As well as one thinks one knows Cape Town there is always some little nook or cranny, deli or coffee shop left undiscovered.
Here are 12 hidden spots in Cape Town…
1. Beta Beach
For those of you who don’t already know about this tiny, perfect square of sand in Bakoven, let me first state that I’m only sharing if you agree to treat the pad with respect. The beach looks private, which is probably why it remains inundated, but it isn’t. Residents like it quiet and make sure it remains so. Get there early if you want a space.
Where: alongside Oudekraal beach
2. Catholic Shrine, Schoenstatt
Virtually nobody knows of the existence of this quaint, tiny shrine – a replica of the original shrine in Schoenstatt, Germany. It lies within the leafy garden of the Schoenstatt Catholic Retreat in Constantia. The beautiful building, shrouded in ivy, in amongst the 260 trees on the estate, was blessed in 1960 and is a haven for all. Contact the sisters to visit.
Where: 3 Schoenstatt Avenue, Constantia
3. Centre for the book
This gorgeous building, dedicated to all things book, is one of the finest examples of Edwardian architecture in the city – the ceremonial hall was based on an ancient Greek theatre, and the dome rises 56 feet with a base made from Paarl granite. It hosts writing workshops for talented writers, and outreach programmes to disadvantaged communities. The domed hall is also for hire as a venue (perfect for weddings).
Where: 62 Queen Victoria Street, City Bowl
4. The Tunnels
They are less of a secret than they used to be, but did you know that you can explore some of the hundreds of water tunnels beneath the city? he streams of water running off Table Mountain (apparently as much as 1.5 million litres of water per day) head underground into a myriad brick tunnels that date back to 1652. These tunnels used to supply Company Gardens and passing ships with fresh water. As the city expanded the canals were used to transport sewerage until 1895, when they were arched over and forgotten.
Contact: Matt at Good Hope Adventures (firstname.lastname@example.org)
5. First Thursdays
Not exactly a ‘spot’ this event, nonetheless, brings you into contact with a part of the city you might otherwise ignore. Explore art galleries and cultural attractions – for free – every first Thursday of the month. Walk the city’s quieter parts. First Thursdays makes art galleries and museums more accessible to the public. Art and exhibition spaces stay open until 09h00 with no entrance charge.
Contact: sign-up to the email list on First Thursdays, Cape Town website, or visit their Facebook page
6. New York Bagels
We know how you love bagels. And we thought we’d just quickly add that you haven’t tasted bagels until you’ve had one of these. But then, this is not news to those who ate them for years when the trendy bagel shop frequented Sea Point. You’ll find them in their new(ish) quarters just around the corner from the District Six Museum, in Harrington Street, opposite the back side of landmark Charly’s Bakery.
Where: 44 Harrington Street, District Six
This is the place to trawl for vintage, collectables and the odd bargain at prices you can afford. This outdoor car boot weekend morning market sprawls over a section of Paarden Eiland alongside the railway line and the Atlantic Ocean. Antiques, trinkets, utensils, dusty odds and ends and bric-a-brac engulf the venue.
Where: intersection of Marine Drive and Milner Road, unless it rains
For those fans who followed the rise of Lady Bonin’s tea from a loose-leaf tea trading caravan, to a tea bar in Woodstock, you can now visit the real thing on Long Street – the new shop is more like a parlour – a feast of interesting loose-leaf tea mixes that will have any tea enthusiast enchanted. The outdoor courtyard at the back of the store is a perfect space in which to enjoy a leafy brew; an alternative to takeaway coffee.
Where: 213 Long Street
9. Woodstock Exchange
For those of you who don’t hang out in Woodstock, where have you been? Woodstock is only 1 km out of the city centre; an industrial area that has evolved into the design heart of Cape Town. At its centre is the Woodstock Exchange – a collection of workshops, boutiques, cafés and collectives – an incubator of young business. The common thread is creativity.
Where: 66 Albert Road
10. Noordhoek Common
The interesting thing about this common (besides the fact that I seem to be the last person in the know) is that it looks more like a farm – there seem always to be horses grazing on the common. It lies on the edge of Noordhoek Main Road and Avondrust Circle (Avondrust encircles the common) and is a public space through which two streams run. It is used by horse riders, dog walkers, families for picnics and is the green heart of Noordhoek.
Where: Avondrust Circle (you pass it en route to Noordhoek beach)
11. St James Coastal Walk
The walkway between Muizenberg and St James gives Sea Point’s promenade a run for its money. This stretch of coast was once known as Cape Town’s Golden Mile, which I can understand, if we’re talking about the view, which is spectacular the entire way. The path begins just behind Muizenberg’s railway station (park up that end, rather than at the beach) and is concreted the entire way – you can do it barefoot, if you’d like, but be aware that fishermen tend to leave their tackle on the path whilst fishing just in front of it.
Where: from the car park behind Muizenberg’s station
12. Kleinbaai Park
This little park (some people also know it as John Wendell Park) rests right on the beachfront in Blouberg. It’s also rather popular with locals, but if you get there early enough (just before sundowners) you can still nab a spot from which to watch the sun set across the ocean. Its sprawling lawn also has a few really great children’s jungle gyms.
Where: Blouberg’s Small Bay, just around the corner from Blue Peter