Ten of Cape Town's Best!
With so much choice and diversity, visiting Cape Town can be tough. There's an amazing amount of things to keep you busy while you're here, and unless, like much of Germany, you decide to relocate here, it'll be impossible to fit it all in. Which is why we've put together this ever-changing, always updatable list of My Destination Cape Town's 10 (realtively inexpensive) unmissables for first-time visitors. If we've left anything out, please let us know through Facebook or Twitter and we'll add them to the list.
Forget about the cable car and ascend Table Mountain the old fashion way - by foot. We know it sounds daunting, and it's definitely no walk in the park, but with a bit of perseverance and determination, you can conquer this impressive landmark in half a day's hard work. Of course, if your idea of exercise is walking to the vending machine and back you should think twice about hiking up. But for those of you with an average level of fitness it's definitely doable and an unmissable experience. The quickest route up is via Platteklip Gorge, a few kilometres past the cable station, but there are a variety of other top Cape Town hikes that will get you to the top of Table Mountain. The sense of achievement coupled with the ever changing views on the way up, and at the top, are unsurpassed, and you can treat yourself to a exciting cable car ride on the way back down. Don't forget to read our hiking safety tips before you go.
Even if fermented grape juice isn't your thing, a trip out to the Cape Town winelands is an absolute must. The serenity and beauty that provide the backdrop to world famous vineyards has to be experienced to be believed, and with so many estates along the Cape wine route there's very little chance that you'll go wrong. Taste some of the world's best wines, order a meal, picnic on the lawns of the Cape's grandest estates, and take home a case or two of South Africa's finest wine at unbeatble prices. See our top picks for wine estates in the Western Cape here.
Go on - don your swim suit and take a dip, or better yet, a surf, in our world-famous ice-bath, commonly known as the Atlantic Ocean. It's freezing, and your body will be shocked rigid, but it's the most refreshing way to cool off on a hot summer's day. If you don't have the guts, at least kick back on the beach with a granadilla lollie, bought from the colourful roaming vendor with the best pay-off line, and watch the Cape's most beautiful lapping up the summer sun. Each beach in Cape Town has something unique to offer - read our guide to Cape Town beaches to pick one that suits you.
Cape Town's Inner City is a melting pot of cultures and classes, which morphs according to the time of day that you visit. Grab a weekday breakfast along St George's Mall and watch the city come to life before your groggy eyes; hang out in the Company's Gardens before lunching at any one of the trendiest restaurants in Cape Town city centre, or head up towards the base of Signal Hill and find a restaurant or coffee shop in the Bo-Kaap for a more traditional alternative. Prefer to spend your day on the beach or up the mountain? Head down to Long Street after dark to take in one of the country's most happening nightlife scenes. The best way to get acquainted with the city is by foot - here's our suggested itinerary if you plan on walking Cape Town's Innter City.
Better yet, start with a swim in the sparkling Sea Point public pools on the Atlantic Seaboard, followed by a jog on the Sea Point promenade, all the way to the Greenpoint Urban Park. With an impromptu game of soccer in between. This well-maintained pathway running from Bantry Bay to Mouille Point literally on the Atlantic Seaboard offers the perfect place to strut your stuff. It's flat and beautiful, which will make it that much easier to move your feet and get some exhilarating exercise in the fresh ocean air. End up with an ice cream and a round of old-school Putt-Putt on the Mouille Point side, before heading to one of the City's newest and best-kept secrets - the Greenpoint Urban Park. This superb public space is open to anyone, and is the perfect spot to whip out that picnic basket and take in the last of the day's sunlight. Take our virtual tour of the park to see what's waiting for you before you head outdoors!
So you've heard about the penguins. And Cape Point. And yes, they're both well-worth visiting. Make a day of it though - head to Boulders Beach to check out the cute little birds that can't fly, pop in to as many of the villages along the way that tickle your fancy, and leave enough time to explore the impressive Cape Point at the end of it all. While it's not actually the spot where the two oceans meet, the views and landscape are staggering. But don't just whip to the end of the road and shoot up the furnicular to the lighthouse - there are plenty of great walks and beaches to be discovered if you're just a little bit adventurous. Continue along the way over the mind-bending Chapman's Peak Drive towards Hout Bay, Llandudno, Camps Bay, and the Atlantic Seaboard to make a real day of it.
There are few better places to spend a Saturday morning than at the Old Biscuit Mill's Neighbourgoods Market. Sure, it's packed to the rafters with exchange students, hippies, hipsters, and more organic food than you can shake a home-grown carrot at, but that's exactly what makes it so enthralling. The crowd is a pleasant mix of Cape Town's most chilled, and the food and drink on offer is almost unbeatable. Grab a micro-brew lager or a superbly brewed cup of coffee from one of the numerous vendors, devour a tuna burger from the fish stand, and wrap it up with a Nutella crepe from the crepe guy. Of course, you'll also leave with truck loads of quality cheese, meat and bread for the afternoon's picnic, so be prepared to part with plenty of hard-earned cash. The market is located at 373 Albert Road, Woodstock, and is only open on Saturdays from 9am to 2pm.
Whether your thing is a quiet cocktail overlooking the lapping ocean, or a raucous 4am party, Cape Town has you covered. There's something happening almost every night of the week in Cape Town - especially during the peak seasons - and almost all memories retained will be good ones. If you're looking for the glitz and the glamour, head to any one of Camps Bay's bars, clubs and restaurants. Green Point has you covered for all your slightly more off-beat and gay bar requirements. And Long Street and the City Centre's offering of dozens of establishments, from the chic and trendy to the downright dodgy, can easily keep things going until sunrise. Of course, almost every suburb has its own nightlife hotspots, so follow the crowds and you're bound to have a good night out.
A grand South African tradition - the sundowner - is an essential Cape Town experience. Grab a bottle or two of your favourite beverage and head for a location with a decent view of the setting sun. It's that simple. Some of our favourite spots include Chapman's Peak Drive, the rocks at Llandudno, any of the Clifton beaches, the top of Lion's Head (or Signal Hill for the lazier folks), or the more secluded (and harder to find) Bantry Boulders. Remember though that drinking in public is forbidden, and these laws are strictly enforced, particularly on the Cape's beaches. End it off with a fancy meal at one of Cape Town's celebrated restaurants - superb deals abound, and if you pick correctly, service and quality of food is world-class.
Cape Town's townships offer one of the most enjoyable days out you could ever wish to have. There are plenty of worthy spots to visit, none as celebrated as the thriving Mzoli's in Gugulethu. Contrary to the scare-mongers and sensationalised headlines, there are limited risks associated with these trips. Of course, if you don't know your way around, it's best you head out with a reputable tour company or Capetonian mate, and be sure that you're totally comfortable with the situation before making the plans. But an afternoon swatting the flies off your freshly braaied and superbly flavoured meat, drinking Savannah Dry and shaking your behind to some deep South African grooves is an experience you won't forget.
Okay, we realise it's pretty much impossible to limit this list to 10 things, but we've done our best to throw some of our favourite activities out there. So once you've given these all a shot, let us know and we'll allow the list to grow a little. Facebook or Twitter are the best places to get in touch.