ADVICE ON WHAT TO DO IN CAPE TOWN…..
WHAT’S ON IN CAPE TOWN WHILE YOU ARE HERE: find out what is currently happening in Cape Town – visit www.whatsonincapetown.co.za for the most comprehensive guide on what is on during the time you are here.
Start trying to go up the mountain from the second you arrive. As it is weather dependent 70% of those who visit Cape Town will not go up the mountain. So try and keep trying! You must go up the mountain! The views from the top are phenomenal and there are some wonderful walks at the top. I recommend walking a rectangle on top – that way you get wonderful views of all the different sides of extended Cape Town. The cable car doesn’t operate when it’s dangerously windy and there’s not much point going up if you are going to be wrapped in cloud. Make sure you pre-book your tickets online on www.webtickets.co.za – it helps a bit with the queuing time! Note – make sure you book the MORNING TICKETS – these tickets are actually valid all day and are valid for 7 days from your booking date. Before heading up – check whether it is operating and what the weather is like on top of the mountain and whether the cable car is operating by checking the Table Mountain Cableway Website. If you are not a queue person – try and get there about half an hour before the mountain opens – that way you will avoid the queues. In peak peak periods there is an early bird ticket – you pay a little more – and you can go up in the earliest slot. Worth it during mid December to mid January when you can end up queuing for hours!
About the mountain:
Table Mountain towers 1086m above the city of Cape Town. It forms the northern front of a mountain series that stretches from Cape Town to Cape Point. It is the most renowned shipping landmark on earth. Visible for up to 200km out to sea- the mountain made the anchorage of Table Bay easy to find for easy seafarers on their route to the East.
In 1993 the new cable way of Swiss design was introduced. Each car can carry 65 passengers. The cars rotate offering a 360 degree view. 900 passengers can move up and down per hour
Hiking up Table Mountain – note people fall off the mountain every week. This is the brutal reality. Treat it like a real mountain. Tell someone you are going hiking – it may sound like an obvious piece of advice – it is however something that many visitors to our city do not think of doing. Wear proper shoes. Take water with you. Take an extra layers of clothing. And ASK for the best route. If you cannot get advice – stick to one of the two options as these are the most frequently done routes and as such you find other hikers on these routes – Option 1 – Platteklip Gorge – this path starts about 10 minutes past the cableway station. Option 2 Skeleton Gorge – this one starts at Kirstenbosch Botanical gardens. NOTE – it is NOT recommended to walk DOWN the mountain – the sandstone is crumbly. Even seasoned hikers catch the cable way down the mountain. They climb UP – not DOWN. Note that there is a wonderful book that is available that covers the different trails for Table Mountain – there are literally hundreds of different options to hike the mountain range from different angles. Note that the walks are graded from easy through to trails suitable for rock climbers – ie do not tackle this path if the do not have climbing equipment – and yes we have to rescue people off cliff faces who did not read the signs below. Check your chosen route before you depart. The safest way to head up the mountain is to hike with a guide. Two guides we would recommend – Table Mountain Walks and The Fynbos Guy.
Plan a day out to the peninsula region of Cape Town – this is a marvellous drive – you do a circular route around the extended Table Mountain Mountain range. It takes you along the coast and through the villages that make up extended Cape Town. Plan on a day out in this region…….a full day. Combine – Chapman’s Peak Drive, Cape Point, Cape of Good Hope & Simon’s Town to see the penguins and the architecture into the same day.
Oddly enough the nature reserve that is home to Cape Point (literally the end point of the peninsula that just dramatically into the sea) and the famous Cape of Good Hope, is called the Table Mountain National Park…………as it is the end of the Table Mountain extended Mountain range! Find this reserve and stop to take your photo at the sign at the Cape of Good Hope – and perhaps take a bottle of champers along to celebrate that you have made it to the famous Cape of Good Hope! But Ps – don’t take snacks as the baboons will smell them and come and join the picnic! From the Cape of Good Hope head through to Cape Point. Park and go for a walk up to see the old lighthouse, see the view from the sea cliffs path and perhaps walk to the new lighthouse. (Note that for those who struggle with walking – there is a funicular up the mountain that goes to the first view point)
Note that if this is your first visit – then keep going – there is lots more to see on the peninsula. The reserve is however home to a large and wonderful nature reserve. There are hikes all over the reserve. There are some wild animals here – however – these are limited due to the Cape Fynbos not being able to feed a large number of animals. If you are lucky you will spot ostrich (common to see), baboons (very common to see especially if you have food on you! Please DO NOT feed the baboons), dassies, a variety of antelope and zebra (spotted once a year!) There are also wonderful beaches all over the place as well as some off the beaten track roads. Note that most people will only manage Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope – so if you stop a little off the beaten track – you will have the place to yourself!
