Cape Town: Best Things to See, Do and Eat in the City

As the plane was touching down at the airport I still couldn’t believe that I was in Cape Town. The city is constantly featured and named as one of the most beautiful cities in the world yet I felt it is quite disconnected from my world. I was excited and curious to explore the city and then I fell in love with the incredible landscape and natural beauty.

The city’s urban area is embraced by mountains and the Atlantic Ocean – but before we drove to Table Mountain, Simon’s Town, and the Cape of Good Hope, we settled down at our apartment first (with a gorgeous view of the Table Mountain!!) and took a walk in the city.

Although there were concerns about safety for tourists in the city of Cape Town, we had a pleasant time and the city actually has an interesting history, vibrant art, great markets, authentic dining experience, and an exciting coffee scene.

A Wonderful Travel Guide to Table Mountain for Your Cape Town Day Trip

An excellent travel guide to the gift to earth, the Table Mountain, for a day trip. Learn more about the geography, best time to visit, how to get there, and many more travel tips.

Cape Town City Center

My Cape Town Anecdotes: We had a pleasant time and the city actually has an interesting history, vibrant art, great markets, authentic dining experience and exciting coffee scene. Follow us to explore some of the city’s best places!Our apartment is located very close to the intersection of Strand Street and Buitengracht Street which are two of the busiest avenues in the city center.

Shopping arcades, historic landmarks, and many tourist attractions are located within Strand Street and Adderley Street, while restaurants and shops are lined up along Long Street and Bree Street.

Cape Town’s city center layout is like grids, so it’s very easy to navigate, especially with the gigantic Table Mountain in the background. Besides, there’s a South African flag painted on the wall of a residential building above McDonald’s at the far end of Long Street, it would be hard to be mistaken that I was in South Africa!

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The Grand Parade

The Grand Parade is the heart of Cape Town so let’s begin here. It is the main public square located in front of the City Hall, and the Castle of Good Hope and the Cape Town railway station is nearby.

Today, the square is a market and parking area where the locals hustle to catch a train, or buy groceries. Back in the 90s, it was the first place where Nelson Mandela addressed South Africans following his release from prison and election as president in 1994. Be careful though, this is also the place with a higher crime rate.

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The Castle of Good Hope

The Castle of Good Hope is a historic site that dates back to the 17th century. It was a bastion fort built by the Dutch East India Company back in the colonial era. The castle is the oldest existing colonial building in South Africa, and it has a distinctive pentagonal shape – which was also used on South African Defence Force flags!

The Company’s Garden

My Cape Town Anecdotes: We had a pleasant time and the city actually has an interesting history, vibrant art, great markets, authentic dining experience and exciting coffee scene. Follow us to explore some of the city’s best places!The Company’s Garden is a park and a collection of heritage sites in central Cape Town. It was a beautiful green space developed by the early European settlers (during the colonial times) and it’s a cluster of the city’s important offices and churches. Luckily, the park is protected through the chaos and many botanically and historically valuable plants and features remain.

There, you will find the oldest cultivated pear tree in South Africa dating back to the 17th century, a historic rose garden, a European-style fish pond, an aviary, lawns, and gardens together with historic statues and memorials.

Starting from Groote Kerk, move your way up to Iziko Slave Lodge, Saint George’s Cathedral, and walk through Government Avenue under the trees where you can see the Parliament Post Office, South African National Gallery, Jewish Museum, Iziko South African Museum, and the Cape Town Holocaust Center in the end.

Iziko is an isiXhosa word (an official South African language) that means “hearth”, it embodies the spirit of a transformed institution and to pass on to generations.

Cape of Good Hope, South AfricaSelf-driving Day Trip to The Cape of Good Hope: The Lands End in Africa

The Cape of Good Hope is 7,750 hectares of natural reserve – and it is special as it is easy to hike, and its landscape is diverse. Follow us on a self-driving day trip to the area, and a stop by Boulder’s Beach for some adorable African Penguin sightings.

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Greenmarket Square

Greenmarket Square is located along Longmarket Street, right in front of the Central Methodist Mission. The small, historic square was established in 1696 and now it’s surrounded by beautiful European-style buildings. The square has served as a slave market in the past, and today it’s transformed into a flea market trading mainly African handicrafts, souvenirs, and fresh produce.

Mama Africa

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Well, I have talked about the food in Cape Town – and we went to Mama Africa on Long Street. Opened in 1995, it is a hearty traditional food in a colorful, rustic setting with an eclectic mix of bands and drummers. Their menu of African dishes is quite exciting: from Mozambique Chicken livers, vegetable samosas, crocodile, game kebabs as starters, to lamb’s curry, bobotie, Moroccan lamb pot roast, Karoo lamb chops, as Zimbabwean dovi (chicken) as main courses. If you are daring to try their wild game dishes, there are springbok steak, kudu steak, ostrich steak, warthog, to a mixed grill of everything!

