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Cape Town 101 Everything You Need To Know Before Visiting

Cape Town 101: Everything You Need To Know Before Visiting

Cape Town is a true gem bursting with natural beauty, diverse culture, and fascinating history. It’s definitely one of our favourite spots and we’re telling you, you don’t want to miss out on all the amazing experiences that await you here. 

But before you start packing your bags and jet off to Cape Town, let’s make sure you have everything you need to make your trip unforgettable. 

So get comfortable, and let’s plan your ultimate Cape Town adventure together!

Is Cape Town worth visiting?

Yes, Cape Town is a city you wouldn’t want to miss when visiting South Africa. This city boasts a wide range of attractions and activities for tourists, which makes it one of the top destinations not only in the country but in Africa as a whole.

Aside from nature lovers, adventure seekers and culture enthusiasts, Cape Town is also the perfect destination for wine connoisseurs and foodies.

What food is Cape Town known for?

What food is Cape Town known for

Cape Town is known for its diverse and delicious food scene, influenced by a mix of African, European, and Asian flavours. Some of the popular foods and dishes are the Cape Malay curry, gatsby, koeksisters, milk tart, and bunny chow.

Curious about these unique food names? Let’s get to know each one:

1. Cape Malay Curry

Cape Malay Curry

The moment you set foot in Cape Town, make sure to try the Cape Malay Curry, a signature dish of the city.

The reason why Cape Malay Curry is so unique is because of the blend of spices and flavours that are used in this dish. It’s a delicious fusion of the cultural heritage of the Cape Malay community and the local ingredients and spices that they had access to.

In case you didn’t know, the Cape Malay people are descendants of slaves who were brought to Cape Town from the Malay Archipelago way back in the 17th and 18th centuries. 

Over the years, they developed a distinct cuisine that incorporated the flavours of their homeland with local ingredients and spices.

When it comes to the actual dish, Cape Malay Curry is typically made with slow-cooked meat (think lamb, beef or chicken) in a thick, yummy sauce. The secret sauce?

You’ve got cinnamon, coriander, cumin, cardamom, and turmeric all working together in perfect harmony.

But wait, there’s more! Cape Malay Curry can also include dried fruit like apricots or raisins, which adds a subtle sweetness to the dish. It’s often served with rice and sambals (condiments) like tomato and onion relish or grated coconut.

Our Top Pick for Cape Malay Curry in Cape Town: Bo-Kaap Kombuis

Our Top Pick for Cape Malay Curry in Cape Town Bo-Kaap Kombuis


Address: 8001 7 August St, Schotsche Kloof, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa

Located in the heart of Bo-Kaap, a historic neighbourhood known for its colourful houses and rich Cape Malay heritage, Bo-Kaap Kombuis offers authentic Cape Malay cuisine, including its signature Cape Malay curry. 

The restaurant is popular among tourists and locals alike for its cosy and homely atmosphere and its authentic, flavourful, and filling meals.

2. Gatsby


The Gatsby sandwich is a Cape Town street food favourite that has become an iconic part of the city’s food scene. This bad boy is massive, packed with all kinds of delicious toppings and sauces, and served on a foot-long loaf of bread. 

Picture this – a choice of meat (steak, chicken, or fish) piled high with hot chips (fries), spicy sauce, and crisp veggies like lettuce, tomato, and onion. 

Gets your mouth watering, right? Just wait until you try the real deal.

And if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, go for the “Full House” option. This sandwich includes all of the available toppings and can weigh up to a whopping 1.5 kg (3.3 lbs)! 

That’s enough to feed a small army, so be sure to share it with your friends (or not).

Now, the Gatsby has a fascinating history that’s part of Cape Town’s cultural fabric. It was born in the 1970s in the Cape Flats area, where local working-class communities created it as an affordable and filling meal option. 

And boy, did they succeed! Today, you can find this iconic sandwich sold in many local shops and street vendors throughout the city.

Our Top Pick for Gatsby in Cape Town: Mariam’s Kitchen

Our Top Pick for Gatsby in Cape Town Mariam's Kitchen

Address: 31 Heerengracht St, Foreshore, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa

Mariam’s Kitchen, also coined among locals as the kitchen that stood time, is a popular food spot in the historic Bo-Kaap neighbourhood particularly known for its Gatsby sandwiches.

They offer a variety of fillings, including steak, chicken, and polony, all topped with fries, salad, and sauce. Over the decades, Mariam’s Kitchen has been praised for its friendly service, delicious gatsby, and generous portions.

