Work today, fly tomorrow • January 2015
It’s hard to get any work done in Cape Town: the stunning natural vistas, charming colonial-era neighbourhoods and vibrant food scene are perpetual distractions. When your business is done, you’ll want to head for the mountains or the ocean, or check out the hip boutiques and restaurants with creative denizens at the helm, who helped the city claim the title of World Design Capital 2014. Resident travel writer Sarah Khan suggests the best spots to explore
When the crowds are headed to the gentrifying Woodstock district on Saturday morning for the Neighbourgoods Market, make a detour to the tiny Oranjezicht neighbourhood for the laid-back Oranjezicht City Farm market instead. You’ll find fewer pretensions as you browse fresh produce, cheeses, falafels and burgers. Afterwards, stroll through the lovely community garden, where you might even stumble upon a composting lesson in progress.
If you’re curious as to why Cape Town was named World Design Capital 2014, head to Stable on Loop Street, where the wares of some of the country’s top design talents are on display. You’ll cross off everyone on your gift list (and find yourself a souvenir or two) amid felt lamps by Wiid Design, colourful tablemats from Sithabe African Craft and LeatherLab journals.
Tourist numbers for Robben Island, the prison where Nelson Mandela spent many years, have increased dramatically since his death last year and demand is taking its toll on the ferry service. But you can learn about apartheid by visiting the District Six Museum. This intimate space on Buitenkant Street houses thousands of pictures and mementoes chronicling a multicultural community that was forcibly displaced to make room for white families – you may find yourself fighting back tears.
A table at the Test Kitchen is the hardest reservation in town to book, but if you’re short on time or budget, consider the wallet-friendly tasting menu at La Mouette instead. This inviting eatery serves six artfully presented courses – salt-and-pepper squid and springbok pie, for instance – all for £16.50 (£26.50 with wine pairings). Best of all: you don’t have to book months in advance.
Table Mountain dominates Cape Town’s skyline, but neighbouring Lion’s Head makes for a more visually memorable hike. The route wraps its way around the peak, with constantly shifting views: from the ocean to Cape Town’s urban sprawl and even Table Mountain itself. For a gentler, scenic stroll, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden has many options, particularly from the new treetop canopy walkway known as the Boomslang (tree snake). In summer, you’ll find open-air concerts and movies here.
In the summer, Camps Bay is Cape Town’s hottest ’hood, a beautiful seaside promenade lined with hip restaurants and nightlife options aplenty. Le Roi is a year-old addition to the scene, popular with chic locals thanks to its prime waterfront setting and glamorous interior, fit for a king.