Its all here - the views, the wine, the lifestyle, the outdoors adventures, the people, and the palpable energy – I just love everything about Cape Town.
I’m not one to humblebrag but I am fortunate enough to have been to Cape Town 5 times – a couple of visits due to the hospitality of my South African friends, twice for friends wedding, and once earlier this year for a crazy friend’s 40th birthday (now that’s another story for another blog!).
For this post I’m going to mix all my trips together and share with you my favorite top ten highlights.
1. Wine Country – you cannot visit CT and not take a trip to Stellenbosch or Franschoek (Africa’s Napa Valley). An hour’s drive from CT and you will be transported into another world, a world offering stunning views of mountains and wine valleys that go on for miles with tranquility and luxury all coming together in one magical place. And lets not forget the food and wine. Even a small bed and breakfast will blow you away with their quality of fresh food and homegrown wine. Franschoek Valley is arguably the most historic, beautiful and captivating town in the Cape Winelands. Below are a few of our favorite locations - all offering award-winning cuisine, wines and luxury accommodation:
If you want to stay a night or two in Franschoek, check out Leeu Collection Properties - they are stunning:
2. Whale-Watching - Unless you view it live, the experience of humpback whales giving birth on the shores of Hermanus cannot truly be explained by words. This was the most surreal moment I have ever witnessed, seeing so many whales close to the shore – a sight I will never forget. As we sat with the crowds of people on the bay walls, we literally witnessed the whales giving birth. The noise echoed while the sea changed to red. Hermanus, particularly Walker Bay, are the mating and breeding grounds during the winter and spring months. Every September you get to witness the birth of this wonderful mammal.
Hermanus has been recognized by the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) as one of the 12 best whale-watching destinations in the world. Adding to the vibe are a lot of funky places to eat and lots of space for kids to run around.
3. Climbing Table Mountain – 9 out of 10 South Africans love their sport and are obsessed with outdoor activities, so while I was staying with my friend she took me to enjoy the views from the top of Table Mountain. However she made my husband and I walk up – yep that’s right, from the bottom to the top – 2 hours plus. For the fit and crazy people, there are a few great trails that you can follow to the top of the mountain but be careful, as some take a lot longer than others. But don’t worry as once you’re at the top, your head will be in the clouds, literally! If you’re going with kids, take the cable car and enjoy a bite to eat at the top while taking in the breathtaking 360-degree views.
4. Paragliding off the top of Signal Hill - something I have always wanted to do. However, if you’re an adrenaline junkie then this maybe too tame for you. My tandem buddy was very sweet, gliding over the wonderful views pointing my Go-Pro in the best directions. The whole thing lasted about 20 minutes and instead of being edgy, it’s actually very peaceful and relaxing and a wonderful way to capture the essence of Cape Town.
Watch my video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YESQgzDYA6I&t=3s
5. Up close and personal with the penguins at Boulders Beach – there are so many picturesque beaches in Cape Town yet there’s nothing like beautiful Boulders Beach where you can sit on the beach surrounded by a colony of African Penguins. These little penguins are pretty cool and not shy. Watch the little guys waddle around in their own habitat and kids especially will thoroughly enjoy the experience. There is a cute snack place if you need to get a sandwich, I hear the cheese and tomato is a local favorite!
There’s a conservation fee of around R65 per person
6. Foodie Scene - the food in CT is not only yummy and healthy but it’s extremely affordable. My top restaurants would be:
- The Test Kitchen – top restaurant in CT – book way in advance as its near impossible to get a booking but luckily we know the owners so drop us a line and we could help you out!
- The Pot Luck Club – sharing Tapas
- Black Sheep Restaurant
- The Bungalow
- Tashas – V&A Waterfront – same menu as Dubai but a fraction of the price!
- Kloof Street House
- The Silo – located in V&A it’s a modern and exclusive hotel. You must go visit the Silo Rooftop bar for panoramic views of the city and a swanky dinner and drinks, but you need to book a table in advance and the dress code is a must.
- Tintswalo Atlantic – a dining room which leads out onto an expansive wooden deck, where you can enjoy stunning ocean views
7. Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve - where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet. It’s a scenic ride through the southernmost edge of the Cape Peninsula. Again words would not do this place justice – awe-inspiring! I don’t think this is a trip for little kids.
8. Helicopter Ride– this was my first time in a helicopter and it didn’t disappoint. I had always been fascinated with them so I jumped at the chance. My friend and I chatted in each others head-set as we went from Cape Town to Cape Point, flying over Table Mountain right down the coast with the Atlantic on one side and the Indian ocean on the other. If you have the time and the budget, then definitely put this on your CT bucket list.
9. Stay in Camps Bay – with so many lovely hotels in the city and on the coast you are literally spoilt for choice. However I have to admit, I prefer to rent a private villa in the beautiful area of Camps Bay, which is situated up the hill on one side of Table Mountain while over-looking the sea and the Twelve Apostles mountains. Earlier this year we rented a stunning house for our friends 40th – with 9 bedrooms, a large balcony and a swimming pool we witnessed the most amazing sunsets and sunrises you could ever imagine:
There is one hidden gem in CT, which I will share with you called Tintswalo Atlantic – an award-winning lodge perched on a pebbled beach at the foot of the Table Mountain National Park, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. I would however recommend this for couples rather than families.
Tip – If you can't stay here, do go for sunset drinks or dinner – it has the best sunset views you could wish for
10. Victoria and Alfred (V&A) Waterfront – a buzzing area with lots of cute restaurants and bars. As a little-added extra you can spot the seals come into the waterfront near the boats. Check out The Silo Hotel and museum. You can be sure to catch some local performers raising the roof.
Well, that’s the list so far, but trust me, it's not set in stone as I certainly plan on going back – a couple of great excursions next on my bucket list:
1. A visit to the famous Robben Island. The island was once a prison where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison.
2. Swimming with great whites – even though I will be more scared of the water being so cold than being in a cage with a great white in front of me!
3. Using CT as a base to either go on game reserves and a safari or go up and down the much vaunted Garden Route – a gorgeous drive to Port Elizabeth that the locals swear by.
So, this place has everything: from drinking too much wine to jumping off mountains and everything in between. I can’t recommend enough, especially for the foodies and the outdoor/adventure traveller.