What a contrast this city was to the week we had already spent in Africa. Cape Town echoed the squares and streets that we have previously encountered in other destinations of European feel. It had the comfort of a city but with a genuine African twist. We had 3 nights in Cape Town and made full use of every moment we had there.
When we visited Cape Town, the city was experiencing its worst drought in over 100 years. As a result of this, everyone was monitoring water use and saving water where ever they could. We were staying in a hotel so although bath plugs had been removed to reduce unnecessary water use, we were lucky enough to be able shower comfortably. This may not be the case if you were to stay in a hostel so it may be worth enquiring prior to making any such bookings as this would greatly affect your holiday experience.
Our stay in Cape Town was certainly one to remember. We stayed in the V & A Waterfront region, which is not actually in the city itself (it is only a few minutes’ drive to the city centre). The V&A Waterfront was home to our remarkable hotel, The Victoria and Alfred Hotel.
On arrival, we were greeted with a bottle of chilled champagne and a fruit platter. Rose petals lined the floor leading to a beautifully decorated bed. The room itself was tastefully furnished with elegant armchairs and a selection of luxurious toiletries.
The breakfast was without doubt, one of the most impressive we have had in a hotel. There was the usual spread of muesli, cereals, breads and pastries but with a very elaborate selection. The generous assortment of cold meats and spreads were the perfect accompaniment to the great cheese selection on offer. Along with all this, there was a very tempting hot menu to choose from each morning. But having a display of complimentary champagne and oysters was what took this breakfast banquet to the next level.
Tip: For an amazing finish to your afternoon, be sure to squeeze in a drink in the hotel bar (Ginja), where you can sit by the water’s edge with the picturesque Table Mountain as your backdrop…Insta-worthy material without a doubt!
There was such a variety of options in Cape Town that we were spoilt for choice. We availed of the different eating options while in Cape Town as many other destinations on this trip were all inclusive, and we wanted to take advantage of the diversity of experiences while we could.
As food markets are right up our alley, we couldn’t go past the V&A Food Market. This is a reclaimed, warehouse style setting home to an abundance of delicious food and drink outlets and an electric atmosphere. To take full advantage of this great selection of local and international flavours, we ate here a couple of times. The fact that it opens for brunch and goes right through to dinner, meant we could squeeze in more than one meal. Choosing between homemade pizzas, burgers, rice paper rolls, curries, smoothies, creatively flavoured popcorn and a huge list of other options, will be your most difficult decision of the day! As there are both coffee venders and bars, it means you can have a casual brekkie or lunch or pop in later in the day for a relaxed dinner and a glass of local beer or wine…YUM!
We had an amazing night strolling along the marina while checking out all the menus and beautiful restaurants on the waterfront. Choosing just one was a difficult decision as there were so many options that varied form cheap eats to more expensive dining venues. We were eventually drawn in by one menu due to the large selection of freshly made sushi and other seafood specials. Boy, were we pleased with our choice!
Harbour House Restaurant– The ambience of the restaurant was beautiful, with soft lighting and undemanding music in the background. Tables were in high demand and there was hardly an unoccupied seat the whole time we were there. The restaurant had both indoor and outdoor seating all overlooking the beautifully lit harbour; the perfect setting for a romantic dinner date!
The food itself was delicious. We started off with warm, house made bread dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar…washed down of course, with a couple of glasses of local pinotage wine.
We had a selection of freshly made sushi for mains. It all looked so tempting on the menu that we got a little carried away when ordering, but at such reasonable prices we were quite happy to do so. (I should be honest and admit there wasn’t much left on the plate when we left either!)
Tip:Watch out for the waiters running about with the specials boards. Although it seems to be how specials are communicated to customers in Cape Town, people dragging huge chalk boards between tables never got old and certainly gave us a giggle!
Top things to see/do:
Table Mountain– The picturesque views from Table Mountain were just breathtaking and as it is also such an iconic image of Cape Town, it is definitely ‘a must’ for anyone visiting the city. We decided to try the hop-on hop-off bus initially to give us a taste of what was at the top (or as close to the top as the bus goes). There is the option of taking a cable car to the very top and even walking part of the way up the mountain but as the weather was quite hit and miss for us, we decided not to do either, due to the cloud cover. We were satisfied with the stop we made from the bus, as we had amply time for photographs and to take in the incredible views of the sweeping city from this vantage point.
