Cape Town, the “Mother City” in South Africa was ranked as the top holiday destination in 2014. This is not surprising as it ranks among one of the most vibrant cities in the world.
So having hopped on a jet plane to find out if you can really experience all this city has to offer in just a week, could I do it justice?
For a start, soaking up the atmosphere and people-watching can steal away the hours. You have to have a plan! A plan to eat, to drink, to party, to see, to feel, to meet, to talk and to love. Speaking of which, it’s not hard to fall in love with this stunning city encapsulated by water, and the breath-taking Table Mountain which dominates Cape Town with its presence.
There is only an hour’s time difference in the summer, so a great start as there’s no jet lag to worry about which makes this destination very appealing!
So, what is there to do? Firstly, visit the V&A Waterfront – it’s a working marina with a vibrant and buzzy atmosphere. There’s fabulous shopping to enjoy, made even better with the newly opened store, The WaterShed, situated on Dock Road at the harbour. Carefully curated to showcase the best of local craftsmanship and creativity, this is one shopping experience you should not miss! Another retail district, the Cape Quarter in vibey Green Point is a shopping mall / lifestyle centre. It has an open air cobbled plaza with a labyrinth of upmarket boutiques and art galleries.
There’s so much choice for brilliant and award-winning restaurants in Cape Town. Baia situated at Victoria Wharf within the V&A Waterfront is perfect for seafood lovers, serving the freshest fish from the Atlantic Ocean. http://www.baiarestaurant.co.za/ Tip! Look out for Fresh East Coast Sole. If you fancy eating on the coast head for The Codfather Seafood and Sushi Restaurant at Camps Bay (www.codfather.co.za/). Try 95 Keerom for the finest Italian food or for a truly African expeience head for Africa Café or Mama Africa.
Cape Town plays host to some of the most iconic venues for afternoon tea. The most famous venues include the Mount Nelson Hotel, affectionately known as ‘The Nellie’, the Cape Grace Hotel on the waterfront and Table Bay Hotel.
For a sedate lunch with a memorable tasting experience, step back into the colonial era visit the Steenberg Vineyards.
Only a twenty minute car journey from the city, lying on the mountain slopes at the southern end of Constancia Valley, Steenberg produces an amazing flagship Sauvignon Blanc. After a fascinating wine tasting in the immaculate tasting lounge enjoy lunch at the stunning restaurant, Catherina’s, where you will be served fresh local produce from Springbok and line-caught fish. Alternatively try its other restaurant overlooking the estate, Bistro Sixteeen82.
Each Saturday only and just a short ten minute drive from the city, Woodstock, an up and coming trendy area of Cape Town plays host to The Old Biscuit Mill.
A car park during the week, but each Saturday it transforms itself into a Burough Market equivalent with all kinds of sumptuous fresh food being cooked.
From the famous Roobois Tea, Funky Fungi (all different kinds of bbq’d mushrooms) to delicious quiches, stir-frys and marvellous butchers and bakers you can find something to tickle your taste buds and wash it down with craft beer and Cap Classic, South Africa’s equivalent to ‘champagne.’ http://www.theoldbiscuitmill.co.za/
If you’re feeling energetic after all the food and wine then there’s heaps to do ensuring you can work off the excess! Tackle one of the scenic walks on the slopes of Table Mountain. Constancia Nek and Cecilia Forest are both great starting points. As well as great views over Cape Town you should be rewarded by spotting unique birdlife. Of course you can take the rotating cable car to reach the summit of Table Mountain! www.tablemountain.net.
There is a free daily walking tour from 10am and many hiking trails at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. Set against the awesome backdrop of Table Mountain and Devil’s Peak, it is home to over 22,000 indigenous plants. The gardens host outdoor concerts every Sunday in the summer.
If you just want to relax and soak up the sun, then visit Shimmy Beach Club – a fun place with two swimming pools surrounded by sand. It’s child-friendly and has two restaurants. You can hire sun loungers overlooking the ocean, or nestle up under the umbrellas away from the rays! Run by Mark Reeve, the service is excellent and the food is delicious too.
Pra and I had a fun day there after she completed an epic cycle ride from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town to raise money for Breast Cancer .
For a bird’s eye view of Cape Town there are various helicopter tours that can be booked at the V&A harbour Waterfront. For a daring and in my experience, bordering on a terrifying – exhilaratingly experience, then try the Huey. The famous military helicopter that was used in the Vietnam War takes you on various trips lasting from 15 minutes to an hour. I did the combat mission flight with the doors open, it chugs along just metres above the sea, over towards the mountains where there’s ‘hard banking’ and ‘sharp climbing’ before you hit anything, which exhilarating finishes with its engine being switched off in mid-flight. Not only do you see the most fantastic views over Cape Town and the surrounding area, at the end of your flight you are given a certificate! http://www.huey-helicopter.co.za
After this a much needed gin and tonic is needed, so best to head for the serenity of the Cape Grace Hotel. The epitome of refined luxury, this stunning and most welcoming of hotels has the marina-fronted Bascule Bar where you can stay and rest your weary legs, eyes and senses. Book in to the Signal Bar to celebrate your last night where you can try the seven course ‘Tasting Menu’ with matching wine from the Raats family vineyard.
Cape Town has something for everyone. A week’s holiday fitting in many amazing experiences into a relatively short amount of time is a challenge, but it’s definitely worth the effort!
A double room for two people at The Cape Grace Hotel starts from £250 per night including breakfast.
Fly direct from Heathrow to Cape Town International Airport with British Airways. http://www.britishairways.com from £700 per person World Traveller Plus.
Kate was hosted by the Cape Grace Hotel – thank you.