Top 5 Cape Town (City Guide)
Cape Town, a vibrant, multi-cultural city, dominated by the towering majesty of Table Mountain, has great places to eat, drink and shop an easy walk from the centre. But it’s also well worth heading south along the peninsular around False Bay to Cape Point and back up the Atlantic Coast; from the high pass of Chapman’s Peak to sweeping expanses of beach with waves breaking almost on the roadside, it offers some of the most spectacular coastal scenery anywhere. Here are five of the things that keep bringing me back to this beautiful city – plus a few of my favourite spots to eat.
Stay Mount Nelson Hotel
This grand old property opened in 1899, on the side of Table Mountain, to cater for first-class steamship passengers from Europe. Its distinctive pastel pink buildings, set in extensive manicured gardens, are a local landmark, Planet Restaurant & Bar is a fine dining experience and the afternoon tea buffet is deservedly famous.
Shop Kalk Bay
Thirty minutes south of the city is the bohemian, art-deco fishing village of Kalk Bay, full of antique stores, galleries, and township art (funky bags and bowls made from recycled packaging). Grab a post-shopping coffee or lunch at the legendary Olympia Café & Deli or watch the seals frolic from the veranda of the Harbour House.
This community of cobbled streets and vivid buildings on the side of Signal Hill is the historic centre of Cape Malay culture. Visit the spice store and small museum that tells the story of the Muslim slaves brought here 350 years ago, then enjoy a coffee, koesister (local doughnut) and killer views at The Noon Gun Tea Room.
Drive Chapman’s Peak Drive
‘Hewn out of sheer mountain’ in 1915 (as the plaque at the lookout says), this precarious 9km, winding road between Noordhoek and Hout Bay offers breathtaking coastal views. Mariner’s Wharf in Hout Bay is a great place to try local snoek & chips before the 30-minute drive back to Cape Town.
Wineries Constantia Valley
South Africa’s oldest wine region is just 30 minutes from downtown Cape Town, amid beautiful rolling farmland, with good wines and great food. Open Door Restaurant on the river’s edge on historic Constantia Uitsig Estate is great for a casual bite, or go upmarket at La Colombe at Silvermist Vineyards rated among the World’s 50 Best in 2016.
If you’d rather not do the driving, call local experts Pam McOnie from Cape Fusion Tours or Glen Christie from Vineyard Ventures – both friendly locals who love showing visitors their favourite Cape Town sights.