Cape Town is known for its beaches, mountains and wine farms… And don’t forget its cultural attractions. Make time to visit all of these, and embrace some new reasons to explore old favourites. By James Bainbridge
1. Out and about
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
Instead of ploughing up Table Mountain via the busy Platteklip Gorge, follow a leafy path from the city’s delightful 36 ha green oasis. The Nursery Valley and Skeleton Gorge trails climb the mountain’s eastern side, allowing you to combine the two with a walk to the front of the plateau for city views. While in Kirstenbosch, check out its latest addition: the Boomslang, a 130m steel and timber walkway that snakes through the canopy. Visiting the century-old garden to laze on a bench or drift between the proteas is a time-honoured Capetonian ritual.
Rhodes Drive, Newlands, 021 799 8783, www.sanbi.org
2. Out and about
World Design Capital (WDC) 2014
Cape Town is making the most of its year in the design spotlight, with an assortment of tours, exhibitions and events (all listed on the WDC website). To get a feel for the city’s quirky style – part European, part African – and to put some of it in a shopping bag, head to the converted warehouses of Woodstock. The Woodstock Exchange, Old Biscuit Mill, Bromwell Boutique Mall and Woodstock Foundry, all on Albert Road, are hip complexes of cafes and boutiques. With the WDC’s vision of utilising design as a tool of social empowerment, many projects are in the townships and a guided tour is an easy way to visit them. Coffeebeans Routes offers half- and full-day tours.
086 000 7410, www.wdccapetown2014.com
021 424 3572, coffeebeansroutes.com
3. Out and about
Families love the Waterfront, with its shops, markets, restaurants, aquarium, buskers and Table Mountain views. For those without children, there are many ways to see this dockside network of walkways and bridges from a fresh angle. A small selection of the artwork set to hang in the new Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (which will occupy the Grain Silo from 2016) is on display near the Cape Grace hotel. Or choose from excursions, including historical walking tours recalling the days when the Waterfront was home to soldiers and sailors; and boat trips, ranging from Robben Island visits to more frivolous cruises on the Jolly Roger Pirate Boat.
4. Out and about
Traditionally home to Cape Town’s Muslim community, the multicoloured cottages and mosques of the Bo-Kaap neighbourhood climb the steep slopes of Signal Hill. A Cape Malay cookery class is a great way to soak up a little of the area’s culture. Fold samosas, roll rotis, mix sambal and learn about the food developed by the slaves and dissidents brought here from South East Asia by the Dutch. Cooking with Love (aka local culinary guru Faldela Tolker) offers a cooking class and meal, with the extra option of a walking tour.
072 483 4040, email@example.com
5. Eat and drink
Just 20 km south of central Cape Town, a dozen wineries are nestled among the vineyard-clad mountains. Groot Constantia (SA’s oldest wine farm) and Klein Constantia (home of Napoleon’s favourite dessert wine) are popular. Many estates offer gourmet picnics, while Steenberg Vineyards’ Bistro Sixteen82 is well known for its decadent breakfasts and Constantia Glen’s cheese and charcuterie platters complement its wines and views.
072 410 9959, www.constantiavalley.com
6. Eat and drink
Food markets are booming in Cape Town, recalling the city’s origins as a bustling trading post. Oranjezicht City Farm’s Saturday market attracts artisanal producers, farmers and whole-food fans to the urban farm. Or try The Neighbourgoods Market (Woodstock, Saturdays), Bay Harbour Market (Hout Bay, Fridays to Sundays) and Market on the Wharf (V&A Waterfront, daily).
7. Eat and drink
Cape Town is brimming with top-class restaurants, but few can beat Tintswalo Atlantic’s prime location on Chapman’s Peak Drive. Guests are transferred along a steep track to the five-star lodge, which gazes out across Hout Bay. Beneath the chandeliers and exposed beams, three chefs serve changing menus (three-course breakfast and lunch, and five-course dinner) worthy of the view. Expect dishes such as biltong-dusted springbok and Parma ham-wrapped linefish. Book at least a week in advance.
Chapman’s Peak Drive, 087 754 9300
AAQA Quality Assured accommodation in Cape Town
Afton Grove Country Retreat
(AA Quality Assured Highly Recommended status)
Afton Grove is set 35 km from Cape Town’s city centre, in the quiet South Peninsula suburb of Noordhoek. The guest house has six garden rooms and three self-catering cottages.
Close by, you can enjoy the vast Noordhoek Beach, visit Cape Point reserve, drive along Chapman’s Peak, browse farmers’ markets, walk in the mountains, go sea-kayaking and so much more.
The rooms and cottages are all beautifully appointed and equipped with Wifi and air conditioning. There is also a swimming pool and meals are available on request.
The Walden House
(AA Quality Assured Highly Recommended status)
Within walking distance of the city, in the wonderfully central suburb of Tamboerskloof, The Walden House is a gracious Victorian home built in 1900. It has been lovingly restored and beautifully finished.
There are seven en-suite rooms, all decorated with a subtle colonial style blended with a hint of Africa. The majestic mountain views and tranquil gardens add the finishing touch to the atmosphere.
Table Mountain, the V&A Waterfront and some of Cape Town’s best-loved beaches are all only 10 minutes’ drive away, and the city’s other attractions are easily visited, thanks to the guest house’s central location.
A delicious breakfast is served daily, included in your stay, and lunch and dinner are offered by arrangement.
5 Burnside Road, Tamboerskloof, 021 424 4256, www.walden-house.com
(Search for ‘The Walden House’ on www.aatravel.co.za)
Visit www.aatravel.co.za to find more AA Quality Assured accommodation
Photography Kendall-Leigh Nash, Gareth van Nelson & Sarah Woods/HSMimages.co.za, Eric Palmer
(This article was first published in the winter 2014 issue of AA traveller magazine)