48 hours in Cape Town
I’m throwing it back to 2014 here with my amazing memories of our honeymoon to South Africa. Having planned our entire wedding with military precision, when the fiancé suggested that he take care of the honeymoon I was reluctant, apprehensive and scared shitless of what I would end up with. But luckily (for him!) he is still the hubby so must have pulled off a pretty epic one.
He surprised me with a trip to South Africa and Mauritius! This consisted of a few nights in Cape Town, a 3-night safari topped off with a week’s all inclusive stay in Mauritius. All in, this trip had everything that I could have wanted so I knew he was a keeper!
This blog post will focus on the first part of our trip to Cape Town, the capital of South Africa. Renowned for its mild climate this coastal city has everything you would need in a holiday; pristine beaches, beautiful scenery, history, arts, unbelievably tasty fresh food and that air of luxury around everything. You get a lot for your money here. So you can afford to stay in those 5 star hotels, enjoy that top notch bottle of vino and have a private driver. That epic trip of a lifetime is well within reach which certainly makes you enjoy it that whole lot more if you aren’t watching the pennies.
Cape Town - the Mother City
Arriving into Cape Town International Airport the centre of Cape Town is only 20km away. Hop in a taxi and head straight to your accommodation at the Victoria and Albert Waterfront. This upmarket harbour is home to shops, restaurants, attractions and accommodation and is considered one of the safest places in Cape Town especially at night. The waterfront has developed over the years with even more shops, restaurants, bars, cultural arts, entertainment, attractions and hotels added which means it is THE place to be.
We stayed at The Cape Grace hotel which is situated in its own private quay of the V & A Waterfront harbour. This dominating hotel sat beneath Table Mountain and overlooking the sea was one of the original hotels in this area. Because of that its grandeur it stands out and is the ultimate hotel to stay. It’s understated, traditional elegance means from the minute you pull up outside you are treated like royalty. Everything is subtle and the staff are constantly on hand to assist, with nothing being too much trouble. They really do make you feel like King and Queen. We were even greeted with a glass of Champagne as we stepped through the door!
Once you have checked in then head off for a wander around the waterfront taking in the luxury yachts, all the quintessential shops and the many bars and restaurants. You can’t go wrong with where to eat so enjoy a hearty lunch, a glass of wine and sit back, relax and soak up the atmosphere. Take in the warm air, the sunshine and the impressively high Table Mountain which dominates the skyline. We ate at Baia which was right on the waters-edge and tasted some of the best (and largest) prawns I have ever had.
Seafood - the best place to eat in the city
After walking off our lunch we headed back to the hotel to settle into our room. We requested a mountain view room and boy oh boy was it worth it. Our room had a small balcony which we could just open the doors to, sit back in the chair and just look out. I love a sea view but in this location a mountain view was something else.
The hotel recommended and booked for us our evening meal. They also drove us there with their on site driver. Honestly, nothing was too much trouble. We headed to Camps Bay, which was just along the coast, for a meal at Codfather. This small, intimate, low key restaurant serves the best fresh seafood and sushi around. There isn’t a menu, well a written one anyway. Instead, the concept is ‘fish market’. Your waiter will show you the fish that they have that evening, explain the different types of fish, the size (and price), the texture and the flavours. This means that you have the best recommended flavoursome fish and seafood. The restaurant is on the first floor so the view out over the sea is breath-taking. The best way to start our weekend.
Cape Peninsular Tour
After a hearty breakfast in the hotel, we were heading out early on an epic day trip. Again, through the hotel, they organised this trip (told you nothing was too much trouble!) the previous day. The tour was with Jarat Tours a luxury tailor-made tour company. We headed out on their Cape Peninsular Tour which consisted of lots of incredible scenery through the National Park, beautiful beaches, highlights of the Cape Peninsular as well as adding in a spot of wine tasting.
Our tour started by driving the coastal route through Camps Bay where we were the previous night and on to Clifton. These stunning seaside resorts looked out on to white sandy beaches and turquoise waters and I really wished we were staying longer so we could enjoy a day on the beach! We headed to the furthest away point first, Cape Point. On the way though we stopped whenever we shouted up and at one point even watched a pod of dolphins swimming past. Unreal! We also stopped to see large numbers of seals in a harbour. One thing about this tour is that you are always surrounded by amazing wildlife and flora/fauna. The area is a natural park so is understandable but I couldn’t get over how lush green and colourful it was. The coastal roads themselves were meant for driving; mountains on one side, the sea on the other with windy roads taking you right to the edge with umpteen large laybys to stop in to take in the views. Think our driver got sick of me saying pull over!! But that’s what having a private tour is all about isn’t it!
