Cape Town: a weekend guide


By Brandon de Kock

Photography by Getty Images

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November 2016

The Mother City always features on ‘top ten’ lists – and for good reason. Curious foodies get a world-class menu, sun slaves can’t resist the Atlantic seaboard and nature lovers get a visual feast. Since Cape Town is on a similar time zone to London, you can dive straight in without jet lag. Here’s how to spend 48 hours in the city.

Friday

Evening – Make your escape

British Airways’ Friday schedule departs London Heathrow at 18:15, and the 12-hour flight lands you in Cape Town on Saturday morning at 07:45. It’s an easy 15-minute drive from the airport in a hire car to the city, where the Belmond Mount Nelson – or ‘The Nellie’ as locals affectionately call it – awaits your arrival.

Heritage Square is the epicentre of the city – many good things run off it and a river of possibilities called Bree Street, flows right through it

Alternatively, the Cape Grace is an elegant option if you want to be close to the hub of the V&A Waterfront. Afterwards, head out to gentrifying Salt River and look out for the brilliant craft beer and food pairing board at Devils Peak Taproom.

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  • Don’t let the view from Beau Constantia’s wine tasting room distract you from the job at hand

    Grape expectations

    Beau Constantia’s vines lie at an elevation of 350m above sea level and offer rewarding panoramic views of Stellenbosch and Helderberg Mountain ranges. Explore more of Cape Town and rent a car from:£10 per day

    Book car hire
  • Discover beautiful ceramics and tableware by homegrown designers at Watershed market

    On a roll

    Founded by husband-and-wife team Trevyn and Julian McGowan, Odeon showcases handmade artisanal by homegrown talent including Wonki Ware and Ginger Cat. Through their company Source, they export these products to high-end international retailers such as Anthropologie and The Conran Shop.

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  • The cool interiors of steampunk-themed coffee shop Truth © Micky Hoyle

    Become a barista

    Truth takes its coffee so seriously that it even has its own barista school, where bean-masters-in-training can learn how to pour the perfect espresso or brush up on their latte art skills.

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Saturday

09:00 – Get a caffeine hit

Head to the Woodstock Exchange at 66 Albert Road on the fringe of the CBD. Java enthusiasts kickstart their day with an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe at Rosetta Coffee. Browse boutiques and galleries for a taste of cutting-edge design, then marvel at Pedersen + Lennard’s furniture solutions.

11:00 – Hike the ‘Pipe’

Put on your walking shoes and answer the call of Table Mountain. The Pipe Track on the Camps Bay side offers awesome views of the Twelve Apostles mountain range and is relatively flat, so you’ll save some heartbeats for the rest of the day.

13:00 – Life’s a beach

Depending which of the four seasons in one day you get, you might opt for an afternoon of lizard-like behaviour. Clifton’s 4th Beach is the classic (locals ‘own’ 1st), but seasoned lotion-lovers will want to head for the more intimate Glen Beach off Camps Bay that’s also a great surf and sundowner spot.

If the weather isn’t quite beach ready, visit the ever humbling District Six Museum, followed by a walk up Buitenkant Street where you’ll find Truth roastery, once voted the best coffee shop in the world. Then it’s time to browse rare and beautiful books at the excellent and well-stocked Book Lounge.

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  • Clifton’s four beaches, each separated by giant granite boulders, are impossibly beautiful and wind-free © David Wall Photo/Getty Images

15:30 – Back to nature

Amble home via the historic Company’s Garden, buy some nuts and hang out with the world’s friendliest squirrels; or visit the SA National Gallery that closes at 17:00. But don’t forget to leave time for the famous high tea offering back at the Mount Nelson Hotel.

19:00 – Hit Bree Street

The epicentre of inner city revival is Heritage Square on Bree Street, an entertainment artery with rollicking bars at one end and Liam Tomlin’s unbeatable Chef’s Warehouse at the other. You can’t book at the latter, but there’s a cool ‘waiting bar’ downstairs where the daily changing ‘tapas for two’ menu provides pre-dinner snacks. Your next stop should be Publik wine bar, home to Frankie Fenner Meats and the charcoal-fuelled Ash restaurant. See what interesting discoveries wine-merchant David Cope has on offer by the glass, and buy some biltong for the next day.

20:30 – In the club

The inner-city love child of Luke ‘Test Kitchen’ Dale-Roberts and his wife Sandalene is The Shortmarket Club, where Pot Luck’s head chef/manager duo, Westley Randles and Simon Widdison, get to do their own thing. It’s a fitting stage for ridiculously fine fare, such as six-week old rib-eye on the bone, seared on a Rooikrans-fired grill.

23:00 – Cap the night

Next door at House of Machines there are the best Old Fashioneds in town. It’s tempting to follow the beautiful people to the tiny bar behind the Honest Chocolate Shop on 64 Wales Street – but Mother’s Ruin on Bree Street seems to exist solely to help prove the city’s credentials as a global gin capital.

Sunday

08:00 - Go topless 

Sleep in, hit the breakfast buffet and prepare for a day of sensory overload. Head out in your hired car or find your way to a CBD stop of the topless, hop-on-hop-off City Sightseeing buses and let someone else do the driving while you enjoy the view – and what a view it is. The round trip mini-peninsula route takes around two-and-a-half hours and busses are 25 minutes apart.

10:00 - Do gardening duty

Your first stop (20 minutes away) is Kirstenbosch Gardens. Breath deep, wander free and feel the grandeur of Table Mountain. Don’t miss the Boomslang canopy walkway before joining regulars for a moment of quiet contemplation in the uppermost corner where the Proteas grow.

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12:00 – Swirl, sniff and savour

The next stop is Constantia Neck. Change to the purple wine route bus and get off at Groot Constantia. Then walk 10m down the road to Beau Constantia where the Cecily Viognier and Pierre Sauvignon-Semillon will blow you away almost as much as the view. When you’ve had your fill, find bus seats on the upper left side and don’t get off again until you reach the Sea Point stop at Winchester Mansions: the trip along the coast will show you why Capetonians hate leaving home.

14:30 – Walk this way

A stroll on Greenpoint Promenade towards the Waterfront with Table Bay at your side is so quintessentially Capetonian you’ll feel like an extra in a movie. If walking isn’t your thing and you feel the need to expand your horizons, why not try (safely) jumping off a mountain? Fly Cape Town will strap you in to a tandem paraglider and help you make an unforgettable leap of faith off Signal Hill that could last anywhere from ten to 30 minutes.

15:30 – Retail therapy

Your break away ends at the V&A Waterfront – still South Africa’s biggest visitor attraction by miles. Avoid the madness of the centre. There are 100 per cent Angus beef classic cheeseburger to be found at the short-order Mondial hatch. Then walk to the new Watershed market, home to over 150 designer stores such as Tiffany Marx’s Inspired Jewellery and Odeon’s home-grown homeware. After that, the Waterfront’s your oyster until it’s time to head out on the highway.

19:00 – On your way

From Cape Town, you can embark on a South African multi-centre adventure: head out on the Garden Route to Port Elizabeth, go encounter elephants in the game reserves, or fly to Johannesburg to explore the Kruger National Park. You could even fly home: British Airways flies from Cape Town to London on Sunday evening at 20:10 and 21:20, arriving early Monday morning.