On my first trip to the continent of Africa, I was lucky enough to spend about a week exploring the wonders of Cape Town. I ended up returning to Cape Town the following year and have been calling it my home away from home for the past year and a half! The city has stunning natural landscapes, delicious and diverse cuisines and so many activities for all ages. It's also a cosmopolitan city with a wealth of historical sites, café culture, and lively nightlife. Check out all of my tips in the ultimate Cape Town travel guide!
What to Expect in Cape Town
Language: South Africa claims a whopping eleven official languages but the most common you’ll hear in and around Cape Town is English—the lingo of business and media—followed by Afrikaans and Xhosa on the streets.
Currency: The currency in South Africa is called a Rand. 1 USD is equivalent to 13.54 Rand.
Credit Cards and Banks: The majority of retailers and restaurants accept debit cards as payment.
Climate: Humidity is quite low in Cape Town, so while the summers are hot, they aren’t too muggy. Wintertime, however, is chilly with the ocean winds blowing in from the southeast. The best times to visit are the cusp months, October and November, springtime in South Africa, or from December to February when the days are at their longest and warmest. Winter from June to August tends to be rainy and cold.
Plugs: Most plugs in South Africa are 2-prong or 3-prong so be sure to bring both power adapter so you’re prepared wherever you go.
Safety: Cape Town is one of the safer cities in South Africa, but there are still some petty crimes. Be sure to lock up your valuables and keep important belongings on your person.
Getting Around in Cape Town
Rent a Car: Cape Town is rather spread out and with many things to do around the Cape and beyond, I recommend renting a car. Remember that you drive on the left side of the road here! The street signage can be a bit confusing, but you’ll find that the city is auto-friendly with ample parking and not a lot of traffic.
Gas stations accept both cash and credit, but not all. There will be a sign outside telling you if they accept credit or not, but it’s a good idea to always have some cash on you just in case. You will also need small change for tolls on major roads.
Uber: Uber enjoys a healthy clientele in and around Cape Town, so you can use the Uber app to get around if driving on your own doesn’t sound like a great idea.
Rent a Scooter: Scooters and Vespas are very popular in Cape Town. They’re a very fast and convenient way to get around, just remember to wear your helmet!
House Fritz (Budget)
The budget friendly but charming House Fritz Guest House is in the center of town, just 15 minutes away from the Green Market Square. Tucked away in a quiet residential area, this B&B offers spacious rooms with hardwood floors, some with private gardens and some with balconies with views of Table Mountain.
South Beach in Camps Bay
South Beach is a gorgeous collection of waterfront apartments with ocean-view balconies and kitchens. As you can imagine, they are fairly luxurious and have modern amenities, flat-screen TVs, free WI-FI, and continental breakfast served in-room. Ask for the upgrades if you can—these come with direct pool access and whirlpool tubs.
Location: Camps Bay
MannaBay Boutique Guest House
Mannabay is a sophisticated hotel with eclectic decor, a beautiful swimming pool, a fire pit, and complimentary airport transfers. The rooms are huge and have spacious bathrooms, walk-in showers, and under-floor heating—ingredients for a heavenly stay!
Location: Near Table Mountain
Cape View Clifton Beach House
The stylish and flawless Cape View Clifton is the perfect place to relax. The rooms are spacious with stunning panoramic views and made-to-order breakfast.
Accommodation: Guest House
Belmond Mount Nelson
Old-Hollywood glamour and colonial grandeur come together to create the magnetic atmosphere at the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town. Nestled at the foot of the iconic Table Mountain, this hotel is a luxury escape in the heart of Cape Town.
Once Hostel (Budget)
This is my favorite budget stay in Cape Town! It’s in a great location near lots of shops, restaurants, clubs and cafes, the staff is always friendly, plus they have 3 of their own restaurants on the property. There are lots of room choices and they have a great outdoor fire-pit and meditation garden to relax in.
Known as Cape Town’s hidden gem, Tintswalo is a 5 star, award-winning lodge that offers views, unlike any other resort. All the rooms offer an incredible view of the Atlantic Ocean and make you feel like you are at home. You can whale watch out of the comfort of your own room. Doesn’t get much better than that!
Location: Table Mountain National Park
Interested in sipping tea by the sea in an outdoor gazebo? Twelves Apostles can make that happen. The award-winning luxury resort offers stunning rooms and exquisite dining. There are 55 deluxe rooms and 15 suites, all looking out to the mountains or sea, depending on your preference. You’ll find an eclectic yet contemporary African style throughout the rooms and hotel.
Location: Oudekraal Beach
The Silo Hotel is an old grain silo that was open from 1924 to 2001. It was then turned into a luxurious hotel consisting of 28 rooms including a one bedroom penthouse. There are 6 room categories based on the room size and views. They range from the silos rooms (including harbor views and a balcony) to the royal suites (2 bedrooms and a balcony).
Location: V&A Waterfront
With only 13 rooms, the Ellerman House focuses heavily on customer service and paying attention to detail. Rates include breakfast, drinks, wine tasting, a minibar, and a private chef. This beautiful hotel is conveniently located near some of Cape Town’s greatest sites including Clifton Beach, Table Mountain National Park, and Cape Town city center.
