Cape town to do

Stunning drives, mountain climbs, wine sips and neighbourhood walks. There is so much to do in Cape Town, here is just the tip of iceberg!

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Before we dive into where to go, eat, learn and explore; please consider making your home in Cape Town The Backpack. The Backpack is an incredible, world class hostel that is all Fair Trade and really strives to be as sustainable as possible in their approach to travel. They are incredibly community minded and on top of it all the accommodations are spectacular! I cannot recommend this place enough as a home to rest your head!

To See

Boulders Beach: A Cape Town must is visiting some penguins at Boulders Beach. You can climb through massive rocks, swim with these flightless friends or just straight up go to the beach if you so choose. There are penguins everywhere but please don’t feed or pet them. The whole experience will also cost you about $1.75 CAD, yep less than the price of a coffee.

Cape of Good Hope: Travel South West, very South West, to the ‘most South Westerly point of the African continent’! The drive itself is more than worth it. Stunning views surround you and there are lots of incredible pull off points before and after entering The Cape of Good Hope. These breath taking vistas are all part of Table Mountain National Park, perhaps one of the most stunning national parks in the world. Again, like many things in South Africa, entry to this park is under $2.00 CAD.

  • The park is only ope 6AM -6PM so don’t plan on doing any sort of sunset drives!

Table Mountain: This is by far my favourite thing I did in all of Cape Town, climb Table Mountain. Perhaps, because I didn’t do it the conventional way. Tourists traditionally take the zig zagging, man made rock steps up to the top of Table Mountain and then pay a lot to wait in line, stand in a crowded car and cable down to the bottom, no thanks. We chose to take the Platteklip Gorge route, one of the many hiking trails to the top, and it was incredible. It did take about 3 hours of straight walking to get to the top, factoring in a bit of getting lost because the trail was not entirely marked, but getting lost in nature, standing inside of clouds - worth every step. Once you get to the top there are washrooms and food available but I suggest packing a picnic! Crack a Savannah and enjoy the views while you rest your legs. Fair warning, coming down Table Mountain not in a cable car was a bit of a tricky feet. With tired legs, walking down the more populated zig zag steps took me about 90 minutes and many potential falls. In the moment, wasn’t loving it, but now I look back and laugh and can warn you all to bring shoes with good grip!

Mabu Vinyl: I you are a fan of the documentary hit Searching for Sugar Man then head into Mabu Vinyl to check out where the search for Sixto Rodriguez all began!

  • Not pictured but a most hit spot are the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden and Oranjezicht City Farm Market.

to learn

City Walking Tour: I try and do a walking tour in every city that I visit. You get so much history, local insight, exercise and a quick layout of where you are, for me it’s the bees needs. I did a Historical Walking Tour of Cape town and saw and learned so much! They took us to the High Court, Green Market Square, City Hall and the Company’s Garden just to name a few. There is so much history in this city that I cannot recommend doing a walking tour enough!

Bo-Kaap: Then I did a second walking tour because I didn’t want to miss out on Bo-Kaap. This brightly coloured neighbourhood in Cape Town is home to the famous Chiappini Street where many movies have been filmed, traditional Cape-Malay cuisine and is one of the most cosmopolitan areas in Cape Town, blending Indian, Malay and Dutch culture altogether. Do not miss this walk!

District Six Museum: There are SO many important historical sites in Cape Town, but if I had to pick one must see it would be making it to the District Six Museum. Take a guided tour with someone who lived through apartheid and hear their story. It is not an easy listen but it was one of the most impactful things I did in South Africa. The museum gives you a comprehensive understanding of Apartheid and the devastating affects colonialism had on this majestic country.

  • Don’t wait to buy your ticket like me and miss out on the opportunity to get to Robben Island, the jail where Nelson Mandela served out his sentence and now stands as a symbol of the triumph of the human spirit over adversity. Tickets go fast, book ahead here.

TO Eat

Meat, meat and more meat. I don’t tend to eat a lot of meat on the regular but when in South Africa, be prepared. Steak is a hot dish and when it is so reasonably priced why not indulged. Bunny chow is a local favourite, think bunny stew in a white bread bowl, bobotie, which could be described as a beef quiche is a must try, seafood, (hello you are surrounded by water!) or just having a braai, basically a South African bbq that consists of a lot more meat.

Dinner: Walking in the streets in Cape Town you need to take a stroll along Bree Street and Loop Street for some more high class restaurants. We settled on House of H and had a steak dinner there for under $20CAD, and many restaurants will frequently have cheap steak nights! 112 Loop Street.

Coffee: For a truly unique experience head over to Truth Coffee Roasting. Along with delicious food, the entire cafe is steam punk themed! Lots of leather, lots of pipes and lots of goggles; the staff are ready to indulge you in your steam punk fantasy. 36 Buitenkant St.

Dessert: For a sweet treat you need to head over to Charly’s Bakery because it is ‘Mucking Afazing’. Ten points to them on cheeky-ness alone, and these scrumptious treats are a perfect snack for the top of Table Mountain or a pick me up after visiting the close by District Six Museum. 38 Canterbury St. 

Drinks: If you want a cool day drinking experience (and maybe a sleeping one as well) head over to the Grand Daddy Hotel on Long Street. The rooftop bar is surrounded by Airstream trailers that you can sleep in! There are only a few so make sure to book ahead for a once in a lifetime sleeping story. 38 Long Street.

Once you have had your fill of the rooftop (is that possible) continue along Long Street where a line of bars await you for window seats and people watching. One last thing, please have a Savannah for me, South Africa’s answer to dry ciders- yum.

to visit

If bustling about in Cape Town is not enough for you then be sure to check out these close by destinations!

Stellenbosch: Wine lovers rejoice. South Africa does wine right and Stellenbosch is where you can find the perfect glass to toast to a beautiful trip. The town of Stellenbosch is super quaint and filled with higher end restaurants, shops and art galleries. Be sure to take at least a morning of exploring and window shopping and an afternoon of wine tastings here.

Langebaan: Head North West along the coast until you hit the tiny town of Langebaan. There isn’t a ton going on in this little town but there is an incredible restaurant that all foodies must hit - Die Standloper. Nestled on the beach, feet in the sand, curl up into your own little corner and watch the sunset as you eat the freshest sea food, all prepared right in front of you. Atmosphere? Check! Food? Check! Sunset? Check. It’s a win win.

False Bay: Head East out of Cape Town and drive the winding, sloping roads around False Bay and prepare to have your jaw hit the floor. Stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean await, along with a highway trail that seems to go on forever and ever. Just drive.

Hermanus: If you really want to leave Cape Town behind you can head out to most people’s first stop on the popular Garden Route, Hermanus. More wineries, beaches, nature trails and whale watching opportunities await you there.

  • The best time to see whales in between July to November!