All products are independently selected by our editors. If you buy something, we may earn an affiliate commission.
With the striking Table Mountain as a backdrop, beautiful beaches and a relaxed and cosmopolitan atmosphere, it is no wonder Cape Town is attracting more visitors than ever. Fortunately, there are enough stylish and affordable places for every visitor to stay in, ranging from chic boutique hotels in the city centre to out-of-town mansion houses. The city also boasts historical buildings, interesting museums, shopping malls, restaurants, jazz cafés, theatres and nightclubs. On top of this, there are excellent surfing beaches and charming vineyards along the pristine coastline, and the spectacular Cape of Good Hope 70km south of the city.
Where to stay in Cape Town
The best hotels in Cape Town
Where to eat out in Cape Town
THE TEST KITCHEN
Starry chef Luke Dale-Roberts’s experimental, Heston Blumenthal-style restaurant.
The Test Kitchen, The Old Biscuit Mill, 375 Albert Rd, Woodstock (+27 21 447 2337; thetestkitchen.co.za)
A contemporary and cosmopolitan restaurant housed in a 100-year-old red brick building. There is an inspired seafood and South African-based menu, sure to tickle the taste buds.
The Foundry, Prestwich St, Green Point (00 27 21 418 2948/9; beluga.co.za)
One of Cape Town’s best-known eateries, Blues’ menu is focused on seafood of all kinds and varieties. There are also beef, chicken and vegetarian dishes, served with a view over the impressive surroundings.
The Promenade, Victoria Road, Camps Bay (00 27 21 438 2040; blues.co.za)
This seafood restaurant was one of the first sushi venues in Cape Town. The Codfather does not have menus, instead the friendly and knowledgeable staff will guide your choices according to appetite and preferences. Open seven days a week.
41 The Drive, Camps Bay Corner, Camps Bay (00 27 21 438 0782)
Set on a working wine farm in Constantia Valley, La Colombe is a twenty minute drive from Cape Town. Offering French cuisine with local ingredients and an impressive wine list, this multi-award winning restaurant is considered by many to be South Africa’s finest. You will need to book ahead.
Constantia Uitsig, Spaanschemat River Road, Constantia (00 27 21 794 2390)
With a classic Belgian menu given a South African twist, expect classics such as Fruits de Mer and soupe de poisson alongside Chateaubriand of Springbok. With a wide selection of Belgian beers and a good wine list, this glass-walled restaurant also offers great views of Table Mountain and the harbour.
Pierhead, Victoria and Albert Waterfront (00 27 21 419 0249; denanker.co.za)
This much talked-about restaurant offers pan-Asian cuisine served tapas style, from Chinese dim sum to sushi and Japanese robata grills. With its chic decor and impressive wine list, Haiku has won rave reviews and is consequently very popular – you will be slotted into one of only two sittings: 6.30pm or 9pm.
33 Church Street, City Bowl (00 27 21 424 7000; bukhara.com/haiku/)
The best spot for coffee and people watching in Green Point. The deli has a wide selection of Italian wine, ham, salami, pasta and cheese.
Main Road, Green Point (00 27 21 434 6893)
One of the best restaurants in Sea Point, La Perla is a local restaurant turned cosmopolitan. The food is Italian-inspired, the waiters are old fashioned, and the wine list is impressive.
Beach Road, Sea Point (00 27 21 439 9538; laperla.co.za)
The main watering hole in Green Point, Mano’s has served good basic food for decades. The hip crowd can get noisy in the evenings, so come early for dinner if you want to avoid the worst rush.
39 Main Road, Green Point (00 27 21 434 1090; mano.co.za)
NOON GUN TEA ROOM & RESTAURANT
The tearoom and restaurant serves traditional Malay meals, with a view over Table Mountain, the city and the Waterfront. Coffee and tea is served throughout the day, but alcohol is not permitted on the premises. Noon Gun is open on Mon-Fri, but only for lunch during Ramadan.
