Lovely pizzas and friendly staff, on a well-patrolled street of secondhand bookshops and thrift stores - a rarity in the city. Cash only, so bring some with you, or go to the ATM up the street.
7th Avenue, Melville 2196, South Africa
011 726 2614
Google map: tinyurl.com/39epy4x
Lovely place for breakfast, brunch or lunch. Find a spot on the gorgeous patio and tuck into treats such as banana french toast, English fry ups etc.
All food sourced onsite or from nearby farms.
I recommend taking a seat on the decking above the beach at the surf break Supertubes, where you can watch the surfers and dolphins share the waves and enjoy the sea together.
Strictly Coffee is a specialist, boutique coffee house situated in Robertson valley in the Cape. The friendly owner Hanno Schwartz takes his coffee roasting very seriously and is always on hand for a chat and to share his infectious passion for coffee roasting. The atmosphere is welcoming and relaxed. The selection of coffee is vast, with a bean for all tastes.
Escape from the crowds and head to Kalk Bay. The Polana restaurant is one of the best places to watch a winter storm head in across the bay whilst cosying up around the warm fire with a glass of local red in your hand.
There are some lovely local markets in and around Cape Town, that offer unique crafts, books, delicious things to eat, or places to just hang out. Try Hout Bay market, the Montebello Design Centre or the slow market at Willowbrige.
A bike tour of the Franschhoek wine valley was one of the highlights of our stay in South Africa's winelands. Eddie picked us up from our hotel and took us on a beautiful scenic tour - taking in vineyards and a reservoir. You get to see parts you probably wouldn't venture to on your own. He's a lovely guy and takes time to explain recent history as well as the origins of the town. The pace was just right - I imagine he could do something more gruelling if that's your thing! There are other options including winetasting by bike.
The Bohemian (or The Bo, as it's affectionately called) is a live-music Johannesburg landmark. Just round the corner from Melville, this grungy pool hall/pub hosts local bands at least twice a week. The vibe is super-chilled and there is no need to dress up, more important in fact you should be willing to play a game of pool or watch live sport on any of their big screens. There are also half-price pizza specials on Monday and Wednesday nights as well as student specials on pizza and beer. This place rocks literally.
5 Park Road, Richmond, Johannesburg
Cape Town is beautiful in winter. If you are going for this year's World Cup then check out some of these options, all with great views of the city, from distinctive Cape Town style to easy-going family fare.
Baia Seafood Restaurant
A Portuguese take on seafood, with great views of the V&A Waterfront’s harbor.
Shop 6262, upper level, V&A Waterfront: +27 21 421 0935
Cape to Cuba
Eclectic Cuban restaurant with fishing-harbour views and armfuls of esoteric Cuban collectables.
Main Road, Kalk Bay: +27 21 788 1566
Poised at the foot of Chapman’s Peak, take in the expanse of Hout Bay and enjoy a large seafood collection – it’s famed for its calamari.
Main Road, Hout Bay: +27 21 790 1036
Elegant upmarket seafood restaurant with endless sea views of the Kalk Bay Harbour and beyond.
Kalk Bay Harbour, Main Road, Kalk Bay: +27 21 788 4133
Vista Lounge & Bar
Hotel bar to Sol Kerzner’s One & Only, this spot looks out on a marina and the backdrop of Table Mountain. They serve light snacks throughout the day and turn into a cocktail bar by night.
V&A Waterfront: +27 21 431 5800
On The Rocks
Get the picture-postcard view of Table Mountain at this West Coast favourite.
45 Stadler Road, Blouberg: +27 21 554 1988
• Cities are always best seen on foot, and Cape Town is no exception - enjoy modern creative Cape Town or an historical City tour.
• Enjoy a local theatre production with music ranging from opera, to swing, jazz, kwaito and hip-hop.
• With the Cape Town Design Route guide you can explore the city’s top design shops and art galleries.
• A Cape Malay Cooking Safari involves a visit to the Bo-Kaap museum, a tour through this historical area and cooking course and lunch in a local resident’s home.
• Get into the groove on a Cape Town Jazz Safari.
• Abseil off the top of Table Mountain.
• Party the night away at a shebeen and stay over in a local bed and breakfast in the townships.
• Shriek all the way to the bottom when you go sand-boarding.
• Take in the breath-taking views from the top of Table Mountain (weather permitting).
• Visit the District Six Museum and immerse yourself in the memories of what was one of Cape Town’s most colourful communities before residents were subjected to forced removals during the Apartheid era.
