Honeymoon Diary: Cape Town Travel Guide

cape-town-travel-guide-south-africa

HELLO! Finally, the first of my blog posts from our honeymoon!

We started our southern Africa trip with 4.5 days in Cape Town. I decided to do a full, best of Cape Town travel guide because there’s no lack of things to do & see in Cape Town! I got a lot of questions about what I packed, how we planned/booked everything for our trip, how we picked our itinerary & accommodations, etc. I’m working on another South Africa travel guide which will have all of that information, along with the rest of our trip.

Cape Town really has it all …. breathtaking views everywhere you look, delicious food, ridiculously good coffee & wine, lots to see & do, and best of all …. really kind, warm people!

penguin-simon-beach-cape-townPenguin Beach

Before I get into the details and my recommendations, here is our itinerary for the days we were there, including two great day trips from Cape Town – 

Day 1: Half day. Get settled in and rest up
Day 2: Private full day tour of the Cape – highly recommended!
Day 3: Free day to relax and explore
Day 4: Full day Winelands tour 
Day 5: Free day to relax and explore

Know Before You Go

Getting there

Johannesburg is the point of entry so most flights to Cape Town go through Johannesburg. We took a direct flight from JFK to Joburg and then a quick 2-hour connecting flight to Cape Town.

Getting around in Cape Town

There’s Uber in Cape Town so that’s basically what we used to get around. A lot of places are close enough to walk but I wouldn’t recommend that especially in the evenings and at night – this is just a general rule of thumb when you’re in unfamiliar places.

Language

There are officially eleven languages in South Africa but English is most common, followed by Afrikaans and Xhosa amongst locals.

Currency/Cards

The currency in South Africa is Rand and when we went, the conversion rate was about 14 Rand (ZAR) to 1 USD. Using your credit card is probably most convenient – just check with your credit card company to make sure there are no additional foreign transaction fees.

Cost

 Cape Town is SUPER affordable! For instance, most of our Uber rides cost around $2-$3.

Voltage Converters/Plugs

Most places in southern Africa use a 2-prong or 3-prong outlet. We got this 3-pack of adapters which was great for multiple devices, and worked everywhere we went.

Vaccines

The CDC’s website provides a list of recommended vaccines and we just went to our regular doctor who prescribed the vaccines we needed – malaria & typhoid. We just needed those two for our full trip. I recommend going to your doctor a few weeks before your trip because you might need to start some of the medication a week or so in advance.

Safety

Most asked question – Is Cape Town (and Africa, in general) safe? We always felt safe. Cape Town is safer than Johannesburg, but like any other new/unfamiliar place, you still have to practice caution and awareness. For instance, I wanted to go to Bo Kaap on my own and a couple people gave me a heads up. A lot of tourists show up there with expensive camera equipment and there were quite a few instances of people getting mugged. It’s just something to be mindful of.

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            When to visit Cape Town

Since South Africa is in the southern hemisphere, their seasons are opposite to the US. So, when we went at the end of May, it was the beginning of their winter.  While the weather was definitely on the cloudier/cooler side, it was nothing terrible and it didn’t get in the way of our plans. The only downside was that it wasn’t beach weather. I’d say the best time to visit Cape Town is January-April, because it’s at the end of their dry, summer months so it’s not too hot & likely not as touristy.

               Where to stay in cape town

There is a range of hotels in Cape Town and also different neighborhoods to choose from. We stayed in the V&A Waterfront area and it was perfect! There are tons of restaurants in the area and it’s pretty centrally located so it was easy to explore city center/downtown and visit Table Mountain. The other option we’d considered was getting an Airbnb in Camps Bay which would’ve been great because the location and views are insane. However, it is a bit further out. Another thing to consider is the time of year – if you’re there during their summer, Camps Bay might be a good option due to the proximity to the beach.

There are tons of great hotel options, but if you REALLY wanna splurge, The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa  is one of the best hotels in Cape Town. If you don’t wanna splurge, take a look at Gorgeous George – one of the hottest, new hotel & restaurant openings in Cape Town! We used our Marriott points to book our hotel so that narrowed the list down quite a bit or us.

best-views-cape-town-signal-hill

                  Things To Do & See in Cape Town

There is SO much to do in & around Cape Town. We were there for 4 days and we felt like we could’ve easily spent a week in Cape Town

V&A Waterfront: This was the area our hotel was in and it was perfect. There’s no shortage of things to see and do. With beautiful views of the ocean and Table Mountain, tons for restaurants & shops, and the Zeitz Museum, it’s easy to spend a day or three in this part of town. On the list of things I wish we’d had the time to do – the rooftop bar at the Silo Hotel.