The hop-on hop-off bus also gave us a nice taste of what the city centre was like, as well as the expensive suburbs that we drove through later in the day. The snippets of information we listened to on the bus were also very interesting and I would recommend this as a good option to get a good snap shot of the city if on a time budget like we were.
Cape Point day trip– This was a full day trip, packed with a huge variety of interesting stops and picturesque settings…brag worthy experiences not to be missed! The early morning drive along the Atlantic seaboard which took us to Hout Bay, was lined with gorgeous white beaches and rugged mountains…perfect locations for some great photography.
The first major stop of the morning was optional, and at additional cost. We stopped at Hout Bay and had the option to take a ferry to a small island inhabited by hundreds of seals. Our driver called ahead to confirm the ferry was running as he advised it gets cancelled if sea conditions are too rough. We quickly learnt why this was!! Although the water seemed calm in the bay, once we got a little further out, the waves became quite large. We felt safe throughout the short journey (about 40 minute round trip), although not everyone was as lucky as us. One guy had felt adventurous on boarding and availed of the bar service…it only took him about 10 minutes to greatly regret that decision and while the rest of us snapped pictures of the basking seals, he examined the bottom of SEVEAL sick bags.
Note: Think twice before you risk a beer on-board!
After this stop, we continued towards Cape Peninsula, a drive that took us along Chapman’s Peak Drive; renowned as one of the most stunning roadways in the world. It felt like we were scaling the mountain face as we meandered along the rugged coast, looking back over postcard worthy, pristine beaches.
The most south-westerly point of the trip was to the Cape Point Nature Reserve, where we experienced being at the tip of the Cape Peninsula; something that has captivated travellers for years with its dramatic scenery and profound atmosphere. Saying we have been to the Cape of Good Hopeis definitely another item ticked off the bucket list.
It was at this reserve that we had lunch and also a little free time to explore the breathtaking scenery from several viewpoints on the elevated walk up to the lighthouse. This could also be reached via a venicular tram if you didn’t feel up to the walk. There were two options for lunch here; the first being a seated restaurant and the alternative, a take-away food shop. Our driver advised us that the restaurant was often very busy which meant longer wait times and also quite expensive. The take-away option was very time efficient although the options were limited.
Tip: If you have the option of taking your own lunch and are a fussy eater like me, it might be worth taking something with you to enjoy at one of the outdoor benches – and you won’t have to worry about any queues!
As we travelled back towards Cape Town along False Bay coast, we had one final stop and it was certainly a cutie. Although this was also optional on our trip and again at additional cost, I think it was worth it. At Boulder’s Beach, we had the opportunity to visit a colony of rare African penguins. We walked along a decking type fenced bridge, that allowed us to get very close to the penguins without interfering with them. We had about an hour to watch them waddle and play together on the sand while others ducked and dived in the ocean. The sound these little penguins made was very unusual and watching them ‘honk’ and communicate with each other was fascinating. There was also a hole-in-the-wall coffee nook along the street that lead to the beach as well as an ice-cream window; the perfect spot for a little afternoon treat!
Robben Island– This is the island where Nelson Mandela spent most of his prison life and is reached from Cape Town by a short ferry. Unfortunately, due to visibility conditions on the morning we were to visit the island, our ferry was cancelled. We were very disappointed to be missing this tour but have been told that this is a common occurrence. I would therefore recommend, that if you wish to take this trip, schedule it early in your stay and if for any reason it gets cancelled, you will have more chance of being able reschedule it for another day.
Tip: To experience some authentic African entertainment, you can’t go past the amazing talent of the singers and dancers that are dotted around the marina area in the early evening and night. Take a wander before dinner and get swept away in the heart-warming rhythm and cheer of some incredible street performers.
So, for Cape Town, that is our whirlwind visit. We hope you find something useful in this information or perhaps it entices you to consider a visit to this marvellous city.
Thank you for taking the time to read our post and we would love for you to check out our earlier posts on the previous stops we made on this trip.
If you would like to see where we will be sharing about next, pop over to our Instagram page for sneak peeks throughout the week.
We hope to see you again soon.
Richard and Michelle.