I remember being a little girl and traveling with my mom and dad across the world to Cape Town, South Africa. My mom, dad, and brother were all born there and as a child I would go back often. Some of my most amazing memories came from trips there with my family. Fast forward eighteen years and I was going back to Cape Town for the first time as an adult. I knew this trip would create a whole different set of memories and I was excited to be able to explore a different side of this amazing city.
There is so much to see and do in Cape Town that the city can be a little overwhelming, and with all of the press that South Africa has been getting lately, it can also be a little scary. It is important to stick to the safe spots but you also want to get a taste of what this amazing place has to offer and so I was happy to find out I still had plenty of cousins in the city that helped guide me around.
Here are the top 10 things to do in Cape Town according to the locals
1. Head to the top of Table Mountain
While this might be on every tourist website, it was also the first activity recommended by the locals. Once you see the views from the cable car and from the top you will understand why. The views of the ocean from the top are incredible and you can even see Robben Island. While our visit the skies were mostly clear, it was also very neat to see the clouds rolling in. You truly feel like you are on top of the world.
2. Hike Lions Head
The scenery in Cape Town is incredible and one of best ways to see it is on a hike up Lion’s Head (Table Mountains little brother). It is a difficult hike but seeing the views of the ocean and of Table Mountain along the way are definitely worth it.
3. Take a stroll to the V&A Waterfront
The Waterfront is one of the few places we found were you can eat ocean side and also offers some great local shops. It is a great spot for fresh seafood and all of your souvenirs.
4. Visit the beautiful Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden
My cousin is a local tour guide and she said this was her absolute must for guests. The garden is home to a large collection of African plants and offer some beautiful trails and sculptures.
5. Take a drive along Chapman’s Peak
This was by far my favourite part of the entire trip. The views along the coast were truly breathtaking. From the deep blue and turquoise green waters to the deep red rock formations it was an incredibly special place. I honestly believe this is the most beautiful place in the world.
6. Take a day trip for some delicious wine
We spent a day driving along the coast up to Stellenbosch. The farms there are spectacular and the wine is so full of taste. Wine in Cape Town dates back to 1659 and Stellenbosch is the second largest producer in the town. We dined on delicious food and went through some delicious flights. This is an absolute must when visiting.
7. Take a photoshoot in Muizenberg
Muizenberg is by far one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Cape Town and one of the things that makes it so unique is the beautiful rainbow houses along the shore. Take some pictures in front of the homes and dip your toes in the water. Just be careful, the sharks hang out on this side.
8. Indulge in a South African Braai
If you don’t know what Braai is, well it is a traditional South African BBQ as we North America’s call it. I was lucky enough to be invited over to my cousin’s house to enjoy this delicious home cooked meal, but if you are visiting Cape Town and don’t have family you should probably still spoil your taste buds. Take a trip to the Backyard Grill and Lounge. Located in the artsy Woodstock is this distinctly South African eatery complete with live entertainment.
9. Take in the art in Woodstock
Speaking of the artsy area of Woodstock, a real treat is walking around and taking in the local graffiti that covers the street. The artists have truly prettified the sides of the buildings and it is amazing how you can find the most beautiful artwork in the most unexpected places.
10. Swim with the penguins at Boulders Beach
Ok, this may be a locals favourite, but if you are in Cape Town this is a must. As a child I remember visiting this beach every trip and getting up close and personal to the penguins. It is really special to see the babies and families in their natural habitat.
Tips for making the most of your trip in Cape Town
Cape town will always have a special place in my heart and I hope to be able to experience the beauty of it again some day but again it is very important to be safe in this city.
- The best way to get around is via uber or renting a car. Try to avoid cabs because the locals say they can sometimes rig the prices
- You can either use the Rand currency but most places do accept debit and visa
- Know the areas that you are visiting and don’t walk around at night alone
- Some of Cape Towns top restaurants book up months in advance so make your reservations ahead of time
- Be prepared for the weather. Bring layers, you can experience all four seasons in one day.
I hope that you all get to visit this magical city soon.
Happy travels my friends,