Table Mountain: Pretty obvious, right? I just wanted to share a few heads ups though – 1. Watch out for for the Tablecloth – that’s the locals’ endearing name for the fog that frequently covers Table Mountain. You kind of just have to watch it and plan to jet there when you see it’s clear. Our first few days it was super cloudy/foggy and we got really lucky on our last day. We could see it from our hotel room and we saw it was super clear so we got ready super fast and headed up there. Going early is always best, anyway. 2. Buy your tickets in advance and save the screenshot on your phone. 3. It gets cooooold up there so be prepared for that. 4. If you don’t get the “best” spot on the cable car, don’t worry – the floor rotates so everyone can take in the views!

Table-mountain-cape-town-best-viewViews from Table Mountain

Tour of the Cape: The private day tour of the Cape was one of our two day trips from Cape Town, and I can’t recommend it enough. The whole day was awesome and you get to cover a lot of the top things to do in Cape Town – penguin beach, Bo-Kaap, scenic drives around the Cape, and more!

Bo-kaap-cape-townBo-Kaap

The Winelands: The Cape Town wine tour was the other day trip we did, and it included 3 of the most popular wine regions in the area – Paarl, Franschoek, and Stellenbosch. The landscape was beautiful and the wine was legit but it was definitely a bit of a drive and I, personally, felt like the full day was a bit much.  A lot of people spend a night or two in the Winelands which I would totally recommend – I would’ve loved to spend a night there if we had more time, instead of doing a day tour. However, if you only have time for the day tour, I’d say – do it! Don’t miss the Winelands!

cape-town-wine-tourThe Winelands

Robben Island: Sadly, we didn’t have time for this but this is where Nelson Mandela was jailed for 18 years. From what I heard from locals and other tourists alike – it is a pretty intense experience with an immense amount of history.

Treat Yoself: We ended up with some unplanned, free time one of the afternoons and got massages at Cape Grace Hotel, which was a fun treat! You can also have high tea there or One&Only Cape Town!

Etcetra: Some other things that were recommended by locals but we didn’t have time to do – Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens & District 6 museum

            Where to eat in Cape Town

Everybody’s favorite part. As a vegetarian travel blogger, I oftentimes have very low expectations from the food when I visit new places. However, Cape Town (and southern Africa, overall) was a pleasant surprise. There are tons of great vegetarian-friendly restaurants in Cape Town, especially since they have a growing number of vegetarians & vegans!  We had SO much good food/coffee/wine in Cape Town. Let’s get to it ….

Bombay Brasserie at the Taj – If you’re looking for Indian food, I’d highly recommend Bombay Brasserie. The food was creative and delicious! Make sure you carve out a couple hours though – it’s not a quick meal kind of place

V&A Waterfront: There are SO many restaurants in this area. We tried Life Grand Cafe which has beautiful views of the ocean, and La Parada which comes with stunning views of the bay and Table Mountain. We enjoyed the food in both places! We also had dinner at Tashas, and the food there was delicious, as well.

La Colombe – I shared some of the photos from this dinner on Insta. They have two locations – we went to the one in Constantia and y’all …. I can not recommend this restaurant enough. It’s not Michelin starred but it should be! It’s located in a winery and even getting there was incredible – views of the whole city of Cape Town lit up at night. The food was …. I don’t even have words. We picked the vegetarian menu and I’ve never seen flavors & textures like that. This is definitely one of the top highlights of our trip – it was such a special experience! If you’re planning on going, make your reservations as far in advance as you can, especially during peak season.

best-restaurants-cape-town

Gold Restaurant – We had reservations to go here but then neither one of us was feeling great so, we had to skip. However, a few people recommended Gold Restaurant. It’s a 14-course African menu and there’s live entertainment. We were definitely sad to miss this – add it to your list if you’re going to Cape Town!

The Test Kitchen is supposed to be one of the best restaurants in Cape Town. Unfortunately, we just didn’t have enough time to do it all and had to skip this one. There’s also another restaurant there – The Pot Luck Club – that has great views. Heads up – both places require reservations and they get booked pretty far in advance.

Truth Coffee – I’ve been to Costa Rica and Colombia, but I fell in love with coffee when I went to Africa. Their coffee is next level, y’all! Truth is supposed to be one of the most famous coffee shops in the world and I can say it’s definitely an experience. They have delicious single origin coffees from all over the world and you can pretty much pick your beans and customize how you want your coffee. There’s also a bar so you can easily spend a bit of time here!

There’s also Rosetta Roastery in V&A Waterfront that’s worth checking out!

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I hope this Cape Town travel guide was useful! I think that covers everything but if you have any other questions, feel free to send me a note! You can also check out the “Honeymoon” highlights on my Insta to see more! I’d love your thoughts – be sure to leave me a note in comments!

Need help looking for flights? Check out my 6 Websites to find Cheap Flights post for all my tips & tricks!
Wanna travel more? Here’s a post on How I did a Trip a Month in 2017!

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