Let’s not waste time with what brought you to Cape Town for a mere day, if you’re down this far south you only have one responsibility: enjoy this amazing city to the fullest extent!
For the early birds...
Start your day off, outdoors. If you’re feeling up to it,, enjoy a hike or even a run up Table Mountain. For those in search of an even greater challenge, try Lion’s Head. The mornings in Cape Town offer the coolest temperatures that the city will experience all day so you’ll want to take advantage by spending these hours outside. If Table Mountain isn’t something that interests you, there are usually free yoga classes on the beach near the waterfront or you can join one of the many yoga & pilates studios around the Cape.
For those who wish to slow down...
Check out one of Cape Town’s beautiful cafes. There is the famous Insomnia coffee if you want to jolt your heart into action with the strongest coffee in the world. There is also Scheckter’s Raw for our vegan and more healthy-minded readers. After you’ve loaded up with some tasty breakfast, you can take a slow stroll around the V&A Waterfront or along Sea Point. Hopefully you haven’t stayed in bed too long, and it isn’t too warm yet.
For those who plan ahead . . .
You could be riding out to Robben Island, where you can talk to a former prisoner who will lead you around the prison. Nelson Mandela was once a resident of this famous island, so don’t miss a chance to engage with this incredible part of South African history. Want another historical tidbit? Visit Mount Nelson Hotel for High Tea, where you can follow in the footsteps of other famous historical travel writers and indulge in a South African Milk Tart.
For those seeking relaxation outside of the city. . .
Luckily, Cape Town and its surrounding areas are host to beautiful wine resorts. Throughout Stellenbosch and its beautiful gardens like Kirstenbosch National Garden , you can relax with a glass of world-renown South African wine and soak it all in. At many of these gardens and wine resorts, keep in mind that many host movie nights or concerts that you can find out about online - so do you research! Don’t forget to try local South African cuisine while you’re there! This includes Biltong, South Africa’s version of beef jerky.
For those city slickers . . .
Cape Town’s downtown is crazy busy with activities to do. You can visit local historical landmarks while you walk down the famous Long Street. There are local bookstores to visit, cafes to try, more coffee to drink (that’s right - Insomnia Coffee is in the area) and graffiti to photograph. If you want to head out a bit, try Bootlegger Cafe, a cafe famous for their delicious food, drinks and very free and fast wifi for you millennials.
For those looking to treat themselves . . .
Head to the Victoria and Albert Waterfront for a special dinner. Some of the most delicious restaurants are based here. After your meal of fresh seafood, end the night looking out over the ocean from high above in the ferris wheel, under the stars.
For those in need of a pick-me-up…
Of course it depends on what you’re looking for when you read “pick-me-up.” There are local yoga classes you can take until late in the evening to get your namaste on, or you can head out to a club in downtown Cape Town to spice things up.
Just make sure you get back to your hotel and get a good night’s sleep for your plane ride tomorrow! There’s a million other cafes and food markets to visit in this South African city, but you did as much as you could - so take comfort in that fact… and book another flight back as soon as you can.
When I first visited Cape Town in the warm summer months of December, I had no idea the city would quite literally steal my heart. After getting over the weird sensation of wearing shorts and dresses in what I consider a winter month, the city quickly became one of my favorites in the world. The beautiful views from Sea Point and challenging hikes to Lions Head are only two of the untouched parts of South Africa’s landscape that stun and astound. Whether you walk down the Victoria & Albert Waterfront with its eclectic mix of beautiful restaurants or stroll down Long Street, you won't be able to resist trying everything the local vibrant culture has to offer.
Since I visited in 2016, I've been back three times and I’ve experienced just how different the Cape can be. If you want to relax, there's Stellenbosch - where you can visit vineyard after vineyard. More in the mood to breathe in that fresh Atlantic and Indian ocean air? Go for a hike up and around Table Mountain, visit Kirstenbosch National Garden or one of the many other parks. Even the foodies amongst us (myself included) cannot choose what to eat because there's just so much! If you crave healthy salads and fresh fruit, there are markets along the seaside and more sophisticated cafes in the city. High tea? Check. Fancy dinners to scratch your urges for steak? You're covered.
More interested in assimilating? Visit Insomnia Coffee to try the strongest coffee in the world . . . yes you read that right, the strongest coffee in the world! While you're buzzing, you can visit local indie bookstore, The Book Lounge, and pick up a book by local South African author, Zakes Mda.
Cape Town is one of the world's “in” tourist destinations right now so don't be surprised if the crowds are large. Don't worry - they're all conserving water just like you are (hint: Cape Town might be the world's first city to run out of water so be conscious when using water in your hotel room).
South Africa is well known for its apartheid past so don't miss visiting Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. Endlessly fascinating, you'll find commemorative museums and statues of this national hero all around the city. For the history buffs in your friend group (aka all of us here at Sub-Stances), it's an illuminating paradise.
Once you've hiked all the trails, walked all of the streets and eaten all of the delicious Cape food, one thing will stick out: the people. Each time I visit this stunning city, I meet the kindest and most generous people who want to share their homes and lives with me. Disclaimer: I did meet my boyfriend here so I may be a bit biased. It gives weight to that old adage - “it's not the place, but the people that make any place truly home.” So whether you’re in search of a party, outdoor adventure or simply to check another city off of your list, you'll find that Cape Town has a way of sneaking into your heart. And don't worry, it's not going anywhere.
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