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Exploring Cape Town Part 2: What to do - Insider Tips

There is so much to do in Cape Town, it could make your head spin. Many of our clients spend 3 or 4 nights exploring the city, often on a series of tours. There are tons of great options for guided tours, they are a lot of fun and offer some really special experiences (you can find a full list of guided tours we like here). We also know that some clients like the chance to explore the city on their own, at least part of the time. So we asked friends, family and colleagues that live in Cape Town for their recommendations on things they love doing in Cape Town and here are some of their top responses!

Arts, Culture and Out and About in Town

- First Thursdays: Almost everyone I emailed recommended First Thursdays which happens (surprise!) on the first Thursday of every month. On that day the local galleries on Long and Loop streets stay open until 9pm. You can wander in and out of the galleries, take advantage of complementary wine and enjoy the crowds out socializing in the street.

First Thursdays First Thursdays

- Just walk along Kloof, Long and Bree streets. This is the heart of hip Cape Town and it is packed with independent coffee bars, eateries, fashion designers, jewelry designers, second hand book shops, vintage clothing, house decor shops and galleries.

- If you are looking for a walk with some more history head for the Company's Gardens at the top end of the city center. It houses the National Gallery, St George's Cathedral, the Houses of Parliament and the Natural History Museum among other historical sites. Word is that Haarlem and Hope restaurant will be opening there soon which will be a fabulous addition

- Learn how to dance Cape Town “jazz” (similar to Cuban Salsa – only done in Cape Town) at West End Jazz Club in Athlone (Rylands)

- A movie at the Labia Theatre, the oldest independent art movie cinema in Cape Town.

- Take in a show at the Fugard Theatre, an old church converted into a theatre named after South Africa's greatest living playwright. The productions are always fascinating, edgy and intimate.

03-Front-Building Front of the Fugard Theatre

Active

Capetonians are active people! They love to get outside on everything from a bike to a surfboard. There are also so many options for fabulous hikes in and around Cape Town, below are just a few and some resources for where to find more.

- A hike of Lion’s Head was one of the most common tips we got from active Cape Town locals. You can hike it at any time of day, I got recommendations of everything from sunset, to sunrise, to the night of a full moon (and you are with a group). It’s about 3 hours round trip and strenuous near the top but has beautiful 360 degree views of the city and Table Mountain.

Elizabeth at Lions Head Elizabeth at Lions Head

- Other Cape Town hikers recommended avoiding potential crowds on Lion’s Head and instead going for Skeleton Gorge or Woody Ravine behind Camps Bay. India Venster is also fun good but not for the faint of heart! Others recommend the central section of Table Mountain National Park near Silvermine guest house for its beautiful landscapes and finishing your hike with a swim in the dam. Find great Cape Town hiking recommendations here and here.

- If you are runner a trail run in Newlands Forest is highly recommended as is a run along the Promenade from Sea Point to Camps Bay (you can of course also walk this lovely stretch).

- If you are a climber consider CityROCK which has an “epic” indoor climbing gym and is fun for kids and adults.

- Surfing lessons? Muizemberg is the place to learn with easy gentle waves and multiple surf schools.

- Try kayaking from Sea Point to Camps Bay (you can do this with a company you don’t need your own kayak!)

- There are lots of options for cyclists, everything from city tours by bike to biking down to the Cape of Good Hope. Locals recommended mountain biking at Tokai or participating in the Moonlight Mass were everyone grabs their bicycles on the full moon and cycles from Green Point Circle through the city, pub hopping along the way. Moonlight Mass started as a social experiment on twitter (#moonlightmass) and has become Africa’s biggest social ride.

- Explore Noordhoek at sunset, beautiful and a real local hangout and the drive there via Chapman's Peak is an event in and of itself!

Noordhoek Beach Noordhoek Beach

Food

Cape Town is a food mecca and has some of the best restaurants in the world. You can find our full list of Cape Town restuarant recommendations here and here. But some more off-the-beaten track food recommendations we got included:

- The Eastern Bazaar, a walk through bazaar serving delicious, inexpensive, authentic takeaway Asian/Eastern food (curries, stir fries, samosas, meze, etc.). It has a great vibe and an exotic, busy atmosphere. 96 Longmarket Street. Open lunch and dinner time.

- Dinner at a local institution – Manos on Greenpoint Main Rd followed by lounging upstairs at Asoka Lounge

- Grab an electric bike from The Nellie and cycle down to Truth Coffee in Buitenkant Street for a cup of their Resurrection espresso.

Truth Coffee Truth Coffee

- The Dogs Bollocks is a great burger joint in a garage! Super good burgers and a “unique” experience.

- Explore Kalk Bay, go for a swim in the tidal pools and then finish the day with sundowners or a meal at the Brass Bell, a local pub hang out with good grub and spectacular views over the sea.

- If you want to go out at night start at the Kloof Street bar Slug and Lettuce before heading to Von Hunks or Jekkel & Hyde nearby.If you are adventurous and comfortable exploring a local neighborhood then try getting take-away from the “roadside” Wembleys in Athlone and watch the commotion in this vibrant community – have the mutton bryani!

- Having a picnic on Clifton 4th Beach is a Sunday ritual for some Capetonians. Pack a picnic basket filled with munchies from Melissa’s on Upper Kloof Street or the old time classic Italian Deli Giovanni’s on Greenpoint Main Rd. If you want to explore Clifton and then head for a restaurant try Cafe Caprice

- Wine at Publik, cocktails at Orphanage or local South African Devil's Peak beer at the Taproom.

Markets

Capetonians are serious market goers! We did not get a single email response that did not include multiple market recommendations. Here are just a few:

Bay Harbour Market, Hout Bay, black circle give you a sense of the fabulous location! Bay Harbour Market, Hout Bay, the black circle in the picture gives you a sense of the fabulous location!

- The Bay Harbour Market in Hout Bay on Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 to 4 AND on Friday nights from 5 to 9pm year round. This market has great food, craft beer and good live music.

- Old Biscuit Mill Neighbourgoods Market has a great vibe on Saturday mornings.

- Oranjezicht City Farm Market - On Saturdays from 9am to 2pm an old bowling green which becomes a busy outdoor market every Saturday. This market has everything from organic produce, to delicious prepared food, to books, clothing and outdoor.

The Oranjezicht Market The Oranjezicht Market

Capemarkets.co.za is a website with everything you ever wanted to know about markets in and around Cape Town.

Cape Town is a very walk-able city and it is also easy to rent a car if you want to explore further afield, just remember what side of the road you are on!

Thank you to all of our partners and friends who gave us all these fabulous ideas! We hope this gets you excited about a trip to Cape Town, please reach out with any questions!

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Kim Green