Getting there: Options would be either self drive or do a scheduled tour or the City Sightseeing bus is now heading out there or spoil yourself and do a private tour with us!
En route to Cape Point you will pass through the historical area of Simons Town. Once you have passed through, look for a sign on your left hand that says Boulders. Park your car and go and visit one of only three land based Penguin colonies in South Africa. The natural habitat of penguins is to live on islands where they burrow out their nests from guano deposits (ie bird poo!). The mining of guano in the last century has resulted in the unsettlement of the penguins from their natural habitat. In the 1980’s a pair of penguins made their nest on Boulders beach for the first time. The colony has now expanded to around 3000 birds. Note that if you are visiting in summer, bring your costume. The second part of Boulders Beach is a beach that is still open to the public. Keep your ticket from entering the main area as this can be used to enter the second area. Here you can often swim with the penguins or else at least sit and watch them on the rocks. This is great fun for kids and adults alike. Also note that this beach is protected from the South Easter wind. Ps – penguins can bite off little fingers – keep the kids at a distance from the penguins!
Note on the peninsula we also love to visit:
- Kalk Bay – my soul village – this is the fishing village, home to the artists/hippies/foodies. We love to head here to eat out, have coffees, explore the quirky shops and have drinks. Stop when you pass through here for lunch if you can. In order to make it here for lunch – leave early and go round past Chapman’s Peak Drive, do Cape Point and Penguins and then head to Kalk Bay for a late lunch. We love Olympia Cafe, Harbour House, Live Bait and all the wonderful fish & chip shops in the harbour.
- Noordhoek – we love the Noordhoek Village – quirky and foodie – stop here for lunch if you go the other way around the peninsula. Make sure you go for a walk on the beach after lunch – this must be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. If you stay into the late afternoon – find the Red Herring bar not far from the beach for a late afternoon drink and to get a sighting of the locals!
The V&A is atmospheric, interesting and packed with restaurants, bars and interesting shops. It is a development that changed a run down harbour area into an area we love to visit – yes it is touristy! However – head there on the weekend and you will find it packed with the locals! They have done a wonderful job of providing a spot that allows all income levels to visit and to have fun! Food offerings range from smart restaurants through to pizza by the slice. Local musicians are dotted around and are only given a few slots per week to preform – as such each time one walks there – one sees new musicians and new acts. An added attraction is that is a highly secure region of Cape Town…….being privately owned they have their own security guards all over the property.
Waterfront activities include:
- Shopping! Yes – this is where both the locals and the foreigners go to shop! There is every thing from the designer label stores to live size beaded elephants for sale! Our favourite spot for shopping is The Watershed. This is a shed dedicated to South African design and it is marvellous that they have showcased many of the smaller guys who would never have been able to afford to rent space in the main mall.
- Robben Island Tour – note the trip to Robben Island is a TOUR. You cannot simply rock up and catch a ferry out there – with a higher frequency in summer. NOTE THAT YOU MUST PRE-BOOK to go to Robben Island. Even at the quietest time of the year tickets will be sold out on the day. If you are coming in summer – book a month before you come to avoid disappointment. The website for booking the Robben Island tickets is the same for booking your Table Mountain Tickets – so book them at the same time. www.webtickets.co.za My advice is to book the 9am boat. The reason is that the tour is 3.5 hours long – and they sometimes run late. As such if you do the first boat – it brings you back to the Waterfront for lunch…….and gives you the afternoon to still do something else. Do it any later and it dominates the entire day. Note that we only recommend you do the Robben Island Tour if you have the time to do it and if you are very into the history of the island. It is not particularly well run – although it looks like it may be improving. Note that you need to be in the queue 45 minutes before departure and need to have ID (passport or drivers license) with you. Catch the ferry from in front of the Clock Tower to do a tour of Robben Island which has been declared a World Heritage Site. The island has been a place of banishment and imprisonment for more than 350 years. It became infamous as the place of imprisonment of Nelson Mandela for 20 years during the apartheid era.
- Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa – not to be missed! An amazing addition to the Cape Town art scene – this is our cities first contemporary art museum. It showcases the a spectrum of contemporary African artists. Park of the magic of the visit is the architecture – it is an amazing creation that is housed inside the old grain storage silos of Cape Town’s harbour region. They have sliced the towers at an angle inside – it is fantastic! Tickets can be pre-booked on Webtickets – however – there has not been much of a need to pre-book yet – but do not risk it when we are in peak summer season between mid-December and end Feb. Note that South African citizens get free entry on a Wednesday between 10am and 1pm. Opening hours 10am to 6pm. Note they are open until 9pm on the first Friday of the month. Note – combine your visit with drinks at the newly opened Silo Hotel next door. Note that the Silo hotel will not allow you to enter if you are scruffily dressed!
