Thinking of visiting Cape Town? It’s probable that you’ve already scribbled down a To Do list: Hike or take the Cable Car up to the top of Table Mountain, peruse the shops along the V&A Waterfront, nibble on a sweet koeksister (or five) in colorful Bo Kaap, take the ferry to historic Robben Island, try the region’s delicious variety of wines.
What if you want something a little off the beaten path? No sweat. We’ve got you covered. Here are 5 ideas to get you going, all which lie within Cape Town’s city limits!
- Visit a Township – During the apartheid, inhabitants of South Africa were forced, through a series of government legislations, to separate their living quarters according to race. Millions were forced to leave their homes to live in shacks. Even though the apartheid, which means “separateness” in Afrikaans, officially ended in 1994, the racial divisions have not, and many inhabitants remain in such villages waiting years on end for comfortable housing. These villages are known as townships or communities, and some finally have the ability to open their doors to entrepreneurship and even tourism. One of these accessible communities is the lively and artistic hub of Khayelitsha, where one can book an eye-opening tour of the daily excitements and struggles of new business owners. Trendy internet cafes, sexy nightclubs, gourmet dining in a delightful restaurant of an almost-Master Chef, and visits to local organic gardens are just a few of the activities one can experience on this unforgettable tour. Oh, and the neighborhood is covered in a kadeliscope of murals, making it an Instagram heaven.
- Truly Interact with Nature – While Cape Town itself doesn’t boast lions, tigers, or bears (um, zebras), it does present a vast array of fascinating ocean life. If you’re lucky enough to visit between the months of June and November, chances are you’ll be surrounded by migrating whales. However, if simply seeing these magnificent mammals from a helicopter or boat isn’t enough, there are other options to get more intimate with sea creatures. Cage Diving with Great Whites is a popular activity for the highly adventurous crowd, with a handful of host operators. If getting intimate with sharks feels a bit aggressive for your taste, consider snorkeling with a calmer sea animal, the seal. Still not convinced? The Two Oceans Aquarium offers opportunities to interact with turtles, penguins, and more!
- Get Cultured at the Zeitz Museum – Don’t know much about the culture in Africa? Know a lot but want a raw, genuine interpretation? A visit to the Zeitz Museum, located in the heart of the Waterfront directly underneath the uber-trendy Silo Hotel, will surely set you straight. Rotating and permanent exhibitions beautifully articulate the impact of history, events, and current social state all over the massive continent of Africa. One doesn’t have to be an art enthusiast to pick up on the energy and emotion that these incredible works convey. Bonus – A nice majority of the artists are young, innovative, and native to Africa.
- Immerse yourself in the Drum Culture – Sure, you can head to Gold, where the wine flows and the bites are traditional and tasty. You’ll have your shot at beating on a Djembe drum with the expertise and encouragement of professional musicians. Gorgeous dancers will flood the stage, gyrating to traditional African rhythms in colorful costume. Touristy? Yes. Fun anyway? Yes. Worth the money? Probably yes. However, if you’re craving something more authentic, get yourself to a true blue Drum Circle. Between Cape Town proper and its suburbs, you are likely to track down a community drum circle most days of the week. These local drum circles are open to anyone, and drums are available for rent in most cases. Check out Cape Town Magazine for more information and a current schedule.
- Try something Other Than Wine – Rest assured, you’ll likely have your fill of South African wine. Smooth Pinotage, crisp Chenin Blanc, sparkling rose, and so much more are literally bursting from every restaurant’s menu. Let’s be real, everyone needs a minimal break from the same old same old. Which is why Hope on Hopkins, an adorable artisanal gin distillery located in the uber cool suburb of Woodstock (with a name like Woodstock, would you expect any less?) or the the super haute Bascule Whisky Bar in the elegant Cape Grace hotel are just two of the many local haunts that attract those looking for a break from the ordinary. Tastings and pairings are available to enhance your experience, hosted by each location’s friendly and hospitable staff.
- Check out our Best of South Africa Package – This is a bonus one! Our new Best of South Africa package includes three wonderful days in Cape Town where you can experience all of these activities for yourself and see the rest of this breathtaking country.