A Local’s Guide to Cape Town
Consider this the Bible as far as what to eat, see, and do.
We’re guessing you’ve seen a lot of Cape Town popping up on your Instagram feed lately—at least we definitely have. Over the past few years, it seems that interest in the South African city has exploded, with more people than we can count booking the 18+ hour journey south. And with its miles-long stretches of white sandy beaches, incredible vineyards, farm-to-table food scene, and, um...beachside penguins (yes, seriously), we’re itching to go too.
But with so much to do, it’s hard to know what’s really worth it! So we turned to friend of Coveteur Erika Mercado for her tips on where to stay, shop, hike, and eat in the Mother City.
“Cape Town, aka the ‘Mother City,’ has been a destination that everyone seems to be buzzing about lately, and for good reason: It has beaches galore, mountains, stunning backdrops, art, cute animals, and copious amounts of great wine and food. Need I say more? Start booking your trip to Cape Town. While getting here is a bit of a schlep (there are no direct flights from the U.S.), it’s totally worth it. Keep in mind, Cape Town is in the Southern Hemisphere, so our summer is your winter, and booking in advance is key to get the best deals. December is a bit of a tourist trap and pricey; if you can wait till February, it is highly recommended. Since it’s such a long journey, do yourself a favor and stay for at least two weeks.”
Where to stay
Camps Bay Ridge B & B: A Mexican-inspired villa with views for days, infinity pool, and the hostess with the mostest.
Cape View Clifton Luxury Guest House: This is a cliffside ultra luxury oasis overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
Air BnB: The town is filled with endless options of apartments and houses; if you plan on staying more than a few days, this is the recommended option.
What to do
Kirstenboch Gardens: Get lost in the sprawling gardens, or catch a concert—the hikes are epic as well.
Lions Head: Hike up early morning to enjoy the sunrise.
Oranjezicht Market: On sunny Saturdays, take yourself to the seaside market, and fill up on delicious local food.
Sundowners (aka a bottle of local wine and snacks) at Clifton 1st beach: Pack your bags, and spend the afternoon into sunset here.
Seapoint: Rent a bike, and cruise the Seapoint Promenade.
Hope on Hopkins: A local distillery making some of the best gins. Go on a Saturday to do a tasting—they also make vodka and Esperanza, an African agave...aka Tequila.
Table Mountain: You can climb the mountain or take the cable car up and down. There’s a small café at the top serving breakfast, lunch, coffee, and wine.
And if you’re lucky, you’ll get invited by a local to a Braai, which is the South African version of a BBQ!
Salon Ninety One: Start your collection with emerging South African artists.
99 Loop: This is a new gallery, showcasing established and emerging artist.
WHATIFTHEWORLD: A great space to see work by emerging artists.
Goodman Gallery: Open since 1966, Goodman Gallery is internationally known with two locations—Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Where to eat
Hemelhuijs: The decor alone is worth a visit, but this place serves one of the best breakfasts in town.
Melissa’s: Eat breakfast while overlooking Camps Bay Beach and then do a little shopping for local treats.
The Dog’s Bollocks at Yard: A cozy little spot that is the best hangover helper.
Love Thy Neighbour: Greek fresh and delicious location on Bree street. Next door is Hanks, a watering hole with extensive options of whiskey and much more.
The General Store: A cute little spot—tuck in for a quick bite or coffee.
One - Juice: Need a break from all the drinking? Fill up on green juices and smoothies.
Raptor Room: This cheeky restaurant serves up tasty treats for lunch and dinner.
The Kitchen: A popular Woodstock casual deli. Fill up here and then explore the galleries.
Pot Luck Club: Located at the The Old Biscuit Mill, this restaurant overlooks the city and serves a tapas-style menu.
Hokey Poke: A go-to place for late-night food and fun times; BYOB!
Don Armando: Two words: steak and wine.
Manos: Green Point favored spot with international dishes and first-class martinis.
La Perla: Seapoint institution that has been around since 1959; sundowners here are a must.
Duchess of Wisbeach: Go here for pre-dinner drinks or late-night naughtiness.
The Sorrows: Nautical vibes and stylish people.
Cabrito: Tequila, tequila, and more tequila! Then, stumble up to the sister restaurant (El Burro) located upstairs from the bar. Double whammy.
Where to shop
Maison Mara: The most beautiful shop in Cape Town hands-down. Three stories of the chicest fashion brands such as: Acne, Balenciaga, JW Anderson, Kenzo, to name a few. Have a glass of bubbles and explore.
Bastille: Menswear clothing store curated with a mix of classic and cool French brands. P.S.: The owner is a character and knows what’s up.
Corner Store: Multiline streetwear shop owned by three amigos who have their fingers on the pulse of culture and street fashion.
There are also loads of great day trips around Cape Town — here are some of my favorites:
Babylonstoren: Wine farm, hotel, spa, and restaurant with the most magnificent garden.
The Table: Husband-and-wife team (Jessica and Luke) serve and cook some of the most delightful food to make you feel right at home. Located at De Meye wine estate, here is a little glimpse of what you can look forward to—sitting under a shaded tree, being served a three-course meal paired with De Meye wine, then enjoy coffee and a cat nap on the lawn (blanket provided).
Boulders Beach: Visit the penguins, and take a kayak out to the open seas.
Lume Beauty Atelier Spa: A beauty destination with a gorgeous design aesthetic. Nails, facials, massages... Come out of there a new and improved you.
Boschendal: 300-year-old farm/hotel/restaurant and spa that has so many actives on the property—horse rides and mountain bike trails to name a few.
Ed. note… Also make sure to drive Chapman’s Peak to Noordhoek beach, and while you’re there, have lunch at The Foodbarn and get ice cream at Kristen’s Kick-Ass Ice Cream—everything is organic and handmade!