Updated: Apr 14, 2020
Last year, I made the lengthy journey from Minnesota all the way to South Africa. This magical place took a piece of my heart that one day, I plan on returning to. When I reflect on Cape Town, my mind is filled with so many images of diverse landscapes, animals, moments, and people. There is just so much to experience in this city that lies on the Southern tip of Africa. It is also pairs well with adding a safari as a latter segment to your trip...which I highly recommend.
There is truly something for every traveler that is wanting to plan a trip to Cape Town. It can be overwhelming at first, but I believe you can create a beautiful trip in your own with a few tips and suggestions. Personally, I used a mix of my own research and also the help of my local travel agency that specializes in African Luxury Travel, Travel Beyond. I hope you can use my Travel Guide for your perfect Cape Town adventure.
I found the best way to travel from Minnesota included a layover in either Amsterdam or Paris (both good). I prefer flying Delta! Looking for a direct flight into South Africa? Try flying out of Atlanta or New York and into the capital city, Johannesburg. I did this on my return route and enjoyed the non-stop itinerary (16 hours!).
The best times to visit Cape Town are from March to May (spring) and from September to November (autumn). These shoulder seasons provide wonderful weather and fewer crowds.
Cape Town has Uber, so you don't need to rent a car.
Local currency is the Rand, and it's a good idea to have some cash on hand even though you can use your credit card most places.
Safety in Cape Town is a big topic. Mind your P's & Q's, and keep your flashy clothing and jewelry at home.
Where To Stay
I suggest staying on the V&A Waterfront. Not only is it a very safe area, it's endowed with spectacular water and mountain views, unique shopping and delicious dining.
One & Only was my top choice, and I was lucky enough to be accommodated there. Nestled right into the marina with stunning Table Mountain views. Guest rooms and suites are cozy and offer over-the-top amenities. The daily breakfast buffet is the best I've ever had: mimosa bar, fresh produce and made-to-order meals. There is a Nobu located off the lobby for your convenience. The concierge staff can make all your wildest dreams come true in Cape Town!
Cape Grace is just across the marina from the One & Only...both are in my opinion, the best luxury resorts in Cape Town. It also has the finest suites and views of Table Mountain. You cannot go wrong here even if you just pop into the Bascule Bar for a cocktail.
The Silo hotel might be the coolest looking building in the V&A Waterfront. It's chic, fun, and definitely has some luxurious touches. There are only 28 rooms, including a gorgeous penthouse suite. I stopped for a late lunch at The Willaston Bar, and enjoyed unique cuisine with amazing mountain views. There is also a ROOFTOP bar! ...Hello, perfect sunset cocktail!
What To Do:
There is SO much you can do in and around Cape Town that it is absolutely impossible to do them all in just one day. I recommend staying at least 3-4 days to really get a good feel for this marvelous place.
Shop local at the V&A Watershed for local goods
Tour the Diamond Museum
Take the cable car up Table Mountain, snap some photos and enjoy a drink with a view before you make your way down.
Visit Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
Private, Custom (Luxury) Trip Tour via Jarat Tours:
-Hout Bay: pull over for an epic photo-op.
-Boulders Beach: visit the penguins!
-Cape of Good Hope
-Cape Point: The most south-westerly tip of Africa with breathtaking ocean views. Ride the funicular up the hill for a short tour, go on a hike, take a picture at the lighthouse.
Explore the infamous Robben Island where former South African president Nelson Mandela was jailed for 18 of his 27 years.
Visit the local wine country: Constantia
Afternoon stroll at the hip, surfer community of Camps Bay...with a sunset cocktail on the strip
Where To Eat & Drink
Since Cape Town is an expansive area and there are so many great dining options, I have categorized them as so...
Also, I found that The Kove Collection offers many high-end and gorgeous restaurants and hotels to choose from in and around Cape Town...I recommend checking them out for yourself! Otherwise, here are some of my favorites...
On The V&A:
Den Anker. In the heart of the V&A waterfront; a solid place for many reasons including their seafood and weekly-changing South African specialties. Cozy, casual, and great cocktails.
Harbour House. Fresh seafood and beautiful water views, perched on the quayside of Kalk Bay Harbour.
Firefish. New & upscale waterfront restaurant with fresh seafood, oysters and sushi. *Kove Collection*
Nobu. Located in the One & Only, make sure you grab a table outside to enjoy their beautiful property.
The Willaston. The Silo's high-rise restaurant and bar is fun, swanky, and serves deliciously unique South African-infused cuisine...you must try the ostrich!
In The City:
The Test Kitchen. One of Cape Town's hottest restaurants. Latin cuisine with a creative South African touch. I advise making a reservation well in advance!
La Mouette. La Mouette offers seasonally inspired menus which change regularly. Housed in an original tudor home with 4 dining rooms, a lounge, and a cobblestone courtyard – perfect for a cozy winter dinner by the fire or summer dining under the stars.
Lily's. An all-day eatery that serves up inventive, contemporary comfort food in a relaxed seaside setting that’s as friendly as it is fashion-forward. *Kove Collection*
Bungalow. Set on Clifton’s most prime piece of coastline, it’s easy to come for lunch or a drink and end up staying for dinner. *Kove Collection*
The Lawns at The Roundhouse. Nestled at the bottom of Table Mountain with ocean views. This unique restaurant offers a full-afternoon experience. Reserve your spot on the lawn for a lovely picnic you won't soon forget.
Chinchilla Rooftop Cafe & Bar. Camps Bay's newest eatery hot spot. Great food, cool cocktails and good music are the perfect recipe for a great evening. *Kove Collection*
My Top Moments
Having a beer at the top of Table Mountain
Taking pictures with the penguins
Strolling the V&A Waterfront marina at sunset
Shopping at the Watershed for locally made gifts to bring home.
When I Return...
Travel through "Wine Country": Constantia & Stellenbosch. I was at least able to try many of the South African wines (& champagne!) and LOVED them.
Hang out on Camps Bay Beach.
Writing this has flooded my memory banks with some of the best moments I've ever had. This was truly the trip of a lifetime; I still need to pinch myself. Cape Town has so much to offer that you'll probably find yourself like me... wanting more. So... here's to the next round. See you again, South Africa.
XOXO Golden Girl