I often get asked what there is to do in the Western Cape, Cape Town in particular, and why it’s a good place to visit. Aside from it housing one of the new 7 wonders of nature -Table Mountain in case you don’t live under our rock – it has a diverse culture and landscape, world-renowned food and wine, and a rich artistic musicality. I’m constantly trying to encourage my family to come over, especially those who appreciate wine and dining out as eating out in the UK is ridiculously expensive.
Another big draw is obviously the exchange rate, and though the Rand is clawing back at the pound and dollar, there is still a significantly big difference to be appreciated by travelers.
But what if you had limited time to spend in and around the Mother City? Well, here’s what I’d do if I only had a week to spend in Cape Town…
Enjoy Cape Town’s city life
As much as I dislike the word “vibe”, the ambiance of Cape Town is unlike any other city in the world. It has an eclectic mix of locals, tourists, languages and cultures and the result is a symphony of colour and sound. On every street corner is a delicious place to eat. There are numerous museums, architectural landmarks and plenty of places to take photos to fill your instragram feed.
The V&A Waterfront
Perhaps it’s a bit of a cliche, but people watching at the Waterfront is epic. I love the bustling fill of tourists, the quality shops, beautiful views and yes, overly priced restaurants. Some places are just built for tourism and you have to embrace it.
This is a no-brainer. The views from the top on a clear day are unparalleled. If you decide to visit on your birthday, your ticket up the mountain in the cable car is free.
From leper colony to political prison for the likes of Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu, Robben Island is a living museum with guided tours led by former prisoners. It is a harrowing place to visit, its dark history is embedded in the walls and the ground you walk upon. Where there are echoes, there are memories.
I would not suggest doing this with children under 8, especially children who get motion sickness easily as you can only reach the island via ferry.
From the South African Jewish Museum, to the Shimansky Tour at the Cape Town Diamond Museum, the Slave Lodge to the Castle of Good Hope, the history of Cape Town has not always been a positive one, but by remembering where we have been, we are able to clearly see where we need to go.
If you’re coming to SA with a few extra pounds (sterling) I think an airborne tour of Cape Town would be incredible. If you’ve really got the money to spare, you could do a scenic trip of the Atlantic coast, or you could even arrive at a winery for lunch and a tasting…in utter style.
Open top bus tour
A great way to see the city is on the open top red bus. With over 30 stops, you can choose to hop-on and hop-off at your leisure. It’s your choice, your itinerary.
Eat your weight in good food
The list of good places to nosh at are endless, I would need at least four more blog posts to adequately note the exceptional eateries and diverse cuisines. For the sake of keeping this post readable, I’ve just picked 4.
The Potluck club – this trendy eatery falls under the winning hands of Luke Dale Roberts who’s other restaurant, The Test Kitchen, placed 22nd in the 2016 World’s Best Restaurant Awards. At the Potluck Club, the emphasis is on food that you can share, so expect tapas portions packed with flavor. It’s always best to book ahead here.
La Colombe – based in Constantia, this Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant is fine dining at its best. Go with the intention of being amazed, and expect a little theater. The choice of eating style is reserved to full menus brimming with flavor and texture. Choose to go full gourmand, or opt for a reduced menu to give the elastic in your pants a break.
La Tête – Open for lunch and dinner, La Tête is a calming, classy oasis of comfortable, impeccable dining. The focus is always on the food, and whilst the menu may be small and concise, it is a restaurant that boasts a continuous growing fan base.
Kyoto Garden Sushi – Here you will find traditional sushi and perfectly cooked fish dishes oozing umami flavors. Their vegetable tempura NEEDS to be eaten to be believed. It is so good.
Where to stay
If I was visiting with my partner only, I’d totally choose to stay at the Protea on Adderley an open-plan self catering studio apartment found in the Cape Town city center. The studio has easy access to the MyCiti bus route, the V&A Waterfront and the CTICC.
The Cape Milner Hotel is very welcoming of children and 0-11 stay for free when sharing with an adult. Situated in Tamboerskloof, the space is airy and relaxing, a great base for exploring the city from.
Spend a weekend in Franschhoek
This beautiful, resort-like town, is known for its excellent food and wine, as well as being a tourist hub for most of the year. With charming street cafes, art galleries and secluded places to stay, it’s definitely a top choice for those seeking a relaxing weekend away.
For a wine tasting experience, make sure you head to Le Lude, Rupert & Rothschild and La Motte – preferably not all on the same day.
Le Lude will certainly suit those who have come to find the best of South Africa’s MCC (we can’t use the term champagne). Taste their offering alone, or as part of a canape pairing.
Rupert & Rothschild is one of my favorite wineries to visit in Franschhoek – classically and elegantly designed, its tasting room and restaurant is home to a locally, and seasonally, inspired menu, three delicious estate wines and wines from around the world.
La Motte is an experience. Exquisite wines, exceptional food, a museum and food shop, it’s a one-stop place for treating your taste buds.
Visit even more wineries on the Franschhoek wine tram and have the bonus of no one needing to be the designated driver.Operating on a constant loop of stops, you can enjoy the town at your own leisure.
If you want to relax with a glass of wine and know that your children are enjoying themselves too, Franschhoek Cellars is a great option for all the family. With a covered jungle gym, complete with fencing and gate, little ones are placed in the safe hands of onsite carers who will watch over them whilst you manage to have a decent meal without someone throwing something in your hair.
To satiate the hunger pains:
Pierneef à La Motte Restaurant – expect traditional cuisine made in a modern fashion and bursting with flavour.
Tuk Tuk Brewery
A firm favorite in the Hutton household, Tuk Tuk Brewery serves the perfect tapas (and larger meals for people who don’t like sharing), craft beers and offers a nifty wine-by-the-glass selection.
I know that Europe alone has amazing gardens but to see South Africa’s unique plant life requires a guided walk around Babylonstoren. As the ultimate sensory experience for both the young and old, it inspires many an Instagram photo – you’ve probably seen the many perfectly-posed cactus photos. From fruit trees, to indigenous foliage, there’s a butchery, bakery, perfumery and two restaurants to keep every sense satisfied.
Franschhoek Motor Museum
Even for those who aren’t into cars, you can’t help but be impressed with the sheer variety and 100 years of motoring history that can be found at the Motor Museum.
Where to stay
The Heuwelsig Cottages is split into two units, one for a family of four and the other for a couple. Set on a working farm and surrounded by beautiful scenery, it offers a perfect escape.
Take a wine tour
You simply can’t come to the Western Cape without wanting to experience our award-winning wine routes. With over 18 to choose from, you’d need over a week to full appreciate the hard work and dedication of our local winemakers, but you could choose to start in one of my favorite routes, Elgin, or on the ever-popular Stellenbosch wine route, or further inland to Robertson where their chardonnay is richly deserving.
Whether you love reds, white, sweet wine or rich bubbles, you have everything and more in the South African winelands. From small, intimate cellars, to larger, more tourist-geared tasting rooms, a visit will be an education.
Inevitably I will have left something huge off this list, but I did only have a week.
What would you do with just 7 days?