If you are planning a short trip to Cape Town, pray for sunshine and pack your credit card. Expect scenery, good food, shopping and culture, and read my guide to find out what you must see and do
The truth is, Cape Town is not your average city. What it is, is a mix of charming Victorian buildings, a few hideous high rises, leafy suburbs sitting next to shanty towns, pristine beaches and historic monuments, all neatly wrapped up by Table Mountain and the very blue Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Throw in the street vendors, the gorgeous models that flock here in summer, the screaming taxi gaatjies (the guy that hangs out the side door calling for passengers) and the laidback locals and this is Cape Town.
Day one - Cape Town city, Table Mountain and the Atlantic Seaboard
To orientate yourself buy a ticket for the big red topless bus (www.citysightseeing.co.za), hop on in the city centre and only get off for Table Mountain. Take the cable car way to the top and stroll about admiring the views. Get back on the bus, head back down and carry on to Camps Bay. Stay on board as the bus route hugs the coast through Clifton, down through Seapoint and on through the Waterfront ending up back where you started.
Catch a taxi up to the Noon Day Gun Restaurant (+27 21 423 9978) located at the top of the Bo Kaap – ask what they recommend for lunch and order that. The food is Cape Malay, a blend of Eastern flavours and recipes and that have turned into something very South African over the past 200 years. After lunch, walk back down the hill towards the Company Gardens – the original vegetable garden of the Cape that kept the ships supplied sailing the trade routes from Europe to the East. Visit the National Gallery (for local Art) and the old Slave Quarters (for a history of the Cape). Head back to your hotel for a cat-nap before dinner at Ginja (021 426 2368). For post dinner drinks check out HQ Bar across the road.
Day two - The Cape Peninsula
Take a leisurely drive out to Cape Point via the coastal road. Stop off in Kalk Bay for lunch at Live Bait (http://www.harbourhouse.co.za/new/livebait/index.php) located in Kalk Bay Harbour directly on the rocks. Order their mussels and calamari. Take a stroll down the main road and grab a coffee from the Olympic Bakery before hopping back in the car.
With your stomach well lined visit the penguins at Boulders Beach just after Simonstown and explore the side roads in the Cape Point Nature Reserve. Watch out for baboons who have become some of the cleverest criminals in Cape Town. If you still have the energy, finish off your exploration of the Peninsula with a sunset horse-ride along Noordhoek Beach (www.horseriding.co.za). I would the highly recommend The Food Barn (www.thefoodbarn.co.za) in The Noordhoek Farm Village for dinner - choose from the four or six course tasting menu paired with different wines. Owned by Franc, who used to work at La Colombe and won them all those awards, you are guaranteed a tasty and adventurous meal.
Day three - The Winelands
Sleep in and enjoy a late breakfast... you can't start wine tasting till at least 11am. Head towards Stellenbosch and the Waterford Wine Estates (www.waterfordwines.com), your wines are paired with hand-made chocolates. Think velvety Cab sav with rock salt dark chocolate. Drive through the town of Stellenbosch and continue up the Helshoogte Pass, right on top you will find the Thelema Wine Estate (www.thelema.co.za). Taste their Chardonnay and hope that they have a few bottles in stock for you to purchase. Wander across to the Tokara Restaurant (www.tokara.co.za) for lunch but make sure you book a table on the deck with the best view.
After lunch drive down the other side of the pass and into the Franschhoek Valley. Park the car and do some browsing in the town of Franschhoek. Have a quick coffee and on your way back to Cape Town pop in at Lynx boutique winery (www.lynxwines.co.za). If you still have the energy, stop at L'Omarins (www.rupertwines.com) and taste their new sulphur free rosé bottled under the 'Protea' label. Back in Cape Town, go to Wakame (www.wakame.co.za) for sushi and try to get there in time for the sunset.
Where to stay
An African Villa is hidden away in a little side street below Lions Head. The owner has passionately restored three semi-detached Victorian houses and decorated them with buckets of good taste. He is around at all times and will make sure that you have a sophisticated, but still local, experience of Cape Town. Prices start at R900 per room per night.
The Longbeach is located directly on one of Cape Towns' 'real' beaches. By 'real' I mean that it's 7 km long and has a collection of surfers, horse-riders and dog walkers on it at any one time. Step from your balcony directly onto the sand and take a stroll or just hang out by the pool reading your book. Prices start at R2700 per room per night.
Les Cascades De Bantry has one of the best locations in Cape Town, not just because of its view but because Bantry Bay is wind free. Add in its passionate and hands on owner Luc, the delicious breakfasts and designer decor and you can understand why it is so hard to get a room. Prices start at R2950 per room per night.