At the time of writing, it’s about a month since I arrived in the second-most populous city in South Africa, so my memories of the experience are still vivid. As such, I’d like to take this opportunity to share and inspire you to partake in some of the experiences that I had in this post 5 Things To Do In Cape Town. I had the benefit of a knowledgeable local; so, please allow me to impart this awareness to you now.
1. Free Concerts in De Waal Park
During the summer, De Waal Park, which is a community park situated in the heart of the City Bowl, successfully hosts a series of Summer Concerts, which are free to the public to entertain locals on many a Sunday afternoon from November to March.
My final Sunday in Africa coincided with my attending a free concert in the park by South African singer Karen Zoid on January 6th. The atmosphere was friendly with many families’ dancing and enjoying the sun.
This is a wonderful opportunity to pack a picnic and just soak in the culture that surrounds you. Lie in the sun with a glass of wine and just observe the trees, with their leaves flitting about, almost to the beat and listen to the beautiful music – which is FREE!
2. Visit Bay Harbour Market in Hout Bay
You can find Bay Harbour Market situated on the water’s edge in Hout Bay Harbour. It is said to boast more than 100 stalls, all situated in an old fish factory. When I visited it seemed way more than that! Open Friday nights and weekends, here you’ll discover beautifully fresh food, authentic art and clothing, African coffee, beer and sweets.
I found this a wonderful spot to people watch. It had a busy, bustling atmosphere with what seemed a nice mix of locals and tourists. I strongly encourage you to visit, for a snack alone. The food is incredible.
3. Take in a Show at Iziko Planetarium
The Planetarium is housed in the South African Museum building on Queen Victoria St. It cost just R25 to enter the museum and gain access to the afternoon show being housed within the planetarium. This is a wonderful place to get out of the sun and learn a little about the planets above us as well as the ground below us. Be transported through space and time in a theatre with reclining seats and a remarkable view of the stars.
This may have been my favourite of all the items to do on this things to do in Cape Town post and also on my trip. An opportunity to learn and have fun.
4. Stop By the Brass Bell in Kalk Bay Harbour
My friend took me to the Brass Bell with promises of good food, drinks and live music in a relaxed and laid back atmosphere. She wasn’t wrong! The Brass Bell is a bar and restaurant that provides incredible views of both False Bay, Simonstown and Kalk Bay harbour. It is situated on the Main road and is open late for revellers to enjoy drinks and good company.
My visit was completed with the view of people throwing themselves out of the bar window into the ocean. Welcome to Cape Town folks.
5. Pay a visit to Cape Point
Perhaps the most tourists orientated of my suggestions, I urge you to hire a car and drive down to Cape Point, home to picturesque bays, serene beaches, divine valleys and even a smattering of wildlife. The farthest south-western tip of Africa, you can picnic, camp and photograph yourself into oblivion all for just R90 entry. There’s an absolute plethora of hiking trails as well as kayaking, fishing and mountain biking available at an extra cost.
Personally, I urge you to stop by the Two Oceans restaurant for lunch. When I visited I was fortunate enough to taste the sublime sushi crafted by sushi master Sarawut Sukkowplang.
Feeling At Home In Cape Town
“Home” is a curious word. It has a different meaning to different people – for some, it’s the place where they grew up, where the people they care about are, where they feel comfortable and secure and for others, it’s simply a hot chocolate on a cold winter day. For me, it is a sense of belonging and a place that makes me happy. Maybe one day Cape Town could be that home for me.
From an early age on, I have always been running away. I have never felt “at home” in Switzerland. Although, from a certain point of view, I had everything – from beautiful scenery to a very comfortable lifestyle, friends, as well as family and a secure future ahead – I was lacking that inherent happiness of someone who has found their place in life. Sometime during my childhood, I realized, that the town I lived in didn’t give me those warm and fuzzy feelings it apparently should have. Family vacations used to be the highlight of my year and I happily toddled after my parents in busy airports and powered through long flights and bus rides, just to spend a few days away.
As soon as I was old enough to travel on my own, I did. When going out with friends, I would often sip on coke all night and happily be the designated driver, in order to save up the money others spent on alcohol for travelling. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good whiskey or beer like the next person and I am definitely not a killjoy, but travelling has always been my number one priority in life. I have quit jobs to go travel, dumped guys, missed important events and skipped quite a few university classes – just to be able to hop on a plane a few times a year.
Few things beat the adrenalin rush I get when I’m able to explore a new country or the sense of excitement that grips me whenever I step into an airport. While I’m definitely in it for the adventure and to satisfy my constant curiosity, I think that deep down there is a part of me that is looking for something else, something more.
The happiness others have found in a stable life, I have found in travelling. But I still haven’t managed to locate that sense of belonging. A little voice in my head keeps telling me, that I can’t keep rushing around the world till I’m 80 and a wrinkly old lady using a walker (but I’d be one cool grandma for sure). So what I like to do while travelling, is looking at the places I visit in terms of suitability as a future home. I like to entertain the notion, that one day, I might settle down in that exact spot.
Cape Town was the first place in a long time where everything immediately felt right and there are several things about that city that just clicked with me right away
I’m a sucker for beautiful landscapes. Growing up at the edge of the alps with a beautiful view of the snow-covered peaks in the distance and a big lake right at my doorstep, I got a bit spoiled in the landscape department. Cape Town managed to beat that. I arrived in the city at night and didn’t get a look at the scenery until I stared out the hotel window the following morning and promptly went into a state of shock. I hadn’t seen anything that striking in a while and what made it even more shockingly beautiful was, that I hadn’t even expected it. Cape Town was my last stop on a long trip through Africa and I hadn’t planned ahead or researched the city. Honestly, after all the amazing views in the national parks all across the continent, I didn’t expect to be surprised again.