273 Longmarket Street, Bo-Kaap (00 27 21 424 0529; noonguntearoom.co.za)
Located on the Tokara Wine Estate on the top of Helshoogte pass, Tokara restaurant has a breathtaking view over the valley below and Table Mountain. The menu is South-African with a hint of Europe – lots of Springbok and ostrich, but also pasta and seafood. The wine list is extensive and carries, of course, only South African wines. Closed Mondays.
Helshoogtepas, Stellenbosch (00 27 21 808 5959; tokararestaurant.co.za)
The best nightlife in Cape Town
MARCO’S AFRICAN PLACE
An excellent restaurant that transforms into an African-Jazz club during the night. Marco serves African culture, indigenous and international cuisine with a smile, and the restaurant menu contains crocodile carpaccio for the brave. The jazz nights are both a showcase for local talent and for established stars like Hugh Masekela and Sylvia Mdunyelwa.
15 Rose Lane, Bo-Kaap (00 27 21 423 5412; marcosafricanplace.co.za)
MARIMBA’S CIGAR BAR
The air in the bar is thick with the scent and smoke of Cuban cigars, and the music is suitably Latin American. Live performances of Blues and African Jazz entertain in the bar and restaurant every night. This is the place to be seen by the cool Capetownian crowd. Open Mon-Sat.
Coen Steytler Avenue, Foreshore (00 27 21 418 3366; fax: 418 3388; marimbasa.com)
What to see in Cape Town
JAZZ BRUNCH AT WINCHESTER MANSIONS
Spend your Sunday morning in the luxurious garden of the Winchester Mansions Hotel. As you listen to great live musicians, you get to eat a fabulous brunch buffet and enjoy a complimentary Sunday newspaper. Visit the hotel’s website for information about upcoming performances.
221 Beach Road, Sea Point (00 27 21 434 2351; winchester.co.za)
ROBBEN ISLAND MUSEUM
For more than 400 years, Robben Island, a small island located 12km from Cape Town, was a notorious prison. Used in the 20th-century to incarcerate Nelson Mandela and many other anti-apartheid fighters, it has since been converted into a museum. Many of the tour guides are former political prisoners on the island. As a symbol of the human spirit’s strength and the perseverance of justice against all odds, the museum is a must on any visit to Cape Town.
Robben Island (00 27 21 409 5100; robben-island.org.za)
TWO OCEANS AQUARIUM
A unique opportunity to see all that the cold water of the Atlantic and the warmer Indian Ocean have to offer. Located on the Victoria & Albert Waterfront, the Aquarium has several large pools with ocean animals, from starfish and sea cucumbers to endangered African penguins. For already qualified scuba divers, the Aquarium offers shark diving in the I&J Predator Exhibit. Visit on Tuesdays, Thursdays or Saturdays for the opportunity to see the fish being fed, or Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays for the feeding of the sharks, stingrays and turtles.
Dock Road, Victoria & Albert Waterfront (00 27 21 418 3823; aquarium.co.za)
Things to do in Cape Town
CAMPS BAY BEACH
The beach in Camps Bay is magnificent, but when the southeasterly blows on summer afternoons it is utterly useless as a leisure zone. Sunbathers here are a little less glitzy than the crowd at Clifton, but only just. They are all disturbingly gorgeous. Adjacent Glen Beach is popular with gym-built surfers.
First Beach is for everyone, Second Beach is for couples, Third Beach for muscle boys and girls and Fourth Beach for families. Take your pick and spend the day in and around the icy water. Summer beach house rentals are pricey and sought after.
Explore Cape Town’s diverse neighbourhoods on foot.
Made up of several established neighbourhoods – Gardens, Oranjezicht, Higgovale, Tamboerskloof and Vredehoek – City Bowl is located in the lap of the mountain, between Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head. A good place to spot Victorian architecture, with Table Mountain as a brooding backdrop, City Bowl is only a 10-minute drive from Camps Bay and Clifton, and a 15-minute drive from Cape Town city centre.
Cape Town’s summer playground is the group of beaches at the north-west tip of the Cape Peninsula, each separated by granite boulders. Fourth beach is the best, and the most glamorous, where smart yachts come to anchor and swimwear brands matter. The beach itself, down steep flights of rocky stairs, is gorgeous, so is the view of Table Mountain in the distance. But the sea is undeniably chilly, this is the Atlantic after all.
