Curated by: Lucas Santos & Ben Dumas
Travel Period: December 2016 - January 2017 (2 Weeks) // Peak Season
Traveled With: Lucas Santos, Ben Dumas, Brian Vaughan, and Tyler Zlotnick
Typical Weather: Hot, sunny with mild nights
Getting There: NYC - Johannesburg - Cape Town (18+ hours) - Approx. $1,800 each roundtrip
Getting Around: Rent a car to facilitate your sightseeing. Use Uber (reliable and inexpensive) for nights out in Cape Town.
Cape Town has several neighborhoods, each with its own charm. For the first two nights, we stayed downtown to explore the city and get a feel for the different neighborhoods. Since we rented a car, we then drove to a nearby private game reserve for a safari experience, which was around 2:30 hours away from Cape Town. After one night there, we drove back down to the winelands which was about an hour away, closer towards Cape Town. We spent three nights there and then drove back down to Cape Town, where we spent the last week by the beach in Camps Bay.
CAPE TOWN & NEARBY BEACHES
Airbnb in Cape Town is amazing, but keep in mind that if you're going during peak season, the best places book up way in advance. Here are the places we stayed during our time in Cape Town & Camps Bay.
- Downtown Apartment - We did our first two nights here and it was an amazing way to get a feel for the city.
- Camps Bay Beach House - We stayed here with two friends and this house could have fit two more people. Incredible host with the best recommendations for hiking trails, beaches, and restaurants. 2 minute walk from the beach and the promenade.
- Luxury Cliffside House - Incredible 3 Bedroom (6 person) Airbnb house, 10-minute walk south of Camps Bay, unreal sunset views with open living room. The host told us they typically book this house 6-8 months in advance.
- Cape View - One of the most beautiful boutique hotels we've ever seen. Located on the Clifton Beach hills, private pool, and the best sunset views around.
- The Marly – Beautiful beach front boutique hotel in Camps Bay with a mixed international crowd, amazing pool, and sunset facing ocean-view rooms
- The Bay Hotel – Connected to The Marly hotel, but a bit more affordable with a pool and bar section that is also open to the public
- The Twelve Apostles Hotel - One of the best (and most expensive) hotels in the area, but 10-15 minutes drive south of Camps Bay. Unobstructed ocean views with sunset views from its restaurant and bar lounge.
SEE & DO
- Bo-Kaap - One of the first Muslim neighborhoods in Cape Town, now a multicultural site with lots of colorful homes and cobblestone streets.
- Old Biscuit Mill Market - Artisanal food and arts market in Woodstock neighborhood. Closed on Sundays. Similar to Smorgasburg in NYC
- V&A Waterfront - Neighborhood on the harbor with lots of retail and restaurants. Equivalent to NYC's Seaport or the Santa Monica pier. Can get touristy, but worth a stroll.
- Long Street - Main street in the city center filled with restaurants, bar and live music. These few blocks really transport you to New Orleans' French Quarter neighborhood. While here, you should also explore Bree, Loop, and Kloof streets.
- Mama Africa - For a local experience, head here to try some traditional food served in a colorful, rustic setting with eclectic mix of bands and drummers.
- Company's Garden - Nice garden to walk through while strolling the city center.
- Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden - Known to be one of the best botanical gardens in the world. During the summer months, they have a Sunday music series with afternoon concerts that overlooks Table Mountain
- Table Mountain - With multiple trails, you can really customize your Table Mountain hiking experience. We started our hike at 7am and went up the more advanced side through Skeleton Gorge. This hike lasted a total of 4 hours and was very exhausting, but entirely worth it if you're looking for a real hiking experience. This path also takes you past a white-sand and red-water reservoir called Hely-Hutchinson which was so unique.
- Lion's Head - In our opinion, if you're only planning on doing one hike, choose this one! It takes around 1 hour to get up and 1 hour to get down. We started at 4:30PM so we were able to get a parking spot right by the hike entrance and we also beat the sunset crowd which can get really annoying. 360 views of the entire city and its nearby beaches.
- Wally's Cave - We didn't get a chance to make it up the hidden path to this cave that perfectly frames Camps Bay beach during sunset, but if you have extra time plan on finding it!
- Clifton 3rd or 2nd Beach - Best people watching beach. If you pack a cooler with food and drinks, you can stay here for hours.
- Camps Bay Beach - Longest beach within Cape Town. Can get pretty crowded especially during peak season, but nonetheless its a great beach to explore.
- Llandudno Beach - A quick drive south of Camps Bay (15 minutes). Great surfing-watching beach with massive boulders to post up and walk around exploring.
- Hout Bay Beach - The beach right after you round out Chapman Peak's drive on your way back towards Cape Town. Looks out directly to Hout Bay. Amazing sunset views.
- Noordhoek Beach - Long and wide white sand beach towards the end of Chapman Peak's drive. If you're planning on driving south towards the Cape of Good Hope and have extra time to spare, this beach is worth seeing. Only beach in the area where you can ride horses.