While driving around Cape Town and it’s surroundings for a week, I realized that I couldn’t stop staring. The mountains, the ocean and the beaches make for a stunning view and Cape Town itself doesn’t feel like a big concrete hell. There are all the amenities of a big city, but only a short drive away is pure, unaltered nature which provides a myriad of escape possibilities. There is much to be seen and done in and around Cape Town, from driving down the scenic roads to Cape Point, visiting the lush wine country, hiking up table mountain to seeing penguins at Boulders Bay. It’s lush and green, it’s beautiful and it’s sunny. Maybe it’s the weather and maybe it’s just the African continent, but somehow people seemed happy. And that happiness is quite contagious.
There doesn’t remain much to be said and I’ll mainly let the picture speak on that topic, but in Cape Town, I ate really damn well. Being a big, international city, Cape Town offers everything from Sushi and Mexican Food to African specialities. The wine from local wineries is obviously prevalent and shouldn’t be missed. All in all, Cape Town seemed like paradise to me after eating simple “pap”, rice and potato-based meals the weeks before and therefore I dove into the city’s food scene like a starving person.
Cape Towns one big drawback is obviously the security problem. Walking around in daylight is perfectly safe, but as soon as the sun sets everyone starts moving around in taxis (or their own cars), even if the destination is just around the corner. Every house is walled in and big fences and an array of security systems are used to deter crime. When checking into my hotel, I was immediately introduced to the security guard, given a code for the front gate and reminded not to let any strangers into the compound. It might seem a bit scary at first, but despite all this, I honestly still felt very safe in the city. And for me, it isn’t something that would deter me from visiting again, or maybe even settling down and making Cape Town my home one day.
How to reach
Cape Town can be reached by several modes of transportation, including:
- Flight: Cape Town International Airport is the main airport serving the city, and there are flights from many major cities around the world that connect to Cape Town.
- Train: The city is connected by rail to other parts of South Africa, and there are several train services that run to and from Cape Town.
- Bus: There are long-distance bus services that connect Cape Town to other cities and towns in South Africa.
- Car: Cape Town is connected to other parts of South Africa by a network of roads, and visitors can rent a car to drive to the city.
- Cruise: Cape Town is a popular port of call for cruise ships, and visitors can take a cruise that stops in the city.
Regardless of the mode of transportation, visitors to Cape Town should take the necessary precautions to ensure their safety and well-being during their travels.
4 Ideas for Cape Town
The first few things that come to mind when someone brings up the city of Cape Town, South Africa are Table Mountain; gangs and poverty; and Nelson Mandela. I could, of course, suggest the Table Mountain cable car ride, or a township tour, or even a trip out to Robben Island in my 4 Ideas for Cape Town – but where would the originality be in that? Rather, I’m including 4 things that I personally did on my most recent trip to Cape Town.
Enjoy Camps Bay Beach
Camps Bay Beach is a spectacular little gem. Just a short 10-minute cab or 2 short mini-bus rides away (if you’re doing it like a local – which I highly recommend during daylight hours), Camps Bay Beach is found in one of Cape Town’s more affluent neighborhoods. With the powerful waves of the Atlantic Ocean crashing onto the beach to one side and the massive Cape Town icon of Table Mountain to the other side, it’s no wonder so many people flock to this spectacular neighborhood. Not only does the picturesque location provide the backdrop for beautiful photos to be taken, but it’s a prime spot for people-watching. In the summer months, you can hire an umbrella and layout on the beach, and year-round you can test out any of the trendy restaurants. Catch a seat on one of the many patios and overlook the beautiful beach.
Do a full day Cape Peninsula Tour
Like fur seals? How about penguins? Interested in seeing where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet? You can do all this in the full day Cape Peninsula Tour. I had my hostel book the tour for me and it was roughly R600 not including the boat trips out to the seal colony in Hout Bay or lunch. I found it to be highly informative and the tour covered a good amount of distance – starting in the fishing town of Hout Bay where we took the opportunity to get close to a massive seal colony just a short 10-minute boat ride out of the harbor. The tour then carried on along the scenic drive, south to Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve where you can stretch your legs by walking up to the top of the enormous cliffs – here you are also given the opportunity to have lunch at a restaurant with some of the
most picturesque views imaginable. The day continues on by heading back in the direction of Cape Town’s CBD and a stop at the world-famous Boulders Beach – home to a large penguin colony. The final stop is at the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens where you’re given the opportunity to literally stop and smell the roses.
Climb Lion’s Head at Sunset
Feel like stretching your legs? Want to get a 360degree view of Cape Town? Head for Lion’s Head and you’ll be in for a challenging yet enjoyable hike – including a scramble to the top. Make note that this ‘hike’ is NOT for the faint of heart. You have to be somewhat fit as there is a good portion at the top where you are literally scrambling up the rocks. But let me assure you, the view when you get to the top is second to none. Bring a cold one, a bottle of champagne or some other sort of victory treat for when you make it to the top. And don’t forget your camera, headlamp for the walk down, and plenty of water.
Spend an Afternoon at The V.A. Waterfront
The V.A. Waterfront has it all – restaurants, shops and every tour Cape Town offers has some sort of booth set up, trying to sell everything from shark cage dives to helicopter rides and everything in between. You’ll see buskers and street performers presenting traditional African songs and dance for the crowds. There’s an aquarium, Nobel Square (with statues of Cape Town’s four Nobel Peace Prize winners), a diamond museum, an arts and crafts market, and even the Cape Town Ferris wheel. You can easily spend an entire day hanging around the V.A. Waterfront
– and at night, the bars are always hopping with dancing and live bands no matter what day of the week!