I think everyone who visited Cape Town, immediately fell in love with the city. It’s not a city like Paris or Prague, where it’s the buildings and streets that are just beautiful and stunning. In Cape Town, or the Mother City as it’s also called, you’ll be enchanted by the views: the ocean to the one side and the mountains to the other and nature in general, the sun, the vibe, everything.
It’s a windy city, but mostly sunny and wait until you’ll see the sunsets, they’re one of the most beautiful you’ll ever see. And all the trips you can do from there – you can go southwards to see the coast and the Cape of Good Hope, or you drive inside the country to go for wine tastings, safaris or continue towards Namibia, or explore other parts of South Africa. People are very friendly and welcoming and if you behave like a responsible person with some common sense, you won’t feel unsafe. Of course, some parts of the city are more dodgy and dangerous than others, but that’s also the case with most European cities, let alone South America or parts of Asia. You don’t have to wave with your Rolex or your golden earrings, but you probably wouldn’t do that in other cities either.
The part following is on Cape Town and its sights, food and trips you can do from here. For Franschoek and the wine country, there’s a separate post HERE.
On our first days in Cape Town, Johan and I were quite productive. After calling it an early night on Saturday, our arrival day, we made big plans for the Sunday. We hiked up Lion’s Head, went to Kalk Bay, Simon’s Town, Cape Point and drove up Chapman’s Peak drive – overload of impressions.
Our alarm rang at 6am and half an hour later we were ready to ‘climb’ up Lion’s Head, when looking from the Waterfront it’s the mountain between the huge Table Mountain and the smaller Signal Hill. You can take a car and park right at the bottom of where the mountain starts and climb up. The climb is around 45 minutes to one hour I’d say and mostly manageable, except for one part of the route where you have to decide whether to take the shorter way and climb up some metal ropes, or to take 5 minutes longer and walk around the mountain. The steps can be quite high so maybe a bit hard to climb with small children or people who are not that fit. Once arrived on top you’ll have a mind-blowing view over Cape Town, Table Mountain and on Camps Bay. Go early, because a) there’s less people then and b) temperature-wise it’s much more convenient. There’s no cable car going up, so the only way is walking.
After hiking up Lion’s Head, we enjoyed a delicious breakfast with eggs Benedict at our hotel in Camps Bay and at around 10am we hit the road towards the Cape of Good Hope.
The first stop on your route to the Cape will be Kalk Bay, an old fishery village with quite some history, hosting plenty of cafes and nice spots by the water. Thanks to a recommendation of a friend of mine, we found, Kalkys, a traditional little food spot by the harbor with very simple, colourful wooden tables and benches, a plastic roof and metal dishware and delicious fried fish and seafood. Make sure to try the “snoek”, a fish you’ll find often in the area. It’s all very greasy, so don’t come here if you’re on a diet. (Or try: Olympia Cafe and Deli for lunch and Brass Bell for drinks).
Simon’s Town and Boulders Beach:
Who doesn’t like penguins?! A short drive towards South from Kalk Bay and you’ll reach Simon’s Town and the famous Boulders Beach, where penguins come as close as a meter towards you if you’re lucky. But be careful, they bite and can become aggressive if you’re getting on their nerves. Also, be respectful and don’t feed them (I’m not sharing my food anyways…with anyone)! In the area you’ll also see another animal, whose name or species I haven’t figured out, but they look like huge guinea pigs or another cute animal. After enjoying the view and the walk, stop for a coffee, or as I did, for a red latte (made from Rooibos tea) at Mig 21, a quite peculiar place with very nice people.
Now you just continue driving from Simon’s Town towards the South West, passing the whole Cape peninsula, enjoying the variety of plants and flowers it has to offer. First you reach Cape Point, where you can walk up (or take the cable car) a little hill to a lightning house and you’ll enjoy a beautiful view over the ocean and the mountains. Afterwards you can continue the drive, heading back already and stopping by the Cape of Good Hope.
Chapman’s Peak Drive: Do this tour before sunset. The light and the views are breathtaking and once you’ve done it, you’ll discover why. Driving back from Cape Point you can take several routes, but the one you should take back is the one along the ocean on the Western side. The route starts at Hout Bay and will lead to Cape Town. It has plenty of viewpoints and the closer you get to Cape Town the nicer the views get. It’s closed sometimes, because of rocks falling down on the road.
