If you’re heading to Cape Town for work, thank your lucky stars, because you’re about to experience one of the most vibrant cities on the planet. If you can steal away a little bleisure time, here’s what you’ll want to know to make the most of your adventure.
Experience wine country.
No visit to Cape Town is complete without a detour to the nearby Cape Winelands, which begin less than an hour outside the city. In destinations like Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, you can spend the day drinking your way through local vineyards. There are dozens of wineries worth exploring, but if you’re an animal lover, one place you won’t want to miss is La Bourgogne Farm, where friendly farm dogs roam around the property and nap at your feet while you sip.
Dabble in safari life.
South Africa’s top game reserve, Kruger National Park, is on the opposite end of the country, but don’t fret: you can still dip your toes into the safari experience with a visit to a smaller game reserve or nature sanctuary near Cape Town. At destinations like Aquila Private Game Reserve and Inverdoorn Game Reserve, you can get up close and personal with wild animals just a short drive away from the city. You can meet giraffes, elephants, lions, and countless other creatures in a single day’s adventure. (Extra credit if you spot a leopard, the most reclusive of the Big Five animals!)
Get to know the local lingo.
You’ll have that more fun meeting locals if you pick up a few Cape Town slang terms before you visit. Lekker is a positive exclamation, kind of like saying “cool” or “awesome.” (This word is like a catchy pop song: once you first notice it, you’ll see and hear it everywhere in the city.) You’ll hear now-now, which comes from the Afrikaans phrase “nou-nou,” when someone wants you to hurry. You’ll hear people say shame when they’re sharing big reaction to either positive or negative news. In Cape Town, it’s common to speak loudly and exuberantly, so don’t be afraid bring lots of energy to a conversation.
Cape Town’s offerings of locally made treasures are second to none. Check out Woodstock Exchange to browse home decor, local art, and clothes that you can’t find anywhere else. You’ll also want to stop by Greenmarket Square, one of the oldest public markets in the city.
Grab a drink with a view.
The Leopard Bar at the 12 Apostles Hotel is famous for its balcony looking out over the ocean and mountains. Spend an evening there sipping cocktails or enjoying tea by the sea as the sun goes down. (And don’t forget to check out the sweet leopard print carpeting.)
Explore the Bo-Kaap.
This vibrant Cape Malay neighborhood’s rainbow-colored buildings are a trendy backdrop for Instagram - but there’s so much more to the Bo-Kaap than that. The neighborhood tells a cultural story of the Cape Town Muslim community that goes back hundreds of years, and is home to the oldest (and first) mosque in South Africa. Be sure to stop by the Bo-Kaap Museum, housed in a building from the 1760s. You can take a walking tour of the neighborhood led by a local, where you’ll learn more about the area, take some rainbow-hued pictures, and enjoy locally made Cape Malay food.
Table Mountain and Lion’s Head – two of the city’s most treasured mountains – offer plenty of dreamy hiking trails. You can also journey out to the Cape Of Good Hope, the most southwestern point of Africa, where you’ll find sprawling views of the Atlantic.
Hit the beach.
In Cape Town, you can find a beach to suit any mood. Bay Beach, Clifton 4th Beach, Llandudno Beach, and Boulders Beach (famous for its adorable penguin colony) are great places to start. If you prefer the great indoors, spend your beach time at Cape To Cuba, which features a sand floor bar and some of the best rum in town.