With the dramatic landscapes, postcard-like sunrises and sunsets, a perfect mix of beach, city and nature (did you know Table Mountain is one of the 7 Wonders of Nature?), great wine, exciting rising F&B scene, it’s no surprise Cape Town has been such a trendy travel destination lately
Our Cape Town Travel Guide rounds up what to see, and where to eat, drink and shop in this vibrant city on South Africa’s southwest coast.
THE TEST KITCHEN
Opened in 2010 and home of British-born chef Luke Dale Roberts, The Test Kitchen has been voted South African’s best restaurant year after year (there are no Michelin stars in South Africa as of today). The restaurant is only open for dinner and caters to a maximum of 40 guests. Booking a table at The Test Kitchen isn’t easy, but well worth the perseverance. As suggested by its name, the restaurant is a laboratory for Luke to experiment and innovate, always using fresh ingredients.
Also known as the other best restaurant in South Africa, along with The Test Kitchen (Chef Luke Dale Roberts was actually executive chef at La Colombe for four years before opening his own restaurant), La Colombe is probably my favorite restaurant in Cape Town. The restaurant serves up contemporary refined cuisine using local ingredients and is complemented by its beautiful location at the Constantia Uitsig Wine Estate.
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THE POTLUCK CLUB
A more casual place than The Test Kitchen, this venue is also owned and run by Luke Dale Roberts. Just like its big brother, the Potluck Club is situated in the very hip Old Biscuit Mill neighborhood. Located at the very top of The Silo building, you’ll be treated to a nice view over the area and Table Mountain. On the plate? Sophisticated, modern tapas. It’s the perfect place for a night out with friends.
Chef Ash Heeger has trained at both La Colombe and The Test Kitchen but also in Michelin-starred restaurants across the globe before becoming famous after starring in Netflix’s show The Final Table end of 2018. At Riverine Rabbit, she revisits the South African Braai (barbecue) tradition serving locally and seasonally sourced ingredients cooked over hot coals.
If you ask me, Mzoli is a must. But you’ll be going there more for the experience than the food. Located in Gugulethu, Cape Town’s largest township (but nothing to worry about Mzoli is a well know destination among locals and tourists and it’s totally safe to go there), Mzoli opened in 2003 and has grown from being a simple butchery to a well-known gathering spot on weekends. Nothing fancy about this place, you’ll have to order your meat (it’s the only thing on the menu so definitely not vegetarian friendly) at the counter and then bring it to the back of the shop, where they will grill it for you so that you can eat it in the open-air area where music is playing and people are dancing. The place gets very crowdy around 2pm with people coming to party for the entire afternoon.
LA PETITE FERME
Situated in Franschhoek, in the wine valley, La Petite Ferme offers the perfect tasty break on a day of wandering the wine estates and tasting wines. The menu is short and focuses on in-season ingredients grown in the Franschhoek area. The best tables are definitely the few ones outside, under the trees overlooking the vineyards.
THE beach restaurant. The menu is pretty simple and features the usual fresh grilled seafood and fishes, but you’ll get to enjoy it on beach beds with a nice view over the sea. A perfect spot for sunset drinks!
Located on the very busy Long Street, Fork offers tapas with a South African twist. Why don’t you give a go to ostrich fillet or kudu steak? They have 4 tables on the small colonial terrace on first floor, you can’t book them but if the weather allow do not hesitate and ask to be seated there if any seat available.
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Also known as Cape Town’s hottest rooftop and bar and the spot to hit in Camps Bay. A great idea is to go there for sunset and get to sip your cocktail while watching the sun sinking into the sea.
ORPHANAGE COCKTAIL EMPORIUM
A speakeasy-style cocktails bar serving innovative cocktails including a rooibos (South African tea) infused one served in a teacup with portion of the profit going to the orphanage founded by the St Paul’s Church across the street. Orphanage is a pretty chill and casual place at happy hour and becomes more of a party place as the night goes on.
A Victorian house with open-air backyard turned into a tapas restaurant, bar and lounge. When to go there? On a Tuesday night for sure so that you can enjoy their famous Tuesday night live jazz sessions followed by deep house party. Asoka is a pretty famous nightlife spot and the queue can be very long with a quite strict door policy so, if you want to guarantee yourself a spot in, a good idea is to book a table for dinner and then stay for the after-party.
THE PIANO BAR
A place to enjoy a classic cocktail with a side of live music (playing 7 days a week) with solo artist performances from Sunday to Wednesday then gigs by bigger bands from Thursday to Saturday.
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100% natural, eco-friendly, skincare products made in South Africa and inspired by the wisdom of African’s traditional healers.
CAPE ISLAND Luxury lifestyle products ranging from candles to body products and cushion covers, all inspired by the natural beauty of South Africa. Their Clifton Beach scented sachet make an absolutely cute gift easy to bring back in a suitcase.
Mad in Africa, natural perfumes and cosmetics inspired by ancient African remedies and using indigenous botanicals.
South African leading luxury bath and body brand. All the products are manufactured in Cape Town with a strong environmental-friendly focus.
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One of the Seven Wonders of Nature, Table Mountain is inseparable from Cape Town. No matter where you are in the city, you’ll be treated to amazing views of this no less amazing mountain. There are two ways to get to the top of Table Mountain:
- The cable car: a 5 min ride during which you’ll be enjoying amazing view over the city
- The hike: a pretty tough one which will take you around 1h30 if you are in good shape
Tip: whether you go for the cable car or the hike, you should definitely do Table Mountain first thing in the morning. Cable car is a very touristy attraction and if you don’t get there early enough, you’ll have to wait for hours. The hike is pretty tough, and Cape Town gets really hot during Summer, so you definitely want to hike your way up before the sun is at its zenith.
The former Malay neighborhood, famous for its colorful and very Instagram-friendly houses.
CAPE POINT & CAPE OF GOOD HOPE
Also known at the most southern point of the African continent, the Cape of Good Hope is located in the beautiful Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. It will take you a bit more than an 1h reaching the entrance of the reserve from Cape Town and you’ll be treated to dramatic landscape and 50 shades of blue.
Tip: make sure to drive through Chapman’s Peak Drive to get to the Cape of Good Hope. This scenic drive is amazingly beautiful, and you’ll want to stop every 2 min to take a picture.
A kilometers long beach famous for its surfers and colorful beach bungalows.
THE WINE VALLEY
Also known as Franchhoek (meaning “the French neighborhood” because the first people to settled there and plant grapes where French Huguenot escaping religious persecutions in the 17th), the Wine Valley, roughly a 1h30 drive from the city-center, is home of hundreds of wine estates, such as Mont Rochelle, which you can visit to indulge in wine tastings.