Cape Town
Overview

South Africa is synonymous with natural beauty – it is the land that produces statuesque blondes such as Charlize Theron and Princess Charlene of Monaco, after all - and Cape Town is most certainly the country’s crowning jewel. This buzzy metropolis’s dramatic setting betwixt mountain and sea is a visual feast, endlessly admired by tourists and locals alike from famous vantage points such as Table Mountain. It’s the perfect cold weather escape – the sun shines on the Southern Hemisphere during the winter months (bonus for Europeans, who feel no jetlag). Cape Town is a little bit country (wine country, that is) and a little bit rock n’ roll – a newfound edginess shines through its sleek galleries, vibrant alternative music scene (including Alexander Wang favorite Die Antwoord), artistic boutiques and experimental new restos, which seem to sprout up daily. It’s the city on the tip of everyone’s tongue - accolades this year include World Design Destination 2014 and The New York Times number one ‘Places to go’.

There are very few locales in the world where rare lions, world-class vineyards, breathtaking beaches and historic landmarks are all at arm’s reach…or at least at a short drive. Fifteen minutes out from the city center and you’re at Hout Bay, windsurfing away. The Stellenbosch and Franschhoek valleys are within an hour’s drive, perfectly easy to do in an afternoon. The demand for South African wine dates all the way back to the time of Napoleon, so assume the local taste will be up to par for even the most snobby of oenophiles. For Shark Week live and in person, Gansbaai, home of Great White cage diving, is two hours away. At three hours out, you’ll arrive at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve, getting your Instagram-worthy luxury safari on.

However, if your trip is shaping up to be all Viognier and bikinis, you’re missing the point of what makes Cape Town such a diverse and dynamic city today – its rich, yet checkered, history. Explore this former colony’s struggle through apartheid at the museums of District Six and also Robben Island, whose most famous prisoner (not to mention Oprah and Naomi Campbell BFF), Nelson Mandela, served time before becoming a president who influenced the world far beyond his homeland, during his inspiring life. After delving into the past, nothing will lighten your mood more than a trip out to Boulders Beach for lunch at Chef Bruce’s, followed by a personal visit with that most slapstick, well-dressed dandy of all birds, the penguin.

In Cape Town today, the fabulous life never far out of reach. A laid-back seaside lifestyle allows for more informal dressing (think of it as LA to Joburg’s NYC), yet cosmopolitan Capetonians bring it for evenings out and sophisticated events such as the Queen’s Plate horse races. Colorful cocktail dresses abound, but flats and wedge footwear feels right in the typical sand and grass settings - save for the most fancy of gatherings. People watching and sunbathing are popular pastimes, therefore pretty cover ups and light shift dresses with cozy cashmere for chillier nights are the style by the sea.

A trip to the ‘Mother City’ is really ideal for any traveler – the lunatic daredevil checking theatrics off their bucket list, the high maintenance honeymooner searching for exotic romance, the gastronome living a gluttonous dream journey. There’s really no other place like it, on any continent. 

Stay

Where to stay

Indulge

Indulge

DINING 

The cuisine in Cape Town is just as diverse as its heritage. From Portuguese piri piri to Malay curries to straightforward seafood on the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, the possibilities are seemingly endless. A dinner at The Cellars-Hohenort’s 45-seat The Greenhouse is an intimate experience that pairs local wines with three tasting menus. Lunch provides a stunning view to boot. Cutting edge neighborhood Woodstock, an industrial area nestled at the base of Devil’s Peak (why does everything here have such cool names?), is a foodie stronghold. On the top of the Old Biscuit Mill, the area’s landmark building, The Pot Luck Club concocts novel small plates made for sharing. The menu is categorized by taste, from salty to umami. The Foodbarn’s colorful kitchen churns out crowd-pleasing, pretty plates. After a long trip of gastronomic discovery, that old standard may be calling your name…if you hit up Nobu for some yellowtail jalepeno and rock shrimp, we won’t tell. Fine dining isn’t limited to the city – the wine regions boast a number of top rated restaurants, too. The Tasting Room in Franschheck’s Le Quartier Francais hotel, uses 80% African produce to create, a menu so delicious, it’s topped of the San Pellegrino list for almost a decade. Franschhoek’s other offerings for a romantic lunch a deux include La Petite Ferme, Haute Cabriere, and Reubens.