- Boulder (Penguin) Beach - This is the famous penguin beach in Simon's Town on the east coast of the Cape peninsula. During peak season, they close off the beach, but other times guests can go up close to the penguins.
- Chapman's Peak Drive - Think Road to Hana or Pacific Coast Highway, but much shorter (30-45mins from Camps Bay) and at certain spots, even more scenic. Go around sunset time and plan to stop by Twelve Apostles for a sundowner cocktail.
- Cape Point - Nice day trip where you can see both Atlantic and Indian Oceans in the southern most point of Africa. Lots of activities, hiking and biking trails, and nice beaches.
EAT & DRINK
Coffee & Lunch Spots
- Bacon On Bree - Brunch hotspot in cool downtown area with a hip crowd.
- Harbour House - Waterfront restaurant with great seafood and a nice rooftop section for sunset drinks.
- Two Oceans Restaurant - Seafood restaurant in the Cape of Good Hope national park where you can see both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
- Belthazar - Cafe in V&A Waterfront with good wine selection for afternoon drinks.
- La Parada & La Parada Del Mar - Spanish seafood tapas restaurant in city center and Camps Bay. Best spot for beach-front drinks.
- Cafe Paradiso - Awesome lunch spot in popular Kloof Street in the city center. Nice outdoor section with great people watching.
- Shoremarket Club - Same owners as Test Kitchen, but not as much of a commitment with great lunch options.
- Bungalow - Lively outdoor spot between Camps Bay and Clifton Beach. Sceney day-time party spot with party vibe.
- Zenith Sky Bar - Rooftop bar with pool at Cape Royale Hotel. Arrive before 2PM to get a sun chair.
Dinner & Bars
- Grand Africa - Beach bar and restaurant. Similar to Navy Beach in Montauk with lots of outdoor space and great sunset views. Known for their brick oven pizza.
- Codfather - Best sushi spot in Camps Bay. Make a reservation or come before 7PM.
- Azure - Amazing cliffside restaurant at Twelve Apostles. Amazing sunset dinner spot with really unique South Africa item options. Ask for table 52 for the best views.
- Cafe Caprice - Really fun Camps Bay beach front bar that gets pretty packed with an international crowd.
- Tjing Tjing - Great happy hour spot with a younger crowd. Rooftop area opens up in the summer months.
- Kloof Street House - Super trendy dinner spot with attractive crowd and incredible food. Only place in Cape Town that could make a perfect dirty martini.
- La Mouette - Incredible French tasting menu experience with such a cute front yard fountain eating section.
- Test Kitchen - If you're a foodie and want to try something totally unique, eat here. Books up way in advanced so think ahead.
- Asoka - Awesome Asian-inspired cocktail lounge spot in lively Kloof street section. Nice pre or post dinner drink spot.
- Bascule Whiskey & Wine Bar - Underground whiskey bar with an outside harbor-front section at The Cape Grace Hotel. Best Bulleit Rye Old Fashioned in the city.
- Majeka House (Stellenbosch) - We almost don't want to share this place because it's so magical. Hands down one of the best hotel experience we have ever had. We would highly recommend this place to anyone looking to be entirely spoiled and treated with the utmost attention. The owner showed us the entire property upon arrival, including the garden from which all the herbs and produce come from. Stay in rooms 101, 102, or 103 to get your private wing pool.
- Grand Roche (Paarl) - One of the most beautiful hotel grounds we have ever seen. The entire property has the most beautiful sunset mountain views that you get to wake up to and have sundowner drinks to. Only slight (if at all) downside is that Grand Roche is around 15 minutes away from most of the vineyards.
- La Residence - Incredible boutique hotel in Franschhoek with expansive mountain and vineyard views where peacocks roam the grounds. One of those places that people travel from around the world to get married here.
SEE, EAT, AND DRINK
- Delaire Graff Estate - Explore the grounds, do a wine tasting and stay for sunset drinks/dinner. You will not regret this experience. Actually, upon your return home, every one of your friends will ask you about this picture that you posted.
- Babylonstoren - A massive farm/vineyard in Franschhoek where you can explore the grounds, do a wine tasting and if you're lucky experience a meal that likely gave rise to the term "farm to table". Tip - put your name down at Babel right when you arrive, then walk around and come back for your reservation. Greenhouse gets super busy during peak months so even when you put your name down there, you might way an hour or more.
- Peter Falke Vineyard - Laidback, no-fuss vineyard with a huge lounge area that has bean bags and live music. Also they have a Golden Retriever mascot that roams around greeting guests as they enjoy their cheese pairings.
- Tokara Vineyard - Insanely scenic vineyard with great wine and olive oil tastings.
- Marianne Wines - Also another amazing vineyard that also has a unique biltong (South African beef jerky) pairing option.
Aquila Private Game Reserve - The closest safari that is driving distance from Cape Town. The cottages have amazing private outdoor showers and views of the reserve - we woke up to giraffes walking across the distance.
Other Recommendations - These lodges would be ideal for those with more time dedicated for a safari experience.