Cost: ££ – surprisingly cheap
Rating: 9/10 – fantastic city with stunning surroundings – you must go!
From London a direct flight to Cape Town is about 12 hours long and return flights cost about £800 but prices vary depending on the time of year you’re travelling… always check SkyScanner for the best fares.
We stayed in this business district at the Onyx which was a 5 min drive / 20 min walk to the V&A Waterfront / Table Mountain. The interior is modern, specious and stylish & we felt really safe as it was part of a massive apartment complex with security.
A 2 bedroom apartment (sleeps 4) with a kitchen and lounge costs £130 per night. Parking in the multi-storey car park was also included in the price.
The SA currency is the ZAR / South African Rand – £1 = just less than 20 Rand / £100 = 1,860 Rand which seems like quite a scary number. Have the calculator on your phone ready to work things out.
We picked up a rental car at the airport and mainly drove around ourselves. If we both wanted to drink then we would order an Uber which felt safe and was ridiculously cheap (make sure you tip!) If you’re in the city centre then you can safely walk around… just remember to keep your wits about you.
Top tips to stay safe
Whilst some people are friendly and will not cause you harm but that’s not the case all the time. To reduce your chances of running into trouble…
- Leave valuables in the UK / your hotel room
- Research before you go
- Keep only a small amount of money on you
- Don’t walk around on your own at night
- Avoid townships at all costs
- Be alert
- If driving:
– Have your route mapped out before you travel
– Keep doors locked and windows up
– Avoid driving through townships
– If driving at nighttime, don’t STOP at the STOP signs
– Put bags / valuables in the boot
– Make sure you have petrol for long journeys to avoid getting stranded
– Make sure car is running okay before you leave
– Have small change ready to give out
If you are a victim of crime in SA then it will most likely be petty theft. Give them what they ask for… a wallet / phone isn’t worth your life.
What we did…
– Climb Table Mountain
Table Mountain is in the city centre and only took about 8 mins to get there from our apartment. We chose the Plattekilp Gorge route which was advertised as the easiest climb… it was still hard! We put the start point in googlemaps and parked up free of charge. There are limited spaces so be aware that if you arrive later in the day then you might have to park further along and walk to the start.
You can discover other routes by clicking here. You can also book a group / personal guide to take you up if you’d like a bit of support. A friend recommended a guided sunrise climb if you’re an early-bird.
If you have limited time / are unable to hike, there is a cable car option. One way is 190 Rand (£10.50) & a return is 330 Rand (£18.50). We went off-season so the cable car was closed & we didn’t find this out until the morning we were planning on heading to the mountain! The decent was definitely harder than the climb! I would definitely try to climb up as the views along the way are spectacular, but get the cable car down if it’s open.
The Plattekilp Gorge route is pretty steep the whole way up! We took regular breaks (didn’t want to kill dad) and it took us just less than 2 hours to reach the top.
If you’re super fit then I’m sure you’ll be able to make it to the top in no time… but remember to turn around every now and then to take in the stunning views!
And breathe… you’ve reached the top!!!
The cafe at the top was closed as it was off season… luckily we had snacks but could’ve definitely done with something more substantial.
Take in the views before you start the descent… which also took about 2 hours and was verrrry hard on the knees. Worth it though 🙂
– Cape Point / Cape of Good Hope
From Cape Town city centre the drive to Cape of Good Hope takes about 1.5 hours (with loads of beautiful stop spots along the way).
It’s a World Heritage site at the tip of the Cape Peninsula and costs R303 (£17) per person to get into. It’s open from 6am (/7am in Winter) until sunset every day.
There are 2 main tourist spots (Cape Point & Cape of Good Hope) to see as well as many beaches and other fantastic scenery. Lots of walking / hiking opportunities too.
The views from the Cape Point lighthouse are spectacular… especially on a clear day. Was amazing to see the waves crashing into the cliff edge.
You can walk to the very top of Cape Point / get the funicular… a return costs R80 (£4.50) / one way costs R65 (£3.60).
Take some time to enjoy the views. There’s a cafe and a restaurant too if you’re feeling peckish.
You can walk / drive to the Cape of Good Hope which is the most South-Western point of the African continent. Don’t forget to take a photo behind the sign to prove you were there 🙂
– V&A Waterfront
The V&A Waterfront was super close to our apartment so we went there / to the nearby area for food a lot. More on where to eat in the food and drink section later…
It is a MASSIVE shopping / restaurant complex set on a working harbour with Table Mountain as its backdrop.
If you want to shop, this is the place to go. As well as loads of high-street and high-end shops, they have small stalls and a craft market made up of local businesses selling their wares.
They also have a fantastic food market if you don’t have time to eat in a restaurant and want to grab a bite on the go…
The views when you step outside the shopping centre are really stunning. Lots of quality street performers and things to look at.
Having just come from volunteering at Care for Wild Rhino Orphanage, I loved seeing the rhino sculptures dotted everywhere in the shopping centre and waterfront making tourists and locals aware of the poaching crisis. Click here to read about my volunteering experience.
I also found a fantastic pop-up called OSCARS ARC WOOF Project… there were so many puppies and older dogs looking to be adopted. You could take a dog for a walk / go and sit in and cuddle the puppies and fall in love. SUCH a good idea… so many people buy pedigree bred pups but seeing these pups and being able to interact with them would draw a lot of those wanting to buy a pup to consider adopting one instead. The pop up claimed 1780 adoptions in 108 weeks… that’s over 2 dogs a day!!! Amazing. Adopt, don’t shop 🙂
– Whale Watching
If you have the time then you should definitely try to get to Hermanus to see the whales. We booked a trip with Southern Right Charters online for £51 per person. The boat leaves 3 times a day (9am, 12pm & 3pm) and the experience takes about 3 hours.