Cape Point is the most south western point of the Peninsula and Africa! It is a high cliff top overlooking the merging seas and is renowned for being treacherous. There is a walkway along the cliff tops that you don’t dare look over at certain points, certainly made my knees go funny. We spent some time walking round the tops admiring the view points and also headed down to one of the beaches; untouched, peaceful and deserted. The lighthouse stands tall on the clifftop and there is a restaurant, maritime museum and now a funicular which you can ride.
Meeting the penguins
Our next pit stop was Boulders Beach in False Bay. Not only was this another beautiful pristine white sandy beach but it was also full of penguins! These African penguins are literally just there right in front of you. It was surreal. You can get down on to the beach but the boardwalk goes so close that you don’t need to be right up in their face. It was amazing to just watch them going about their day oblivious to their fans watching!
Wine tasting - a must do!
By this point our breakfast was starting to wear off so we headed for lunch at the vineyard where we were also to do our wine tasting. We visited Steenberg Farm which has a hotel, spa, golf course and restaurant all centred around the vineyard. We ate at Tryn, their more contemporary restaurant, out on the terrace overlooking the vineyard. After a light lunch we then headed on an hours wine tasting tour. This included a tour of the wine cellars, learning about the process from start to finish, and of course plenty of opportunities to sample the wines. One thing about South Africa wines is that they are unbelievably fresh. They are somewhere between an ‘old world’ and a ‘new world’ wine. They are known for their deep earthy flavours due to the luscious soil, the mild climate all year round and (in this area particularly) the cool breeze from the sea. Their white wine selection was exquisite. We have always been white or rose drinkers but after this trip we converted fully to Sauvignon Blanc and is still to this day the main wine we drink. I’m not fully sure what else we saw or were told in this hour but I know my smile on the photos for the rest of the day show that it was a good tour! We ended up coming back with a case of wine that we had to drink before the end of the holiday too so it certainly wasn’t bad!
The best view in the city
On the way to our next stop we took the scenic route out through the vineyards, climbing up and winding through the rows of vines. We were heading to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. These huge botanical gardens are set on the east side of Table Mountain itself so entering at the top you get the most beautiful breath-taking view out over the gardens and to the city of Cape Town, the harbour and beyond. As we entered the gardens (just before closing time) it was nearly deserted and we practically ran round taking in as much as we possibly could before the sun went behind the mountain. The one thing that I remember from these gardens (blaming the wine again here!) was how colourful they were and it was here that I saw my first ever real Bird of Paradise flower. If you have longer in the city then I would certainly spend a couple of hours here walking through the full park.
All in all this day was off the scale! We loved every part of it and the beauty was with it being a private tour was that the itinerary, although initially planned and booked by the driver was totally our own so we could stay longer or shorter in places if we wanted or add on other things that we had heard of. It also meant that we had this wealth of knowledge at our finger tips. Being a local he told us so much about the history of Cape Town and South Africa, about the political agenda, all things Nelson Mandela, the rebuilding of the city, the highs and lows of living there and also answered a million and one questions that we had.
After a speedy freshen up we decided to stay in the hotel that night to eat as we were exhausted from our day out. We ate in the restaurant enjoying a succulent steak each before heading down to the cocktail bar for a night cap.
Table Mountain - number one attraction
Luckily on our final day we woke up to blue cloudless skies. This isn’t that important for most activities but when heading up Table Mountain is your only agenda then this is vital. The previous day we had drove past on the start of our Peninsular Trip and the top of the mountain was covered so make sure you study the forecast and ask the hotel too for their recommendation.
Table Mountain is the number one attraction to do whilst in Cape Town. The dominating mountain that can be seen from anywhere in the city is the backdrop to the city and as such you can just imagine the views from the top. Take the cable car up the mountain (or walk if you are super fit and have plenty of time – around 2 hours). The trip only takes 5 minutes up but it climbs over 1000 metres in that time. Your ears are popping, your stomach is turning and your knuckles are white from holding on (if you are me that is) but all in a good way! My heart felt in my mouth the whole time. Stepping out at the top of the mountain you are instantly hit with the cold air (take lots of layers and sturdy footwear). Once at the top there are lots of walking trails so you can spend as long as you want up there. We spent an hour walking, taking in all the view points and generally just soaking up the fresh air, watching the clouds float by occasionally engulfing you which was a strange sensation. There is a restaurant, shop and facilities at the top too if required.
48 hours in Cape Town
After exploring we headed back down in the cable car and caught the shuttle bus back to the hotel. From here we collected our luggage, checked out and headed on to our next adventure! Cape Town was just wow. There was so much to see and do that I would love to return to spend longer there, sampling some more of the fresh seafood, relaxing on the white sandy beaches and exploring way more of this beautiful city surrounded by nature.