Reading titles like “One of the best cities to visit in the world” by Time Magazine and Travel and Leisure convinced my wife and I we had to visit South Africa. When we found out, we had enough miles to pay for most of our flights and hotels, we decided to make the 24+ hour trek to Cape Town in February 2016. After spending 7 full days in Cape Town, we know why it’s consistently voted one of the best cities in the world- it truly has something for every type of person from adventure to good food to culture to class.
Here’s what we did each day in Cape Town:
Day 1- Hipster Cape Town:
- To fight the jet lag, we slept in until 10AM and then took an Uber (Cheaper than in the US and just as reliable) to the birthplace of the hipster movement, Woodstock. And where to all the hipsters spend their Saturday? At the Old Biscuit Mill. It’s an indoor and outdoor market full of arts and crafts, every kind of street food imagineable, and trendy clothes. Grab a artisan coffee and stroll the market for hours eating, laughing, and enjoying the view of Table Mountain.(Photo: View of Table Mountain from inside Old Biscuit Market)
- Once you’ve had your share of hipster paradise, exit through the main gate and walk left. As you walk alongside the main drag of Woodstock, you’ll pass by used book stores, coffee shops, boutique cloth shops, and art galleries. (Photo: View of Table Mountain from the streets of Woodstock near Old Biscuit Mill)
- From here, we took a quick Uber (locals warned us it was a bit unsafe to walk there) to District Six Museum to learn about a part of Cape Town’s dark history. The museum is definitely rich in history, but it’s a bit small so don’t plan on staying for more than an hour.
- Since hipsters love a good Instagram photo, we Ubered to Bo Kaap, the Muslim district of Cape Town full of colorful houses. Snap a few photos to show your friends.(Photo: The streets of Bo Kaap)
- Even hipsters need to eat so we Ubered to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront to wine and dine with the richest of hipsters. It’s one of the most beautiful waterfronts with high end stores and restaurants. (Photo: My wife and I at Victoria and Alfred Waterfront)
- To further help our jet lag, we decided to go great white shark cage diving super early! The White Shark Diving Company picked us up in Cape Town at 4:45AM. We drove a few hours to Gansbaai along the coast before arriving to the ocean. After some training, we got on the boat and went to find some great white sharks. Sadly, someone has been illegally killing great white sharks and dropping their bodies in the water warning other sharks to stay away. Because of that, we didn’t see any great white sharks, but it was still a fun adventure (and they gave us a vocher to come back for free sometime in the next two years). (Photo: Out on the ocean looking for great white sharks)
- We arrived back to Cape Town in the late afternoon so we decided to explore a local neighborhood called Constantia stopping in the highly rated Peddlars & Company for dinner and wine.
- We woke up early to Uber to the city center to check out some tourist destinations like St. George’s Cathedral where Desmond Tutu can be seen some days and Company’s Garden. (Photo: The view from the Company’s Garden)
- 11AM we boarded the ferry to Robben Island. There are three times a day that the ferry goes to Robben Island and your ferry ticket covers your island tour too. After 30 minutes, the ferry arrived to the island and we were ushered into buses to drive around the island followed by a tour of the prison by a former political prisoner. The moment you step foot on the island the theme is reconciliation and you leave inspired. (Photo: Robben Island once you get off the ferry)
- Once we were back in Cape Town, we joined the locals in walking alongside the Sea Pointe Pomenade. Walk down to the rocks by the ocean to see a stunning sunset. If you’re lucky, you’ll even catch a few whales swimming along the coast. (Photo: The sunset at Sea Pointe Pomenade)
- To reflect on all we learned today, we Ubered to Bree Street to grab a pint at Door 221 before heading back to the hotel.
- In the morning, we paid a few rand to take the local train down the coast to Simonstown. The trains are not luxurious by the views along the coast are breath taking. If you’re lucky, you’ll feel the ocean spray up onto you as the train buzzes along the water. (Photo: The train from Cape Town to Simonstown)
- Once in Simon’s Town, we enjoyed the various coffee shops and antique stores before walking to see the penguins at Boulder Beach. Make you sure you go to the path on the right so you can actually swim with the penguins! (Photo: Penguins at Boulder Beach)
- From Boulder Beach, we rented a car to take us to the Cape of Good Hope to see the Atlantic Ocean and Indian Oceans meet. It’s just a short drive with beauty all around you. The Cape of Good Hope itself is very touristy, but worth seeing once. Beware of the aggressive baboons in the parking lot. (Photo: My wife at the Cape of Good Hope)
- Once our driver dropped us off at Simonstown, we got back on the train to Kalk Bay. Kalk Bay is the most beautiful beach town outside of Cape Town. Spend an hour or so strolling from shop to shop and be sure to go to the famous Olympia Bakery for a chocolate croissant. (Photo: Looking up to the mountains from Kalk Bay)
- As you leave Kalk Kay walking north, stop by Dalebrook, a natural wave pool formed in the rocks by the ocean. The ocean waves come into the pool without the animal life creating an oasis to swim as you watch the trains whiz by. (Photo: Watching trains go by from Dalebrook)
- After drying off, we walked north alongside the ocean to Muizenberg Beach for an amazing (and cheap!) steak dinner at Tiger’s Milk. (Photo: Colorful huts on Muizenberg Beach)
Day 5- Athletic Cape Town
- Trying to be athletic, we wanted to hike up Table Mountain. We found the hardest hike thinking it couldn’t be that bad and made our way to the starting point at Kirstenbosch.
- Once we paid the entrance fee, bought hats to fight off the sun, and several bottles of water, we embarked up Skeleton Gorge. Literally, this was the hardest hike we’ve ever done. 3+ hours uphill, rarely letting up. When you weren’t thinking about the exhaustion, the views were beautiful.(Photo: The view from the hike up Table Mountain) (Photo: An oasis half way up Table Mountain)
- Once we arrived to the lodge at Table Mountain, we feasted before paying the fee to take the cable car down.(Photo: The view from the cable car on Table Mountain)
- Once we fetched the bus back into town, we paid a few rand to wade in one of the world’s most beautiful public swimming pools, Sea Point Swimming Pool.(Photo: Sea Point Swimming Pool right by the ocean)
- We rented a car from the airport just for one day to drive east of Cape Town to wine country. The first stop was Delaire Graff Estate, the most modern winery near Cape Town and the most chic winery I’ll probably every set foot in. Pro-tip: Try the rose and take some home with you. It’s world class and not too pricey. (Photo: The view from Delaire Graff Estate)(Photo: The vineyards at Delaire Graff Estate)
- We wanted something more historic for our new stop and found Spier Wine Farm. We walked from house to house before doing a chocolate and wine pairing with chocolate specially made for Spier’s wine.(Photo: Spier Wine Farm)(Photo: Photo fun at Spier Wine Farm)
- After some wine, we were oddly in the mood for an olive oil tasting so we went to Morgenster Estate for some world class truffle oil.(Photo: The view from Morgenster Estate)
- We ended our day with the best dinner view at the home of our friends in Fish Hoek. (Photo: Dinner view with friends in Fish Hoek)
- Our final day called for splurging on the best the Cape Town food scene had to offer. Naturally, we had to start the day off at one of the world’s best coffee shops, Truth Coffee. This quirky, hipster paradise serve artisan coffee and some of the best breakfast you’ll ever have (Try the herby stack omelette!).
(Photo: Truth Coffee)
- After exploring the nearby Greenmarket Square and browsing South African paintings, we grabbed a famous Gatsby sandwich at Miriam’s Kitchen. The sandwich can easily feed two and is packed with spices, meat and French fries. Delicious! (Photo: Shopping for paintings at Greenmarket Square)
- Next stop was high tea at the Taj for only $30 per person. $30 for world class tea, a spread of sweets and savory snacks.(Photo: The sweets spread at high tea at the Taj)(Photo: High tea at the Taj)
- For dinner, we joined the locals at an underground supper club called Spasie. If you’ve always wanted to do one, do it here. It’s cheaper than most supper clubs and just as amazing. You’ll dine on several courses and sip some amazing South African wine and meet Cape Town residents. (Photo: Supper club at Spasie)
We ended our trip back at the Old Biscuit Mill before making the journey back to Washington, DC. We did a lot in 7 days, but we left vowing to come back!