- A cruise into Table Bay should not be missed. This is simple to organize as there are many operators selling boat trips that leave approximately every half an hour. Simply walk around the waterfront – you cannot miss them
- The Two Oceans Aquarium is on par with the World’s best – here you can experience the diverse species of Indian and Atlantic Ocean marine life. The kelp forest tank is astounding. For those who wish to have a bit of an adventure in Cape Town, you can book to dive with the sharks in the aquarium. Tel 021-418-3823
- Eating out in the Waterfront: Fish: Harbour House or Baia, Bascule Bar at the Cape Grace Hotel for drinks and snacks, Willoughby’s for the best sushi in Cape Town or close by on the beach – Grand Beach Cafe. TIP – eat at the Waterfront on a Sunday night as very very little is open in the rest of Cape Town on a Sunday night!
Tip for first time visitors – pick up a map of the waterfront at the information kiosk. The Waterfront is quite spread out – so it is nice to know the layout!
5. The Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens: Kirstenbosch was established in 1913 to conserve and promote the indigenous flora of southern Africa. Kirstenbosch is internationally acclaimed as one of the great botanical gardens in the world. Situated on the eastern slopes of Cape Town’s magnificent Table Mountain, the estate, coverning 528 hectares, includes a cultivated garden and a nature reserve. The botanical gardens showcase the splendour of the Cape Floral Kingdom. Several trails lead through the natural forest and fynbos surrounding the cultivated gardens. They range from 1.5km to 7.8km. Access to Table Mountain is possible via well-marked routes up Skeleton Gorge and Nursery Ravine (very steep climb – you need to be fit to take this on!). A separate trails map is available at the kiosk. I would strongly recommend that you take your own picnic to the Gardens, as it is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon in Cape Town. Alternatively there is a self-service restaurant and an a la Carte restaurant. In addition there are Summer Concerts that are held in the park on Sunday evenings (17h30 -18h30) from December to March. There are guided walks which are free and leave from the visitors centre.
Tuesday at 09h00 and 10h00 and Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 10h00
Take a leisurely walk to see the garden highlights. (90 mins).
Wednesdays at 10h00
Explore the forest paths of Kirstenbosch. (90mins)
Duration: approx 1.5 hrs. Tel: 021-799-8783
MORE THINGS TO DO IF YOU HAVE THE TIME:
CAPE TOWN IS SOUTH AFRICA’S LEADING CULTURAL CENTRE AND BOASTS A NUMBER MUSEUMS AND ART GALLERIES:
District Six Museum- if you only get to one museum in Cape Town, make it the District Six Museum. This museum provides an intimate look at multicultural life in this suburb prior to the forced removals. The houses in District 6 were abolished and all that remains today is the churches, mosques and empty ground in this area as you enter the city. It is a living museum where the people of District Six are invited to contribute to the exhibits by writing down there feelings, marking where their homes were on a map and contributing pictures and items that reflect what life was like. 25a Buitenkant Street, City. Tel 021-461-8745
- The South African Museum at the mountain end of the Company Gardens is the oldest museum in South Africa. Discover African Arts, rock paintings, archaeology, the Whale well and planetarium. Note that this is an old fashioned general interest museum. Open daily 10am-5pm. Tel 481-3800 (Entry approx R10)
- The South African National Gallery is a small gallery in the Company Gardens housing interesting exhibitions. (Recommended if you are passionate about art). Open 10 am – 5pm everyday. Closed on Mondays. Entrance approx R10
- The Houses of Parliament were opened in 1885 and are located on the south side of Government Avenue. Tours can be arranged of Parliament if booked in advance. During the parliamentary session (usually Jan-Jun) gallery tickets are available. As intternational visitors you may need to present your passports. During recess (Jul-Jan) there are free guided tours Mon-Fri at 11am & 2pm (You need to book before and obtain clearance before going on a tour, it takes time to get the booking)+27 21 403-2911
- The Company Gardens themselves are a living monument to the history of Cape Town. The part of the Gardens that has been preserved is part of the original Company Gardens which were established in 1652. See the Saffran Pear Tree, which is thought to be 350 years old. Additionally there are a number of interesting trees that were brought to the Cape by ships passing by from all over the world.
