25 Alternative Things to Do in Cape Town
I cannot overstate the case for visiting Cape Town. The city has it all from secret white beaches to the tumbling beauty of Table Mountain, there is a never ending variety of activities on offer in South Africas Mother City. I have lived and studied in the Cape and want you to delight in the local knowledge of someone who has experienced it in all of its glory.
I don’t want my list to read like a tourist brochure for the highly sought-after destination that is Cape Town. So I have left out things like “visit Robben Island” and “climb Table Mountain.” Instead I have listed handpicked activities in and around the Mother City that made me fall in love with this amazing destination, and which I hope will do the same for you. The list is ever-growing so keep checking back in for updates!
Number one has to be taking a drive along Chapmans Peak on the Atlantic coast between beautiful Hout Bay and countrified Noordhoek. It is a must for anyone who is passionate about experiencing the majestic scenery of the Cape. The best way to do this, in my opinion, would be to hire a beautiful open top sports car- the stuff of holywood rom-com dreams ( and extremely instagramable for all of those millennials out there). If you feel like splurging a bit a vintage sports car can be hired from [email protected] Cape cobra hire, 10 Hermes Street at about R3000 a day with a delivery or collection fee of R500-R750.
Labia Cinema, unusual name aside, is one of Cape Town locals most treasured spots as the oldest independent art-repertory cinema in the country. The independent Art Movie house consists of 4 cinema rooms of various sizes the biggest of which is a 176 seater and the smallest is an intimate 66 seater. The Orange street Cinema has a cosy coffee bar which offers an abundance of home-made delicacies, a chocolate bar which serves chocolate (obviously) and popcorn as well as an outside terrace with a fully liceneced bar. If you visit the cinema page on https://www.thelabia.co.za you will be able to view show times which currently include smash hit A Star Is Born! Tickets will set you back a cool R50.
When you first arrive in the city a must do is a visit to The Silo, one of Cape Town’s newest luxury hotels. There is a rather large pricetag on the rooms. However, having a casual drink in the upstairs bar is relatively inexpensive and a very interesting experience. Built in the old Grain Silos off Cape Town’s Victoria and Albert Waterfront, the buildings boast plenty of charm and interesting design having been impressively re-invented to include the luxury hotel and the new Zeitz Meuseum of Contemporary Art Africa. With views overlooking Table Mountain, Robben Island and the City Centre it’s a great space to relax and enjoy your new surroundings. Located in Silo Square, V&A Waterfront call 021 670 0500 for any enquiries.
Cape Town Bike Tour
If you are after a unique way to see Cape Town then biking along the promenade is the way to go. The scenery is stunning as you cycle along the coast. You can even pop into the market at the V&A on your trip which is the next tip in this series. Bikes are easy to hire, the best spot is from Up Cycle based along Sea Point pavillion. Contact number 0741009161 for more information, hiring starts from 8:30 am to 7:15pm.
Oranjezicht City Farmers Market
A must visit every Saturday and Sunday at the historic Granger Bay site of the V&A Waterfront is the Oranjezicht City Farmers Market. Here you will find all of the veggies your heart desires as well as an assortment of delicious food. For all of those country lovers, feel a little country in the heart of the Mother City at this farmers market that has it all. There is no entrance fee for the market and pedestrians can enter directly from Beach Road, cyclist, joggers and dog walkers are all welcome. Parking is availabe adjacent to the market. Parking is charged according to the V&A tariffs, starting with R10 for the first hour.
Bay Harbour Market
Another wonderful local market to visit is Bay Harbour Market, offering slighly more than food in the way of eclectic art, crafts, Jewellery and fashion. While you brouse the stalls your senses will be complimented by the delicious aromas of food in the way of freshly baked breads, spicy seafood and a very well stocked bar. Open every Friday from 5-9pm and Saturday/Sunday 9:30am- 4pm. Location is 31 Harbour Road, Hout Bay. The website is very helpful with any additional information needed.
One of my very favorite spots to eat and watch the sun go down either for romantic date or a fun gathering with friends is beautiful Camps Bay’s The Rumbullion at the Round House. Grab a pizza and a bucket of wine and enjoy spectacular views over Camps Bay. Located off Round House Road, Camps Bay, number 021 438 4347.
For a more formal dining experienece that offers up something completely new, even for locals, try the new restaurant at the Roundhouse called Salsify at the Roundhouse, by Luke Dale-Roberts of the acclaimed The Test Kitchen, which has been number one on SA’s Eat Out list over the last, oh a million years!!! He has now decided to try his talents at something new and has taken over this idyllic restaurant that commands first prize for location and is now sure to command 1st, 2nd and 3rd price for cuisine. The new restaurant opened its doors on the 14th of October 2018 and is pushing boundaries with it’s a la carte menu of intense seasonal flavours and unique techniques. A first for locals be one of the first to check it out. To book contact 021 010 6444 or email [email protected].
