How To Plan Your Dream Trip To Cape Town
By Kimberly Wilson
There’s one destination that consistently appears on everyone’s travel bucket list and that’s Cape Town. Known for its beauty, Cape Town is the capital of South Africa and sits on the Atlantic Ocean, offering scenic mountainous views, vast acres of winelands and beautiful coastal beaches. In short, it’s an iconic African travel destination that you must visit at least once in your lifetime. Popular attractions that keep the city on everyone’s radar include: Table Mountain, Robben Island, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, Boulders Beach, the Cape of Good Hope, and wine country including Stellenbosch, just to name a few.
Between the culture, food, ambiance and history (including that of Nelson Mandela), you’ll be in for an unforgettable experience in Cape Town. But planning a trip to the Motherland can be a bit overwhelming if you’ve never been. Here are a few tips to help plan your dream vacation to Cape Town.
When to go? Trust me, you can go at any time of the year and the scene will be perfect. But if you want to experience “iconic” Cape Town, the best time to visit is from late January to late April — the tail end of the city’s dry summer months. South Africa is known to be a dry, sunny country with most rainfall occurring in the Cape Town area during the winter. Always remember that our winter is their summer, so for those that want a “beach” holiday, make sure to plan for a visit during their summer months.
How to get there? With direct flights from Europe and the United States, Cape Town is one of the world’s most popular long-haul destinations — obviously because of its beauty and popularity. South Africa Airways offers direct flights from New York to Johannesburg, and then you’ll do a quick stop over before you transfer to Cape Town. Emirates and British Airways also offer flight routes that will connect you to Cape Town from most major cities.
Where to stay? Airbnb is the perfect choice. The company, which has infiltrated the city in a major way, offers a plethora of options that are extremely affordable to offer the price tag of the flight that you’ll be paying to get there. Whether you want to stay at a loft in the heart of the city, or with a local in the Langa township, the platform offers listings that cater to any type of traveler.
What to do? With so many historical sites to visit, restaurants to try, and tours to experience, it can be quite a headache to decide what to do when you arrive in Cape Town. Airbnb Experiences directly impacts the city’s local economy (in a good way) and gives you the opportunity to try once in a lifetime experiences, such as an opportunity to visit and be hosted at Nelson Mandela’s former prison home as a guest of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, where you’ll get to see where he spent his final 18 months imprisoned before becoming president of South Africa, and also dining at the local prison, which is served by inmates. Experiences also include visits to Table Mountain, an opportunity to cook and try local Cape Malay food, try your hand at jewelry making, spending a day at the local South African vineyards, or to have a photoshoot in Bo-Kaap to flick it up for the ‘gram.
Where to party? Long Street is known for the lively and buzzing nights. Often compared to Bourbon St. in New Orleans and Beale St. in Memphis, here is where you’ll find a great selection of nightlife and entertainment. You’ll find everything from hip hop night clubs, jazz speakeasies, bars and everything in between. This is great location if you are worried about transportation after partying the night away. To top it off, some of the big Cape Town attractions, such as Table Mountain, Lion’s Head, and Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, are all about 10-15 minutes away, so you’ll be able to catch some great views while you’re partying on a rooftop.
Where to take in the scenery? If you are looking for great scenery, amazing restaurants, and beaches, Camps Bay is the place to be. This is an upscale beachfront neighborhood, which is also very central to Cape Town’s main attractions. There are many cafes and brunch spots right on the beach with dramatic views of Twelve Apostles mountains. Even if you opt not to stay on Camps Bay because of price or preference, make sure you take a day to explore and enjoy the scene.
With these tips, you’ll be on your way to a great time! The best part about your trip to Cape Town is that there is so much to do, that you can visit once, or over and over. Every experience will be unique, yet magical, which is part of what makes the city so amazing.