The Cape Town Travel Guide
This is a guest post by Noel Jansen for backpackfootprint.com.
A bit about the Author
Noel is an engineer who after working for numerous years in Europe decided to quit his day job and start a holiday tour business in South Africa. When he isn’t working he enjoys surfing, mountain biking, as well as the favourite South African past time ever, braaing (South African for BBQing).
So why a holiday to Cape Town?
Cape Town, affectionately known as the “Mother City” in South Africa, is ranked one of the top cities to visit on the globe year after year in one of the safest countries in Africa.
Amazing foods, plenty of wine and craft beer, breath-taking landscapes, beautiful wild-life and of course friendly South Africans are just a few of the things you will experience in the Mother City.
Oh and did I mention Table Mountain? Consuming fair amounts of vintage wines? Playing with penguins on sandy beaches?
So I think you get it. Cape Town needs to be on your travel bucket list.
Flying in to Cape Town
Nowadays there are plenty of flights to South Africa, with a lot of direct flights to Cape Town International Airport too!
“It’s too expensive to fly to South Africa” is no longer an excuse.
Plenty of airlines have very reasonable prices to South Africa if you are willing to fly with a stopover in the Middle East or North Africa. Some examples are Emirates, Qatar, Ethiopian Airlines, and Egypt Air.
Getting around Cape Town
Cape Town is a really large city.
If you don’t believe me, look on Google Maps and notice that there is a mountain in the middle of it!
The best way to get around is going to be to hire a car. If you are travelling in a group this will probably be the most cost effective too! Travelling by car gives you the flexibility you need to explore Cape Town and its surrounding areas.
If you are travelling solo or on a tight budget, don’t fear.
There is a red tour bus (site seeing bus), which offers a hop on, hop off service with stops at the major tourist attractions.
South Africa is not as backward as some people think. We even have Uber. This app comes in really handy when you want to get around in the evening and want to enjoy a couple “adult” beverages.
The best places to stay in the Cape
Like I said, Cape Town is rather large.
The top area to stay in is going to be the “City Bowl”. This is the central part of Cape Town which is surrounded by Signal Hill, the Waterfront, and of course Table Mountain. This area is very central and offers great views of the mountains and sea!
The best areas are Tamboerskloof and Gardens. These are within walking distance to the best streets in the area: Long, Kloof and Bree streets.
Bree Street has the finest restaurants in town, while Long Street is where the party is at! Long Street is filled with bars, clubs, as well as restaurants.
There are many boutique hotels, fine guest houses, and friendly hostels in the City Bowl.
Thing you need to do in Cape Town
Cape Town has so much to offer travels! It doesn’t matter what your interests are, there will definitely be something for you to do.
Adrenal junkies, foodies, fitness fanatics, museum and art fans, or even those simply looking to chill out, this is the holiday location for you.
There are however a couple of things I feel you HAVE to do when you are in Cape Town. And so the list begins:
- Table Mountain – Probably Cape Town’s most iconic feature. If you are feeling up to the challenge why not hike up the Platteklip Gorge trail? Otherwise simply go up and down with the cable car.
- Lions head – Don’t be fooled into thinking you don’t need to do this “climb” if you’ve already been up Table Mountain. It’s only a 45 minute hike up, but the panoramic views of the Mother City are well worth it!
- Chapmans Peak – You have to travel down this legendary stretch of coastal road at least once.
- Cape of Good Hope – Also known as Cape Point. Located on the southernmost tip of Cape Town, this nature reserve has the most rugged and beautiful coastlines imaginable.
- Boulders Beach – Wanna see cute Jackass penguins on sandy beaches? This is where you do it! I recommend stopping for lunch at the Simons Town Harbor afterwards to try some freshly caught fish.
- Robben Island Tour – If you are traveling to South Africa you should know who Nelson Mandela is (not to be confused with Morgan Freeman). If history is your thing, you should definitely take a boat ride to this island where he was held prisoner for numerous years.
- V & A Waterfront – If you like shopping, and who doesn’t, you need to visit this waterfront. But its more than just a world class mall, it has some pretty incredible restaurants and bars too!
- Truth Coffee – This coffee shop was voted as one of the world’s best by the Daily Telegraph. Were they right? Why not find out for yourself.
- Mzansi restaurant – There are loads of great restaurants in South Africa. But it won’t take long to notice that hardly any of these serve authentic African cuisine. That’s where Mzansi comes in. It is a restaurant in the Lange Township of Cape Town which serves an authentic African buffet meal. For me Mzansi is more than just a restaurant, it’s a cultural experience. As it is in a township I only recommend you take a cab there.
Last but not least, just have fun. Sometimes I see travelers trying to fit in too much during their holiday instead of enjoying it. Embrace the local atmosphere and don’t forget to have a good time!
Extend your South Africa Holiday
If you are like the rest of mankind who has visited Cape Town, you will want to explore more of South Africa.
Within an hour’s drive from Cape Town are the Cape Winelands. The two best towns to visit are Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. My favourite is Franschhoek which has an awesome Wine Tram which takes you to various vineyards in the region.
Also in close proximity to Cape Town is Gansbaai. Have you ever seen those videos of people in a cage under water getting up close and personal with a great white shark?
Well, it’s mostly like Gansbaai. This is loved by most travelers who aren’t afraid of a little cold water.
If you want to see more of South Africa in one trip why not look at a South Africa Holiday Tour. The South African Rand (local currency) is weak compared to most major currencies. This makes it a perfect adventure holiday destination.
Low on cash, but still want to visit South Africa? Take a look at this cheap South Africa holiday guide. It’ll show you how to have fun but still keep your bank balance afloat.
Budget South Africa Safari
It would be a sin to travel all the way to South Africa and not go on at least one safari!
Safaris can be super expensive. Prices of $1000 per person per night are not uncommon in the Big 5 private safari lodge arena. They can pretty much cost and arm and a leg!
But they don’t have too.
If you want to do a safari and not have to sell a kidney to do so, take a look at this budget safari holiday guide. This will give you some tips on how to enjoy a safari and still be able to afford a plane ticket home.
Also, the city has a lot to offer for children including many child-friendly hotels.