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.
My Experience as a LGBTQ+ Traveler in South Africa
My wife and I visited Cape Town and the surrounding region for our honeymoon! South Africa is the perfect introduction to the African continent for LGBTQ+ travelers because unlike the rest of Africa, same-sex marriage is legal and there are legal protections against discrimination. We loved feeling safe and welcomed as queer travelers while also venturing out into a new part of the world!
Getting Around in Cape Town
Uber: Uber is one of the best ways to get around Cape Town. The distances between most of the top attractions are short, making it a cost-effective option for your trip. You can also request a ride from Cape Town International Airport by using the free WiFi.
My CitiBus: Another affordable way to get around the city is with the My CitiBus service. You can buy a transport code from one of the stations and top it up as you go. There is a free app that you can download that lists the timetables for each stop, fares and a route planner.
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.
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
Cape Town has an incredible coffee culture. There are loads of cute cafes all around the CBD and the city is even home to one of the best coffee shops in the world!
Check out my local’s guide to Cape Town for coffee lovers!
Truth Coffee: Grab your daily cup of joe at Truth Coffee! It boasts a relaxed yet trendy steampunk vibe.
Tribe Coffee: 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.
Bootlegger Coffee: A small chain across Cape Town, Bootlegger coffee shops have quickly become my favorite. Great coffee, food, and atmosphere!
Breakfast & Brunch
One of my favorite things about Cape Town is that the city has an almost endless list of places to eat. While you’re in town, skip your hotel breakfast and make your way to a few of these top spots:
Clark’s: Perfect for breakfast or brunch! Clark’s has really good food and sits right in the middle of downtown.
Jason’s Bakery: I highly recommend The Bomb breakfast. It’s served all day and will have you coming back for more.
Bootlegger: It’s not just a coffee joint. Bootlegger also serves up some delicious breakfast and lunch options.
Loading Bay: Located in the Waterfront, the Loading Bay is a beautiful place to grab a quick morning meal. Their menu is full of healthy options like granola and spiced buckwheat pancakes.
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.
Bobo’s Brasserie: Bobo’s Brasserie is a good beachfront spot in Sea Point that’s perfect for brunch or lunch. It also has a cocktail lounge so be sure to come back here for a drink or two in the evening!
Check out my guide on Where to Find the Best Food in Cape Town
Whenever I host one of my TBA Escapes Tour’s in Cape Town, we always stop at one of Cape Town’s markets. Not only will you find some of the best food the city has to offer, but you can pick up fresh fruits and vegetables as well as beautiful hand-made clothes and accessories.
Mojo Market: Open seven days a week, hit up Mojo Market for a snack, a meal, and some shopping!
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.
Oranjezicht City Farm Market: The Oranjezicht Market is open every Saturday and Sunday and has quickly become my favorite market in the city. Get here early if you want to avoid the crowds and grab some photos in front of the beautifully decorated stalls.
Test Kitchen: Located in The Old Biscuit Mill, The Test Kitchen is a blend of South African and Latin cuisine with inventive dishes. Reservations are usually booked up 3 months in advance.
Shortmarket Club: 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.
Bombay Bicycle Club: If you’re after a unique dining experience, book a table at The Bombay Bicycle Club. It’s a bohemian vibe, delicious menu and colorful history make it one of the best dinner spots in Cape Town.
The Stack: Named one of the top restaurants in Cape Town, you can’t wrong with a visit to The Stack. The decor is amazing and the bar area adds to its charm.
Kloof Street House: Located at the foot of the city’s vibrant Kloof Street, is a beautiful Victorian house. Come to Kloof Street House for candlelit dinners before spending the night on the town or enjoy their live jazz sessions over Sunday lunch.
Tjing Tjing: A 200-year-old house in the heart of Cape Town is where you’ll find some of the best Japanese food in the city. Tjing Tjing boasts four unique dining experiences as well as a stunning rooftop bar.
Three Wise Monkeys: The perfect stop if you’re craving some Japanese ramen noodles, sushi, and other Japanese dishes.
Kyoto: An award-winning Japanese restaurant in the trendy suburb of Gardens. It sources unusual ingredients around the world to deliver an exceptional dining experience.
Sushi & Seafood
Obi: Located on Cape Town’s vibrant Long Street, Obi serves up some of the city’s best ramen and sushi. Reservations are essential and deposits are required for bookings larger than five customers.
Hokey Poke: From the shores of Hawaii to Cape Town is the latest trend to hit the city – poke balls. Hokey Poke is South Africa’s first poke bar and has a mouth-watering menu.
Cod Father: 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.
Sevruga: With incredible views of Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront, Sevruga is a delicious fine dining experience. The sushi here is out of the world and worth every penny.
Drinks & Night's Out
There are tons of things to do in Cape Town during the day, and the city doesn’t slow down after sunset. Whether you’re after a casual sundowner or you’re looking to experience the best of the city’s nightlife, here are some of the top bars in Cape Town.
Check out my Best Rooftop Bars in Cape Town for more inspiration!
Village Idiot: If you want to grab a drink with the locals, head to The Village Idiot. It’s a vintage bar and restaurant in the heart of Cape Town’s CBD.
Secret Gin Bar: Tucked away behind Honest Chocolate is the city’s Secret Gin Bar. Decorated with fairy lights and eccentric decor it’s on my favorite places to grab a drink with my friends.
Botanical Bar: Looking for a twist to your usual bar? Visit the Botanical Bar on Longmarket Street. The drinks are inspired by Cape Town’s local fynbos and the venue itself is worth a visit.
The Stack: Located in the center of Gardens, The Stack is one of Cape Town’s most Instagrammable bars. Get here between 3 pm – 6 pm every day for their buy one get one free happy hour.
The Silo Hotel Bar: The Silo Hotel has one of the best rooftop bars in Cape Town to watch the sunset. Be sure to plan your visit in advance as the venue requires a reservation.
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!
Go on a Hike
Need to escape the city? The options are endless around the mountains and national parks.
Lion’s Head: One of the more popular hikes in Cape Town is Lion’s Head. It’s a challenging but rewarding climb and is an excellent sunset spot!
Skelton Gorge: For a longer hike, make your way up Skelton Gorge. It’s a 4.5-hour trek that will take you through an indigenous forest before ending at the top of Table Mountain.
Newlands Forest: There are multiple hikes that you can take inside Newlands Forest. The routes are moderate and will take you through some of the most beautiful parts of Cape Town.
Kloof Corner: Only a 20-minute hike up the slopes of Table Mountain is one of the best short hikes in the city. Pack some drinks and enjoy a sundowner while overlooking Camps Bay.
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).
Read More: Top Things to Do in Cape Town in the Summer
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.
Atlantis Sand Dunes
Located an hour outside of Cape Town, the Atlantis Sand Dunes are the city’s best-kept secret. It’s an excellent place to go sand boarding, quad biking or on a 4×4 tour.
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!
HIT THE BEACH
Cape Town is home to quite a few beautiful beaches. The most famous one is Clifton 2nd located on the West Coast. Other beaches not to be missed is Long Beach in Noordhoek, Bakhoven Beach, and Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town.
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.