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I loved Cape Town so much I couldn’t leave

Cape Town visit

Somehow I missed the memo that Cape Town is the coolest city ever!

So when I stumbled off the plane from Durban, hungover as hell, I was pleasantly surprised and immediately blown away by this sprawling metropolis at the edge of the world. Holy shit Cape Town, South Africa is all kinds of pretty!

A country girl at heart, I am not usually a fan of big cities but when there are plenty of green places and designed in a way that makes me feel like I’m not in a city, I’m a fan. Cape Town luckily ticks all those boxes, and even reminded me a bit of Wellington, New Zealand where I used to live. Just with more crazy wildlife.

Cape Town visit

It spreads out all along a wild and beautiful coastline with sandy white beaches, cute little surf suburbs with the iconic Table Mountain looming above you in the background.

Downtown Cape Town is beautiful, and the harbor area is one of the nicest I’ve seen with amazing shopping OOPS. It doesn’t take a lot to understand why the most expensive real estate in Africa is here.

On my first trip over to South Africa, Cape Town was the first stop after a long conference in Durban. And trust me, I was basically sobbing when we had to leave after only 3 days. Couldn’t I just stay here the whole time?

Cape Town visit

Cape Town visit

As my time in Africa was drawing to a close, I made a hasty decision outside a market in Joburg. I wasn’t ready to leave. Have you guys ever felt that way about a place?

So I did the only sensible thing, rang the agent that booked my tickets and changed my flights giving myself an extra week and a half in Africa. First I headed out to Phinda, an amazing safari reserve, and then booked myself a ticket back to Cape Town.

Sometimes you have to listen to that inner voice when you love a place so much and can’t bear to leave. And ok, I’ll admit I’m lucky in that I had a pretty flexible schedule at the time and was able to do this. Wahoo internet jobs!

Cape Town visit

Cape Town visit

Luckily I was able to time my return to Cape Town when my friends Hecktic Travels were in town on a stopover on their way to Namibia.

Cue long dinners, cocktails in Camps Bay, road trips and photo sessions, plus lots and lots of coffee and catch ups. While Cape Town certainly has heaps of things to do, I found myself just enjoying being there, going for walks and exploring. It’s a great city just to be in, not necessarily be busy in.

Here is my little introduction to this glorious city with 10 things that helped make me fall in love with Cape Town.

Cape Town visit

1. Table Mountain

It’s no secret, I love mountains so to be a really cool and fun hip city with an amazing mountain backdrop, is definitely the best of both worlds. With straight cliffs and a long flat summit, it didn’t take long to understand its name.

We headed up first thing in the morning back through the winding streets leading to the base of the cableway, the easiest way to get to the top. There was beautiful mist layering over the town giving a great ephemeral feel to the start of the day.

As we walked out on top, I promptly lost my shit when I spotted a dassie for the first time. A fat little groundhog looking animal, it is adorable and I spent the next 20 minutes taking photos of them instead of admiring the view. Typical.

Cape Town visit

Cape Town visit

Cape Town visit

Cape Town visit

Cape Town visit

2. Dinner with a local family

For me, this was probably one of my favorite parts of our time in Cape Town.

Hosted dinners with local families is now a popular way to get to know the city.  When you are visiting a place for only a few days, it’s often quite hard to find opportunities to get to know the locals and get a glimpse into what life is really like there.

We were kindly invited to the home of a local musician who not only treated us to an amazing traditional dinner with his wife, but also rocked out with us all evening to the most beautiful music.

Cape Town visit

Cape Town visit

3. Staying at the One & Only Cape Town

It’s not every day that I get to stay in a 6 star hotel! Holy moley! If they only knew what I was really like, would they have let me in?

The One & Only Cape Town is part of the One & Only resort chain, and their South Africa property doesn’t fail to impress.

The biggest coziest bed ever complete with a pillow menu, great internet, a huge bathtub and an espresso machine – what more could I want?

Cape Town visit

I pretty much live in hotels with my job, and getting to stay in places like this is definitely a perk that comes with being a professional travel blogger.

At the risk of sounding snobby, while it was an amazing property, I didn’t feel like 6 stars to me until the first breakfast when I discovered not only champagne and oysters, order off the menu, any coffee you want, and oh, the crispy bacon or grilled bacon station.