- The Jewish Museum and Holocaust Centre. The Jewish Museum is housed in the oldest synagogue in South Africa and contains interactive exhibits on the history of the Jews who settled in South Africa and their contribution to this country. On the same campus is a separate museum – the Holocaust centre – it houses the only Holocaust Museum in Africa. Both museums are well worth a visit and are both world class. Jewish & Holocaust Museum Open Sun – Thurs 10 -5pm, Friday 10-1pm. Tel Jewish Museum +27 21462-5553. Tel Holocaust Centre +27-21462-5553. (Entrance fee separate for each museum)
Bo-Kaap Museum- Exhibits portray the lifestyle of a Malay family in the 19th century. Jan de Waal built the house in 1763, making it one of the oldest surviving buildings in Cape Town. Plan to spend an additional half an hour walking around this beautiful area that is characterised by its brightly coloured houses. Notice the Mosques that have been converted from Churches that were built here in the early 1800’s. It is a fantastic ramble. If you are peckish, grab a lamb curry Salomi from Bismillah’s take-away section – they are delicious. 71 Whale Street. Tel 021-481-3938
Michaelis House (Old Townhouse) on Greenmarket Square is an old Cape Dutch building housing Dutch and Flemish art from the 16th & 17th centuries. The view from the balcony overlooking the bustling square is worth the visit! Open 10am-5pm daily.
The Castle of Good Hope– well worth a visit. The name is misleading. The castle is on old fort that was built to protect Cape Town if it was ever attacked. It is the oldest building in South Africa, built between 1666-1679. Take a guided tour as it will bring the history alive. Tours on the hour every hour from 11am to 3pm. Castle Street, City. Tel +27 21-4691249
Greenpoint “World Cup” Stadium Tours: Recommended – try and find the info on the times! I cannot find updated info on when they are running – so will update this once I get more info! I have done a tour of the stadium and it is well worth doing!
OTHER INTERESTING PLACES TO EXPLORE:
Noon Day Gun and Signal Hill. Signal Hill separates Sea Point for the City Bowl. At noon everyday, except Sunday, a cannon is fired and can be heard all over town. You can walk up to the cannon through Bo-Kaap (when entering the suburb, stop and ask for directions). Signal Hill: There are magnificent views from the 350m high summit of Signal Hill – especially at night. Head up Kloof Nek road from the city & take turn off to the right at the top of the hill. Capetonians meet here for picnic dinners and drinks and watch the sunset. Note that you travel the same route to go to Lions Head. Lions Head is a popular mountain walk as it is not too strenuous. This walk is especially poplular when there is a full moon. Once you have taken the turn off to signal hill, you will see a number of cars parked about half way there. This is where the walk starts. Simply park and ask the car watch attendant if you are in the right place!
The suburb of Camps Bay is well worth visiting. The Twelve Apostles (side of Table Mountain) running south from Table Mountain tumble into the sea above the broad stretch of white sand. Reasons to visit Camps Bay: the beach and the promendade. This is the only beach that has a stretch of shops, bars and restaurants right next to it. It is wonderful to spend the day on the beach, roll off and then head for cocktails at the pavement cafes. There are plenty of restaurants and bars to keep you busy day and night.
Hout Bay has a stunning setting and still retains something of a village atmosphere. The southern arm of the bay is an important fishing port. The info centre (ph +27 (21) 21-7904053) is in the Trading Post store on the main road.
Chapman’s Peak Drive
This 10 kilometre drive is cut into the side of sheer mountain walls There are great views over Chapman’s Bay and back to the Sentinel and Hout Bay. It is one of the world’s great scenic drives.
False Bay lies to the south east of the city. Although the beaches are on the east side of the peninsula are not quite as scenically spectacular as those on the Atlantic side, the water is warmer for swimming. During Oct & Nov False Bay is a favoured haunt of whales and their calves -southern right, humpback and bryde whales are the most commonly sighted. There is plenty to explore on a day out in this area. Muizenberg is the breeding ground of surfers and boasts the oldest surf shop in the country. If you are keen to hone in on your surfing skills – head out here and take a few lessons. Following the coast around the bay you come to the very quaint suburb of Kalk Bay. Here you are spoilt for choice with the wonderful restaurants – try the Olympia caf? for excellent Fresh cuisine or head into the harbour for seafood. If you are staying somewhere you can cook – stop at Kalk Bay Harbour and stock up on fresh fish (best to be there around 11h30). Kalk Bay is wonderful to walk around as it is filled with antique shops and art galleries. Heading further along you come to Simons Town. Simons Town was turned into a Naval Town shortly after the British occupation. The naval atmosphere is everywhere and it is still a navy base. Here you will find a maritime museum and lots of wonderful small stores. Just past Simons Town, you will find Boulders beach and the penguins. Stop to say hello to all 3000 of them! Penguins are only found in the Southern Hemisphere. Keep going on the beach road and you will come to Cape Point. After your visit to Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope, continue through to the town of Kommetjie and Scarborough. Both are quaint seaside towns that have nice beaches. Kommetjie tends to attract the surfers. From here head onto Noordhoek. This is a wonderful beach and is great for long walks. You can also organise to go horse riding on this beach. The Red Herring Bar is famous or infamous in Noordhoek. Stop for a drink and enjoy a spectacular sunset if you are there at the right time. They also offer very reasonably priced food upstairs in the bar. From here, head over Chapmans Peak and you will end up in Hout Bay.
