• Bitten by the whale watching bug Bitten by the whale watching bug We don’t realise how lucky we are in South Africa, and in particular the Western Cape, to have the mightiest of the marine mammals visit our coastline between every year ...
  • The Whale Trail The Whale Trail The Whale Trail is not a new trail, having been around since about 2002, but it has become extremely popular. It is truly a unique experience, perhaps comparable with ...
  • 10 Pamper-Perfect Spas in South Africa 10 Pamper-Perfect Spas in South Africa Combine your trip to South Africa with a relaxing, revitalising visit to a health spa and experience Africa at it's finest. Our favourite 10 Pamper-Perfect Spas in South Africa are ...
  • Locals share their favourite getaways Locals share their favourite getaways We ask 30 local South Africans to share their favourite holiday destinations and getaways with us. From the more popular destinations like Knysna and the Kruger Park to ...
  • The Oude Skip hike The Oude Skip hike The Oude Skip walk shares portions of its hike with the larger Karbonkelberg Traverse, which is roughly seven hours of hard walk from Hout Bay harbour to Llandudno ...
  • 10 Amazing Game Lodges 10 Amazing Game Lodges South Africa is world renowned for her game reserves and wildlife. The lodges which allow us to experience these in luxury are no less awe inspiring. Our favourites are ...
  • 101 Things to Do with Kids in Cape Town 101 Things to Do with Kids in Cape Town As much as your kids will tell you they can’t wait for the school holidays, the words "I’m bored" inevitably cross their lips. Our "101 things to do with kids in Cape Town" will ...
  • "World's most beautiful Cities" "World's most beautiful Cities" Open space makes Cape Town special. Renowned English sea navigator Sir Francis Drake once referred to Cape Town as the fairest cape in the world. The city houses the ...

Find Accommodation in South Africa
Subscribe to our Feed
Posted on: Tuesday, 4 February 2014

12 great insider tips for travelling Cape Town

Send to Kindle

Cape Town is a wonderful city. I love living in it, people love visiting it, and it’s set to see more than its usual share of visitors in 2014 because of Design Capital 2014.

Here is a list of insider tips for travelling Cape Town, to beat the queues, spend less, and make your trip here more memorable …


Cape Town view from Green Point


  • Crowds head for Table Mountain on any given clear, summer’s day (the same holds for any other season too, but summer tends to be particularly busy in Cape Town). Voted one of the new seven natural wonders of the world, Table Mountain is the city’s icon. It is also inundated and even on a good day there are queues for the cable car. Get there first thing in the day to avoid queues, but also avoid late afternoon as the wind tends to come up and deck the mountain with its ubiquitous table cloth.
  • Stay in the city bowl if you want to explore the inner city, its history and many attractions (places like Tamboerskloof, Green Point and Oranjezicht are particularly trendy neighbourhoods). Whilst each of Cape Town’s outlying suburbs have something to recommend them, you can’t beat the Cape Town city bowl for access (or its historical value as the oldest part of the city) – you can walk to many of the highlights, and your taxi fares, when you take one, will not break the bank.


City Bus Tour


  • If you want to view the city from an alternative high point to Table Mountain, take the sunset bus route to Signal Hill (only during summer), which leaves the V&A Waterfront outside the Two Oceans Aquarium at 18h00.
  • Head to the Eastern Food Bazaar on Darling Street if you’re after a quick, and cheap, alternative to eating in restaurants. You’ll find it on the town side of City Hall – something of a food hall that resembles an alley-way and gives you plenty to choose from – Indian, Chinese, Middle Eastern in particular.
  • Get yourself a copy of Cape Town Tourism’s Official Visitors’ Guide 2014 (you should easily find them in any of the visitor centres). At the back is the official visitors’ guide to World Design Capital Cape Town 2014. Explore: Albert and Sir Lowry Roads in Woodstock –  for a feast of design, art, furniture designers, and art happenings close to the city’s fringe – and the east and central city – the Fringe, Greenmarket Square and the Bo-Kaap – each  with an accompanying map to make exploring easier.
  • To get a good idea of what Design Capital 2014 is about, take one of the routes available. Coffeebeans Insider Tours are full-and-half day tours, a series aimed at reflecting the themes of World Design Capital.


Camps Bay at night


  • The Company’s Gardens, a park and heritage site in the city centre where you will also find the Houses of Parliament, is a good space in which to enjoy a take-out lunch or cool off on the lawns or benches in the shade. If the people don’t keep you entertained, then the  squirrels certainly will. And there is a tea garden.
  • Everyone does the Atlantic Seaboard beaches, and you really do need to experience the beauty of either Clifton or Camps Bay at least once. But if you take the train to Simon’s Town (Southern Line) from the Adderley Street station, and head to one of the False Bay seaside villages – like St James, Muizenberg or Fish Hoek – you’ll be able to enjoy a more sedate, less frenetic swim in amongst locals, rather than holiday makers. Again, head out early to beat the crowds.
  • Head to the Labia Theatre on Orange Street for independent, art house and foreign-language movies without the mall. It’s hip, if a little bit grungy (but nobody minds for it’s part of the charm of the place). Tickets and popcorn are reasonably priced.
  • Every visitor heads to the V&A Waterfront. And, whilst I’m not knocking it as an attraction, it can get super busy and is rather touristy. For a more contemporary alternative head to Woodstock (between the city bowl and Observatory) for the Old Biscuit Mill’s trendy Saturday market and a growing collection of quirky restaurants and coffee spots, in amongst the design studios, bicycle shops and bohemian boutiques.


V&A Waterfront


  • Despite the touristy angle, the hop-on-hop-off double decker red bus is so worth it. The two-day, two-route ticket includes a free night tour (in season), and canal cruise, and it means you can explore Cape Town in your own time. Buy your ticket online and save.
  • And one more insider tip for when you’re travel weary: walk up to the top of Long Street to the Turkish Baths. The building is over 100 years old and the baths include a sauna, steam room, warm room and cold pool as well as showers and bathroom facilities. For a fee you get a towel, some soap and a day bed. You’ll walk out of there clean, relaxed and able to take on another day of sightseeing. There are alternative days for men and women.

Useful pages for planning a trip to Cape Town


Cape Town beaches


Wanda Coustas


Wanda Coustas has written in one form or another for 10 years, seven of them as a copyblogger. She has travelled the Western Cape extensively and the rest of the country in protracted road trips that have given her both joy and an ongoing relish for experiencing what she writes about first-hand. She is a trained opera singer, poet, eurythmy dancer, philosopher, and bee whisperer.

Related Posts: