There are many attractions in the Mother City, some that are almost required visiting when you holiday in the Cape, but here are the things you should never do in Cape Town …
Never go to the beach on Christmas day (or New Year’s Day, for that matter)
Just about every beach in Cape Town is inundated during the festive season on most days, but Christmas day and New Year’s Day, in particular, (this holds for other coastal cities like Durban and Port Elizabeth too).
So don’t visit Cape Town expecting a leisurely after-lunch stroll along the sandy shore, unless you’re prepared to share it with thousands.
Conversely, you can drive out as far as Noordhoek, Kommetjie or Scarborough for the privilege of beaches that still offer some space.
Don’t ask anyone what they think of Zuma
Unless you’ve a lot of time on your hands. Together with water, the depreciating state of the economy, and the escalating cost of houses, Zuma is a hot topic.
A recent poll on Facebook found that 94% of people rate his performance as president as extremely poor. Only 3% of South Africans think he’s great.
Sentiment is so negative amongst everyone in Cape Town that Zuma serves as the topic of conversation most likely to unite, rather than divide, across the racial divide.
Don’t pay full price for the open-top bus, or the Table Mountain cableway
The open top bus is cheaper if you book online. At last check you could save 40% on the Premium open-top bus tour, which includes over 50 top things to do in Cape Town and a free sunset bus tour, walking tour and an extra day on the bus.
Table Mountain cableway too offers special discounts, like the Sunset Special, which gets you 50% off the regular ticket cost (but only between 1 November and 17 December, and then again from 4 January to 28 February) but buy your tickets only after 6pm at the Lower Cableway Ticket Office.
Don’t spend R100s on fish & chips in restaurants on the Atlantic Seaboard
Rather head to one of the less chic, but oh so tasty, local places like Kalky’s down at the harbour in Kalk Bay (their grilled snoek has to be sampled to be believed) or Fish on the Rocks in Hout Bay (they’ve been there over 26 years so they know a thing or two about preparing fish).
Both are reasonably priced, casual and cheerful. If there’s one thing you do in Cape Town…
Don’t drive down Bree Street, walk it instead
If you’re into gin bars, or trendy anything, this strip of gourmet restaurants and vibey stores, rather than Long Street, is the place to be at lunch time, in the evenings and over weekends.
Grass-fed burgers, coffee hangouts, tapas bars and artisanal bakers – Bree Street is a great strip to stroll, particularly along the central acacia tree-lined pavement that runs down the middle of the road.
Don’t park in the CBD
Like London’s zone 1, the centre of Cape Town cities parking fees have recently soared. Even if you want to rent a secure undercover parking bay you’ll pay well in excess of R1 000 a month.
Marshalls employed by Street Parking Solutions, who manage on-street parking in the CBD for the City, have made it all a lot easier – you can now pay by credit card, debit card or Snapscan – but that does little to lessen the sting of paying in excess of R18/hour for an ordinary street parking.
Then again, this all pales by comparison to what it will cost you to park on the rooftop of the San Michele apartment building in Clifton (a mere R990 000.00).
Don’t pass up the opportunity to sample vetkoek
The fried ball of dough, usually filled with a mixture of spiced mince, cheese or even apricot jam, is eaten by just about everyone in Cape Town, regardless of culture (it’s also known as amagwinya).
Don’t shop at the V&A
Really, why would you pay premium prices for clothes and food?
Don’t ask what a Capetonian means when they ask for ‘slap’ chips
If you don’t know that ‘slap’ chips are slang for French fries (not potato crisps) then you’re going to struggle, because South Africans love their soft inside, crunchy outside fried potato chips bathed in vinegar and salt.
Don’t miss out on a trip to Robben Island
Once a prison when the VOC was in charge in the Cape, Nelson Mandela was incarcerated here for much of his very long prison sentence. For this reason just about everyone visits. You should too.
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