Camps Bay: The Kensington, 16eme arrondissement or Upper East Side of Cape Town. It’s the more posh area of the city where you can spot some remarkable houses and villas. There’s also a beautiful beach that’s worth to be visited and a few nice restaurants. Check out Codfather for great fish.
The first sign that greeted us when entering the beach was “beware the sharks”, but since it was too cold to go for a swim anyways I wasn’t too concerned. Llandudno is a rather small beach that’s enclosed by rocks and nature with a view on the hills where some beautiful houses can be spotted. White sand and a beautiful scenery make this beach a destination not only in summer.
I guess you know that you can’t leave Cape Town without having seen this magnificient mountain that, you could guess from its name, looks like a flat table when looking at it from the far. There’s many ways to climb up, some longer and harder, some shorter and easier. For the lazy ones, or those who can’t do long walks there’s also the cable car that brings you to the top, just be aware that during strong wind (and that can happen) it’s not running. We drove up with our car from Gardens, and started the climb from Platteklip Gorge and were on top after 1.5 hours. Once on the top you’ll have one of the most stunning views you can imagine; the ocean, the mountains and the city. We climbed back down when it was getting dark, so we experienced an amazing sunset, too. It can get quite cold at the top, so take some warmer clothes with you (Yep, I was freezing my ass off). Also, the rocks can be slippery, so to avoid any major or small incidents you should have the right shoes on your feet (yes, Kaja, climbing up there with your Nike free trainers, whose tread was absolutely worn down, wasn’t the best idea). This is an amazing experience you definitely shouldn’t miss.
Other things to see:
Blouberg Beach: Beautiful view on Cape Town
Muizenberg Beach: Long beach with white sand and cute little, colourful houses.
WHERE TO DINE LIKE A ROYAL:
Cape Town is the absolute dream for anyone interested in good food. The ingredients in general are fresh, meat is amazing, menues are creative and everything is very cheap compared to Europe. I was really surprised by all the amazing dishes I got to try in the city and in Franschoek. No matter where we went, food was very nicely presented, ingredients were very fresh, often from the own garden or the farmers market nearby. When I order a garden salad in Europe, I often get the same salad, made from 2 maximum 3 different kinds of salad, a few tomatoes and some other vegetables. In Cape Town, all the salads were different. Some had flowers in them, some weirdly shaped green leaves I’ve never seen before and all of them were super crispy and fresh. The same goes for the side dishes, meat and fish. Fresh, very aromatic and tasteful and all beautifully combined, as if the dishes were made to sit on a plate together.
You should try The Test Kitchen, if you’re looking for something really different. This restaurant, currently is number 63 of the 50 world’s best retaurants and is a must go to, located in the Woodstock area of Cape Town and in the Old Biscuit Mill, where a food market is taking place on Saturdays. Bookings open 3 months in advance at 8am and you should be quick as seats are gone very fast. When I made my reservation, the place was fully booked after 40min. 40min!!! for a 3 month period. But it’s worth it. I don’t want to tell too much, to keep the tension, but it was an experience I won’t forget any time soon. One pre-starter snack/amuse bouche was wagyu biltong on a liqurice stick, the beef was soft like butter, full of taste and together with the liquorice a great mix of flavours. Another “snack” was the billionaires shortbread reinvented with some incredible foie gras. After some of these little teasers and delicious cocktails, you head from the dark room to the light room, where the main dining experience takes place. Starters like 12 hour smoked sea brass tartare, lovage oil, horseradish snow or scallop, cauliflower and cheese, black garlic salsa paired with some excellent wines marked a great beginning of that evening. It continued with more and lots more wine and main dishes like Springbok with a beetroot reduction, coconut nibs, bone marrow and hazelnut or beef sweetbread, asparagus, peas, morel, porcini hollandaise (God, I’m drooling). This was a truly unique experience and I would repeat it any time. Waiters are very nice and just about the right amount of easy going and the place is non-pretentious and welcoming, especially if you sit at the counter and look into the kitchen, as we did. Don’t miss the wine pairing, either the simple or the advanced one, with wines from vineyards as Klein Constantia or Jordan, all carefully paired with every dish.