(Mama Africa is permanently closed. having said that, Long Street is filled with restaurants and if you have more time, I would recommend you explore other places like Fork Tapas & Pinchos Bar, The Africa Cafe, and more!)

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Lunch @ Mama Africa, Long Street, Cape Town. #capetown #lunch #foodie #yummy

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Bo-Kaap Museum

It was interesting for me to know that Cape Town has a trace of Malay and Muslim heritage and it was showcased by a line of colorful houses in the Bo-Kaap neighborhood, which was built on the slopes of Signal Hill in the mid-18th century and a former township known as the Malay Quarter.

These houses are the last remnant of Walendrop, an early residence in what would become the Bo-Kaap area. The museum exhibits photos of the lives of the Muslim community as slaves from the 18th to 19th centuries.

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District 6

Why District 6? It is a former inner-city residential area and over 60,000 of its inhabitants were forcibly removed during the 1970s by the apartheid regime. it was named District 6 as the 6th Municipal District of Cape Town. In 1966, the government declared the area “the white-only area” and about 30,000 inhabitants were immediately affected and evicted from the district. Today, the area has re-opened and established itself as an art and theater district with galleries, graffiti, and jazz.

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Look for Mandela’s graffiti, and there is a Table Mountain frame that captures Table Mountain.

Charly’s Bakery

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The Charly’s Bakery is on the opposite side of Mandela’s fresco and it’s a family-owned premier cake bakery in town specialized in wedding cakes. The building has an eccentric vibe and outdoor sitting, while tourists may not be looking for a wedding cake – they have a series of artisan cupcakes from Elmo, minions, and more!

Enjoying a cup of coffee in Cape Town

My Cape Town Anecdotes: We had a pleasant time and the city actually has an interesting history, vibrant art, great markets, authentic dining experience and exciting coffee scene. Follow us to explore some of the city’s best places!
Origin Coffee Roasting

I like coffee and so does Cape Town! There are quite a lot of cafes and coffee shops in the city and it has an exciting diversity.

For example, I love Origin Coffee Roasting and Truth Coffee, and both of them are located within walking distance of my apartment. It was nice to enjoy a freshly ground brew with avocado, eggs, and toast in the morning.

Origin Coffee Roasting has a long list of coffee for me to choose from: Rwanda, Tanzania, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Mexico, Guatemala, to Colombia… each of these coffees indicates their flavor, acidity, body, and roast. They also recommend the best suitable way of brewing the coffee, from espresso, plunger, siphon, pot, AeroPress to pour over… the servers are friendly and they have a good knowledge about coffee, I learned from them whilst enjoying my coffee and it was a great experience when I was in town.

V&A Waterfront

Breakfast at the Truth Coffee

V&A Waterfront is a premium shopping complex in the city that boasts hundreds of retail outlets and dozens of restaurants, hotels, and tourist attractions.

Apart from the city center, the upscale shopping area is generally safer to freely move around. Besides, the area has a great view of Table Mountain from the waterfront!

The entire complex is not small with malls and outdoor areas. There are so many to see and do in between the marina and vibrant malls – SA Rugby Museum, Two Oceans Aquarium, Chavonnes Battery Museum, Seal Spotting, Cape Wheel, Jolly Roger Pirate Boat… and the list goes on.

The area was developed in 1988 and it’s a comparatively safe area to hang out at night. Apart from the shopping and dining experience, there is an abundance of leisure activities from cycling and jogging routes, water sports, and a weekly farmer’s market, to live music in the amphitheater. Even if you are not into any of these landmarks or shopping, take a walk on the scenic Boardwalk Path and take a breather when soaking up the beauty of the Atlantic Ocean, and possibly even spotting a frolicking seal or a pod of dolphins.

There is a wide selection of dining places in the complex and I would recommend Karibu Restaurant and Quay Four. The Karibu Restaurant is yet another African restaurant where you could venture some authentic African dishes, and the Quay Four has oysters and quality seafood at a very reasonable price.

Giant Yellow Frames

Don’t forget to look for one of the giant yellow frames that is an iconic photo spot to “frame” Table Mountain during sunny days!

Cape Town Stadium

Clean, sleek, and a modern circle. I was talking about the Cape Town Stadium located on the waterfront. Built for the FIFA World Cup in 2010, the giant structure is prominently visible all the way up to Table Mountain. Don’t forget to stop by and admire the modern architecture on the way to visiting the V&A Waterfront!

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  1. Dear Writer did you try to engage black South Africans about the set up of the city and it is designed to socially exclude some races. How the city is a hub for slums that feed the wealthy households with labour and the struggle of black educated class to feel welcome in such a set up.

      1. i would invite to come witness this for youself, you will cry. This is the most unequal society in the world. Where throws away food because they have too much and the other has seen a decent meal for weeks.

  2. Very detailed breakdown to Cape Town in South Africa. Haven’t been yet but this is a great guide! Always loved the idea of visiting SA especially to see the wineries near by. Cape Town sounds like a great fit for us because the mountains and the sea meet, like one of my favorite places Santa Barbara in CA !

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