Yes, 6 stars or sure!

Cape Town visit

Cape Town visit

Cape Town visit

Cape Town visit

Cape Town visit

4. Penguins on the beach!

My oh my! You guys know how much of a #BirdNerd I am, so when I first started researching Cape Town and realized there was a beach nearby home to a colony of penguins, I knew I had to make it happen!

Boulders Beach is near Simon’s Town is home to a colony of Africa Penguins, and they are adorable!

Cape Town visit

And luck was on my side because not only was the beautiful beach covered in penguins, there were fluffy molting babies everywhere! There is a god and he heard my prayers!

Show me the penguin babies!

I’m not going to lie, I loved it so much I went twice!

Cape Town visit

Cape Town visit

Cape Town visit

5. Seaside

All the amazing seafood, all the time, nuff said.

Cape Town visit

6. Saturday Market

Another reason I was so happy to come back to Cape Town was that it gave me the opportunity to meet up with a few of you guys. I got an email from a kiwi expat living over in Cape Town who had spent a lot of time in Wanaka so it was a great opportunity to see the side of the city I probably wouldn’t have known about and hang out with a local.

The Oranjezicht City Farmer’s Market is super cute and in a beautiful part of town. Even though it drizzled the whole time, there were tents everywhere and so much delicious food and coffee, you hardly noticed.

This market has an amazing story – it was meant to be shut down before it was saved at the last minute and now takes place on the premier’s own gardens in Cape Town, which means its setting couldn’t be more picturesque.

Cape Town visit

Cape Town visit

Cape Town visit

7. Cape of Good Hope

I met up with the Hecks who rented a car and we hit the road for the day. First stop – back to the penguins obviously.

From there we headed to the Cape of Good Hope to live out our elementary school geography dreams. Nothing like finally laying eyes on a place you’ve heard about your whole lives, right guys?

Did I mention there are wild ostriches there? And baboons.

Run for your lives!

Cape Town visit

Cape Town visit

Cape Town visit

Cape Town visit

8. Chapman’s Peak Drive

On the way back to the city from the Cape Peninsula in the moody late afternoon light, we decided to take in the beautiful Chapman’s Peak Drive on the west coast.

I love a good road trip with friends!

And holy crap did this road not disappoint!

Cape Town visit

The 9km of road connecting Noordhoek and Hout Bay is pretty stunning.

Picture huge cliffs dropping down to the turquoise sea and crazy bends and turns with more lookouts and views than you could ever hope for. Don’t forget your camera.

As we turned the corner to head back to Cape Town, the sun began to shine through the peaks lighting up the houses below and creating those beams of light that I am obsessed with. What a way to close the trip!

Cape Town visit

Cape Town visit

Cape Town visit

Cape Town visit

9. Sunsquare Cape Town

I also wanted to mention on my second trip back to Cape Town I had to forgo the 6 star hotel for something more in my range and budget, the Sunsquare Cape Town.

Near the Gardens area of Cape Town, it’s in a really cool part of town with an amazing breakfast.

 

Cape Town visit

10. Sunset cruise

The perfect introduction to Cape Town is a sunset cruise in the harbor accompanied by a few breaching whales and champagne.

Sigh, Cape Town, you rock!

Have you ever felt this way about a place? Ever been to Cape Town? Ever changed your flights so that you didn’t have to leave a place?

Cape Town visit

Cape Town visit

Many thanks to Visit South Africa and Cape Town Tourism for hosting me in Cape Town. Like always, I’m keeping it real – all opinions are my own, like you could expect anything less from me. 

69 Responses to I loved Cape Town so much I couldn’t leave

  1. Nicole November 11, 2015 at 7:53 pm #

    Love the photos! Cape Town is a magical city, and I’m in the same boat… not a city person either. I spent two months in Africa last year, visiting several places and I had a really hard time leaving at the end.

    • Liz November 11, 2015 at 9:45 pm #

      It’s magical, isn’t it?

  2. Sarah November 11, 2015 at 9:09 pm #

    As always, fab post! I love the idea of joining a dinner with locals – looked fun and a great way to mix with the locals! 🙂

    Also…how on earth did you manage to get the cutest penguin pics?!