• Stop, shop, have a bite to eat or explore the Two Oceans Aquarium at the V&A Waterfront.
• Begin your evening with sundowners on the Camps Bay strip or at the fireside at one of the city’s award winning restaurants and end off by catching some live music on Long Street in the City Centre
A fascinating window into the dynamics of South African life, townships are bustling centres of energy, creativity and entrepreneuralism. They are also where you are likely to have one of your most authentic experiences during your visit to South Africa.
You should always book through a reputable agent. Check out www.capetown.travel
You'd think that a place like Plettenburg Bay would be full of places where you can buy some fresh fish for your braai, but think again. However, the local Tourist Information Office sent us off to Robberg Seafood Safari to satisfy our fishy requirements. It's on the outskirts of town, just off the N2 at the Plettenburg roundabout in the business park area. The selection of seafood is amazing with loads of unusual varieties such as Yellowtail, Kingklip, Kob, etc, with an excellent selection of shellfish, too. They make their own smoked fish, sell sushi, and have a small deli section. A good feature is being able to select your fish early in the day which they will then keep for you in the fridge for collection later on (saves the fish from spoiling if left in the car all day). There's a shop in Knysna, also.
Robberg Seafood Safari, Plettenberg Bay, Western Cape 6600, South Africa
Tel: +27 44 501 2620
Google map: tinyurl.com/yzamquw
We were impressed by driving conditions in South Africa and found that it was an easy and enjoyable way to travel, even over long distances. Driving is on the left, which makes it convenient for drivers from the UK.
We'd been warned that there were quite a few instances of roadworks to encounter and although we did see several excavations and bollards on our journeys, we were only held up once by traffic lights ('robots' in S Africa) and that was on the hill-top road between Stellenbosch and Franschhoek where there seems to be quite a bit of road-widening taking place (Dec 2009).
Overall, we were impressed by the quality of the roads we encountered (around Cape Town, and then on to Port Elizabeth via Franschhoek and Swellendam). Most take the form of 'two-lane black-tops', usually with wide hard shoulders. Initially we thought the latter a bit of a luxury, then we realised that it's polite to pull over onto the hard shoulder to let overtaking cars pass by.
Speed limits out of towns are generally 120 kph (75 mph) which means that you have to keep a careful eye not only on overtaking cars coming the other way, but also on your mirror for the 4x4s pounding up behind you. A disconcerting aspect of driving on these roads is that closing speeds can be upwards of 240 kph (150 mph) without any central divider. We didn't see any accidents on our holiday, but I imagine that if collisions occur, they could be horrendous.
Petrol is cheap (about 60p/litre), so driving is a relatively minor part of your holiday costs. Also, at petrol stations there are staff there to fill up your car, clean windscreens and check oil, which is something that you don't see in the UK too often. We weren't sure whether to tip or not initially, but we gathered later that it's usual to hand over R3-4 for the privilege.
Something we saw quite a lot of was people trying sell you items (shopping bags, flowers, you name it) whilst we were queueing at traffic lights. We didn't have any problems with this (we always kept our doors shut whilst driving), but it's an extra hazard to negotiate, especially if you're turning right at a junction.
Another issue is that in towns of any size, parking (either by the side of the road or in designated car parks) leads you to encounter characters who appear from nowhere to help you to negotiate your vehicle into a space and then offer 'to look after your car' whilst you're away. Some of these 'helpers' seem to be official (wearing high-visibility vests etc), whilst others seem to be punters trying to earn a daily wage. Anyway, it seems it's the done thing to give these guys R3-4 when you get back to your car (for obvious reasons). The only place where we could park without being hassled for money was in Franschhoek where there were notices street-side advising drivers not to hand over money "to prevent our citizens becoming beggars" (sic).
Regarding hire cars, make sure that you establish with your car rental company precisely what they mean by their 'Group A', 'Group B' categorisations etc before you leave the UK (or wherever). We thought that we'd rented a 'Ford Focus equivalent' for the 18 days we were away, only to be given a Toyota Yaris on arrival at Cape Town airport. Nothing wrong with a Yaris, of course, but it wasn't as big a car as we thought we'd rented. We ended up covering over 1200 miles, so you might want to make sure that you get a car that's going be comfortable enough for your needs.
A charming four-star hotel on the R44 in the Stellenbosch Winelands. We were impressed with the quaint Oregon style. The swimming pool has a magnificent view on the Stellenbosch Mountains. The service was good old fashioned hospitality and the food was great home cooking. Definately a home from Home experience.