Ask any Capetonian which beach is best, and you will get a different answer! Note that it is a custom in Cape Town to take picnic dinners down to the beach. A nice touch is take some candles with you as well and place them in the sand.
Clifton – Both Clifton and Camps Bay are viewed as trendy beaches. Here you will find the topless models and the muscle boys playing beach bats! Do not let this distract you, Clifton is extremely beautiful. It comprises of 4 different beaches. At low tide, you can walk between them, at high tide you need walk up about 100 stairs and then down another 100 to get to the next beach. 4th beach is the largest and tends to attract families. 3rd beach is informally known as the gay beach. 1st and 2nd attract a mixed crowd of mainly young people. The sunsets from Clifton are fantastic and it would be very sad if you left the city without seeing one from Clifton. Note that Clifton is the best choice if the South Easter wind is blowing as it is usually protected.
Camps Bay – wonderfully located next to the promendade in Camps Bay. One can enjoy the beach and then head to the sidewalk cafes for cocktails and dinner. Note that Camps Bay is one of the favourite spots for watching the sun set – either on the beach or in one of the bars/restaurants.
Llundudno – This is a gorgeous beach with ancient giant boulders on one side. These boulders are lovely to sit on and watch the sun set.
Sandy Bay – nudist beach in Llundudno. Simply follow the Sandy Bay signs when you come into Llududno. Be prepared for a 15 minute walk from the carpark to the beach. The area behind the beach is a nature reserve and as such you are ensured of privacy!
Blaauberg Beaches – these are located on the other side of table bay from the city. These beaches are excellent for taking photographs of Table Mountain and are gorgeous. This side is prown to more wind and as such offer great opportunities for kite surfing.
Muizenberg – Warmer water for swimming and extremely popular as a nursery for want-to-be surfers. The oldest surf shops are found here and they will sort out all your equipment rental requirements for your holiday. Be sure to hire a wet suit – our water is never warm!
Noordhoek Beach – one of the biggest and most beautiful beaches in the Cape Town area – well worth a visit (Note quite a long drive if you are heading there from the city). They also offer horse riding on the beach
Cape Town has a large variety of theatre on at any one time. Buy the Argus or Cape Times newspaper to see what is on when you visit. Bookings can usually be made directly via the theatre or via Computicket (kiosks found in most major shopping malls). Not to be missed are the open air theatre productions in summer at Spier (Stellenbosch), Shakespeare in the Park in Wynberg and taking a picnic dinner along to watch theatre at Oude Libertas in Stellenbosch. For Gay theatre check out what is on at On Broadway in Somerset Rd Greenpoint. For Comedy lovers check out what is on at the Comedy Warehouse in Somerset Rd.
Movies – V& A Waterfront and Cavendish Square in Claremont. Beware if the weather is fowl, the whole of Cape Town heads for the movies and the queues are actually unbelievable. Tip – buy the newspaper and book the movie with your credit card ……..this way you do not need to queue!
Contact Cape Town Tourism with all of your questions. Tel +27-21-487-6800 or visit them at the corner of Castle and Berg Streets in the City or at the Clocktower Shopping Centre in the V&A Waterfront.
Things to buy……
There are so many craft shops and markets all over town you will not have to look hard to find them! Indigenous crafts are on sale everywhere from expensive galleries to street corners. Most shops stock not only traditional crafts from around South Africa but also other parts of the continent.
Long Street – It is well worth using this street as a starting point to look at the shops in the City – explore from here through to Kloof Street. Note that Long street has the younger fun clothing stores, some African artifact stores and wonderful coffee bars all the way along. Don’t miss the store Tribal Trends if you are into upmarket beautiful African artifacts that can be used in home decor.
