Africa Leaders Magazine

CAPE TOWN, South Africa – The City by The Sea

Cape Town is a thriving city by the sea that offers visitors a ‘best of both worlds’ bargain on their trip to Africa.

With world-class cuisine, stunning white-sand beaches, and impressive mountains that hug the metropolis, this highly Instagrammable city attracts the international set.

Cape Town is the city and seaport, legislative capital of South Africa and capital of Western Cape province. The city lies at the northern end of the Cape Peninsula some 30 miles (50 kilometres), at its southernmost boundary, north of the Cape of Good Hope. Because it was the site of the first European settlement in South Africa, Cape Town is known as the country’s “mother city.”

You really can’t overstate the case for visiting Cape Town. First, there’s the in-your-face beauty of a craggy mountain range that drops precipitously into a glittering sea, its flanks carpeted in greens and delicate florals. Then there’s the pristine white beaches lapped by – it must be said – a chilly Atlantic, their curves defined by giant granite boulders to bake on, and burbling mountain streams in dappled forests. And no visit is complete without at least one full day exploring some of the surrounding vine-carpeted valleys, their rich terroir spawning not only award-winning wines but superb produce.

Yet Cape Town has a cool urban edge, too: excellent art galleries, hip bars, world-rated restaurants, and design-savvy shops. It’s also home to many of Africa’s innovative artists and designers, drawn by the city’s innate beauty, and with MOCAA the city is now home to the biggest repository of contemporary African art. In short, this pulsating city will leave you hungry for more.


Cape Town has no shortage of world-class restaurants, but until recently a paucity within the city centre. This has changed recently with the addition of two excellent inner-city restaurants. Belly of the Beast (110 Harrington Street; 00 27 21 461) is the new hot spot in hipster Harrington Street, with a South African-inspired menu that changes monthly and offers exceptional value, particularly at lunchtime, when the R350 (£19) three-course meal becomes an almost Biblical five.

The other one to make space for is Fyn (5th Floor, Speakers Corner, 37 Parliament St: 00 27 21 286 2733). Meaning “Fine”, this is where acclaimed Chef Peter Tempelhof has developed a tasting menu that fuses his love for Japanese dishes with local ingredients in an theatrical space that many feel is the best, most exciting addition to Cape Town’s fine-dining scene.


A Georgian-style compound edged with fairytale gardens and jaw-dropping views of Table Mountain, new hotel Dorp (273 Longmarket St; 00 27 21 612 0298) defies categorization. The work of creative maverick Gail Behr, it is both sumptuous salon – designed to attract local reprobates and playful misfits – and private hideaway, with gorgeous ensuite rooms and self-catering apartments, and a decadent, impalpable nostalgia you simply won’t want to leave.

The Marly (201 Victoria St; 00 27 21 437 1287) has always offered front-row beds to summer’s sunset show, but now the hotel has added 27 rooms and a new rooftop pool bar – with 360-degree views of the craggy Twelve Apostles, Lion’s Head and pretty palm-lined Camps Bay beach, this is the best place to toast the setting sun this summer. The rooftop bar is open to the public but numbers are limited – to guarantee your sundowner spot, best book a room.

If you decide to spend 48 hours in Cape Town, the suggests a great two day vacation plan.

Day one


Schedule Table Mountain (00 27 21 424 8181) for the morning, when the wind is least likely to blow. It’s a relatively easy two- to three-hour walk up along Platteklip Gorge, the oldest, most direct route, following a well-constructed trail up the front face of the mountain, but as we’re pushed for time, lets ascend by cable car. Purchase the ticket online, dated for the day of your arrival; the single-use ticket is valid for one week. The cable car starts running at 8am in summer and 8.30am in winter. How long you spend exploring the top is entirely up to you, but it can be done in an hour.

Descend by no later than 10am to be at Nelson Mandela Gateway (Waterfront; 00 27 21 413 4200), the Robben Island ferry departure point, 30 minutes before an 11am departure. The island where Nelson Mandela spent many years in prison is the most popular tourist attraction in Cape Town, so pre-book this online well before your arrival (though sold out online doesn’t always mean sold out in reality, so call before you panic).

This is a three-hour trip (including an approximate one-hour round-trip by ferry) of which the highlight is seeing the cell where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of the 27 years he was imprisoned. The tour experience is very dependent on the guide you get (an ex-prisoner) but most people find it edifying, moving even.


Alight around 2pm and have lunch at nearby Den Anker (Pierhead, Waterfront; 00 27 21 419 0249) with its marvellous view of Table Mountain. The pepper steak is famously good, and the Wagyu burger gets rave reviews, but it is the 1kg pot of mussels that always hits the spot: big juicy critters in a herby broth, served with frites and a mustard-flavoured mayonnaise.

Then retrace your footsteps and pop into MOCAA (S Arm Road, Waterfront; 00 27 87 350 4777), as much to see how Thomas Heatherwick and his local team repurposed the 1930s grain silo that houses it, as to view its contemporary African art collection. It’s a wonderful collection that puts paid to old-fashioned ideas of African art being ‘figurative’ or craft. Hallelujah.


Freshen up, then head out to Camps Bay to watch the sun sink into the Atlantic Ocean. Opt for dinner at Bilboa (The Promenade; +27 21 286 5155), which serves a simple but good menu with a Middle Eastern influence. The real bonus is the front-row view of the palm-lined beach.

Retire upstairs for a postprandial drink at vibey Chinchilla (Victoria Road; 00 27 21 286 5075), or head back over the Nek to lounge-bar Asoka (68 Kloof Street; 00 27 21 422 0909) with its intimate candle-lit courtyard. Or, for a younger, hipper crowd, choose Up Yours (73 Kloop Street; 00 27 21 426 2587).

Day two


To fully grasp the natural splendour of the city, you need to go on a drive that loops around the peninsula, tooling along the west-facing coastal road that hugs the Atlantic to Cape Point, then exploring the village-like suburbs that look across False Bay, with its magnificent backdrop of craggy mountains like cardboard cutouts against a big blue sky.

Make a start at 8am to get to Cape Point National Park before the crowds, winding your way along the coastal road that connects Camps Bay to Hout Bay. Stop to enjoy the view halfway up Chapman’s Peak Drive before paying the toll and traversing the narrow road carved into the perpendicular cliffs high above the Atlantic Ocean. Cross Noordhoek Valley, skirting Misty Cliffs and Scarborough, to get to Cape Point National Park, also known as the Cape of Good Hope (Cape Point Road; 00 27 21 780 9526).

Depending on time, take one of the detours, looking out for baboons, antelope and ostrich, or head straight to the Cape Point lighthouse to enjoy vertiginous views from the most southwesterly point of Africa. Next stop is at Boulders Beach (00 27 21 786 2329) to visit the endangered colony of African Penguins – bring a costume and take a dip if the weather’s fine.


There are no brilliant restaurants in Simonstown yet, so push on to Harbour House (Main Road; 00 27 21 788 4136) in Kalk Bay for fresh fish and a fabulous location, right above the sea on the edge of the quay. If you’d prefer something quick and casual, nearby Kalky’s (Kalk Bay Harbour; 00 27 21 788 1726) does a great fish and chips. After lunch, stroll Kalk Bay’s high street, enjoying the village vibe here, with quaint galleries – make time for Kalk Bay Modern (136 Main Road; 00 27 21 788 6571) – and good clothing shops (try Catacombes, 71 Main Road; 00 27 21 788 8889).

End your peninsula tour with a winetasting or two in Constantia, the oldest wine-growing region in the New World. With beautiful 17th-century Cape Dutch buildings and a small wine museum, Groot Constantia (Groot Constantia Road; 00 27 21 794 5128) has the history but doesn’t produce the valley’s best wines; oenophiles should head to Klein Constantia (37 Klein Constantia Road; 00 27 21 794 5188), not least to sample the estate’s Vin De Constance, a dessert wine that Jane Austen described in Sense & Sensibility as a “balm for the broken heart”. Then up to Beau Constantia (1043 Constantia Main Road; 00 27 21 794 8632) for the most wonderful vineyard views.


Enjoying the same stunning view, Chef’s Warehouse at Beau Constantia is a popular fine dining option – good value too – so either stay on for dinner here (it opens at 6pm) or head back into the city centre for a table at The Shortmarket Club (88 Shortmarket Street; 00 27 21 447 2874). No view, but the venue, food and service are all excellent, as you’d expect from any Luke Dale-Roberts venture.

End the evening with a 10-minute stroll up Bree street to The Orphanage Cocktail Emporium (227 Bree Street; 00 27 21 4242004), for a couple of inventive cocktail like the hot Crematorium, or more-ish More Tea Vicar? If it’s a weekend, go dancing at Reset (71 Loop Street; 00 27 21 422 0202) – the best sound system in the city bounces until dawn.

What to bring home . . .

For exquisite heirloom-quality woven goods (towels, linen, cushions, throws, wraps) made from high-quality natural fibres in stripey colour combinations to rival those of Paul Smith, head over to Mungo (78 Hout Street; 00 27 21 201 2374).

The South African Print Gallery (109 Sir Lowry Rd; 00 27 21 462 6851) specialises in fine art investment prints – so much easier to transport than canvas or sculpture. There is a great selection of celebrated South African artists, from Tinus de Jongh to William Kentridge, as well as selected new talent.

Things to Know before you go to Cape Town

Essential information

Emergency services: dial 082 911 or 084 911 (ambulance), 10111 (police and fire). To contact any emergency service from a mobile phone, dial 112

Medical care: to find the nearest private clinic, or to contact a specialist, see For travel-specific queries, see

Tourism offices and information: the biggest and best-staffed is the centrally located Cape Town Tourism (00 27 21 487 6800) on the corner of Burg and Castle Streets.

Mon-Fri, 8.30am-5.30pm; Sat-Sun, 9am-1pm.

Local laws and etiquette

As in any large city, crime is an ongoing concern, but note that most incidents occur away from tourist areas. That said, take the usual precautions: don’t flash your wealth, don’t visit no-go zones (your host or concierge will advise), don’t walk when there are no other people around, and be alert/keep a close eye (and hand) on your belongings.

It takes only a fraction of a second to clone a card, using a skimmer concealed in the hand. Don’t let your card out of sight and keep a close eye on how it is handled.

The basics

Currency: South Africa Rand (R or ZAR)

From within South Africa, dial 021 for Cape Town.

Wi-Fi: Most hotels and guest lodges offer free Wi-Fi, as do an increasing number of excellent coffee shops. For a list of some of them, see (click on ‘sites’). Loading Bay (30 Hudson Street, De Waterkant) ticks all the right boxes – good coffee, good food, cool people, close to Cape Quarter shopping precinct and free Wi-Fi. If you want a bit of a sea view, head to Caffe Neo at 129 Beach Road, Mouille Point.

Source; the telegraph UK

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