We stumbled across this place when we'd been on the (hot and dusty) R62, taking the scenic drive from Franschhoek to Swellendam. The café is somewhat hidden by the KFC next door, but look out for signs to the Bon Courage and Le Grand Chasseur wine shops. Grand Café somewhat aptly served the best coffee we had on our holiday. We also ordered their excellent chilli beef pittas for lunch, which come served with a mean curried beetroot pickle. The pickle was so tasty that we bought a jar to take with us on our journey.
Simon's Town is a useful staging-post for coffee or lunch on the drive from Cape Town to Boulders Beach (penguins) or Cape Point. The base of the South African Navy since 1957, and the home of the Royal Navy before that, the main street is worth a tour of its antique and art shops. For lunch, we took the advice of a local shop owner and headed to Bertha's, which is right on the dockside, so close you could dangle your toes in the harbour waters. We watched a flotilla of novice canoeists paddle edgily around the harbour while we sampled delicious sushi from the extensive list of seafood on the menu.
A good travel accommodation motto is "never settle for less than what you have at home." Staying at Acorn House doesn't compromise that maxim; indeed, it's better than staying at home due to the enthusiasm and professionalism of its staff to help you get the most from your holiday. Acorn House was originally built for the the Editor of the Cape Times, early in the 20th century and was converted to its present form about 10 years ago. It's full of original features and sits high above Montrose Avenue, looking down across Cape Town and Table Bay. The Manager, Stewart (ably assisted by Jade), was incredibly helpful with advice on what to do, where to go and eat, where to park, etc. We had an excellent room on the ground-floor, with our own terrace next to the herb garden. There's a plunge pool if the heat gets too much, and a beautiful terrace for taking afternoon tea and breakfast. The latter was the best we had in South Africa with an extensive buffet and a daily-changing hot dish. The area is very quiet and it's close enough to the city centre to walk to restaurants on Kloof Street etc. The good thing about staying in a guest house is that you have more interaction with your fellow guests than you would staying in a hotel - we picked up lots of tips about Cape Town and other places on our itinerary. We had a great time and can't recommend Acorn House enough.
Situated off the national road within easy driving distance of Cape Town in Somerset West, is Vergelegen Wine Estate.
Picnic among some of the Cape's oldest camphor and yellowwood trees in the extensive grounds that showcase South Africa's chequered history and Cape Dutch architecture. Experience the sensory beauty of the cultivated rose and herb gardens, the original Van der Stel Winery, the Library, mill, ruins and Slave Lodge as well as authentic Pigeon House.
Breakfast al fresco at The Rose Terrace Bistro, open November to April or sample the fish, meat and vegetarian dishes which are served in the Lady Phillips restaurant together with a selection of premium Vergelegen wines including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz varieties. Cellar tours are also offered.
Combined with good weather an outing to Vergelegen is well worth its R10 entrance fee. As it is very popular, booking is advised. It is a thoroughly enjoyable experience and well worth a visit especially if heading from Cape Town to Hermanus to enjoy some whale watching.
Phone : +27 21 847 1334
Address: Lourensford Road, Somerset West, South Africa
This upmarket Cape Town Hotel, spa and restaurant offers uninterrupted sea views of the Atlantic Ocean and is positioned beneath the slopes of the Twelve Apostles mountain range on the Cape peninsula amidst a backdrop of unspoilt fynbos vegetation. The Twelve Apostles Hotel has no immediate neighbours yet is less than a 30 minute drive from the heart of bustling Cape Town along one of this coast's most scenic roads.
The location caters for those seeking tranquillity and offers every comfort including five star facilities and a private cinema for after dinner screenings. Besides the Leopard Room bar, popular for sunset cocktails and an envious collection of vodka and port, a café offering light meals, or the option of afternoon tea, the main draw card is the Azure Restaurant which promotes cape-fusion cuisine utilising indigenous plants known as fynbos, herbs, seasonal ingredients and local seafood. It also offers visitors the opportunity to sample pickled fish, incorporating Cape Malay style cooking, a favourite of the BoKaap. It has won acclaim as one of the best places to stay in the world and is on the Conde Nast Traveller Gold list for 2010.
The view of the ocean, Lion's Head and the craggy Twelve Apostles to the rear in wild surroundings makes this luxurious establishment well worth a visit.
+27 (0) 21 437 9000
Victoria Road, Camps Bay, Cape Town, South Africa
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