Welcome to Part 3 of my South Africa Travel Series. If you’re looking for general South Africa itinerary ideas or all the details on Safari, my last two posts have got you covered! This post is going to deep-dive into the magical city of Cape Town, so if that’s your focus, you came to the right place.
After spending the first part of our time in South Africa in tranquil Safari-land, the energy of Cape Town hit us like a double-shot of espresso, in the most incredible possible way. This vibrant city feels like a San Francisco with European sensibilities. Cape Town is one of the most culturally diverse melting pots in the world, and different neighborhoods often have completely different architectural, epicurean & cultural vibes. I can’t wait to share every single thing we loved about this city. We spent 5 days / 5 nights in Cape Town – and it still wasn’t nearly enough – but here’s my take on how to make the most of your precious time (most importantly, where to eat & drink) while in this amazing city.
Cape Grace – This hotel is the definition of Old World luxury. The Cape Grace is pure elegance, and I felt like a royal every second of our stay. The staff could not have been more accommodating (we had a handwritten note + a different little gift or local treat left in our room every day) and the nautically-inspired design is the epitome of classic. The location is ideal – right on the V&A Waterfront – which is a fabulous area to explore in its own right, but also just a quick Uber away from the city’s many other must-see neighborhoods. The breakfast spread here is TO DIE FOR YOU GUYS (make-your-own mimosas – with the good champagne) and don’t miss drinks at the v chic whisky bar downstairs.
Quick tip: Take a look at Cape Grace’s promotions to see if any of the timings or offers apply to your trip. They were running a “Stay 4 nights, get the 5th night free” special at the time of our honeymoon, which was ended up making it much more affordable for us.
One more thing: There are so many fantastic hotel options for every price range. For boutique luxury vibes at various price points, check out some of Scott Dunn’s hotel partners for inspiration. I also recommend scoping out Airbnb – we met several other honeymoon couples who found a gorgeous places this way.
Pot Luck Club – This restaurant is trendy but understated, and in no way pretentious. The small plates style food is spectacular. Instead of organizing their menu by course, they divvy it up by flavor profile (salty. sweet. umami. bitter. sour.) The cherry on top is that it’s situated at the top of the Silo in the Old Biscuit Mill, so if you time your reservation right, you’ll get 360 degree sunset views. If you’re looking for something equally delicious but more on the fine-dining side, check out their sister restaurant, Test Kitchen.
Roundtable – Ah, this dreamy place. This one required a little bit of a drive up, up and up into the lush, green glens of Table Mountain. This restaurant is an actual old, round-shaped house, and it’s steeped in fascinating history – it used to be guard house for the Dutch East India Company in the 1700’s. The views of Camps Bay are stunning, and the 8-course pairing dinner was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. We tried everything from oxtail to ostrich, and did I mention we tried eight different wines? Every single person on staff made us feel so special – we even had a personalized menu with our names + a sweet congrats message. This was truly hospitality at its finest.
Kloof Street House – This refurbished Victorian house is one of the coziest, most vibrant & eclectic spaces I’ve ever seen. The fairytale-like garden on the outside immediately caught our eye, and we were lucky enough to snag a couple of colorful, mismatched chairs by the fireplace inside. The interior decor was insane, the energy was lively, and it was the perfect spot for a nightcap of champagne + cheesecake. If not for dinner, swing by for at least a drink.
Asoka – This is actually Kloof Street House‘s sister restaurant (it’s just down the street) and is great for drinks or a vibe-y dinner. The scene is stylish & the restaurant itself is built around a gorgeous olive tree. The menu is international so there’s something for everyone, but it’s the Moroccan-inspired decor, lounge-y feel + live DJ sets that make it worth a visit.
Bacon on Bree – This place is literally
heaven-on-earth a restaurant where everything is based on BACON. It’s the brainchild of local charcuterie master Richard Bosman, who’s committed to serving only the highest quality pork from happy, pasture-raised pigs. The space is small but bright & sunny, and has several tables outside for enjoying bacon-y things al fresco. Go for breakfast, lunch or Saturday brunch, and order the BLT. Trust me.
Culture Club Cheese – If you know me at all, you know this place was my everything. They have a beautifully curated “Wall of Cheese” aka a lovely fridge filled with – what else? – all the cheese and the most delightful accompaniments. The cheerful cheesemonger (dream job) graciously gave us a taste of his favorite fromages du jour & it was pure bliss. If cheese is your thing, you’ve got to pop in.
V&A Waterfront Food Market – This is a bustling area with a stunning marina, incredible views of Table Mountain, and an amaaaazing food hall with so many delicious offerings. There’s also some great shopping here – both local artisans & more commercial, mall-style shops – so there’s something for everyone. There’s a great juice bar in the food hall too, if you’re in need of a little reset after the bacon & cheese places I sent you (sorry.)
Outrage of Modesty – This was a local’s recommendation, and we were so glad we sought it out. It’s not well-marked – I actually don’t recall it being marked at all – there’s just a door & a security guy out front. The space is dimly lit and you feel instantly cool upon arrival, like you just discovered a well-kept secret. The bartenders take their mixology seriously, but not in an irritating way. We enjoyed two very well-made cocktails (each) & good conversation with our bartenders. This was a hidden gem.
