Louisa Dawley lives in London and writes freelance travel articles to fund her travel itch. She recently visited the Garden Route in South Africa and stayed in Cape Town.
Visiting Mzansi (the South) is something every traveller should have on their agenda; it’s one of the most physically beautiful and welcoming cities in the world. Nestled at the meeting point of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, under the iconic Table Mountain, Cape Town provides plenty of entertainment ranging from fine wine and cuisine to outdoor adventure to world-class shopping and historical attractions.
Many visitors who come to the city stay in or around the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, which is a beacon for South African-style restaurants, bars, shops and live music, including jazz, street dancing and drumming. If you have a morning to spare, book a ferry ride from the waterfront clock tower to Robben Island – the country’s infamous island prison off the shores of Bloubergstrand. Standing in the cell where Nelson Mandela spent 27 years incarcerated is a very moving experience.
There’s plenty to eat and drink in Cape Town, and one thing the city is famous for is the production and sale of delicious wine. Whether you travel inland to the boutique towns of Stellenbosch or Franschoek, go up the coast to Hermanus, travel over the breath-taking Paarldeberg Mountains or quaff a glass in the upmarket suburb of Constantia, there are countless vineyards to choose from.
If you’re looking for a recommendation, De Grendel in Durbanville has beautiful views over the city and the restaurant serves mouth-watering local cuisine, including guinea fowl and butter chicken curry.
Cape Town is also home to the biggest shopping mall in southern Africa, Canal Walk, in Belleville. Consisting of over 400 speciality and franchise shops, this sprawling mall also has arcades, movie theatres and an expansive selection of restaurants, cafes and coffee shops that serve an impressive range of delicacies. One area you must visit is the Afri-Bizarre, which sells crafts and curios made by locals. Have a look for the Ndebele paintings and wire art as these can make really unique and quirky gifts for friends back home.
In the evening, the local municipality lights up the slopes of Table Mount or “Tafelberg” with powerful spotlights that cast a heart-warming glow over the whole city. A fantastic place to go when the sun sets is Camp’s Bay, which is one of the smartest and prettiest places in the city, and also home to stunning beaches like Clifton, Llandudno and Sandy Bay. Grab a cocktail and sit on the terraces of La Med (one of the most popular clubs in Camp’s Bay) and watch the sun go down over the sand – gorgeous!