If you’ve ever put off a holiday to South Africa because you’re not quite sure what to expect from this faraway destination, a visit to Cape Town could very well convince you of the country’s wonders. This coastal city is so well loved that it was even voted one of the World’s Top Cities 2018 by Travel and Leisure’s readers, which is all the more reason for you to give this capital a chance.
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Picture gorgeous scenery such as towering mountains overlooking the deep blue South Atlantic Ocean, a burgeoning art scene bursting with vibrant energy and a wide-ranging selection of gourmet hotspots to choose from — even then you’ll only have scratched the surface of Cape Town. Curious about some of the destination’s enduring highlights and new buzz-worthy spots? Find out all about them with our handy guide on what to do during a short getaway to the city.
Explore a variety of artisanal street food at this bustling daily food market. Photo by V&A Food Market.
Day 1 – Morning
Welcome to Cape Town! You’re likely famished after your long flight so the first thing on your agenda would be to hunt for some delicious food and we can think of no better start to the trip than a visit to the bustling V&A Food Market. This market is usually the testing ground for the country’s newest street food concepts so you can expect quirky creations like rainbow sushi rolls and dairy-free coconut yoghurt being sold alongside more traditional offerings. Sample a variety of affordable street bites before browsing through the selection of locally produced items for a dandy souvenir or two; you’ll even get to bop along to live music on the weekends.
The Zeitz MOCAA is the world’s largest contemporary African art museum. Photo by The Royal Portfolio.
Day 1 – Afternoon
After a hearty meal, take in the views of the iconic Victoria & Albert Waterfront as you stroll along to your next destination.
Art-lovers will jump at the opportunity to visit the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, the world’s largest museum of contemporary African art. Unveiled in late 2017, the museum holds an incredible 100 galleries spanning nine floors that primarily exhibit 21st-century work from the continent. The building itself also boasts spectacular design and is a converted grain silo that overlooks the vast Atlantic Ocean. Incredibly, the Zeitz has already managed to clinch the Museum of the Year for 2018 award despite its recent inception and is a stellar addition to South Africa’s cultural scene.
If your interests lie with history instead, trace the footsteps of South Africa’s freedom fighters including the celebrated former president Nelson Mandela when you embark on an excursion to Robben Island from the Victoria & Albert Waterfront. The 4-hour tour takes you to historical sites such as a high wall built by past prisoners and the Maximum Security Prison where the cell Mandela was held in resides. A knowledgeable guide will be on hand to share about the island’s 500-year-old history along the way so you get further insight into events of the past.
The Belly of the Beast excites your palate with a secret daily set menu. Photo by Belly of the Beast.
Day 1 – Night
A new addition to the local gourmet scene, Belly of the Beast operates with an omakase concept, where diners are treated to secret daily set menus that typically consist of five to eight courses. Headed by chef Neil Swart of the popular Arugula Bistro, this fine-dining restaurant serves just 20 guests per service and primarily focuses on food and wine pairings. The nose-to-tail eatery utilises sustainable, seasonal, locally-sourced and self-produced ingredients so visitors get a true taste of what South Africa cuisine has to offer. Fun fact: Belly of the Beast is the country’s first crowdfunded restaurant!
Start the day right with some of Cape Town’s best coffee blends. Photo by Truth Coffee Roasting.
Day 2 – Morning
Wake up and smell the coffee — Cape Town’s coffee scene is positively booming with an influx of artisanal coffee shops, which means good news for us visitors. Having won accolades such as The World’s Best Coffee Shop and The World’s Coolest Coffee shop, Truth Coffee Roasting is one of the top picks in the city. Choose from one of their fan favourite house blends such as the Resurrection and Deep, Dark and Twisted for a twist to your cuppa and order a tasty brunch such as the Steampunk Benedict for a wholesome breakfast. Besides enjoying a drink, you can also tour the roastery and take a coffee appreciation class for deeper insight into the local coffee scene.
Day 2 – Afternoon
Be carried away to the top of one of South Africa’s most recognisable icons, Table Mountain, by a cable car. This 1,085-metres-tall plateau overlooks the peninsula, giving you a wonderful view of the landscape beneath. Sit and enjoy 360-degree panoramas of your surroundings at the cosy cafe, go on a guided tour to learn more about the significance of the mountain, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, or opt for a leisurely hike of your own to explore the variety of flora and fauna unique to the locale.
Cape Town is also home to the oldest wine producing region in the Southern Hemisphere so if you enjoy your wines, you’ll definitely have to spend some time tasting the different tipples on offer. The Constantia Wine Route consists of 10 farms offering some of the world’s top wines so delve right into this picturesque region to explore their cellars, learn about winemaking techniques and drink your heart away. With a private driver on hand, you won’t have to worry about getting from place to place or having to lug your purchases around, which allows you to fully relax and enjoy your excursion!
Unwind with a sumptuous meal at this lovely restaurant in Constantia Valley. Photo by Beau Constantia.
Day 2 – Night
Break for an early dinner at Chef’s Warehouse Beau Constantia to enjoy the lovely scenery from this beautiful space situated atop Constantia Valley. Another restaurant under the belt of Liam Tomlin, whose food has been recognised by seven of the country’s top chefs as being amongst the best in Cape Town, a meal at Chef’s Warehouse Beau Constantia will serve as a befitting end to a great holiday. Try their signature tapas for two set menu experience and watch the chefs create magic in the open kitchen before ending the night with a celebratory toast.
Your interlude at Cape Town may have come to an end but your exciting journeys to other lands have just begun.