Cape Town is the oldest city in South Africa — nicknamed the “Mother City” — and is truly a wonder. A port city located on the water, you’ll get everything you could ever want by way of beaches, mountains, wine country, and urban sprawl — making it the ideal destination for picky travelers and big groups alike. You know those cities that leave you with nothing new to do after a mere couple of days? This is not one of those cities.
Where to Stay:
The Silo Hotel, located in the V&A Waterfront, is truly one of the most spectacular hotels in the area. Newly opened in 2017, the 5-star hotel is set in a converted grain elevator (hence the name) and features 28 rooms (all individually designed), a spa, a restaurant and bar, and a rooftop bar with a panoramic pool. (Prepare your Instagram, friends.) It’s not only beautiful, but it offers some of the friendliest and loveliest service. The hotel is positioned directly above the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art, the largest museum of contemporary African art in the world, and features amazing art inside its own rooms, making for a subtle cultural note to start your trip off right. (Plus, please enjoy that bathtub. I definitely did.)
Where to Eat:
Whether you’re staying at The Silo or not, you need to check out the rooftop bar that features panoramic views of the waterfront and drinks that are A+. Make sure you call ahead to make reservations, as some days they are not open to the public, and they don’t allow walk-ins. (They are strict about this — in a good, this-bar-is-never-overcrowded way.) The hotel’s restaurant, The Granary Café, is also amazing and perfect for a special night. (Don’t miss the superb wine list, which features a rotating list of local gems.)
For an experience with a worthy view, visit The Twelve Apostles Hotel for high tea. You can sit at the Leopard Bar or the Conservatory, and enjoy a seriously delicious spread with unlimited tea or coffee. There’s even a vegan option, should you be so inclined.
Gold Restaurant is, without a doubt, a tourist’s dream but worth a visit. You’ll be hard pressed to find a ton of true African cuisine in Cape Town (in fact, a lot of the trendier restaurants take their inspiration from the U.S. and most of the “traditional” restaurants take their cues from Europe), so if you’re dying for some African dishes, go here. It’s a dinner and a show, with dancing and music (you can also elect to be in the “interactive” portion, which includes dancing and drumming, should you so desire), and it is a lot of fun. Just make sure to make reservations and show up on time!
What to Do:
You have to visit Table Mountain, which has an elevation of 3,558 feet. Some people choose to hike to the top, and while that is an adventurous option (there are different trails and pretty steep climbs at certain parts), I would personally recommend choosing the cable car, which has been taking tourists to the top since 1929. Be aware though, the bottom of the car slowly rotates to give everyone a good view (so don’t sweat it if you don’t have one to start — head towards a window and wait). At the top, you’ll also find a café and — yes — alcohol. Because nothing is better than drinking a beer on top of a mountain, I can promise you that.
At the bottom of the mountain you’ll find Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, founded in 1913, which is not only beautiful, but also features special concerts and events once in awhile.
There are plenty of beach options in Cape Town. Clifton Beach (1-4) is ideal for just relaxing and hanging on the sand, Melkbos Beach is laid-back and non-touristy, while Boulder Beach is a must for getting up close and personal with penguins. (Yes, penguins.) Pro tip: Unless you’re going to actually spend a significant amount of time at Boulder Beach, save yourself the entry fee (as it is a part of the national park and next to Table Mountain) and head to the water near the nearest parking lot. There are plenty of penguins that you can see for free, if that’s the only reason you’re going.
Walk the V&A Waterfront to see shops, boats, and possibly hear some musicians strumming away. You’ll need to head to the Cape of Good Hope and the New Cape Point Lighthouse for some history, beautiful views, and some baboon sightings. (Very important.) There are plenty of history tours that will take you should you not have a car, or you can hire a driver as well.
A must when visiting Cape Town is to go outside the city center to one of the wine regions. Stellenbosch is well-known for its outstanding wines, and many wine tours will take you there, along with private drivers (should you have a bigger group or want to be by yourself). Don’t miss out on visiting the Vergenoegd Wine Estate, which features a daily running duck parade in the morning. It’s amazing.