In the past almost all my favorite cities started with a B: Berlin, Bangkok, Brisbane, Barcelona. Today things have changed and a city that starts with a C has made it onto my favorites list: Cape Town! I lived in there for around 3 months and there almost is no better city in the world for me because Cape Town really has everything! Cool people, great nature, fine wine and delicious coffee. And then there are the gorgeous beaches where you can surf next to dolphins!
I will share with you what else makes Cape Town one of my absolute favorite cities and why you should definitely fly to Cape Town!
12 unforgettable things to do in Cape Town!
1. Amazing nature and adventures right on your doorstep!
After Line and I spent more than two months driving through Western Australia and New Zealand’s South Island in a camper last year I was not drawn to cities as much as before that road trip any more. I want to be out in nature, I am drawn to the wilderness. I need the sea close to me and if possible the mountains should not be far either!
And that is precisely what Cape Town has: a city surrounded by nature right by the sea and a mountain. Every morning the famous Table Mountain greets you anew, sometimes towering free and imposing, sometimes hidden behind a thick layer of clouds. Or there is a sheet of clouds on the mountain that looks like it was pouring down from it like a waterfall – simply amazing!
Next to Table Mountain the Lion’s Head and Signal Hill rise from the city and behind Table Mountain the 12 Apostles await you! You can go hiking all over the place and from two hours up to an entire day. A super cool hike for instance is around two hours up Table Mountain via Platteklip Gorge.
A mountain bike tour of Table Mountain National Park also is fantastic. A little further outside of the city the Cape Point Nature Reserve with the Cape of Good Hope await you.
Around 45 minutes West of Cape Town you have the Atlantis Dunes, huge sand dunes right by the sea. You can go sandboarding here or race through the sand in a 4WD. And still further North towards Langebaan lies the West Coast National Park where you can, with a little luck, see wild ostriches, kudus and even zebras!
And because nature is just around the corner here you can experience a lot in just one day. For example, we spent one day working at a cafe in the morning and in the afternoon went for a little hike out to the Cape of Good Hope and encountered a family of wild baboons on the way and in the evening we were back in Cape Town and had a delicious pizza – just a regular day in Cape Town. Amazing!
2. Views that will knock you off your feet!
Cape Town simply is gorgeous and no matter where you are in the city you always have a stunning view! Be it from Table Mountain down onto the city or from the city center up to Table Mountain. At sunrise you have the best view of Lion’s Head and in the evening it simply is cool to sit on one of the large cliffs at Camps Bay and watch the sun set. The 12 Apostles have a red glow from the sinking sun and the whole vibe is chilled.
When on a little road trip along Chapman’s Peak Drive you really have to pay attention to not accidentally hit the guardrail or swerve into the opposite lane because the views you have on this route are so nice they will distract you. I don’t really know any other city that will knock you out with its views the way Cape Town does!
And to see Cape Town from above you can jump from Signal Hill with a paraglider. We did that with the guys of Fly Cape Town, a cool group of passionate and super experienced paragliders. Line’s tandem partner for instance had been European master in paragliding several times over! One jump costs 1150 ZAR which amounts to about 65 Euros per person. Flying with a gyrocopter is also great. Here you take off a little outside of Cape Town at Fisantekraal Airfield which is around 45 minutes from the city center. You then fly for an hour back to Cape Town via Big Bay enjoying stunning views all along! It is only you and your pilote in the copter. This flight comes in at 2040 ZAR, around 140 Euros.
3. Each beach prettier than the next!
Cape Town has more than one beach – several fabulous beaches await you here! My absolute favorite beach in Cape Town is Noordhoek Beach, an hours drive along Chapman’s Peak Drive from Cape Town. This beach is huge, very wide and almost always deserted. And depending on which day you come the water here is turquoise. Simply seeing the beach from the street when you turn the last bend in Chapman’s Peak Drive before Noordhoek is amazing!
But you don’t even have to drive that far: Camps Bay is a beautiful little bay with a great beach, Clifton Beaches next to it are also wonderful. However, it can get pretty crowded on weekends and holidays in summer.
If you prefer a quiet beach then you can drive to Bloubergstrand and Table View to Big Bay, an endlessly long sand beach from where you have a great view of Cape Town and Table Mountain and Lion’s Head behind it. On the other side of Cape Town you have False Bay, a huge bay which also has beautiful stretches of sand.
But beware: the beaches around Cape Town are not really for swimming since the water is pretty cold even in summer. You should also always be cautious because there are often sharks in these waters.
4. Surfing and kitesurfing right in town!
Surfing is my absolute favorite sport! It was in Australia that I got onto a board for the first time back in the day and have been hooked ever since. Last year Line and I also started kitesurfing and i enjoy that so much. To me there is nothing like taking to the waves with my surfboard in the mornings before sitting down with my laptop to work. And when I am stuck or my creativity has left me then surfing is perfect for clearing my head for new ideas.
And that is the next reason why Cape Town is one of my favorite cities ever: you can go surfing or kitesurfing whenever you want to! Especially Big Bay is full of kites on the weekends but Misty Cliffs and St Sebastian’s Bay are pretty cool kitesurfing places too. And Langebaan two hours North of Cape Town along the West coast is paradise for kitesurfers. Real surfers on the other hand hang out at the very right of Camps Bay beach or in Muizenberg at False Bay.
5. The animals!
Did you know that killer whales are some of my favorite animals? And with a little luck you can see them in the ocean by Cape Town. June through November is the whale season in and around Cape Town, the best months of which are October and September. But dolphins and buckle whales swim around Cape Town’s coast almost all year round.
