Natalie’s Cape TownApril 8, 2015 / bynatalie / Categories :
I am one of Cape Town’s very biggest fans. It’s a city that I love coming back to no matter where in the world I’m coming from. I love the people, the natural beauty, the vibe in the streets, the diversity, the smell of the fynbos and the food.
I get many emails and messages every week from people who are planning a trip to the Cape or looking for a recommendation on things to do, see and eat, so I’ve put together three guides to Cape Town that will give you an overview of the city that I love, the way I love it.
Three Days in Cape Town
Three days is a good amount of time in which to explore the natural beauty, urban landscape, and Winelands of Cape Town. Follow this guide, and delve deeper into the various subcultures that make up this diverse city.
My tips for three days in Cape Town:
- Renting a car is best, but there are other options, like hop-on, hop-off tourist buses and affordable taxis, to help you get around.
- Public transport options are limited in Cape Town, but the city is very small. You could easily walk to most sights, and only use taxis when necessary.
- Always be vigilant of your surroundings and personal belongings. Keep your camera inside your bag when you’re not taking pictures.
- There is a popular scam that involves someone on the street pointing to your shoes. Just say “I’ve heard that one before,” and they will leave you alone.
- South Africa is food-mad, so you are never too far from a good meal. In general, there aren’t really any tourist-trap areas, meaning you’ll usually enjoy dining with locals.
- It’s customary to leave a 10% tip. (Keep in mind that some servers don’t earn a basic salary and live solely off your gratuity.)
- Cape Town is hot and dry in summer, so always use sunscreen to protect yourself from the fierce African sun, and carry enough water to keep you hydrated.
- Winter is our rainy season, but we very often have a series of sunny, warm days with temperatures up to 16 degrees (60 Fahrenheit).
- South Africans are friendly people and are always keen to offer help and advice to visitors. Everyone speaks English, so don’t be shy.
Cape Town for Families
Cape Town is a great place for families, since there are so many entertaining attractions to choose from here. Even better, these family-friendly sights will appeal as much to grown-ups as they do to kids.
My tips for Cape Town for families:
- It’s easy to get around to most of the big sights on one of the hop-on, hop-off sightseeing buses in the city. There are a few different routes to choose from.
- Public transport (buses, trains, metrorail) is limited in Cape Town, but cars are easy and affordable to hire, and cabs are affordable too.
- Cape Town is a great place to be outdoors, so pack plenty of sunscreen and hats for both kids and adults — the African sun is more potent than you think.
- The kids will love playing games like “Who can spot the most lighthouses?” or “Who can spot the most animals?” You’re sure to see lots of both!
- The public spaces in Cape Town are clean, safe, and beautiful, so don’t hesitate to skip another restaurant lunch in favor of a picnic with the kids.
- It’s a common practice to leave a 10% tip at restaurants and bars, and to tip the informal “car guards,” who will insist on watching your car while you are away from it.
The Best Food in Cape Town
Cape Town is a melting-pot of cultures where historical influences from India and Southeast Asia permeate the food scene. If you’re used to spending lots of money on food, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the great value for money in Cape Town. Coffee, food and wine are an important part of the Cape Town culture, so make sure you come hungry!
My tips for finding the best food in Cape Town:
- You don’t want to drink and drive in South Africa. Rather, opt for a taxi or arrange to travel with a wine-tasting tour guide.
- Be careful to stay safe — stick to well-lit areas at night, and avoid walking alone.
- The winelands are just 30 minutes from the city center and a foodie hotspot!
- Drink the local wine. You won’t find better value for money!
- Each street in the city center has its own charm and hidden gems, so don’t be afraid to walk around and see which vibe takes your fancy.
- Book a couple days in Stellenbosch or Franschhoek, and spend them eating and drinking. Or book a transfer with one of the many companies that offer trips out to the winelands.
- There are some wonderful foodie experiences like cooking classes, demonstrations and opportunities to learn to cook with a local.
- Don’t just stick to any red wine with meat and any white wine with fish. Many restaurants pride themselves on their wine lists, so ask your waiter for recommendations.
- Ask your waiter or sommelier what’s in season — many chefs create special off-menu dishes with whatever is fresh and local.
- Book a cooking lesson in the Bo-Kaap to learn more about the Cape Town food culture and the history of where our flavors come from.
- Of course our seafood is fresh and local, so don’t miss the opportunity to feast on crayfish, prawns and linefish while you’re here.