3. Koeksisters


Koeksisters is a traditional South African dessert that’s especially popular in Cape Town. 

Imagine a twisted dough that’s deep-fried to golden perfection and then soaked in a sugary syrup. It’s sweet, it’s sticky, and it’s downright delicious!

What makes Cape Town’s Koeksisters stand out is the unique recipe that’s been passed down through generations of Cape Malay families. The Cape Malay community is known for its flavourful and spicy cuisine, and its Koeksisters are no exception.

But here’s the twist – unlike other variations of Koeksisters found in South Africa, Cape Town’s Koeksisters are often flavoured with cardamom and cinnamon. These spices add a warm and fragrant taste to the syrup, making it an extra special treat. 

And if you’re lucky, some recipes even use rosewater, which adds a subtle floral note to the dessert.

Now, let’s talk texture. Cape Town’s Koeksisters are denser and stickier than other variations, which creates a satisfying chewiness. It’s the perfect balance of crispy and chewy that’ll have you reaching for more.

Our Top Pick for Koeksisters in Cape Town: The Velvet Cake Co.

Our Top Pick for Koeksisters in Cape Town The Velvet Cake Co.

Address: Shop 145 Century Blvd, Century City, Cape Town, 7441, South Africa

Known for their delicious cakes and baked treats, The Velvet Cake Co. also serves up a variety of traditional South African sweets, including Koeksisters. Their Koeksisters are made fresh every day and are a popular item on the menu. 

The Velvet Cake Co. has several locations in Cape Town and is known for its modern take on traditional South African pastries and too-cute-to-eat but delicious desserts.

4. Milk Tart

Milk Tart

This beloved South African dessert has found a special place in the hearts of Capetonians. The smooth and creamy custard filling, baked to perfection in a pastry crust, is a true delight for the taste buds. 

And let’s not forget the irresistible sprinkle of cinnamon on top, adding that extra cosy warmth.

What makes Cape Town’s milk tart so unique is the delightful Cape Malay twist on the recipe. 

The community’s influence on the city’s cuisine is undeniable, and their version of milk tart includes a hint of almond flavour that will make your taste buds dance with joy. 

The crust is also a standout, with a special blend of flour and semolina that adds a subtle crunch and unique flavour.

No visit to Cape Town is complete without trying this delicious dessert. You’ll find it in many bakeries and cafes throughout the city, so be sure to grab one!

Our Top Pick for Milk Tart in Cape Town: Truth Coffee Roasting

Our Top Pick for Milk Tart in Cape Town Truth Coffee Roasting

Address: 36 Buitenkant St, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town, 8000, South Africa

This popular coffee shop in the city centre is known for its exceptional coffee and delicious baked goods, including Milk Tart. Their Milk Tart is made with a traditional recipe and is truly a perfect complement to their expertly roasted coffee. 

5. Bunny Chow

Bunny Chow

Oh, you have to try bunny chow if you’re ever in Cape Town! This delicious street food is a must-have, and it’s easy to see why it’s become so popular throughout South Africa. 

Bunny chow consists of a loaf of bread hollowed out and filled with a spicy curry that will leave your taste buds begging for more.

What’s great about Cape Town’s bunny chow is the variety of curries available. You can choose from traditional lamb or beef to vegetarian options like chickpea or lentil curry. 

Some places even offer a side of sambals (condiments), which are chopped vegetables mixed with spices that complement the flavours of the curry perfectly.

There are so many great places to try bunny chow in Cape Town, but if you’re looking for a recommendation, check out The Eastern Food Bazaar in the city centre. 

They have an amazing selection of Indian and Cape Malay cuisine, including some of the best bunny chow around. Or, for a taste of local flavour, try Mariam’s Kitchen or Cafè Sofia in the Bo-Kaap neighbourhood. 

You won’t be disappointed!

Our Top Pick for Bunny Chow in Cape Town: The Burner

Our Top Pick for Bunny Chow in Cape Town The Burner

Address: Manhattan Suites and Conferencing, 3 Esplanade Rd, Century City, Cape Town, 7441, South Africa

The Burner Restaurant is a relatively new establishment in Cape Town that opened in 2020 that quickly gained loyal patrons who venture there to eat their popular bunny chows.

The restaurant serves different kinds of bunny chows, including chicken, lamb, sugar beans, broad beans, and minced kebabs. The most famous one, though, is their trio of mini bunny chows served with a carrot salad.