Good to know: Address: The Old Biscuit Mill, 375 Albert Rd, Woodstock, Cape Town; Website: thetestkitchen.co.za
Price: Around 120€ for an extensive and delicious tasting menu, 170€ with wine pairing
We didn’t dine at Chef’s Warehouse at Beau Constantia, but had quite an extensive and wine-heavy lunch. The restaurant is located in one of the oldest wine regions in the area (Constantia, which is btw. also an amazing area to visit), in a glass building overlooking the vineyards. The concept is easy: 7 dishes, to share between the table, paired with wine or not, your choice. It’s an open kitchen so you can observe the team of Ivor Jones at work, creating dishes that will stay in your mind. It would be worth already just to visit this place because of the view – the amazing food that you’re getting is like 10 cherries and a big portion of cream on top. You could see that each dish was prepared with a lot of love, starting with the first thing to nibble on, their homemade potato bread with creamy butter served with basil oil and olives. It started with coal seared tuna, anchovy & parmesan custard, grilled & smoked tomatoes and korean chili oil (indeed, this is one dish), then, linefish sashimi, tamarind & apple dressing, BBQ baby carrots, blackened leak oil and buttermilk mousse and the third, seared blesbok rump tartare, crispy celeriac and smoked garlic aioli (damn!!!). The food journey continued with cauliflower risotto, cabanossi, lemon gremolata and mature cheddar & tempura purple kale, pickled lemon, ricotta and cashew dukkah. And on a final note: linefish bahij, pickled red onion & smoked snoek salad, BBQ Jalapeno & Red Onion Cream, then vietnamese pork sausage, BBQ pork broth, rice paper and a herb salad (told ya!) and finally slow roast lamb rib, charred red pepper salsa, garlic and parmesan puree. Waiters are very nice and explain you each ingredient that you can find on your plate one by one. If you didn’t have enough head up to their wine tasting section and make sure to bring some wine home.
Good to know: Address: ERF1026 Constantia Main Rd, Glen Alpine, Cape Town, 7806, Website: chefswarehouse.co.za
Price: A menu for 2 is around 47€, with a glass of wine for around 3-8€
The buzzing restaurant on Kloof Street was recommended to me by many people and I did like it, although for my taste it was a bit too touristy and waiters seemed to do everything as quick as possible to seat someone else quickly after you at your table. Nevertheless, the atmosphere is very nice with a dark interior with many candles and dimmed lights, a lot of paintings and decoration and friendly (but stressed) waiters. The oysters and the beef tartar we ordered as starters were of great quality and very nicely served. The oysters were very meaty and tasted almost buttery, different from any I had tried before. The main courses, steak with bone marrow and springbok with truffled potato mash, were both so tender and tasteful, I could’ve had another portion. The choices of wines here is non-exhaustive and you can drink yourself through the whole South African wine palette.
Good to know:Address: 30 Kloof St, Gardens, Cape Town, 8005, Website: kloofstreethouse.co.za
Price: Around 30€ pP for dinner and wine.
Other places I wanted to go, but time was too short:
Greenhouse: Apparently a bit like Chefswarehouse, a bit fancier.
Thali: Same owners as Chefswarehouse. Indian tasting menu, apparently amazing food!
WHERE TO GO FOR A QUICK MEAL:
After all that long dining evenings, we were craving for some more simple meals. El Burro Tacos is a perfect destination for that. Buzzy place, relaxed atmosphere, some tables and sofas and some stools by the window. We ordered some nachos with guacamole and then a bunch of Tacos, filed with chorizo or fish or chicken or pork or veggies. It was delicious. And afterwards we headed to the bar just across the street. In the evening it’s a buzzing place with plenty of young people hanging around here and enjoying some Mexican food.
Good to know:Address: 81 Main Rd, Green Point, Cape Town, Website: elburro.co.za
Price: 2-4€ for a Taco, 4€ for drinks
If you’re heading to the Obervatory, a getaway spot you can read more about below, don’t miss lunch at Cafe Ganesh. It’s a small place with pink walls, colourful details and white seats that serves simple, but good food. We had a lamb and ostrich burger with mango chutney and a piece of Bobotie, a traditional dish made from meat, eggs and topped with almonds, looking a bit like the South African version of Lasagna. Staff here is very nice and it’s a cool place to hang out for lunch.