Read more

NIGHTLIFE

Long days at the beach can be tiring for jet-lagged travelers, but we bet you’ll want to stay seaside as the sunset scene at Le Roi heats up. Loop Street’s Era nightclub is all about the music, mostly a mashup of electronic, house and techno. If you’ve ever wanted to try the ‘I’m with the DJ” line, this is the place. If it’s a Friday, hit up HQ (a homage to Le Relais de Entrecote) for their After Dark DJ set. Lovers of live music should head to The Piano Bar for African flavored tunes and stiff Old Fashioneds. Don’t judge the unfortunately named Orphanage by its moniker. This charming place is actually a speakeasy style cocktail club with Prohibition themed libations and snacks. 

Read less
Explore

Explore

Equally as touristy as the Empire State Building, but claiming a more jaw-dropping view, a visit to Table Mountain via cable car is an undisputed must. Book online to skip the line. On a clear day, you’ll may catch the adventurous souls paragliding off Lion’s Head. Table Mountain’s National Park also encompasses some amazing beaches, particularly calm Beta Beach. Then there are the namesake capes themselves – the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point. You can almost imagine the Dutch East India Trading Co. ships circling about all those hundreds of years ago. Discover Cape Town’s cultural heritage over on Robben Island and at the District Six Museum. Get out of town and rent a car for the best overall Cape Town area experience, just remember the ‘correct’ side here is the left.  On to South Africa’s astounding variety of wildlife, both from land and sea. For a tame afternoon of sun and surf, head out to Boulders Beach and hang with the penguins. If you prefer your brush with Jaws on film only, skip the shark diving and swim with friendly, adorable seals instead. Animal Ocean’s half-day excursion is even appropriate for kids, age six and up. No trip to Africa is complete without a safari, and the region offers some of the best in the world. At many nearby spots (Sanbona, Kruger, etc.), you can game view ‘the big five’, (that’s the lion, rhino, elephant, leopard and buffalo for you safari novices), plus many more (giraffe, hyena, cheetah, hippo). Let’s just say, break out your safari vest and be prepared for your most liked Insta shot of the year. Out in wine country, its time to grab a glass and relax. Make it a day trip or spend the night at some of the world’s best hotels.

SHOP

Where to Shop

@VacationStyle_
  • @VacationStyle_
Follow US

South African boutique chain The Space is an ideal spot for pre-dinner shopping. In the city center, Long and Kloof Streets are a shopaholic’s paradise - grab something date-worthy to wear from Take Care, A-List, Kluk CGDT or Michelle Ludek. Move on to Tribal Trends to browse chic African home décor (on the interiors front, a photographic print from Marius Coetzee also makes for a nice souvenir). Continue your binge by making an appointment at Gavin Rajah to co-create a evening ensemble for your next big party.  If accessories are your weakness, pretty shoes can be had at Errol Arendz, while Cape Cobra and Zambezi Grace both produce exotic skin bags you’ll want to collect. Safe bets for jewelry (diamonds, tanzanite) are Platandia and Jewel Africa (hint, hint to any gentleman you may be traveling with!).

Shop the Destination

Dolce & Gabbana Anchor-appliqué embellished espadrilles $695.00
Buy Now
Balenciaga Bistrot Woven Clutch $765.00
Buy Now
Caroline Constas Persephone Top $395.00
Buy Now
Lisa Marie Fernandez Mira Flunce Maillot swimsuit
$395.00
Buy Now
Khokho Thembi drawstring-top basket bag
$484.00
Buy Now
SEA Bow-embellished One-shoulder Poplin Top $345.00
Buy Now
Self-Portrait Asymmetrical Ruffle Blouse $410.00
Buy Now
Tooshie Reversible Triangle Bikini Top $135.00
Buy Now
Tooshie Reversible Side Tie String Bikini Bottom $135.00
Buy Now
Veronica Beard Heritage Utility Jacket $695.00
Buy Now
Ancient Greek Sandals Thais Polka Dot Sandals $280.00
Buy Now
J.Crew Marseille Striped Linen Jumpsuit $130.00
Buy Now
Eytys Mother canvas trainers $160.00
Buy Now
MDS Stripes Lexi Peasant Dress $315.00
Buy Now
Le Specs Revolution round-frame metal sunglasses $79.00
Buy Now
Yestadt Millinery Fringy White Fedora $345.00
Buy Now