What should you do in Cape Town?

Cape Town boasts a long list of popular tourist spots, including Table Mountain, Robben Island, V&A Waterfront, the Cape of Good Hope, and the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.

Ready to explore these popular tourist attractions? Let’s discover what each one has to offer!

1. Table Mountain

Table Mountain

This iconic landmark in Cape Town is the cherry on top of any trip to South Africa. Aside from its unique geology, it’s also known for being part of the Cape Fold Belt mountain range.

On top of that, it’s also home to a stunning array of biodiversity in the Cape Floristic Region. Over 2,200 plant species call this mountain home, with 70% of them being found nowhere else on the planet!

But let’s talk about the real highlight: the views. From the summit of Table Mountain, prepare to have your breath taken away by the stunning panoramic vistas of Cape Town and the vast Atlantic Ocean. 

And let’s not forget about the adventure activities and hiking trails that will keep your adrenaline pumping and your camera rolling.

So what sets Table Mountain apart from other tourist destinations? Well, for one thing, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This prestigious designation recognises the mountain’s cultural significance and its value as an unforgettable destination for travellers like you. Trust us, you won’t want to miss out on this incredible experience!

2. Robben Island

Robben Island

Robben Island, located off the coast of Cape Town, is a small island with a big history. 

It’s most famous for being the prison where Nelson Mandela was held for 18 years during the apartheid era in South Africa. 

It was also used as a leper colony, mental hospital, and military base throughout its history.

But don’t let the island’s dark past detract from its natural beauty. Visitors are treated to sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean, Table Mountain, and the Cape Town skyline from the island.

Robben Island’s designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999 is a testament to its historical and cultural significance. It stands as a symbol of human perseverance in the face of adversity.

For an immersive and enlightening experience, we highly recommend booking a guided tour led by former political prisoners. They offer personal accounts and unique insights into life on the island during apartheid, adding depth and meaning to your visit.

3. V&A Waterfront

V&A Waterfront

The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, fondly known as V&A Waterfront among us locals, is a beloved tourist hotspot in Cape Town. But did you know it started as a bustling harbour? 

That’s right, before it became the world-class destination it is today, it was a working harbour.

Nowadays, V&A Waterfront boasts over 450 retail outlets, ranging from international brands to local boutiques and artisanal crafts. It’s one of the largest shopping centres in Africa, attracting millions of visitors every year.

Foodies, you’re in luck! The waterfront offers a diverse range of dining options, from casual cafes to fancy restaurants that serve up global cuisine. 

The renowned V&A Food Market is also situated here, serving up fresh and delicious food.

If you want to soak up the vibe of this place, you can opt to stay in one of the waterfront’s accommodations. There are options for every budget, from luxury hotels to self-catering apartments.

V&A Waterfront is not just about shopping and eating, there’s a lively entertainment scene too! Get ready to be entertained by live music, street performers, and theatre productions.

 And don’t miss out on the Two Oceans Aquarium, which showcases the fascinating marine life of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

4. Cape of Good Hope

Cape of Good Hope

Well, we’re sure you’ve heard of the Cape of Good Hope. This natural wonder has been widely known as the place where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet, although that title actually belongs to Cape Agulhas. 

Nevertheless, it has been a beacon for sailors since the 15th century.

But the real attraction here is the stunning scenery, with its rugged cliffs, rolling hills, and sweeping ocean vistas. The Cape Point lighthouse stands tall at 238 meters above sea level, offering the best views of the area.

You’ll also find a diverse array of wildlife, including antelope, baboons, ostriches, and Cape mountain zebras. Bird enthusiasts can spot over 250 species of birds in the area too.

For thrill-seekers, there are hiking trails that offer an up-close exploration of the natural beauty of the area. These trails vary from leisurely strolls to challenging hikes and provide stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

The Cape of Good Hope holds a significant cultural value, having been inhabited by humans for thousands of years. 

Portuguese navigator Bartholomew Dias was the first to discover it in 1488, and since then, it has been the site of numerous shipwrecks and maritime disasters.

5. Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

If you’re a nature enthusiast, you can’t miss out on a visit to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.

Founded in 1913 and named after the wife of its founder, Harold Pearson, the garden is a testament to the conservation of South African flora and a must-visit tourist destination.

It’s the oldest botanical garden in South Africa, located at the foot of Table Mountain in Cape Town, and is a wonderful example of the conservation of South African flora.