V&A Waterfront – so many shops, so little time! Beware though that these stores do cater to tourists and as such the prices are often higher here than elsewhere
Canal Walk Shopping Centre – this is a one stop huge shopping mall that is located about 15 minutes away from the city
The Pan African Market – 76 Long Street. African art, artefacts, textiles, ceramics, contemporary South African art, township art. Traditional cafe, music, leathersmith, West African tailors, hairbraiding and a Djembe drum instructor. Open 930-1700 m-f & 930-1530 S&S
Greenmarket Square – daily flea market that is well worth visiting
Green Point (between the Waterfront and Seapoint) Sunday market at the Greenpoint pavillion
Cape Town is also home to a number of antique and junk shops where you can spend hours browsing. For a fun antique and art ramble, spend a day in Kalk Bay.
- Kite surfing and surf shop on the Blouberg side of Table Bay – check out their website to hire kit or have lessons: http://www.atlanticsurfco.co.za/
No trip to Cape Town is complete without a visit to the wine estates nestled among the mountains in the fertile valleys of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl.
The wine producing area around Stellenbosch is not only one of the most important wine growing regions in South Africa, but it is also the oldest and the most beautiful.
Although Jan van Riebeeck had planted vines and made wine, it was not until the arrival of Simon van der Stel in 1679 that wine making seriously began. From 1688 to 1690, 270 French Huguenots arrived in the country and established Franschhoek (French Corner) and gave the infant industry fresh impetus.
It’s the second oldest town (after Cape Town) in South Africa and one of the best preserved. A historic university town is full of character and charm and altogether is a step into another world about 40 minutes drive from Cape Town. The town is full of architectural and historical gems and is shaded by oak trees. Stellenbosch is home to over 70 restaurants
Franschhoek is nothing more than a village, but it’s tucked into arguably the most beautiful valley in the Cape. There is an interesting museum commemorating the French Huguenots who settled in the region. Franschhoek is the gourmet capital of South Africa boasting some of our TOP restaurants in the country
– so check out the EATING OUT IN THE CAPE SECTION on my website and do not miss out on a delicious meal while in the area. The info centre (phone 021-876-3603) is in a small building on the main street next to Dominic’s Pub. Pick up a map of the areas scenic walks, street map and wine route.
Paarl is a large commercial centre on the banks of the Berg River surrounded by mountains and vineyards. There are actually vineyards and wineries within the sprawling town limits including the huge Kooperatieve Wijnbouwers Vereniging (better known as the KWV) a co-operative that regulates and dominates the Sth African Wine industry. Pick up a wine route map from the tourism information office in the town which can be found by following the information signs once you have entered the town.
National holidays include:
New Year’s Day (1 January);
Human Rights Day (21 March);
Easter (Good Friday to Easter Monday);
Freedom Day (27 April)
Workers’ Day (1 May)
Youth Day (16 June)
National Women’s Day (9 August)
Heritage Day (24 August)
Day of Reconciliation (16 December)
Christmas (25 December)
The Day of Goodwill (26 December).
A Zulu festival, featuring dancing and colourful costumes, lasts for most of the month of July
NOTE: Most shops/wine estates are open on public holidays except for Xmas and New Years Day.
If you have read this far, well done! It means that you plan to take full advantage of everything we have on offer. I hope you have a wonderful holiday here!
HOW TO PLAN YOUR TIME FOR CAPE TOWN – PLANNING ADVICE!
I would recommend that you need at least three days in Cape Town for your first visit to get a small “taste” of what we are about.
Day 1 Experience the city area:
To understand a city, you need to get out and explore. Choose what works for your interests for the day.
Start with Table Mountain and catch the cable car up. It is weather dependent so try to go up the mountain from the minute you arrive. Yes, literally drop off your luggage and head to the mountain. Pre-buy your tickets online as it helps a bit with the queue up at the cable car station. Your tickets are valid for a couple of days after you purchase them – so make sure you have your tickets pre-booked for the Table Mountain Cableway.
We would recommend that you hike the mountain with a professional guide. If you decide to hike the mountain yourself – please ask for advice on what routes to take and also advise your hotel on what route you are taking up the mountain. Our mountain has many dangerous routes and we need to know where to look for you if you fall off the mountain. Please leave before 9am, take an extra layers and water with you for the hike.
HOW TO GET AROUND THE CITY AREA:
Explore the city on foot and check out the Company Gardens area – this is the oldest area of Cape Town. Stop to look at art and visit the District 6 Museum.
City Sightseeing bus:
The hop on hop off buses are always a great way to get an intro to a city. In Cape Town you can chose the bus that does the city, and stops at Table Mountain for the cableway, continues onto the beach area of Camps Bay (stop for a cocktail and a walk on the beach) and keep going to the V&A Waterfront
Join a scheduled tour to explore the city or book a private historical walking tour of the city.