Good to know: Address: 38 Trill Rd, Observatory, Cape Town, 7925, Website: cafeganesh.co.za
Price: Not more than 6€ for a main dish.
V&A Food Market: If you’re around in the Waterfront area and just want to grab something quick to eat, your spot is the V&A Food Market. Whether caramel fudge, freshly cut beef or kudu (antilope) biltong, or poke bowls from Hokey Poke (delicious!) you’ll find something to please your appetite here, for sure.
Good to know: Address: V&A Food Market, Dock Rd, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, Cape Town, 8001, Website: waterfrontfoodmarket.com
The Old Biscuit Mill: Head here for a lunch at the Potluck Club, the sister restaurant of The Test Kitchen. You can also just buy a bottle of wine at Wine at the Mill selling some great wines with a huge selection and I was very sad my suitcase was already full when I found out about this place. You can also try a burger at the Three Feathers Diner or some Pizza and other Italian dishes at Burrata.
Good to know: Address: 375 Albert Rd, Woodstock, Cape Town, 7915
WHERE TO ENJOY BRUNCH OR COFFEE
coffee and so is my life. If you’re craving for coffee in Cape Town, you’ll most
probably get a good one anywhere you go. I’m serious. I was at this random
little restaurant in Hout Bay for example and they made a perfect flat
white for me, with just about right warm steamed milk (hate when they’re too hot or too cold) and all that shit. But of course, there is
some places that are better than others and which are unmissable.
Don’t know if this one’s a futuristic café or one where you travel to the past, or maybe a mix. People are dressed in freaky clothes, goggles, metallic details and are incredibly friendly. There’s the huge coffee bar in the middle of the room, with a lot of metal machines surrounding it and metal pipes kind of everywhere. You also have a to-go corner and a cake counter. They sell all kinds of coffee, you can choose the beans yourself and then watch your coffee dripping until it’s perfect (in case you order filter coffee). They also sell breakfasts, like avocado sandwiches and similar dishes that you’ll always find in such places. It’s a cool place for a fun morning with some good coffee, but the place is pretty loud and buzzing, so don’t expect to discuss life decisions here.
Good to know: Address: 36 Buitenkant St, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town, 8000, Website: truth.coffee
Price: Around 6-8€ for breakfast and coffee.
Bacon for president, especially the one at Bacon on Bree. The bacon I had in the little cosy restaurant located just on Bree Street amidst some other nicely looking places was effing amazing! We first sat on the nice little terrace, but then wind became very strong so we move to one of the high tables inside. I had a green juice and a sourdough toast with bacon, salad, a Portobello mushroom, a poached eggs and their incredible homemade spicy tomato tapenade on top. So, so delicious! Would’ve bought one home, couldn’t though because I was carrying too much wine with me already. Their cookies look delicious as well!
Good to know: Address: 217 Bree St, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town, 8000, Website: bacononbree.com
Price: Around 5-10€ for breakfast with fresh juice and coffee.
well! Check out the entry further down in this post!
Other places I wanted to go to, but time was too short:
Hemelhuijs: A cafe, brunch and lunch place with a lovely, flowery interior. Apparently you’re supposed to try their Mosbolletje bread, cause it’s epic!
The Creamery Café Mouille Point: Coffee, cakes, tarts, but above all: delicious ice cream!
Jason Bakery: Apparently the best croissants in town. Their coffee, sandwiches and burgers look more than tempting, too.
The Blue Cafe: A traditional hot spot for coffee close to Gardens and the Bo Kaap area. The spot for good coffee and traditional dishes.
Tamboers Winkel: Not far from the Blue Cafe. Heavy breakfasts and light lunches, coffee.
Haas: Art space, idea space, coffee place.
Honest Chocolate: Chocolate. Their menu looks effing amazing: chocolate in drinks, cakes, pure.
WHERE TO HEAD FOR A DRINK:
There’s plenty of bars on Bree Street and Kloof Street, The Old Biscuit Mill can also be a destination for some drinks. I’m giving you a small selection of those I visited and those I wanted to visit, but there’s only so much time.