Another local fave spot for a bit of shopping and food is the historic fishing village of Kalk Bay. This small seaside town is full of so many hidden gems. For those early risers in search of a good coffee and breakfast spot, Olympia Café is a must. The little bakery-cum-restaurant emits delicious and enticing early moring aromas that will help ease the early morning fog. Olympia can be found at 134 Main Road, Kalk Bay contact number 021 788 6396.
Another local fave spot for a bit of shopping and food is the historic fishing village of Kalk Bay. This small seaside town is full of so many hidden gems. Highly recommended for a beer and a basket of the best chips is the Brass Bell you cannot beat the views or the vibe. For information call 021 788 5455 or email on [email protected].
Aside from food Kalk Bay is a costal town and being such offers many seaside attractions aside from food. One of the most popular would be the tidal pools located just before St James, the one stop town between Kalk Bay and Muizenberg (cape towns surfer and shark paradise). Locals use this spot regularly for early moring exercise.
Ice Cream Artisanal
For those late night sweet treat lovers who are in search of something slighly healthier to curb those sweet treat cravings visit Unframed. This artisanal ice cream shop offers dairy-based, fruit-based sorbets, and nut-based vegan ice cream options. They incorporate a number of superfoods and toppings into each batch making for a very exciting mix of flavours. This store is located at 45C Kloof Street and, bonus, open from 11am-11pm!
Something completely unique as far as wine tasting and the Cape is a visit to Klein Roosboom, situated in the often outshone region of Durbanville. Durbanville has to be one of the most underrated wine-tasting destinations in Cape Town. Even though it does boast some big name farms, Klein Roosboom has to be the most interesting. A boutique winery which only produces as much wine as its vineyards can handle. Because of the vineyard’s smaller yield, you will only find Klein Roosboom wines at its tasting centre. Is this special, or what?! Take a scenic drive along Tygerberg Valley road to Klein Roosboom and opt to have your tasting in one of the “caves” which is what they call the old concrete wine tanks which have now been adapted into beautiful wine tasting venues on the estate. Cost of the tasting is R40 rand per person which includes 3 sauvignon blancs, 1 unwooded chardonnay, 1 rosé, merlot, cab sauv and a shiraz. To contact email [email protected] or phone on 060 8772678.
If you are up for an early start Secret Sunrise is for you. There cant be many places in the world where you wake up before sunrise, go to a secret spot and dance to music no one else can hear. Secret Sunrises take place at randomly selected venues, which are always something magical to behold. Upon arrival attendees receive a pair of wireless headphones and are free and encouraged to dance before the light of the rising sun. Cost R90 early bird, R100 regular ticket or share in the joy of the day and pay R120 a portion of which is donated to charity. Book at Quicket or contact 072 550 8028, [email protected].
To continue your early morning activities, if it’s a sunny summer day and you feel like dipping those toes in the refreshing Atlantic water take a visit to Boulders Beach have a look at Cape Town’s furry local friends: the Jackass penguins. Once there continue over the Boulders and discover a secluded beach tucked away against the rocks. Most tourists don’t venture this far along the beach so it remains a local treat. Do yourself a favour and check it out for some tanning and a shark free swim, due to the boulders and warmer waters the sharks don’t seem too eager to venture this side of town.
The Silvermine Reserve
If you are feeling like an adventure in one of the Capes most beautiful Nature Reserves then this ones for you. The Silvermine Reserve is divided by Ou Kaapse Weg into two sections and is home to over 1000 species of fynbos, the Capes natural shrubbery. The walk to the waterfall is one of my favourites for a non strenuous weekend activity. The hike to the waterfall is along a clearly maked trail while the path narrows the closer you get to the Waterfall, however the road leading up to the top is wide and suitable for all types of weekend strollers. Distance from car park to waterfall is about 2,7kms and will take most around an hour. Cost R5 entry fee.
To continue on the trend of adventure look no further than this: foraging on Cape Point and discovering edible indigenous flora in this beautiful area. This is a unique outdoor experience that aims to teach people how to sustain and harvest different types of fynbos and how to use them in the kitchen, as well as their different types of medicinal uses. Included in your day you will be able to enjoy wild-food snacks and drinks as well as prepare and sample a three-course lunch using your gathered ingredients from the day. Cost R650 per adult and R350 for children. To contact email [email protected] or call on 0722344804.
If you are a mindful eater like myself then this little gem is for you. Starlings is a local treasure due to its charming decor and delicious healthy food and coffee which is served in sturdy Le Creuset mugs. The seasonal produce is harvested out of their beautiful veggie garden which is located out the back of the restaurant, making the food even more enticing as you know it’s fresh. For those travelers looking to do some work while on their trip Starlings has opened a little Annex next door to the café for a more work-friendly environment. Contact Trish or Masande at Starlings on 021 671 6875 if you would like to make use of this space. Now open on Sundays from 8-2 and Saturdays for all day brekkie (breakfast), the café is open until 4 for coffee and bakes.