If you are a foodie – join Cape Fusion Tours for our Cape Town Eats Tour – a private food tour of the city. Our tour aims to dig under the skin of the city. We use food to tell the stories of Cape Town – both past and present. We consider our tour the best introduction to Cape Town as it combines the history, the cultures and the food. After our tour you will have a list of where to return to for many more trips to Cape Town!
V&A Waterfront area:
Our harbour development area is a wonderfully scenic area to visit to sit next to the sea for a meal or for a drink. It boasts a large shopping mall and will soon have an exciting local food market called Makers Landing – opening December 2020. If the weather is good – head down here and perhaps sign up for a sunset boat cruise.
Contemporary Art Lovers: Do not miss out on visiting the Zeitz Mocaa Art Museum. This is located in the Silo District of the Waterfront. The gallery is a private collection of African contemporary art. It is built in an old grain silo. Combine it with a late afternoon booking for drinks on the roof of the Silo Hotel next door. Note that it is also well worth tracking down a shop close by called Southern Guild as they also host exhibitions of contemporary South African art.
If you love botanical gardens – make this your priority for the day. Start here. It is about 20 minutes by taxi from the city. The setting for the garden is jaw dropping – you have majestic mountains as the backdrop to a garden that celebrates our local plants. Make sure you ask for the brochure when you arrive at the gardens and plan a circular walk around the gardens. The gardens are large and if you are a plant enthusiast give yourself a few hours to explore and to enjoy the space. You can also take an audio guide if you would like to. If you struggle with walking book the golf cart tour – it goes every hour on the hour from 9am.
DAY 2: THE PENINSULA REGION
This area of extended Cape Town is extremely beautiful and well worth including as part of your visit. Most people do not realize that Table Mountain starts in the city and that the range continues all the way through to Cape Point. This is one of the most beautiful drives in the world as you ramble along the coastline with the sea on one side and the mountains on the other. You pass through nature reserve and lovely little villages. Exploring this area gives you an introduction to the extended areas that make up greater Cape Town.
Some of the attractions along the way are:
- The scenic drive itself!
- Driving along the dramatic coastal drive called Chapaman’s Peak Drive
- Visiting Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope
- The Penguin Colony at Boulders
- A lovely long lunch near the sea!
- Checking out small villages as you go
- Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens (if you have the time. This is fairly close to the city – so to give you more time we would recommend you do this on your first day)
Activities in the area:
- If you are self driving stop for beach walks and for a beach day.
- Book for kayaking, surfing or horse riding on the beach along the way
How to get there?
- Self Drive or
- Take a tour
- City Sightseeing bus – very very slow as the distances are quite large to get to the area.
- Scheduled tour – works well and also moves fast to get through the check list of activities.
- Private Peninsula Tour – I would always recommend this option as one gets to move at one’s own pace for the day. One still needs to move fairly fast as we do a circular route to make sure you get to see the highlights of the region. A private guide adds a level of magic to the day as you get to learn more about what you are interested in.
- Private Taste the Peninsula Tour – this is a new tour option for 2021. This is possibly the most beautiful food tour you will ever experience! This tour rambles along the coast of the peninsula. We stop to eat, drink and meet the passionate artisans of the region as we go. This is such a fun way to experience the people of the “Deep South”. It includes food, gin and beer tastings as well as a wonderful visit to an Urban Farm to meet one of the Food Gangsters of the region!
DAY 3 CAPE OLDEST WINE REGIONS
No visit to the Cape is complete without a day out in this region. Cape Town is blessed to have wine regions that start only 20 minutes from the city center!
We would recommend you make sure you do not miss out on visiting Stellenbosch during your stay. It does not matter if you are not into wine or if you come from a wine region. This is completely different. Stellenbosch is the second oldest town in South Africa. The region boasts a wonderful mix of colonial Dutch and British influenced architecture and is surrounded by majestic mountains. It is one of the prettiest regions you will ever visit. Wherever you find wine – you will find great restaurants. Combine wine, quaint villages, architecture, mountains and great restaurants set on the side of mountains and you have the recipe to having a wonderful day out exploring the region.
Make sure you book and spoil yourself to lunch while you are out here. Note that our culture is to enjoy long lunches in this region. As such the food does not come out fast. Kick back, relax and enjoy the view.
If you have time during your visit to this area, try and include Franschhoek and Paarl. Both Stellenbosch & Franschhoek are a wonderful base to use for exploring the old Cape Winelands regions. Franschhoek is a quaint town with a lovely main road road going through it that is lined with wonderful restaurants and lovely local shops. Stellenbosch’s oldest part is also magical to stay in. Note that it is always lovely to also stay on a wine estate.
