What if you only had one day in Cape Town? One long, summer’s day. To make the most of it without exhausting yourself, you need local insight. We asked 3 born ‘n bred Capetonians to craft their perfect Cape Town Day.
“What I love best about Cape Town is that there are two oceans, so I would bookend my one perfect day by watching the sun rise over False Bay and the sun set over the Atlantic. Here’s my curated itinerary for you.”
Theme: Follow the Sun
Start time: 5am
Dress code: Beachy casual
The sun rises early in Cape Town in summer, so get out the door by 5 am. Head for Dalebrook Tidal Pool in Kalk Bay. You need to duck under the railway line and through the subway (look for the Be Happy sign) and you will find the pool right there. A colony of like-minded regulars will be bobbing up and down in a tidal pool that shines golden with early morning light. Brace yourself and dive right into the dawn. You may even be fortunate enough to share your morning dip with a Cape Cormorant bird, with its fish-shaped body and sea-green eyes.
There are so many excellent early-morning breakfast places in Kalk Bay that you’ll be spoiled for choice. One of the most interesting is Bo-ho Ohana where you’ll find a vast variety of cooked breakfasts, pastries and fantastic coffee on offer. Whether it’s surfers or dolphin pods, there’s always something thrilling to spot from Ohana’s seaside tables.
Swim with penguins
The False Bay beaches are best enjoyed in the morning, when the sun is bright but not scorching and the notorious South-Easter wind has not picked up yet. After a leisurely breakfast, follow the Main Road through Fish Hoek, Glencairn and Simon’s Town until you reach Boulders Beach – a beautifully scenic drive. Boulders Beach is a sheltered spot made up of inlets nestled between granite boulders. It is probably one of the most perfect beaches in the world, yet is surprisingly uncrowded, especially on weekdays. Just a four-minute walk away is a natural African Penguin colony, making this the only place in the world where you can get up-close and personal with this breed. Swim, soak up the sun and relax. Lots of people do shore diving and snorkelling amongst the kelp forests of Boulders Beach. If that is the way you like it, this is the perfect spot to enjoy it.
You will want to be out of the sun by lunchtime. You have several options of how to spend your afternoon in this part of Cape Town. You could travel on a little further (watch out for baboons) and visit the Cape Point Nature reserve, really, you should, because this is where you’ll be immersed in the incredible biodiversity of the Cape, surrounded by the subtle fragrance of the world’s richest, but smallest, floral kingdom – the Fynbos Kingdom. You’ll also encounter a variety of local wild animals, like buck and ostrich – as well as the dramatic Cape Point itself. This is bucket-list stuff.
Or, if you are looking for something less energetic, you could simply browse the quaint and artsy shops of Simon’s Town and select some unique keepsakes and gifts.
Either way, lunchtime will surely beckon. Set above the white sands of Seaforth Beach, with gorgeous views of mountains- the sea and African Penguins to entertain you- Seaforth Restaurant is a spectacular venue on the water’s edge and makes for a relaxing lunch spot where you can catch your breath and while away a few hours in conversation.
Picnic at sunset
Cape Town is the foodie capital of South Africa so there are loads of Deli’s you can stop off at to curate a beautiful picnic – then head for Llandudno Beach to watch the sunset and bring your one perfect day in Cape Town to a relaxed close.
Notice how all that ozone is coaxing you into the best sleep you’ve ever had? Good night.
NATHAN: IT SUPPORT AND PHOTOGRAPHER
“I will be dog-tired at the end of it, but my one perfect day would take in all the adventure I love about Cape Town. I’m a photographer so I will certainly want photo ops along the way. Here’s my suggestions for you.”
Theme: Adrenaline rush
Start time: 7 am
Dress code: Comfortable adventure gear
Take a stroll through the city to Truth Café in Buitenkant Street (voted best coffee shop in the World). It is a unique steam-punk emporium that also happens to offer the most wonderful breakfasts and coffee strong enough to get you going for what comes next – a helicopter ride! Hurry back to the V & A Waterfront to catch your open-door Huey helicopter ride. This is a wave-skimming rush of a ride up the West Coast of the city with plenty of photo ops for those daring enough to hang out of the door.
Once you’ve regained terra firma, a ten-minute car drive will bring you to Century Karting, which is just plain silly-thrill fun and will get you laughing, shrieking and feeling even more alive than you did after your Truth coffee. Once you’ve recovered from channelling your inner Sir Lewis Hamilton, head back to the city via Woodstock, an intriguing and colourful suburb adjacent to the CBD. Grab lunch at Woodstock Beerhall, Cape Town’s answer to a Bavarian Beerhall fused with a South African dude-food menu.
Flying at Sunset
You need to be at the parking area at the top of Signal Hill at least 30 minutes before take-off – because yes, you’re going to be paragliding off this iconic hill and landing on the Sea Point beachfront. At sunset. No words. Just do it.
After that it is definitely time to simply chill with a sundowner and a beautiful meal to absorb all your memories. The Atlantic Seaboard – Sea Point, Clifton, Camps Bay – is lined with superb restaurants and fashionable cocktail spots. But if you want to keep it traditional, return to Signal Hill and search out Bo-Kaap Kombuis for a fantastic Cape Malay cultural experience and the most delicious, lightly spicy, home cooked cuisine. Bo-Kaap Kombuis is high up on Signal Hill with spectacular views over the harbour, the V & A Waterfront and the City Bowl.
Watch the moon and stars rise above a city that you have fallen in love with. In just one day.
SUZANNE: BUSINESS OWNER
“It’s the vineyards and the fynbos-studded mountains of Cape Town that captivate me, so my one perfect day would incorporate both. Follow my lead if you’re looking for a gracious, gentle day in Nature.”
Theme: Wander and Wine
Start time: 8 am
Dress code: Walking clothes; Casual elegance
Find your way to the Cecilia Forest car park where a leisurely 1 to 2 hour forest walk begins. It’s a safe and shaded path, with little streams offering refreshing stops along the way, and magnificent views rewarding you around every corner.
You will have built up an appetite on your walk. Fortunately, just around the corner is The Chardonnay Deli, where you can enjoy a rustic, yet refined dining experience. After breakfast, you can browse through their artisanal bakery and deli where you can buy everything from bread, milk, cheese, yogurt, granolas, preserves, coffee, gifts, olive oils and prepared meals.
You will not miss any of the spectacular Constantia scenery when you book your massage or beauty treatment at the Beau Constance spa. It is a 2-minute drive from your breakfast venue, located high above the Constantia wine route with panoramic views over the Constantia Valley.
Your spa treatment will have prepared you for the slow-down immersive experience that is the Constantia Wine Route. The spa is located on the Beau Constantia wine farm, so stroll across to their tasting room before making your way down into the valley to historic Groot Constantia, the first wine-farm in the Cape. Here you’ll get carried away by hundreds of years of heritage as you wander under enormous Cape Dutch-gabled doorways, past antiques, carriages and through pristine vineyards. Right next door is Klein Constantia wine estate, dating back to 1685. You will want to pop in here to try Napoleon’s favourite wine – Vin de Constance. Best of all? No-one will bother you if you decide to stretch out under an ancient oak tree for a doze before slowly winding your way to your late-lunch venue.
The name of the wine estate where you will be ending your one perfect day is Buitenverwachting. It means beyond expectation and is an accurate description of what you will experience there. Stroll the paradisaical grounds before being seated at Beyond Restaurant for fine dining that is centred around the highest quality local ingredients.
Raise a glass to Cape Town, one of the most poignantly beautiful cities in the world and one that you will definitely want to visit again.
By Gill D’achda