Starting a series that’s way overdue, a travel guide series! I’m starting off with South Africa because I just spent a week in Cape Town and had the time of my life. Here are some things I did, things I ate, and everything in between!
I stayed in an Airbnb the heart of Cape Town, conveniently located next to a bunch of shops and only minutes away from our favorite restaurants located on Bree Street. I really wanted to stay in a place that felt homey, so I picked out a loft I felt best suited me: large windows for natural lighting overlooking Lion’s Head, a kitchen with everything you could possibly need, and just the right amount of space for my best friend and me.
A MUST. Lion’s Head and Table Mountain are both centrally located and were only about $5 USD uber rides to the start of the trail from where we stayed.
- Lion’s Head took about 2 hours round trip, but prepared to do some major rock climbing towards the top. There are handles and chains for guidance but don’t let those intimidate you! The bigger rocks towards the top are quite slippery as well, so just be very cautious and try to avoid going when it’s wet or when it’s dark out, unless you have the proper equipment for it.
- Table Mountain was SO MUCH FUN. It was paved very well and felt completely safe all the way up, but as always, proceed with caution. The steps get steep pretty quick but it’s basically a straight shot all the way up. There are alternative routes as well if you prefer switchbacks. Or, you can also take the cable car up! We decided to hike up, which took about 2 hours, and took the cable car down.
CITY SIGHTSEEING BUS
The city sightseeing bus is hop on hop off double decker bus and is a perfect way to get a tour of the city. We did this on our first full day and had so much fun seeing a glimpse of the city as well as getting to stop at the waterfront. A ticket for a full day is R180 and you and hop on and hop off at different stops the entire day. Just make sure to check the bus schedule online to plan accordingly!
THE WHARF WATERFRONT
The waterfront is a really fun and lively part of Cape Town. A perfect place to get souvenirs with loads of local and handmade vendors. There was also a mall with lots of shopping in case you need to pick up something you forgot to pack. The V&A Food Market is also located at the waterfront and it’s amazing!
THE WINE TRAM
One of my favorite things we did in South Africa! We hopped on a wine tram in Franschhoek which took us from vineyard to vineyard. We paid R220 for a ticket on the train and the tastings at the vineyards cost about $5-$10 USD at each place. Some vineyards didn’t charge a tasting fee if you bought a bottle. They’ll let you know if that’s the case! We caught on uber to and back from where you need to meet to catch the train, which was cheaper than their prearranged charter bus. Bring water and snacks! We hopped on the green line and LOVED it.
Boulder’s Beach is a beautiful beach filled with wild penguins. Definitely recommend checking it out, but just know that it’s very touristy and you will not be able to get too close to the penguins or pet them. There’s a fee to get into the park. We got to Boulder’s Beach and Cape of Good Hope via the City Sightseeing Bus. Another option is to rent a car. We also packed lunches and snacks for our road trip day, which I’d highly recommend doing.
CAPE OF GOOD HOPE
This is where the most southwestern spot of Africa is and it was absolutely stunning and serene. Luckily for us, it was a stop on our City Sightseeing Bus itinerary.
The strip of bright and colorful houses located in downtown Cape Town is a must see. A really good spot for photos as well!
V&A FOOD MARKET
They’ve got everything from poke bowls to local South African cheeses to lamb wraps. You’re bound to find something here! The hard part is deciding WHAT.
One of the best pizzas I’ve ever had was from Hail Pizza. I got their mushroom pizza add zucchini and eggplant. SO GOOD. On Wednesdays, they have buy one get one free pizzas from 6-8PM and reservations in advance are recommended as they do have limited seating!
The best little spot for breakfast or brunch! I got a smoothie bowl and a mushroom toast here and they were both so delicious.
THREE WISE MONKEYS
THE BEST RAMEN. They also make amazing sushi donuts and baos.
CLARKE’S BAR AND DINING ROOM
We grabbed drinks and a appetizers here. Good ambience and great vibes!
BURGERS & LOBSTERS
Their happy hour is amazing. Buy one get one free on some really unique and handcrafted cocktails.
EASTERN FOOD BAZAAR
We grabbed some curry at a spot behind our Airbnb. It was like a food court made up of about 5 different vendors of Asian and Middle Eastern food. Super delicious, affordable, and the portions were massive – lasted us 3 meals!
WOOLWORTHS FOOD & SPAR
We shopped for foods we could make for breakfast and have for snacks to save some money. Woolworths Food was blocks away from our Airbnb so it was pretty convenient, but if you can, get to Spar! They had a lot of health foods like kombucha, and grain free and sugar free baked goods and protein bars.
Snagged some freshly baked sourdough bread here!
A strip of amazing restaurants and bars. Hail Mary, Burgers and Lobsters, and Clarke’s are all located on Bree St.
Uber rides are extremely cheap in Cape Town and there is always a driver just minutes away. Super convenient and saved us from renting a car!
CITY SIGHTSEEING BUS
A really great way of getting around especially if you plan on hopping around the city the entire day. We also utilized their services going to Boulder’s Beach and Cape of Good Hope!
Since we stayed downtown, everything was pretty close and in walking distance. However, be cautious walking around after dark. Certain streets can get pretty sketchy. Always walk with a buddy if you can.
- Ask locals for recommendations! I like to do this whenever I travel. My Airbnb host ended up giving us lots of advice on places to go based on our preferences and interests.
- Find an Airbnb with a washer/dryer so you can pack less clothes.
- Pack a jacket, leggings, and comfy shoes. The hikes are no joke and I cringed watching people hike in jeans. Don’t do that to yourself! It also gets cold higher up on the mountains.
- Cook meals at home to save money. It’s fun to go out and have local cuisine, but waking up and having your usual breakfast made at home will not only save you money, but it will also help with your digestion.
- We were traveling during a drought so we limited our water usage by using hand sanitizer and taking really quick showers.
- The travel journey is long. From Seattle, you spend about 27 hours in the air. I’d recommend drinking of water at the airport, bringing detox tea and greens tabs with you. For more tips on flying, see this blog post.
- Flight attendants: I non-reved via Emirates connecting through Dubai there and back. It was super easy and I got a seat on every flight!
I hope if you are considering making a trip to South Africa that this has convinced you to do it. It was such a beautiful place with loads to do and although it was bummed to leave, I feel like spending one week there was the perfect amount of time.