Top 10 Capetown: from the Insider

by Jared

I’ve been asked increasingly over the past weeks – particularly on Instagram (@jaredincpt)  – what my top suggestions are for those visiting Cape Town – even for locals who want to try something new. Sure you can browse Tripadvisor and you’ll get some great recommendations, but here are some of my favourites, hope you enjoy!

  1. Cape Philharmonic OrchestraIMG_6427.JPG
    This is undoubtedly one of my favourite outings. View their website to see when the world class orchestra is performing and book early to ensure you get a seat. The performances are at the historic city hall, and if you don’t mind sitting on the choir benches behind the orchestra, you only pay R90 for a ticket! We usually combine the evening with dinner at the Eastern Food Bazaar – which is a whole experience in itself!

2. Windmill Beach
As far as I’m concerned this is certainly one of Cape Town’s best kept secrets (yes – I had to think twice about mentioning it here…). The city boasts an impressive array of beaches and one lesser known one stands out in particular for me. Windmill beach is a secluded and picturesque beach just outside Simons Town. Its clear and warmer waters, boulders surrounding the beach, clear. Situated within walking distance of the more famous penguin-frequented Boulders Beach, Windmill beach is free, and you still catch sight of the occasional penguin. Take your snorkelling gear for some rewarding views, a picnic to enjoy afterwards, and if you’re feeling brave enough, in high tide climb up the rock to the slight left of the beach and make the 4 meter jump into the ocean. After Simon’s Town take a left into Bellevue, and right into Links Cresecent, and the beach is accessed through the gate at the end of the road.

3. Boschenheuvel Arboretum
It may not be as impressive as the adjacent Kirstenbosch Gardens, but this little park is free and easily accessible. Take a book and enjoy a read next to the little stream, or explore the little paths. A great spot for picnics with friends on a balmy summer’s day. You’ll find it on the corner of Winchester Ave and Kirstenbosch Drive.

4. The View from the Pier
If you drive around the V & A Waterfront, passed the entrance to the Table Bay Hotel take a left at the stop street and head to the end of the road. There’s a little parking lot adjacent to where the helicopters take off from (and where you can have free waterfront parking if you don’t mind a little stroll). You can either cautiously jump about on the concrete ‘dolos’ blocks that protect the harbour, or climb the stairs for great views of the city – especially the stadium. If there are a few of you it’s equally enjoyable at night with a flask of hot chocolate.

5. Bike ride along the promenadeIMG_0363.JPG
Hire a bike from one of the companies along the promenade (check out if stuck). It feels like journeying along some European promenande – just watch out for the waves – I got a little drenched last time. Stop somewhere for ice cream and enjoy the stunning views.

6. Labia Theatre & Meal Deals
The Labia is Cape Town’s art theatre and has several cinemas ranging from the grand to the very intimate. What’s spectacular is that most nights of the week they have specials with the neighbouring restaurants where you get a meal and movie tickets for two people from R90pp! I recommend the pairing with the Societi bistro – who have great and reasonable wines, and fabulous food.

7. Table Mountain via Constantia Corner
This is an exciting alternative way to climb up Table Mountain, starting from Constantia Nek. You climb several ridges with stunning views over Hout Bay and the back of the 12 Apostles. You finally end up on top of the mountain, and enjoy a scenic walk over to the dam. You can decend via the jeeptrack and terraced path. (Do not climb alone, and only walk the route with someone who knows it well, or if you have very good instructions). 

8. Walk along the Alphen Trail
Park your car outside the grounds of the Alphen Hotel on Alphen Drive, and explore the kilometres of this gorgeous green belt. It’s particularly worth visiting two hours before sunset when you and other dog walkers (and sometimes horses) will enjoy the fading light and coolness of the forest. You can also run the green belt if you’re up for it. Optional ending is a beer or coffee at the Alphen Hotel.

9. Picnic at Silvermine
Silvermine Nature Reserve sits on top one of the lower sections of Table Mountain. It’s accessed by winding and scenic road, Oukaapse Weg. Recently opened after fires had meant it had to close its gate for months, it’s a favourite spot for outdoor enthusiasts. Take a picnic and enjoy a meal on the banks of the dam – which is great for swimming in summer – or enjoy one of the walks. I recommend the walk up to Elephant Eye cave, or if you’re feeling fit, all the way to the meteorological station on top of Constantiaberg.

10. The Wine FarmsIMG_9942.JPG
Then of course there are the wine farms. Any visit to Cape Town would not be complete without visiting a few of our iconic farms. The city boasts several wine farms of which most are congregated in the Constantia area. My top three are Buitenverwachting – in my opinion the best wines of the area accompanied with stunning food and coffee, Klein Constantia – with a history as old as the hills and their famous Vin de Constance, and thirdly Beau Constantia for the vast vistas viewable from their modern tasting room and the toilet with the best view in town!

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south african travel journalist