For a night out on the town head to upper Kloof street, very close to previously mentioned Unframed is Tiger’s Milk. A local hangout that promises a very festive night out. Every night out in Cape Town is a good time. However, if you are aftrer a big buzz then head to Tiger’s Milk on a Friday or a Saturday. Located at 55 Kloof St, Gardens, Cape Town, for more information phone 021 286 2209.
Kloof Street House
For a specisl meal before your night out on the town, situated almost opposite Tiger’s Milk and set in a magnificent Victorian house, Kloof Street House is an experience as enigmatic as it is intimate. The restaurant bursts with character as each room offers an intimate charm of its own. The venue boasts everything from live jazz on Sunday, a romatic dinner to cocktails under the trees in the garden. All meat is free-range, grass-fed and responsibly sourced. Cocktails are a must for any occasion, my favorite being the Porn Star Martini which includes Passion Fruit and bubbly. Located at 30 Kloof Street, contact 021 423 4413 or email on [email protected].
Looking to build up a sweat but also be surrounded by the Capes number 1 arreaction- Wine, take a 5km or 8km run through the vinyards in Constantia. These runs take place weekly every Wednesday in the historic vineyards or Groot and Klein Constantia. Tickets are between R165 and R190 depending on distance selected, registration opens at 5pm. Address, Groot Constantia, Groot Constantia Road. Contact 083 449 0760 or [email protected].
Another lavish activity in Constantia for a great day out, take a visit to Bistro Sixteen82. An innovative and interactive wine and food destination is set adjacent to Steenbergs winery. Experience the surrounding indigenous gardens when sitting on the terraced dining area. Diners are encouraged to spillout over on to the grassy surrounds and enjoy the vineyards in all of their glory. The menu is constantly evolving and always aiming to include seasonal produce and innovative dishes that compliment the locally sourced ingredients. To note reservation enquiries via email are only attended to on weekdays (Monday- Friday) 8:00am to 5:00pm. Email at [email protected] or call on 021 713 2211.
For a more classic Cape Town activity visit Constantia Glen for some great wine tasting and pairing. Set between Constantia and Hout Bay, this beautiful wine farm offers everything you would want from a wine tasting with the convenience of being set in amoungst the southern suburbs. Located on Constantia Nek, Constantia Glen is a picturesque boutique wine estate producing ultra-premium, cool climate wines. The estate is open for tasting from 10am to 6pm Sunday to Friday and 10am to 8pm on Saturdays. Tasting options range from R45 to R90 per person, add a cheese and charcuterie option to accompany the tasting or alternatively if you prefer a morning tasting with a brekkie (breakfast) option a Breakfast Croissant with scrambled egg and a choice of Alpen Speck or Smoked Trout served daily until noon. Treat yourself to a day in South Africa’s oldest wine producing region. To contact email [email protected] or phone on 021 7955639.
Constantia Nek is not only an ideal spot for wine tasting it is also perfect for a night out. Full of vibey music and tasty treats, La Parada is for you. Being the sister to the original La Parada located on Bree Street, the new location is fun, welcoming and new even to locals. Sundays are when the restaurant-cum-bar really takes off, there is a strict age limit of no under 21 as the restaurant turns into more of an afternoon night club. The food is typically very good so no need to worry about working up a healthy appetite on the dance floor. The DJ set takes off after 2pm and there will be no mention of any Sunday blues while you dance the remains of the weekend away! To contact email [email protected] or phone 021 7950620.
For my last tip/treat I would like to leave you with one of my favorite local activities. What better way to enjoy the sunset over the Mother City than to summit Signal Hill from the comfort of your hire car. Pack a picnic of treats and some delicious wine or your favorite Gin and Tonic and enjoy one of the most spectacular views around. Directions: Drive up Buitengracht road towards the mountain. It eventually becomes Kloof Nek Road. On the top of the hill (at the corner of Kloof Nek and Taferlberg Road) and turn right onto Signal Hill road. You will see the beginning of Lions Head walk on your left, there are usually a few cars parked there with hikers preparing for a strenuous walk up the hill. Wave and continue on for about 10 minutes until you reach the main lookout spot, and then relax and let nature put on the very best show there is.
I Hope these rather indepth tips help make your trip to Cape Town as memerable as possible and that you experience all in true local form with enthusiasm and warmth. Tips when travelling to the Cape in summer pack sunscreen, slops and be careful of the baboons, if they look cute they are not!! Don’t touch or feed! If traveling to the Cape in winter expect rain so pack a brolly (umbrella) and some waterproof shoes and be prepared for some windy cold weather but also some spectacular misty days and lush green surrounds.
PS - check back soon for additional tips and insider knowledge!
Written by Racine Denny (Cape Town local and True Luxury Travel intern)
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