Green Point is an old suburb straddling a flank of Signal Hill in front of a golf course and stadium. Many houses are Victorian and Edwardian, and the streets are fittingly narrow.
Go for a walk along Sea Point’s two-mile promenade along seawater pools and small, rocky beaches. Look out for fine Art Deco flats on Beach Road.
Where to shop in Cape Town
Located in the luxurious Constantia Village shopping mall, Belafonte is one of the best shops in Cape Town for men’s clothing. The on-site tailor offers same day alterations, and the shop tries hard to keep a personal touch to their customer services.
Shop 41, Constantia Village, Constantia (00 27 21 794 4610)
Billie stocks a large number of South African designers, including Jelli Bean, Yes Clothing and Catherine Moore. The shop also offers made-to-measure service, eveningwear, ball gowns and wedding dresses.
Cavendish Street, Claremont (00 27 21 674 3484)
HOME AFRICAN IMAGE
Home to contemporary artefacts from all over Africa, including textiles, sculptures, pots and jewellery.
52 Burg Street (00 27 21 423 8385; african-image.co.za)
This shop sells the best contemporary furniture and ceramics that South Africa has to offer. Everything is eminently covetable, ready for equipping urban spaces everywhere.
109 Hatfield Street (00 27 21 461 7233; okha.co.za)
THE PLUSH BAZAAR
Good for bric-a-brac, glassware, crockery, chandeliers, mats and quirky paintings of charming South African landscapes.
30 Somerset Road, Green Point (00 27 21 419 8328)
JEWELLERY DOLCE & BANANA
Unique hand made jewellery in true African style. Using local materials such as ostrich egg shells, glass beads and feathers, Dolce & Banana offers a wide range of individual-looking bracelets, necklaces and earrings.
5 Main Road, Hout Bay (00 27 21 790 0802; dolceandbanana.com)
OLGA JEWELLERY DESIGN STUDIO
This is Olga’s flagship, where goldsmiths create unique masterpieces for individual customers. If you want a private consultation, it is advisable to phone ahead of your visit.Shop 6274, Victoria & Albert Waterfront (00 27 21 419 8016; olgajewellers.co.za)
An exclusive jewellers run by father and daughter Gilder. Established in 1984, the Gilders keep a large selection of both unset diamonds and diamond jewellery in this workshop. Other precious stones, such as sapphires, emeralds and tanzanite are all on offer too. You will certainly be able to find the perfect engagement ring, if that is what you are looking for. MARKETS GREENMARKET SQUARE Greenmarket Square, Cape Town. Situated in the Central Business District, Greenmarket Square used to be a slave market. Today it is one of Cape Town’s most vibrant flea markets, with a great amount of stalls carrying clothes, jewellery and souvenirs. Open daily.
Shop 40, Constantia Village, Constantia (00 27 21 794 2116; petergilder.com)
WATERFRONT CRAFT MARKET
An indoor market for all things handmade, ranging from modern to traditional as well as antiques. Open daily.
Victoria & Albert Waterfront, Cape Town (00 27 21 408 7600; waterfront.co.za)
SHOPPING MALLS VICTORIA & ALFRED WATERFRONT
The V&A is a huge shopping mall plonked in the middle of the working city harbour, filled with wooden tubs, tankers and yachts. The mall is smart and shiny, and it has a good bookshop, fashion shops, and cinemas, among other things. It also offers great parking and security.
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, Cape Town (00 27 21 408 7600; waterfront.co.za)
How to get to Cape Town
Cape Town International Airport (airports.co.za). There are half-hourly bus services from the airport into the city centre.
AIRLINES FROM THE UK
British Airways (0870 850 9850; ba.com)
South African Airways (0870 747 1111; flysaa.com)
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines – via Amsterdam (0870 243 0541; klm.com)
Lufthansa – via Frankfurt/Brussels (0845 773 7747; lufthansa.com)
Virgin Atlantic – via Johannesburg (0870 380 2007; virgin-atlantic.com)