We can all agree Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Dramatic mountains plunge into a forever blue Atlantic, café’s spill out onto sun-drenched pavements and music fills the streets and gardens. Often we get tunnel-visioned into a routine of doing the same things and we forget to experience our city through the eyes of her many visitors. As we swing into summer Travelstart brings you 10 amazing adventures to get you up, out and experiencing our magnificent city.
Header image courtesy of @upcycles via Instagram
Grab a slice of New York and walk the CBD
Image courtesy of @danakorstenbroek via Instagram
One of the reasons Cape Town is so livable is the walkability of the CBD. A great way to reacquaint yourself with the secret rhythms of her streets is to grab a friend and a slice of pizza from NY Slice in Kloof Street (just R30 bucks) and walk around.
We suggest you take a ramble along Long Street, past the beautiful Palm Tree Mosque, perhaps stopping in at one of the many rooftop cafés (Waiting Room and the Grand Daddy on Long Street and Tjing Tjing on Longmarket Street).
If it’s too early for a drink why not have a wander around the oldest part of the city – Greenmarket Square. The bustle of the vendors and the constant flurry of feathers from the pigeons complement the solemn beauty of the forward-facing buildings. On your walk look out for small details like the koi fish mosaics you will find hidden on the pavement corners of certain streets (Strand and Bree).
The antique market on lower Longmarket is always fun for a browse and if you work up an appetite why not stop in at one of the delicious Ethiopian restaurants nearby.
Image courtesy of @adi_wilson via Instagram
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Cycle along the promenade with Up Cycles
Image courtesy of @upcycles via Instagram
The promenade is a fantastic place where families, friends, rollerbladers and dogs meet every afternoon and evening to enjoy the fresh sea air and green spaces. Much like Rio’s famous promenade this is a great place for people watching as there is an air of spontaneity and uninhibited gaiety. Rent a cheerful orange bike from Up Cycles at their station by the Sea Point Pavilion and take a leisurely cycle towards the candy-striped Mouille Point light house, stopping for an ice cream from the Creamery.
Image courtesy of @upcycles via Instagram
Take a tour under the city
Image by Chelsea Morning
For a more unusual take on the city why not explore Cape Town’s hidden tunnels, some of which date back to 1652. The tour is safe and offers a unique perspective on the history and construction of the southern-most city on the continent. Tours begin and end at the Castle of Good Hope.
Good Hope Adventures’ Tunnel Tours, call Matt on 082 482 4006.
Visit the secret gardens of the city
The Company’s Gardens may not be secret however they offer a cool respite from the summer heat. Enjoy leafy corners, chess sets, rose gardens and curious squirrels. Purchase a small sleeve of nuts from one of the vendors along the avenue and watch as you make not one but many bottle-brush friends. A milkshake at the Company’s Garden Restaurant is a delight, as is a visit to the nearby revamped Planetarium.
The Rust en Vreugd gardens on Buitenkant street can just be glimpsed through wrought-iron gates from the busy street. Once inside this untamed garden you can see a beautiful view of Lion’s Head and imagine Cape Town when it was just a small port town, a quick stop on the passage to India and further afield. The garden was originally built on the outskirts of Cape Town between the town and the large market gardens on the slopes of what is now Orangezicht. There is an interesting collection of paintings in the Rust en Vreugd house focusing on the early days in the Cape.
Visit the Orangezicht City Farm on a slope in Orangezicht for a refreshing stroll around a working market-garden, which supplies the Granger Bay Market (held every Saturday at the V & A from 9am to 2pm). This is a non-profit community-run urban farm.
Explore the cave on Chapman’s Peak
You’ll find yourself feeling like you’ve travelled to the end of the world when you discover this secret cave on the side of Chapman’s peak. At the second look-out point park your car.
The conditions have to be right so visiting on a windy day is not a good idea. Leave the safety of the railings at your own risk and take a short but steep stroll to a sand-stone cave tucked into the cliff. Best done in a group. Late afternoon is a popular time for sundowners.
Yolo and paraglide off Lion’s head
This has to be the best way to experience the beauty of the city from a new perspective. On most people’s bucket lists, why not say yes to life and just go for it. You’ll take off from Lion’s Head or Signal Hill depending on the wind direction, soar over turquoise Camp’s Bay and Clifton before coming to rest gently in Sea Point. R1150 per person til the end of October (thereafter R1300).
Cape Town Tandem Paragliding
Visit “the beach” on Table Mountain
Climb Table Mountain via Skeleton Gorge (the starting point of which can be found in Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens) and you will find a surreal beach on the top. This is a wonderful spot for a picnic on the soft sand next to the reflective water of the reservoir. After a beachy picnic either return to Kirstenbosch down Skeleton Gorge or continue to the Cable Car. Always carry a jacket, sunscreen, ample water and snacks when hiking.
Picnic with the best view in the city
If you drive all the way to the end of Tafelberg Road, past the cable car station and the gridlock of tour buses, past the starting points for the numerous hikes which criss-cross the mountain you will come across a picnic spot with an incredible view of the city, the harbour and the dramatic plunge and rise from Kloof corner to Lion’s head. No skottels are permitted due to severe threat of fires, however take along an egg and bacon breakfast roll and some coffee in a thermos and enjoy front row seats to a view like no other.
For the fearless and the fit canyoning is an excellent way to get a rush of adrenaline and experience Cape Town’s dramatic landscapes firsthand. First you hike then you leap down a series of ravines into river pools. Remember once you’ve started there’s no going back! Abseil Africa offers an action-packed Canyoning day trip called Kamikaze Kanyon. They require a minimum of 4 people per trip.
Call 021 424 4760
The Zeitz MOCCA
Courtesy of @ZeitzMOCAA via Facebook
This museum for Contemporary African Art is an extraordinarily beautiful feat of engineering. Intriguing patterns mark the large circular glass windows on the ceiling, Dahlesque glass elevators zoom up and down the cavernous space, elegiac music filters through the entrance hall while Nicholas Hlobo’s suspended dragon greets visitors. Already hailed as Africa’s Tate Modern we think they’ll soon be referring to the Tate as Europe’s Zeitz MOCCA.
Free for everyone under 18. There is currently a fun installation in the basement where one is allowed to take a found poster home with you.
Free for all African citizens on Wednesdays from 10am to 1pm.
Half price on Friday evenings.
Silo District, V & A Waterfront.
Let us know your favourite Cape Town adventure spots in the comments below. We’d love to hear them.