Before I went to South Africa I not only researched every possible thing about it and what to do, but also found and interviewed local bloggers for their tips as well. I ended up doing a lot of the things they recommended as well as a few other things on my own, and now can say what I thought the best things to do/see were, as well as the things you can probably skip!
I volunteered in Muizenberg which is thirty minutes south of Cape Town, but I went to Cape Town first, so will start there!
My GoPro pic of us on the Cape Town City Sightseeing tour
This might sound super touristy, but I do the bus tours in every city I visit because it gives me a lay of the land and information about what I’m seeing. It also doubles as a cheap mode of transportation! It takes you around to all the major sites and areas in Cape Town with the option to do the Wine Tour and Township tour. For a complete list of stops click here.
Cost: 1 day tour – 150 Rand ($15) 2day tour – 250 Rand ($25)
The V&A Waterfront is considered one of the trendy areas of town
The V&A Waterfront is a cute little harbor area that is considered trendy by locals. It has an indoor market with tons of food and merchandise booths, as well as multiple other souvenier shops and restaurants. We ate at a restaurant with an outdoor bar and seating area where there was live music, and had the local fish and a glass of wine. If you have time, the most popular place to go is Shimmy Beach Club, which is a sexy seaside club on the water’s edge.
Cost: About 200 Rand ($20) for food, drinks, and souveniers
Long Street – Note: It’s usually sunny…just don’t go in August.
Long Street is where everyone goes out at night in Cape Town. It has tons of restaurants and bars and was flooded with people when we went. We popped into a few of the second story bars that had patios overlooking the street. It kind of felt like New Orleans except the people were way more attractive and fun. Everyone was dancing, talking, and NOT glued to their cell phones. The people were very nice and inviting, I made friends with a few girls while in line for the bathroom who gave me tips on things to do and see while I was in town.
Cost: Drinks were a little pricier on Long Street, around 70 Rand ($7) for a vodka soda.
Enjoying a glass of wine at La Parada since we got there too late for tapas #liquiddiet
One of my Cape Town bloggers recommended this place as a “local hot spot”. It’s a Spanish style tapas bar few blocks away from the craziness of Long Street on the much calmer, Bree Street. We got there a little late so missed dinner, but stayed for a drink anyway. It was definitely filled with locals, and we definitely looked like tourists, but everyone was very nice and excited to talk to us. It shuts down early (around 10pm) but it has an adjoining nightclub that’s underground that most people move to afterwards.
Cost: Food ranges from R25 ($2.50) to R110 ($11) and drinks are only around R24 ($2.40) to R40 ($4)
107 Bree St, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town, 8000, South Africa
This is obviously the number one must-see thing to do Cape Town. You can’t miss it because it’s literally a massive mountain with a flat top in the middle of the city. The sighteeing bus takes you to it then you can go on the gondolas up to the top for a breathtaking view of the city.
This was by far my most favorite place to visit because of its chic, trendy restaurants that line the gorgeous sandy beach. It reminds me of an upscale version of South Beach mixed with Beverly Hills. I ate at a fabulous restaurant called ZenZero (twice) that had delicious pasta, fish, and appetizers. The beach is beautiful and is filled with local art peddlers that sell hand-painted paintings for about R25 each. I also went to a place that was recommended by my bloggers as a “local hotspot” called Cafe Caprice, but it was a little too local for me and made me feel a bit out of place.
Cost: Food ranges from R80 ($8) to R250 ($25) and wine starts at only R40 ($4)
This is the closest winery if you don’t have time to do one of the bigger Wine Routes. It’s included in the sightseeing bus tour but it closes early (the last tasting is at 4pm), so try to go to it first. Costantia is known as the ‘Beverly Hills’ of Cape Town with its sprawling mansions and lush vineyards. Beau Constantia Wine Estate is highly recommended.
This quaint little bay area looks like a scene straight out of Jaws, and I’d like to say minus the Great White Shark, but they are native to South Africa. You can still go swimming though, or if you’re scared like me, the Wharf has some incredible restaurants, shops, and a fish market.
Cost: About R80 ($8) to R250 ($25) for food and souveniers
Townships are towns made of tin shacks that people live and work in
I didn’t know what a township was until I got to South Africa, so it’s good to know before you go. Townships are the tin shack neighborhoods that looks like a massive conglomeration of homeless people that you’ll pass on your way leaving the airport. These areas are actually quite normal, and the people are not homeless at all, yet do suffer with extreme poverty. The Township Tour takes you to Langa, the township near the airport, and lets you walk around with one of the locally trained community cheperones. It’s truly an experience you don’t want to miss, especially if you’ll be volunteering in Muizenberg with the kids of the townships there.
For some reason this place is wildly popular even though it’s located IN the township. Not only did my bloggers recommend it, but the volunteers in Muizenberg go there almost every weekend for Sunday Funday. It has live music, drinks, and it’s signature Braai (barbequed meat), and is known for its vibrant parties, diverse patronage, and signature meat. Be very aware however, it IS in a township which are not always safe…volunteer phones and money tend to get stolen there.
Alyssa is a self-made, full time travel blogger who loves adventure and typically travels the world solo. She's been to 53 countries and 6 continents so far, and believes she has mastered the art of chasing waterfalls, traveling solo, wine drinking, and making budget-traveling look good. Curious to know how she started this career? Check out the About section above!