The first thing that comes to mind when you think of Cape Town is likely Table Mountain, followed by postcard-worthy images of the Atlantic Ocean with Robben Island waiting patiently out in the bay for the next ferry-load of tourists. But there is so much more to this cosmopolitan city than simply its natural beauty and classic tourist attractions. Here are 8 exciting things to do when you visit Cape Town:
1. Organic and craft markets
You’ll find an organic or craft market around every corner in Cape Town, each with its own unique attraction. Visit the Bay Harbour Market in Hout Bay for hand-crafted African souvenirs and gourmet food, indulge in organic fruit juice at the Neighbourgoods Market in Woodstock, or sit around the fire at the Porter Estate Friday night market in Tokai (it’s dog friendly!). Sundays can be spent sorting through cheap second-hand goods at Milnerton Flea Market in Milnerton, and Thursday evenings can be spent with sunset picnics and wine at the Community Market on the green lawns of Cape Point Vineyards. Make a day of it and venture further afield to Stellenbosch for the Slow Food Market at Oude Libertas Estate, Blaauwklippen Family Market at Blaauwklippen Wine Estate, or the Root 44 Market at Audacia Wines.
2. Hiking trails
On a sunny day in Cape Town, locals take to the hills (literally) for a day spent hiking the slopes of Cape Town for exceptional views of the city surrounds. Hike Echo Valley in Fish Hoek, climb Table Mountain’s Platteklip Gorge, or enjoy a full moon hike up Lion’s Head prepared with a picnic and some wine to enjoy at the top. Be sure to leave early as the Lion’s Head trails can get rather busy in the summertime.
3. Secret beaches
Clifton and Camps Bay offer beautiful views and are the beaches Cape Town is most famous for – but, you’ll be sharing the sand with the rest of the city. The beaches of Bakoven, Oudekraal and Llandudno offer quieter beaches along the Atlantic Seaboard.
4. Silvermine Dam
Steer clear of the beach crowds and enjoy a day floating on Silvermine Dam on Cape Town’s striking peninsula. A boardwalk makes the dam easily accessible and there are plenty of shady picnic spots scattered along edge. Pack an inflatable lilo and a tasty picnic for a leisurely day in the sun.
5. Wine tasting
The Cape Town wine route offers cheap wine tasting within the Constantia wine region – and its close enough to catch a taxi so you don’t have to battle it out for designated driver. Enjoy cheese platters and wine tasting with incredible vineyard views at Glen Constantia, enjoy the forested garden at Eagle’s Nest, or make a day out of it and drive the 40 minutes out of Cape Town into the Franschhoek wine valley – staying overnight at Franschhoek Country House & Villas.
6. Winelands picnics
There is no better way to spend a day than with a picnic and glass of wine amongst the vineyards. Groot Constantia is South Africa’s oldest wine estate and offers good food and green lawns in the southern suburbs of Cape Town. Fill your own basket with items from Simon’s Deli or book a pre-packed picnic. Buitenverwachting and Cape Point Vineyards are also great choices for picnics in Cape Town. If you’re willing to drive a little further, Spier in Stellenbosch has grassy picnic spots beside the dam with both pick-your-own and pre-packed picnic baskets available. Boschendal Wine Estate in Franschhoek has two picnic areas offering picnic tables and mountain views or a casual lawn with hammocks.
7. Outdoor movies
Who wants to watch movies in a commercial cinema when you can watch films outdoors in the fresh air? The Galileo Open Air Cinema screens movies at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Hillcrest Quarry, and the V&A Waterfront on different nights of the week. Alternatively, opt for comfy seats at the Labia Theatre, the oldest independent movie theatre in South Africa. This theatre in the centre of Cape Town offers fantastic meal and movie deals with nearby restaurants each night of the week.
8. Chapman’s Peak cave
Follow the tourists along the snaking curves of Chapman’s Peak Drive, but stop off at the second lookout point. Here, you’ll find a hidden trail beyond the railings that leads to a sandstone cave with one of the most enviable views of the Atlantic Ocean – and you won’t even have to photoshop the tourists out of your holiday photos!
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