It took just less than 2 hours to drive from our apartment in Cape Town to the Southern Right Charters HQ. Driving doesn’t even feel like it takes that long though as the scenery along the way is so beautiful.
We went off season so unfortunately didn’t see any Southern Right Whales… apparently if you go in season then you’re guaranteed to see tons of them.
We were fortunate enough to see 1 Bryde whale and about 8 Humpback whales. The crew film everything with a drone which you can buy on a USB afterwards (see pics below and above). It’s hard to capture them on your phone when their backs are only out of the water for a few seconds at a time.
The staff were really knowledgeable – feel free to ask them questions 🙂
*NB… SO many people were sick!… sea sickness is real. I popped a motion sickness tablet a few hours before the trip and felt absolutely fine.
Hermanus as an area is really beautiful which you should explore if you get the time. Grotto Beach is stunning and would be amazing for sunbathing if the weather were a little warmer. Am sure it’s very popular during peak season.
– Boulders Beach Penguins
We went to Boulders Beach (near to Simon’s Town) on route to Cape Point. It is a bit of a tourist trap and was slightly underwhelming but we did get to see the cute little penguins.
We first actually went to a different beach right by the car park and thought we’d missed the penguins… easily done! I was sure they must be somewhere though so we continued our search and found them. There’s a wooden walkway which is free of charge to stroll down… you’ll see lots of little penguins there.
There’s another walkway which takes you to the beach but you have to pay R152 (£8.50) to do that. It gets crowded and you don’t really get too much closer to the cute little birds… just observe them from a viewing platform.
– Wine Tasting
South Africa is known for its wine and the vineyard are gorgeous. We went to Beau Constantia which I would DEFINITELY suggest you try. Below are some other recommendations from friends…
- Spier Wine Farm – ride segways through vineyards & tasting session after
- Rustenberg Wine Farm in Stellenbosch
- Babylonstoren – amazing food and drink… kind of like Soho Farmhouse
- Boschendal – picnic on beautiful lawns
- Franshoek – hop on / hop off winetram
- Creation Wine Farm – 20 mins from Hermanus
We chose Beau Constantia because:
- It wasn’t too far from the city centre (25 mins from our apartment in an Uber)
- The restaurant came highly recommended
- My nephew is called Beau… no brainier!
The setting is so beautiful and the wine is delicious. Make sure you book as it’s busy. The wine tasting experience was really inexpensive and so was the wine. *NB it’s MUCH more expensive in the restaurant so make sure you purchase in the wine tasting room.
You don’t get told too much about the wines which I liked. I enjoy wine but I’m not going to remember / don’t care about the intricate details (especially when I’ve ‘tasted’ a few glasses). Good vibes and not stuffy at all.
– Bay Harbour Market
This was our first stop on the road trip to Cape Point. Really cute indoor marketplace in Hout Bay with a great atmosphere. Lots of food options as well as stalls selling a variety of items.
– Coastal Drive
If you have a rental car then you can enjoy the views of the coast on your long drives. Suggested stop off points not mentioned before include:
- Simon’s Bay (by Boulders Beach)
- Sea Point – for its promenade walk
- Sandy Bay – nudist beach but beautiful
- Clifton Beach
- Gordon’s Bay
- Llandudno Beach
- Camp’s Bay
– Food & Drink
Beau Constantia – Chefs Warehouse
I genuinely think this was possibly one of the best meals I have ever had in my life. We chose the tasting menu PLUS a few extras. Whilst the tasting menu is set, speak to your waiter if you are veggie / pescatarian and they can work around it.
For two of us we paid R1,525 (£84) for tons of the most incredible food AND a bottle of wine… whaaaaaaaat?!!! SO inexpensive for what you get. I would 100% recommend.
Willoughby & Co
Top spot in the V&A Waterfront shopping centre. Ridiculously delicious and reasonably priced sushi!
Radisson Blu Hotel Restaurant
We had actually meant to go to The Lookout Waterfront which had been recommended but got a bit lost and were too hungry after our Table Mountain climb to wait any longer. Really nice setting on the waterfront for a quick bite.
Fresh seafood to takeaway on the V&A Waterfront.
Quirky restaurant right by the Southern Right Charters main building in Hermanus. Unbelievable fresh seafood platter.
Cute, chilled restaurant on Grotto Beach, Hermanus. Suggested for a sundowner but we went for a tasty breakfast.
Again on the V&A Waterfront… dad got another amazing seafood platter here. The best calamari I have ever tasted and nice views of the waterfront.
There are SO many restaurants in Cape Town that you won’t be stuck for choice.
Other food / drink recommendations we didn’t get a chance to try:
- The Pot Luck Club – sensational
- The Bungalow – overlooking Camp’s Bay
- Manna Epicure – for brunch
- Bree Street – for bars
- Chapmans Peak Hotel – very special
- Cape to Cuba – for drinks
- Mariners Wharf in Hout Bay for fish & chips
Other general recommendations:
- Sunset boat trip
- Springbok Experience Museum (for rugby lovers)
- Kirstenbosch – botanical gardens… take a picnic
- Robben Island – tour
- Newlands Cricket Ground – beautiful ground with mountain in the background
- District 6 / Bo Kaap – cool area
My struggle with South Africa in general is that whilst the country is far less oppressive than it used to be, it’s still got a long way to go as racism is still rife and there’s massive disparity in terms of opportunities and wealth. Hopefully in the coming years things will improve.
That being said, I was surprised at how stunning the city and its surroundings were. Definitely would recommend!