Capetonians have a high opinion of their city, but after spending some time there it’s easier to see why. Nestled between that ever-present behemoth of a mountain and the gleaming deep-blue Atlantic, there will be moments when you gasp at the scenery surrounding this city. Add a favourable exchange rate, a cosmopolitan inner-city vibe and some of the best food and fresh produce around, and you’re in for a spectacular holiday!
Here are my top tips for those of you who have done a safari in Africa, been up the mountain, explored the main beaches, been to the Aquarium, walked around the V&A Waterfront and are ready to really discover the city of Cape Town.
1. Lola’s Café
Let’s start off easy. Located on Long Street, this is the perfect place to aim for when taking a stroll along this, one of Cape Town’s main roads. Wander along and peer into the book shops, quirky clothing shops and boutiques of Long Street, and when you’ve worked up a bit of an appetite, head to Lola’s. A well-placed little bistro, Lola’s is about mid-way up Long Street, making it really easy to find. Coffee drinkers will find a good cup of coffee, and there’s a tasty little menu too. Whether you’re looking for a fresh fruit-fix, a hangover-busting egg and bacon croissant, or a spot of lunch, this is a great place to aim for when you’re walking around the city.
228 Long Street
2. A Store
A Store is on Kloof Street, on the right as you head towards the mountain. It’s a classy little boutique that has been supplying the city with high quality fashionable stuff for years. This is a great place for anyone interested in quirky fashion labels, limited edition sneakers, weighty design books and sunglasses that no-one else owns. It’s a great measuring stick for all that is cool in Cape Town, and it’s also surrounded by a range of coffee shops and other attractions that will keep you busy if hyper-trendy items aren’t your thing. Also, it’s a good place to stop on the way up to my next top tip.
Shop 2 Mooi Kloof Centre
34 Kloof St, Gardens
3. Van Hunks
While in Cape Town you’ll probably notice a sheet of white cloud descending over Table Mountain. Shortly afterwards, some Capetonian will probably inform you proudly that this is known as ‘The Table Cloth.’ But here’s where it gets interesting: legend has it that back in the 18th Century, a Dutch pirate named Van Hunks lived in the region, helping himself to the rich bounty of goods that left the Cape en-route to Europe. A renowned pipe-smoker, Van Hunks was one day challenged to a pipe-smoking contest by a stranger – a stranger who later turned out to be the Devil himself. They smoked and smoked until the mountain was covered with fumes, and eventually The Devil retreated back to the netherworld beaten. From time to time he re-emerges though, and challenges his old rival to a smoke-off; forming the eerie sheet of cloud you often see today.
Van Hunks is a bar and restaurant that took the name of the pirate, with excellent views of the mountain and a simple but well-priced menu. It’s easy to find, but not everyone will know the story of how the restaurant got its name. Impress with your knowledge of local lore!
Corner Kloof and Upper Union Street
South Africans are known for their love of the amber nectar, and many are moving away from the established brands of the main breweries and turning to smaller, independently-owned craft beers. Why? Well, they taste better. A lot better. Located on Bree Street near the city centre, Brewers & Union ain’t your typical ale house – Brewers call their establishment a ‘beer salon.’ But like most things in Cape Town, the vibe is laid back. Get there early on Thursdays to catch up-and-coming local musicians ply their trade in the courtyard.
Brewers & Union
110 Bree Street
I’m aware that this is quickly turning into a list of places to eat and drink, but this one really needs to be on the list. Staffed by abrupt, rude waitresses and with a store-front that hardly prompts interest, Minato is nonetheless the best sushi restaurant I’ve ever been to, and with a price list that will leave those spending dollars or pounds with a smile to compliment their bulging waistlines.
Yes, the Japanese waitresses will actually shout at you if you take too long to decide, and the generous portions aren’t so much served as thrown onto the table, but you’d be hard-pressed to find bigger portions of ocean-fresh sushi anywhere. Located on Buiten Street, just off Long Street, there’s a sign on the door that says ‘Sorry we full. You too late! Ha ha ha.’ Ignore this and ring the bell anyway. You won’t be sorry!
Minato Japanese Sushi
4 Buiten Street
There isn’t a website for this one. It ain’t that kind of place.
6. Beta Beach
For this, I’ll be lynched next time I’m in Cape Town! Although it’s on the busiest stretch of coastline in the Cape – right next to Camps Bay – this is a refuge from the crowds. A tiny, quiet beach that remains relatively undiscovered, this is well worth a visit. If you can bare the icy water, it’s a great swimming beach as it’s well-sheltered. There’s even a spot of shade below an enormous overhanging rock if you want it. If the tide isn’t too high, it’s a great spot to watch the sun set, but whatever time of day it is, you’ll be greeted by exquisite views of Lion’s Head. This is my favourite beach in Cape Town.
Directions: From the City take the Beach Road towards Camps Bay. Just after Camps Bay, turn right into Beta Road. Just a few meters later, the road seems to fork. Take the right fork and look straight ahead – an unmarked little passage between two houses leads you to the beach! Find a parking bay (there are only 6 of them) and head down there!