An amazing location for having a drink is the Silo Hotel, a fairly new hotel located close to the V&A Waterfront and just next to the newly built Mocaa Zeitz Museum of Modern Art, so a perfect spot to head before or after visiting the exhibition. The bar is located at the top of the hotel and you have a very nice view over the area. Cocktails are great and very innovative, with ingredients like truffle or rooibos. They also have little snacks, like charcuterie platters with local meat and cheese, which are amazingly good and fair priced.
Good to know: Address: Silo Square, V & A Waterfront, Cape Town, 8801, Website: The Silo Hotel
Price: Around 5-8€ for experimental and interesting cocktails, around 5-7€ for snacks like this cheese and ham platter.
The Power & The Glory: a bar just on the opposite of El Burro Tacos, buzzing during weekdays and even more on weekends. A bar during nights and a cafe in the morning and afternoon, they serve different kinds of craft beers and other drink that you can enjoy inside at the bar, a table or just take them outside with you and make some South African aquaintances.
Good to know: Address: 13D Kloof Nek Rd, Tamboerskloof, Cape Town, 8000, Website: Facebook page
Price: No idea, but cheap.
Chalk & Kork:
On one of our last evenings we went to Chalk & Kork on Kloof Street. A cozy place with an open kitchen right on the opposite of the entrance, a cute yard and seating upstaris. They’re food is good, but not extraordinary. What’s great though is their selection of different wines from rather young winemakers (but also more traditional ones) from the area.
Other places I wanted to go to, but time was too short:
The Gin Bar: A hidden gin bar on Wale Street, right in the courtyard of Honest Chocolate. Apparently unbeatable and creative gin creations every being on this planet should’ve tried.
Mother’s Ruin Gin Bar: Gin again. Gin from all over the world: try to choose – impossible!
Camps Bay Retreat:
I was responsible for food, Johan for hotels. I know he has a great taste when it comes to chosing places to stay, but when we arrived at The Caps Bay Retreat I was quite speechless. An amazing older house, located in Camps Bay, which is a 15min drive away from the Waterfront. Big armchairs, old beautiful rugs, dark brown wooden furtniture, chandelliers and a lot of interesting old artpieces and decoration make you feel at home at this place. There is a pool and a private way down to the beach, which is beautiful, both in summer and for slightly colder autumn walks and there is also a small tennis court and a spa. We had a beautiful room on the first floor with a small veranda overlooking the beautiful garden (which is also the perfect spot for a sundowner) and looking right at the ocean. In the rooms, too, furniture and decoration is chosen very carefully. The breakfasts at the hotel were amazing, with a nice menu to chose from every morning and an additional buffet, fresh green juices, fruit, pastries etc. I usually went for the eggs benedict, which were just perfect. What’s also perfect there is coffee: from red latte to flat white or filter coffee – they have everything. Dinners are not as fancy as in some of the restaurants in the city, but also very good – I had the steak with vegetables and it was very tender and tasteful. Staff is incredibly friendly and helpful.
A very cosy and homey place, very different from Camps Bay Retreat. No pool, no sea view, but…a view on Signal Hill from the balcony of the place. Guess that’s almost as good?! Run by two French expats, this place has only a small number of rooms, but each one is decorated in a nice and modern way. They’re very friendly and can give you a number of nice recommendations for eating and drinking out. The breakfast is pretty basic, but the ingredients used are amazing. Delicious fresh bread, French Press coffee, fresh fruit with white cheese, great ham and cheese and homemade cakes make it a very special breakfast. When we arrived the nice woman also gave us some homemade lemonade and a piece of lemon cake that we enjoyed on the balcony. A plus of this place is also the location. It’s in the middle of Gardens, literally a minute away from Kloof Street, 5-10 minutes away from The Company’s Garden and also very close to Bree Street, all by foot.
You’ll be surprised, but there
can be rainy days, too in Cape Town. Visiting the new contemporary art museum Zeitz MOCAA, that was opened in the beginning of October 2017, seems to be the perfect
solution for such a day. The museum hosts installations, photos and paintings
from young South African artists and is meant to constitute a place where
cultures and people with different backgrounds meet. Some art I found
fascinating, some deeply disturbing, but I’ll let you have your own judgment! And
even if you’re not a fan of contemporary art, it’s worth a visit just to see
the architecture of the building from inside and to go upstairs to the terrace
to have a sneak into the Silo Hotel next door.
