Using its rich history and diverse culture as your compass, you can feel like a local in Cape Town, South Africa with these recommendations.
Our guest author, Bianca Knauf, from My Wild Earth, was born and raised in Johannesburg. After the birth of their son, she and her husband moved to Cape Town, South Africa, and have been based there for seven years. In this post, Bianca has put together a list of key experiences to encourage you to feel like a local in Cape Town. Welcome, Bianca!
Cape Town is a fabulous place to visit: its rich history and diverse culture makes it South Africa’s rainbow city. The atmosphere and character is soul food and one always leaves thinking that this is a place to move in and become a local. The locals love their city and there is something here for everyone to enjoy, from gastronomical culinary offerings to thrilling adventure activities. The mother city is also a culture vulture’s paradise with art studios and galleries around every corner, with many theatres and museums to keep you enthralled.
So here is a list of places and things to do that should make you feel like a real local!
If you are a solo hiker, a group or family looking to explore the Cape’s unlimited hiking terrain, you will find endless routes available. From nature reserves that trace the coastline to mountain routes that wind between forests and vineyards, the view is never anything less than spectacular. If time allows, a local favorite is Table Mountain and Lion’s Head which make for incredible full moon hikes. Guided hikes and cycling tours are also available.
Further inland, the quaint towns of Stellenbosh, Franschhoek, Paarl and Constantia are surrounded by breathtaking mountains and valleys that will have you entertained for days. The routes boast waterfalls, lakes, caves, rivers and abundant wildlife, so have your camera handy. The endless hiking locations will not only make for an incredible adventure, but also offer great health benefits which you can read about here.
Friday evenings at the Hout Bay market are an absolute blast! The market is hosted in an old fish factory in Hout Bay’s harbour and you will get to experience the vibe of diverse cultures gathered under one roof.
The food and drink on offer from traders is impeccable and the variety is endless, anything from delicious gourmet burgers, vegan feasts, seafood, great wines and local craft brews. There is ample seating for visitors at long tables and a great way to mingle with locals. For those who are real foodies, sample regional and international delicacies with this day tour.
The rest of the market has a variety of crafts, art, clothing and trending items for sale by friendly traders. The market is on from 5pm – 9pm on Friday nights and is situated at 31 Harbour Rd in Hout Bay.
Iziko Museums & South African National Gallery
The South African National Gallery is situated on Government Avenue in the Company Gardens area of the city. The Iziko Collection of historical sites and the South African National Gallery are certainly worth visiting; art and culture lovers will find most things here fascinating. The South African National Gallery houses all forms of art by South African and European artists. The museum constantly rotates art to exhibit all the various genres of diversity in South African art.
The other museum sites include historic houses and manors from the 1600’s and 1700’s, giving visitors an insight into life in Cape Town in that period. Truly inspiring for people who enjoy history and the arts.
This funky burger joint is a real local’s hangout and is a fun way to start any evening out in Cape Town. Situated in a converted alleyway between two buildings, the atmosphere is rustic and fun. A huge blackboard menu and open kitchen, adds to the interactive eating experience.
The burgers are mouth-watering and vegans and vegetarians are welcome here, with great craft beer and wine to go with your burger. No waiters to serve the tables, so you place your order and wait for your name to be called out!
It’s a real fun way to feel local in Cape Town and take in the energy of a typical evening. Dogs Bollocks is in Roodehek Street in Gardens, Cape Town.
The icon of the mother city is certainly Table Mountain and no better way to experience this by taking the cableway to the top.
The cableway runs for most of the year, except for a short maintenance period in the last portion of our winter. The latest upgraded cable car has an interior which slowly rotates giving the passengers a 360 degree view of Cape Town as they ascend the cableway. At the top there is a restaurant and kiosk, as well as a number of walks to various points of interest on the top table. It’s definitely a trip for anyone visiting to take.
This well-known street in the city center is a constant hive of activity, Long Street literally never sleeps! Shopping, eating, drinking, and partying till the early hours of the morning.
This is most definitely a local’s lifestyle with something to tickle everyone’s fancy. A few great backpackers and accommodation establishments are tucked in between the myriad of brilliant eateries and shops, making Long Street a place to go if you want to spend your day exploring the city or staying up late enjoying the nightlife.
Built on top of the original silo at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock, Pot Luck Club offers exquisite tapas style eating with brilliant views over Cape Town and the harbor.
The Creator and Chef, Luke Dale Roberts, has pulled out all the stops with Pot Luck Club, making it a trendy yet relaxed establishment in a position one would never have expected. The menus, which run from brunch through to dinner are delicious to say the least. Be sure to book in advance.
The eastern slope of Table Mountain is a beautiful landscape of old growth hardwood forest set amongst cliffs and gorges. This is the backdrop to Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, an extensive and diverse collection of plants dating back over a century.
Anyone interested in South Africa’s extensive natural heritage will enjoy a day here. There are two lovely restaurants in the gardens as well as an open air concert venue, which in the summer months has light music shows on weekend evenings which can be enjoyed from a picnic blanket on the lawns.
A recent addition to the gardens is the treetop canopy walkway that takes you from the forest floor to the top of the arboretum. It is called the “Boomslang”, the Afrikaans name for tree snake and it is designed much like the skeleton of a snake. Kirstenbosch is situated just off Rhodes Drive en route to Hout Bay.
The mother city boasts a few awesome theatre venues in and around the city center. You can be sure that there is always something showing on a daily basis, from small intimate art cinema to full scale theatrical productions.
The Labia Theatre is the oldest independent cinema in South Africa and shows art films, foreign movies and local productions. The Artscape Theatre in the city center is the main hub for large productions like ballets and musicals amongst others.
The Fugard Theatre in the historical District Six area of the city is a fantastic theatre and cinema venue showing various productions and South African musicals.
These theatres are certainly worth checking out by all performance art lovers visiting Cape Town.
These are just a few examples of what’s on offer at any given time. Guaranteed there are many more things to see and do to feel like a local in Cape Town. The best advice for visitors to Cape Town is to get a rental car from one of our many well serviced car-hire companies and start exploring. Last but not least, have fun in the warm and welcoming mother city!
Meet our Guest Author:
Hi, I’m Bianca, from Cape Town, South Africa. Different cultures, exotic food, new adventures and ever changing landscapes, are what make my soul explode. The world excites and inspires me. By sharing my travels and experiences, I hope that others are inspired to explore and visit locations they may not have originally considered. The world is a playground that belongs to all of us, and we should live every precious day with a happy and free spirit. Connect with Bianca on social media: Instagram, Facebook