Maria’s Greek Café and Café Paradiso are local favourites. Not forgetting the coffee scene, or the abundance of vegan and health options so ingrained in the city’s character.
Drinking Hotspots and Sundowner Strips
Explore Cape Town’s top drinking spots where South Africa’s fine wines and Method Cap Classique are poured and where mixologists dream up new infusions and creative cocktails. Rooftop bars, speakeasies, secret drinking dens, and gin bars. The Silo Hotel’s rooftop bar offers unrivalled 360-degree views, while Victoria Road in Camps Bay has a ‘sunset strip’ of bars overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Asoka, Yours Truly, and The Power and The Glory are found around Kloof Road. Orphanage Cocktail Emporium is a tiny city-centre club on trendy Bree Street, while Gigi Rooftop Bar is found at Gorgeous George Hotel. For a molecular experience, head to CAUSE | EFFECT Cocktail Kitchen & Cape Brandy bar at the V&A Waterfront. Other notable spots include The Piano Bar, Athletic Club & Social – casual and inviting, Grand Africa Café and Beach – where you’ll sip with toes in the sand, The Gin Bar, The Art of Duplicity, and Chinchilla Rooftop Café and Bar. Other stunning rooftop options include the Sky Bar, RED Roof at Radisson Red, Nines, and Tjing Tjing Rooftop Bar.
Museums, Art Centres, and Historical Sites
Cape Town offers a variety of cultural experiences in private art galleries, museums, and theatres to be found across the city. The Artscape Theatre, Baxter Theatre Complex, and Theatre on the Bay are notable venues for shows, operas, and ballet. The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in the Silo District of the V&A Waterfront is the largest art museum in Africa and showcases works of African and diaspora artists. The Norval Foundation is dedicated to exhibiting 20th- and 21st-century visual art from South Africa and beyond and features a sculpture garden, outdoor amphitheatre, and research library. In Woodstock, the Goodman Gallery, Stevenson Contemporary Art Gallery, and Blank Gallery feature artists from all over South Africa. For an insightful cultural fix, visit the District Six Museum, Jewish Museum, and Iziko South African Museum, as well as the sobering Slave Lodge social history museum. First Thursdays are a popular monthly art event, where galleries and cultural institutions stay open late, and visitors can wander between exhibitions across the city centre.
From Food to Fashion, Cape Town’s local markets
Cape Town has a variety of artisanal markets that showcase local designers, traditional arts and crafts, and healthy organic produce. The Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock and the Oranjezicht City Farm Market in Granger Bay, are the most popular of these, drawing large crowds of locals and tourists alike each weekend to the offering of fresh foods, craft brews, and unique products that range from homegrown fruit and vegetables to handmade clothing and accessories, and jewellery. The historic Green Market Square, with its diverse array of African art and beadwork, is a popular spot for souvenir shopping in the city centre. The Earth Fair Market in Tokai features ethically produced goods and live music performances. The Mojo Market is a Lifestyle Market in Sea Point that features food stalls, bars, live music, and craft boutiques, while Maker’s Landing at the Cape Town Cruise Terminal adds to the city’s vibrant market scene. Most important – go hungry!
From souvenirs to luxury and homegrown brands
Cape Town’s stylish stores sell everything from local fashion to home decor. For a selection of fine South African products, start at Watershed at the V&A Waterfront, which houses countless stalls and stands with high-end designer fashion, jewellery, art, and ceramics. An excellent place to pick up something special to take home. By visiting Mungo and Jemima at the V&A Waterfront’s newly renovated Alfred Mall, young South African talent. With a reputation for offering a small range of well-picked clothing, accessories and shoes designed by South African talent. The Strangers Club and Out of this World merge contemporary Cape Town with authentic Africa in a tranquil space serving single-origin coffees from different regions of Africa, South America and Indonesia. Out of this World has a curated collection of high-end African craft collected by the owners who have long-standing relationships with traders and suppliers across the continent. You may need extra luggage for that return journey!
Neighbourhoods with stories to tell
Unlock the best of Cape Town through its various neighbourhoods, each with its character and point of focus. The V&A Waterfront is a hub of activities with hotels, restaurants, bars, excellent shopping, and many primary attractions based here. Sea Point’s famous promenade will have you joining locals and internationals as you hug the Atlantic Ocean for a walk, run, or simply to people-watch. Clifton and Camps Bay offer palm-lined beaches and stunning views of the Twelve Apostles mountains and this is where beautiful people gather sun-kissed and laidback each evening. Bo-Kaap and its colourful buildings hold a rich Cape Malay heritage, while Kalk Bay on the False Bay coastline is a fishing village with boutique stores, bohemian locals, and seafood straight off the boat. Bloubergstrand offers postcard views of Table Mountain and is a primary choice for kite surfers and stand-up paddlers. Into the Southern Suburbs to explore leafy and lovely Constantia and its historic wine estates.
Scenic Drives and Day Trips
Allow plenty of time to relish all that Cape Town offers and explore beyond the city for a change of pace and scenery. Head to the Cape Winelands which are surrounded by beautiful mountains and filled with cascading vineyards that have been producing wine for centuries. Primary regions include Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl and Somerset West are home to countless wine estates. Further afield, the Elgin Valley is an excellent destination for wine lovers, with cool climate wines. Peregrine Farm stall on route bursts with local produce and goodness. If you’re looking for something off the beaten track, consider travelling up the west coast to Langebaan, Paternoster, and the West Coast National Park – all beckon discovery. In particular, the West Coast National Park for its annual display of wild spring flowers and tranquil lagoon. Beach lovers will appreciate the beautiful stretches of fine sand in Yzterfrontein, Betty’s Bay and Hermanus – also famed as the land-based whale-watching capital of the world.
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