You’ll be amazed by the vastness of the garden, covering an area of 528 hectares and showcasing over 7,000 species of plants, including unique and endemic ones that are found nowhere else in the world.

The garden is a visual treat for all nature lovers, displaying a variety of indigenous flora, such as proteas, ericas, and fynbos. 

You can explore the different sections of the garden by walking the various trails, like the Fragrance Garden, the Dell, and the Cycad Amphitheatre.

Is Cape Town expensive to visit?

Is Cape Town expensive to visit

Compared to other cities in South Africa, Cape Town can be considered one of the more expensive cities to visit due to its status as a popular tourist destination. 

However, Cape Town is still an affordable option compared to other popular tourist spots in other countries like Japan, Paris, and New York.

To give you an idea, we came up with cost estimates to cover a 7-day trip to Cape Town and reckon you’d be spending around USD 500 (~ZAR 9080) to USD 2000 (~ZAR 36,320), depending on your itinerary.

Take note that this amount doesn’t cover your plane tickets but only the following expenses below:

ItemPrice Estimate
AccommodationsA mid-range hotel can cost you around $70-120 per night, while a budget-friendly hostel can be as low as $10-20 per night.
FoodA mid-range restaurant will set you back around $15-25 for a main meal.
Local transportation You can hop on a bus or use the My
Citi bus rapid transit system for as little as $0.50-2 per ride.
Trip activitiesAdmission tickets to public tourist attractions are around R 100 or less.

Which is the best month to visit Cape Town?

Which is the best month to visit Cape Town

The best time to visit Cape Town is from December to February as this is when the weather is warm and skies are clear. However, this is also the peak season for tourists, so there would definitely be more crowds than usual.

Generally, the main factors that you have to consider are the climate and the flock of visitors, especially as the city is a popular tourist spot.

Here’s a guide to Cape Town’s seasons to help you out:

Dec – Feb (Peak Season)• Warm weather
• Clear skies
• Vibrant atmosphere
• Large crowds
• Higher accommodation and activity prices
Mar – May, Sep – Nov (Off-Peak)• Pleasant weather
• Fewer tourists
• Ideal time to explore city’s attractions and outdoor activities
• Cooler weather compared to peak season
Jul – Nov (Whale Watching)• Best time for whale watching• Can be chilly and rainy
Jun – Aug (Winter)• Great time for indoor attractions and culinary scene• Rainy and chilly weather
• Not ideal for outdoor activities

How do you get around Cape Town?

How do you get around Cape Town

You can get around Cape Town via the public transportation system, ride-sharing platforms, cycling, and rental cars.

If you’re looking for the most affordable and convenient option, the public transportation system is definitely the way to go. 

With buses, minivans, and the MyCiti bus rapid transit system, you can easily explore the city and its suburbs without having to spend so much.

If you’re more of a ride-sharing fan, Uber and Bolt are both great options for getting around the city quickly and affordably. Taxis are also available but can be a bit pricier.

For the eco-conscious traveller, cycling is a great way to explore Cape Town. With dedicated bike lanes and plenty of rental shops throughout the city, you can easily pedal your way to your next destination.

While driving in Cape Town can be a bit daunting, rental cars are available if you prefer to have more control over your transportation. Just be sure to do your research and plan accordingly.

Can you visit Cape Town alone?

Can you visit Cape Town alone

Cape Town is a great destination for solo travellers, especially for those who are interested in venturing out to outdoor pursuits and cultural immersions. 

This cosmopolitan city is made up of a diverse population and a vibrant culture, making it easy to meet people and make new friends. 

Cape Town also offers a range of activities to enjoy on your own, such as hiking Table Mountain, trying out the local cuisine, and visiting museums. 

You can rest easy and enjoy your trip knowing Cape Town is generally safe for tourists. In fact, it has a lower crime rate compared to other major cities, and there are many safe and welcoming neighbourhoods to choose from. 

But just a little reminder, as with any destination, it’s important to take safety precautions and be aware of your surroundings when travelling alone.

Is Cape Town LGBT-friendly?

Is Cape Town LGBT-friendly

Cape Town is known for being one of the most LGBT-friendly places in Africa. 

South Africa is the only African country to legalize same-sex marriage and prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. 

Cape Town, in particular, has a vibrant LGBT community with various gay bars, clubs, and events, including the famous Cape Town Pride festival. 

However, it’s always important to be cautious as discrimination and violence against the LGBT community can still occur. So, do your research and stay safe while enjoying your visit to this amazing city!

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