Good to know: Address: V&A Waterfront, Silo District, S Arm Rd, Waterfront, Cape Town, 800, Website: zeitzmocaa.museum
The Old Biscuit Mill is also kind
of a must do when you’re visiting the South African city. It’s nothing
extraordinary if you know food markets in London or New York City, but it’s a
nice spot to hang out on a Saturday morning. The old factory area hosts
different food stands as well as well as stands with local vendors selling
clothes, shoes and jewelry. Grab a coffee from Origin Coffee, a Roesti with bacon, a poached egg and sauce
hollandaise from Luke’s Roesti and
sit down at one of the benches in the main hall, at least that’s what I did.
Then, you can have a stroll through the other part of the mill to do some
souvenir shopping. Also, in the back there’s The Test Kitchen and some other nice restaurants, as well as a wine
shop (Wine at the Mill) selling wines from the region and it broke my heart (it did really!) that I couldn’t buy
any, because my suitcase was already full.
Good to know: 375 Albert Rd, Woodstock, Cape Town, 7915
A visit is
definitely an experience. Seeing where Nelson Mandela and other famous political
prisoners spent long parts of their life is quite interesting and paired with
the view you get on Cape Town from the island is quite impressive. Don’t expect
too much, though, of the tour itself; the fact that former inmates are giving
it is very impressive and interesting, but I thought much more could be done
from it. There are no stories shared or facts given about why people ended up
in the prison, there are items missing in the former cells and sights on the
island and if you don’t know anything about Apartheid and South Africa during
that time, you won’t get much more information here either. You’ll be told what
the inmates ate and you’ll see a cup and a spoon Mandela used when being at
Robben Island, but there’s a lack of more historical insight and a more
personal view. Also, everything is pretty worn down, which is unfortunate, as
there’s a lot of history about this place that could be narrated in a very
Good to know: Website: robben-island.org.za, When weather conditions are bad, the ferry is not running, you can get a refund or change the date of your ticket.
Price: 18€ pP for a boat trip and tour on the island
It’s is all the
area around the water, with the historic harbor, many shops, cafes, restaurants
and other attractions. The Silo district, with the hotel and the museum, also
belongs to the area, which is offering a stunning view on Table Mountain. The
part by the water wasn’t my favourite area – too touristy, too many people – but
it’s definitely worth seeing.
Kirstenbosch Botanical National
Gardens is the perfect spot for nature lovers, but also for those who like a
good concert or movie amidst a beautiful scenery. The gardens host some of the most
beautiful flowers and plants species in the area and spreads over a large area,
perfect for a walk or a picnic. In summer there is a lot of events happening in
the botanical garden, from open air movie screenings to concerts and festivals.
There is also some cafes and restaurants inside and there’s also a walking
trail from this side of Table Mountain up to the top! We went to Kirstenbosch
right after lunch at Chef’s Warehouse at
Beau Constantia, as it’s rather
Good to know: Address: Rhodes Dr, Newlands, Cape Town, 7735 Website
Cape Town University & the Observatory area: If you want to be
nostalgic about back in the days when you were still going to university, you
can visit the one in Cape Town and also visit the Rhodes memorial, which is
almost next to it. What’s also nice is a walk through the Observatory, an area
where many students are living with some cute cafes and spots to hang out at
and make sure to stop by at Café Ganesh for
houses and is also called the Cape-Muslim-Quarter in the city. It’s just off Bree and Long
Street, so you can link the visits of those. It’s not a super exciting place –
just some houses – but it’s cool to have seen it.
Bree Street and Kloof Street: Buzzing streets with plenty of bars, restaurants and cafes.
Long Street: One of the oldest streets with some beautiful buildings, but quite touristic and you should watch your stuff closely if you’re here for a drink at night.
The Company’s Garden: Existent since 1650, this little park is surrounded by museums and interesting public buildings. There’s a lot of squirrels running around, who are keen on taking photos with you. There’s also a small restaurant in the park.