Sea lions live right by Cape Town too! When you walk through Waterfront you can watch the seals sleeping on the boat piers or you might catch a glimpse of a seal playing in the water. Even cooler: at Hout Bay, some 30 minutes from Cape Town, you can even go swimming with seals! The animals come really close to you because they are super curious – an amazing experience!
The penguins that live round False Bay are super cute too. The most famous colony lives on Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town. Best you don’t go to Boulder Visitor Center like all the others but park your car right of Boulders Beach at the end of Bellevue Road off of the M4 main street. Here you can follow the wooden walkway to the visitor center and have great views of the penguins. The penguin colony at Betty’s Bay shortly after False Bay and just before Kleinmond is also cool and much less people go there.
If you like it a bit more extreme then you should definitely drive to Gaansbai, two and a half hours away! This bay is known for its large population of white sharks which regularly comes to these waters for hunting. You can go for a boat tour and see the sharks while staying dry yourself or you jump into the water and go diving with them. Of course you are protected from these huge predators by a cage when diving and still you will probably have several waves of adrenaline rush through your body when one of the sharks suddenly darts up out of the deep and then disappears into the sea just as fast.
The best operator to do one of these dives with is Marine Dynamics. Here you always are accompanied by a biologist who on every diving trip gathers data on the sharks and can tell you a lot about this endangered species. One dive is between five and twenty minutes, the whole boat tour takes around two hours. With a little luck you will even get to descend into the water several times, that depends on the sharks’ mood. This adventure costs 1750 ZAR, that is 100 Euros per person including neoprene suit, snorkel and hot chocolate.
6. Good coffee
You probably know by now how much I love coffee. Line and I really are pretty much addicted to flat whites and if a city does not have at least one good place with a good coffee machine that city is out for us. But not Cape Town! The city actually has several cool cafes with excellent coffee. One of our favorite cafes is the Origin Coffee on Hudson Street in the De Waterkant neighbourhood. We went there almost every day, the baristas really know their shit! And the flat white is simply divine!
Rosetta Roastery in the Woodstock Exchange is also pretty cool. This cafe is a typical hipster place and roasts delicious coffee. You can choose from three different kinds of coffee and discover your personal taste preferences and favorite coffee. We frequented this place several times as well to get our daily fix of caffeine!
7. Hipster market
Speaking of hip: Woodstock is Cape Town’s trendy neighborhood with a few really cool shops and a super nice market. Every Saturday the Neighbourgoods Market takes place here at Old Biscuit Mill. The streets around the old factory are lined with parked cars and filled with people. And just like the original one in Johannesburg this market offers endless delicious food, cool stalls and even cooler people. And there often is live music by local bands – the place to be on a Saturday morning!
8. The best wine
After my French wine trip a few years ago I became a real wine drinker and have discovered my personal favorites. Pinotage and Chenin Blanc top the list for me, both of them are South African wines. And that is precisely why Cape Town is one of my favorite cities: there is extremely good wine here which isn’t even very expensive either!
So if you are here anyway definitely drive out to the wine regions of Stellenbosch and Sommerset West or Franschhoek. My three favorite wineries are the Dornier Wine Estate with its really good restaurant and patio with a stunning view and the beautiful and super relaxed Lanzerac Wine Estate by Stellenbosch. Vergelegen Estate by Sommerset West also is wonderful. This winery has a great garden where you can just chill and sit down in the vineyard with a picknick basket.
9. The weather
Since I grew up on Mallorca I can’t stand the cold and grey wet days. In short: I am a warm weather person and need the sun – every day if possible! Cape Town really is perfect for me because even in winter it does not get very cold here and summer is pure sunshine.
Good weather like that always makes me happy and nowadays I try to avoid spending more than two weeks in the cold. That is why Line and I turned our backs on the winter in Germany and moved to Cape Town for the winter months!
10. Super nice people
What I especially love about Cape Town are the people. We met so many incredibly nice people in Cape Town and had only good experiences. Everywhere you go people smile at you and if you have a problem or a question then everyone will help you here.
We for instance spent a lot of time at Origin Coffee and made friends with Jeremy, one of the baristas. Every time we came we would first chat for a couple of minutes and then he would come over to our table in between to talk a bit more. He even showed us the roaster and invited us several times – an all round nice person! Is that the weather?
11. Great apartments
I think I have never seen as many cool apartments as in Cape Town. Line and I lived in several awesome apartments here and always felt right at home.
Our very first apartment up in Woodstock for instance was super cool with an amazing view of Cape Town and the Big Bay. It was beautifully furnished and bright. Our garage apartment close to the Woodstock Exchange was also superb. The whole place basically was one big room and a bathroom but the cool interior design made it seem like a huge flat!
Our house in Table View which we took care of as house sitters for almost a month and thus saved a lot of rent was super homely too. And the best part: it was only 400 meters from the beach, that is two minutes on foot! And of course a pool and barbecue and the sail boat parked by the side entrance were part of the house – the place was right up my alley!
12. This unusual light!
You will only be able to understand this if you have been in Cape Town yourself: the light. The light in Cape Town simply is amazing and makes everything even more beautiful. The colors seem more colorful and everything has a friendly glow. This light is especially wonderful in the mornings when the sun rises and in the evenings when it sets again! I didn’t even have to touch up most of my pictures on the computer because the light and the atmosphere were so perfect!
Cape Town, you simply are amazing!
You see, there are plenty of reasons why Cape Town is one of the best cities in the world for me and also lots of reasons why you should go visit Cape Town too! So if you have never been, it really is high time now! I am sure Cape Town will blow you away just as much as me since there are so many things to do in Cape Town. I am already planning my next trip to Cape Town, maybe Line and I even move to this wonderful city for longer in the future…
Have you ever been to Cape Town or do you want to travel there soon? What makes Cape Town your dream city?