Truth Coffee – This is a coffee shop (obvi) but it’s so much more than that. The design, machinery, overall vibe & staff “uniforms” have this otherworldly sci-fi, Mad Max-y feel. I seriously could not stop staring at the incredible detail of the space & what the staff was wearing – it was mesmerizing. Also they have a coffee sommelier who was probably the coolest person I’ve ever met. Even if coffee’s not your jam, it’s worth checking out for the design alone.
Brewer’s Co-op – We found this place at the tail-end of our last day, and we were so sad we didn’t discover it sooner. This small microbrewery & bar has great house brews, a laidback and friendly atmosphere, a delightful woman running the bar (at least when we were there – really enjoyed chatting with her) + the sweetest little Westie dog named Maggie. If you’re missing your dog & need a beer (which is pretty much always if you are me), check this place out.
Neighbourgoods Market Saturdays – If you’re here on a Saturday, this is a must! The Old Biscuit Mill transforms into a farmer’s market on Saturdays only, and this was one of the highlights of our trip. Get there early, grab a coffee from the nice people at Espresso Lab Microroasters, and walk around the pop-up shops by local artisans & food producers. We tried some phenomenal South African favorites like rooibos tea and impala + Guinness stew (sounds weird, but was soooo good). Nick and I both found items from local designers we loved (a leather bag for me, a watch for him). We could have stayed here all.day.long.
Table Mountain – Either hike it, or take it easy with the cable car. We weren’t able to do either unfortunately due to wind / inclement weather, so we obviously have to go back.
Afternoon Tea at Mount Nelson Hotel – We weren’t able to make it here, but we met another couple who could not stop raving about it. They said the vibe was awesome and the food was RIDICULOUS. You’ll need a reservation, so look into this for early afternoon (for your lunch) or late afternoon (for your dinner.) From what I hear, you’ll be stuffed afterward!
Bree Street – Many of the restaurants I mentioned are on this street. It’s a lively, foodie-focused area to walk around day or night. If you’re not sure where to begin in Cape Town (and if you’re hungry), this is a good place to start.
Bo-Kaap – This colorful neighborhood is full of history and a beautiful melting pot of cultures. It was formerly known as the Malay Quarter, and the homes were erected in the 1700s to house the slaves brought over from Malaysia, Indonesia and the rest of Africa. The houses were originally all white when they served as slave quarters, however when the slaves were allowed to buy the properties, they painted the homes in bright, rainbow colors as an expression of their freedom. Spend an afternoon walking around the neighborhood, and eat local street food from the lovely woman in the image below. The “koeksisters” (coconut-dusted doughnuts) and samosas will change your life.
DAY TRIPS //
Boulders Beach + Cape Peninsula – I highly recommend hiring a driver (or renting a car) to check out these areas outside the city. Our driver scooped us up around 8am and we drove down to sleepy little surf town of Muizenburg. We popped in the most charming local surf + coffee shop, Rolling Wood, where we sipped almond milk lattes while the morning crowd shuffled in (wet & barefoot) for their after-surf espressos. We then moved further south to the coastal town of Scarborough, where we lunched at the bohemian, Venice Beach-esque cafe, Whole Earth, where I noshed on a colorful, veggie-filled falafel bowl with locally-made kombucha. Did I mention the South African wellness scene is so on point?
We continued south to Simon’s Town, where we found rogue penguins roaming the streets & living in the happiest little colony on their very own Boulders Beach. You can walk side-by-side with these magnificent creatures, walking through the tide pools and the boulders to observe them (respectfully, of course) in their natural habitat. It is remarkable.
You can visit Cape Point itself if you’re interested in the photo op (it is a lovely view at the tip of the Cape Peninsula, in the Table Mountain National Park) but you can have an equally beautiful experience going off the beaten path with a private guide, going deeper into the Peninsula to hike deserted wild beaches, discovering secret coves, rock pools & shipwrecks (real shipwrecks!) away from the tourist crowds. We did this (in the rain) and loved every second. This part of the Table Mountain National Park is home to ostrich, baboons (so.many.baboons), tortoises & mountain zebra. The return journey back to Cape Town along the Atlantic side is filled with amazing views, and if you get a private driver, they usually have local wine & beer in tow for the ride (v important).
The Winelands – If you don’t have the time to dedicate an overnight stay (or 2 or 3 nights…) in the wine country – which is THE BEST THING EVER – you can absolutely experience the Winelands with a day trip. Either way, wine country is a MUST. The Napa & Sonoma of South Africa are Franschhoek & Stellenbosch, and they are only about 45 minutes from Cape Town proper. Hire a driver or even grab an Uber and hop around the countless incredible wineries in this concentrated area. For more details on the Winelands, read about our stay in Part 4 of this series – coming soon!
I fell completely in love with Cape Town and its many surrounding towns and micro-cultures. While this is a snapshot of our experience, this only scratches the surface of everything there is to do in Cape Town. Let me know if you have any must-see or must-do’s you’d add to this list!
Are you heading to Cape Town soon? Comment below or DM me on Instagram (@laurengrillon) if you have any specific questions – would love to help make your trip amazing!