There are a huge number of wonderful wine estates in the area. Make sure you mention what your interests are so that the locals can advise you on where to visit! If you enjoy cabs and gardens you will be steered towards estates that offer what you like!
There are however some estates that will appeal to most people. Some of our favourites are below:
PAM’S FAVOURITE WINE ESTATES FOR YOUR FIRST TRIP:
This estate boasts one of the most beautiful organic food gardens in the world. You are welcome to wonder the garden and to pick and eat anything that is ripe as you go. It is owned by a top interior designer and her media mogul husband. This is hands down one of the most beautiful foodie places you will ever visit. If you are a foodie and lover of gardens make sure you stay here if you can. Or make sure you visit. Book for lunch at their Babel Restaurant or simply come for a walk during the day or stop for a wine tasting with a charcuterie platter or pause for tea and scones. I love to start my wine tours here as the garden is magical either first thing in the morning or at 4pm when all the people have cleared off!
This estate dates back to the early 1700’s and boasts wonderful gardens, historical buildings, a forest and great wines. I would highly recommend you visit and do a walk on the estate to learn more about their history. As you explore it feels like you step back in time. The homestead dates back to the early 1700’s is built in the famous Cape Dutch architecture style. The camphor trees in front of the house date back to the early 1700’s. You can easily spend most of a day here! They have a wonderful cellar tour, gardens to explore, rose garden, camphor forest, picnics, fine dining restaurant and wine tasting.
This is also a wonderful estate to visit as it dates back to the late 1600’s. It boasts historic Cape Dutch Architecture, a lovely organic garden to explore, a great farm shop and a lovely wine tasting under the trees. Note that you can also book for a picnic here.
This estate boasts a wonderful range of classic Bordeaux style wines as well as an Italian collection. They are famous for their olive oil and also offer a tutored olive oil tasting with olives to nibble on!
Beautiful courtyard where they do wine and chocolate pairing. Great range of wines that include white and red wines – so this works for most people.
One of the best introductions to South African wine is the master wine tasting at Fairview in Paarl. Here they pair their top wines to the farm’s cheeses. Charles Back – the owner – was one of the first “small specialist” wine producers. He has been a pioneer on the journey to where we are today. He experimented with many varietals that had not been planted in SA. The journey of their wine is a journey through our changes over time and the celebration of bush vines.
If you are keen to do a cellar tour where they are not just doing the conventional side of wine making – this one has a twist that makes it a really good cellar tour to experience.
Avondale is a green wine estate – they are organic, bio dynamic and bio-logic. Their philosophies are fascinating and extend from the vineyard into the cellar! They are even making wine in old Georgian clay style jugs.
This estate is a must do for anyone passionate about green wine! They also a wonderful farm tour.
Note that there are a huge number of wine estates and you would need to ask for advice for the ones that will match your interests in wine and other interests such as gardens or art or shopping! CHECK OUT OUR MORE EXTENSIVE LIST OF WINE ESTATES TO SEE WHICH ONES MATCH YOUR INTERESTS.
CAPE GOURMET ACTIVITIES IN SUMMER:
FEBRUARY AND MARCH ARE HARVEST TIME IN THE WINELANDS OF THE CAPE! There is activity everywhere – so it is definitely time to go and do a ramble around the winelands as you will see grapes being transported all over the place, you can see the presses working and it is quite festive. Some estates host special events at this time – so watch out for events that will be advertised during this period.
STELLENBOSCH FRESH GOODS MARKET every Saturday 09h00- 14h00- wonderful spot to pick up fresh produce from the winelands region. I recommend going just before lunch so that you can enjoy a delicious snack after shopping! Visit www.slowmarket.co.za to check out directions and what is on offer. Location: Stellenbosch
NEIGHBOURHOOD GOODS MARKET – Every Saturday – wonderful spot to pick up fresh produce and enjoy people watching. Hippy chic gathering of stalls of organic produce, wines and oils, flowers, clothes and crafts in a large elegant warehouse. Lots of delicious things to eat at communal tables. Venue: Old Biscuit Mill, 373 – 375 Albert Road, Woodstock (10 mins from town) Time: 9am to 2pm
Tel: 021 461 2573 www.neighbourgoodsmarket.co.za/aboutcontact
PORTER ESTATE MARKET Every Saturday. An outdoor market with fresh produce to take home or eat on the spot. Venue: On the grounds of the Chrysalis Academy, Tokai Manor, Tokai Rd (25 mins from town) Time: 9am to 1pm Cost: free Tel: 021 461 2573 E-mail email@example.com www.pepmarket.co.za
WHAT’S ON IN CAPE TOWN: Visit www.whatsonincapetown.com before you come to check out all the fun events, theatre, markets etc happening while you are here.