Location: Bantry Bay
Grab your daily cup of joe at Truth Coffee! Truth Coffee boasts a relaxed yet trendy steampunk vibe.
Tribe is an exceptional café in the heart of Cape Town. It is an unassuming café just a brief walk from the Woodstock train station.
A small chain across Cape Town, these coffee shops have quickly become my favorite. Great coffee, food and atmosphere!
Willoughby & Co
Willoughby & Co on Victoria Wharf is the locals’ much-loved, go-to restaurant for sushi.
Perfect for brunch and lunch! This place has really good food and drinks, and sits right in the middle of downtown.
Open seven days a week, hit up this market for a snack, a meal and some shopping!
If you are craving authentic and delicious Italian food, you have to hit up Bocca!
Three Wise Monkeys
The perfect stop if you’re craving some Japanese ramen noodles, sushi and other Japanese dishes.
Codfather Seafood & Sushi
Codfather Seafood & Sushi is a lively restaurant that’s always full of hungry patrons. Your taste buds will thank you after the heaps of deliciously prepared fish, prawns, langoustines, crayfish, and more.
The Old Biscuit Mill
The Old Biscuit Mill is a heartfelt collaboration between chefs, designers, photographers, and other artists in and around town. Once a biscuit factory, it now hosts a market featuring more than 100 specialty traders every Saturday.
The Test Kitchen
Located in The Old Biscuit Mill, The Test Kitchen is a blend of South African and Latin cuisine with inventive dishes.
Make Reservations in Advance: Test Kitchen is probably the most exclusive restaurant in Cape Town, so a reservation isn’t easy. Check their website about 3 months in advance to try and get one. It took me about 4 months to get a date for dinner there! Their set menu is pricey, but the experience is one of the best I’ve had anywhere in the world.
The Pot Luck Club
Situated on the top floor of the Silo of The Old Biscuit Mill, it has been dubbed the coolest place to be in Cape Town and its success is based on innovative cuisine, served in a relaxed yet edgy environment.
With the same owners as The Pot Luck Club and The Test Kitchen, this restaurant is another big hit. Enjoy a delectable meal in a luxurious setting.
What to Order: Try the oysters!
Cape Point Road Trip
Take a drive along the beautiful coastal road to scenic Cape Point. The highway will take you through historical Hout Bay and Sentinel Peak and to the winding Chapman’s Peak Road. Cape Point is located in the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve and has dramatic views of the ocean, a charming historical lighthouse, and dangerous rocks that have led to many a shipwreck in olden times.
Read More: Driving the Cape Peninsula in a Day!
Hike Lion’s Head
Need to escape the city? The options are endless around the mountains and national parks. One of the more popular is Lion’s Head, a challenging but rewarding climb.
Cable Car Up To Table Mountain
You can hop on the cable car to scale nearby Table Mountain and see its panoramic views over Cape Town. This is a great place to watch the sunset, but be aware that it will be very crowded at that time and you may have to wait in line to get back down!
Several helicopter companies offer scenic flights of Cape Town with stunning views of the city and the Cape of Good Hope.
Day Trip to the Winelands
Take a drive up to the Stellenbosch or Franschhoek and have a delicious lunch and wine tasting at any of the beautiful farms or estates.
Check out my post on Why South Africa Might Be the World’s Best Wine Region!
Shop at the Watershed
The Watershed is an indoor market on the waterfront that offers a variety of treats, including artist exhibitions, workshops, and products for your mind and body.
Kirstenbosch Botanic Garden
The Kirstenbosch Botanic Garden is home to a large collection of African plants and offers trails carved out for trekkers and stone sculptures set in the gardens for artists. In summertime, you’ll often find live concerts held on the grass on Sundays. The garden is one of nine National Botanical Gardens covering five of South Africa’s six different biomes and administered by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI).
Woodstock Street Art
Since 2010, Woodstock has been the epicenter for street art, and these days you can hire a guide to take you around to see more than 40 pieces of artwork from local and international artists. Truly a place to get inspired!
Go on Safari
Take a trip a few hours out of the city and get your chance to see the Big 5 on a real African game drive! Gondwana is committed to conservation and has an amazing property.
Go on a TBAEscapes Tour!
Meet like-minded female travelers and experience the brightest South African highlights on a luxurious and action-packed tour. TBA Escapes South Africa Tour is for all women with all levels of travel experience. With a team of professional guides, you will visit all of my favorite places in the Western Cape!
Visit Bo Kaap Neighborhood
Formerly known as the Malay Quarter, Bo Kaap is situated at the foot of Signal Hill. The colorful houses date back to the 1760s when rental houses were leased to slaves. While there, visit the Bo-Kaap Museum, located in the oldest building of the town.
Another great experience is a traditional Cape Malay meal at one of the many restaurants. These usually consist of fruit, spices, veggies, and meat. After you’ve filled up, walk around, shop, and take 100 Instagram pics.
Traveling With Your Partner?
Visiting with your significant other? Though Cape Town is not marketed as a top romantic destination, there are so many different things to do to get those sparks flying with your loved one.
Check out my list of the most romantic things to do in Cape Town!
Shop My Travel Essentials
Delaire Graff is an institution of luxury in Stellenbosch, with its state-of-the art winery, refined restaurant and exclusive lodging options.Read More >