    • Liz November 11, 2015 at 9:45 pm #

      haha I made everyone wait while I took about 1000 shots of them haha

  3. Ola November 11, 2015 at 9:32 pm #

    I heard so many great things about South Africa and Cape Town and dinner with a local family is definitely something I want to try one day!
    The penguins are so adorable 😀

    • Liz November 11, 2015 at 9:45 pm #

      Such a good way to experience the place!

  4. Travelblogger Lisa November 11, 2015 at 10:05 pm #

    So nice, your Pictures made me want to go there RIGHT now ! 😉

    • Liz November 12, 2015 at 10:44 am #

      Yay love that!

  5. Traveling Rockhopper November 11, 2015 at 10:22 pm #

    I totally agree! Cape Town is a great place!

    • Liz November 12, 2015 at 10:45 am #

      Such a rad spot!

  6. Cat of Sunshine and Siestas November 11, 2015 at 10:33 pm #

    South Africa is on my MUST (not just must, but all caps MUST) list. My best friend spent 10 days there before coming to visit me, and I had a lot to live up to on his first trip abroad! Gorgeous photos.

    • Liz November 12, 2015 at 10:45 am #

      Thanks Cat, you’d love Cape Town, it’s amazing!

  7. Angie Silver November 11, 2015 at 10:43 pm #

    It was my dream to go to Cape Town, so I was worried I’d be disappointed. But I totally fell in love with it too. What a wonderful place.
    Lots of love,
    Angie

    • Liz November 12, 2015 at 10:45 am #

      It’s awesome, right?

  8. Haf November 12, 2015 at 12:06 am #

    I’m from Cape Town!!!!
    Born, bred, studied etc.c.c.

    I LOVE IT !!!

    Honestly, summers in Cape Town are magical, mystical, ever-changing and never boring.
    In one day you can go for a hike in the depths of the mountains and then go for a swim in the ocean. sigh. bliss.

    Well. all year round.

    I am truly grateful to live here 🙂

    If anyone needs some tips on where to go/what to do, as a local gal, I can help you out 🙂

    Thank you for loving it as much as us locals do 🙂

    • Liz November 12, 2015 at 10:46 am #

      OMG I wish I had known you when I was there! But don’t worry I’ll be back!

      • Kristina September 14, 2016 at 6:28 am #

        Hi! My husband and i are coming in June – Any fun secret local suggestions would be appreciated 🙂

    • Mugun January 19, 2017 at 8:05 pm #

      Hi Kristina,
      My wife and i planning to visit SA and Cape Town is one of the MUST stay spot.We wish to be in touch with your goodself to get more tip on our stay there. Don’t worry ,we won’t trouble you much,since its the first time we are travelling far, it would be good to get know someone genuine
      and someone could advice the places of interest.By the way we are from Malaysia..
      Hope to hear from you soon…have a great day cheers 😉

      Warmest regards

      ShreeMugun

    • Mugun January 19, 2017 at 8:06 pm #

      Sorry the above message was for Haf ….typo error….

  9. Shirley November 12, 2015 at 4:10 am #

    I love penguins. So darn, now I have to go there just to see the cutest ever penguins.

    • Liz November 12, 2015 at 10:46 am #

      they are super cute!

  10. Zascha November 12, 2015 at 7:10 am #

    I completely understand that feeling when you’re visiting a place/country and you just don’t want to leave! I had that experience a couple of weeks ago when I was in Scotland. Leaving the Scottish Highlands made me so sad – I could have stayed there forever!
    Also, those penguins on the beach? It looks awesome! I love penguins! 🙂

    • Liz November 12, 2015 at 10:46 am #

      Wow, I felt the same way about Scotland, its’ awesome isn’t it?

  11. Rachel November 12, 2015 at 8:37 am #

    The penguin pics are amazing! They are so cute, I’m not surprised you went twice, I pretty sure I would too!
    My friends just came back from South Africa and they spent a week in and around Cape Town and came back raving about it, their photographs were incredible, just like yours are!

    I completely know that feeling, about not wanting to leave a place. It happens so rarely with me, I usually always ready to move on to a new adventure, but Helsinki caught me hook, line and sinker and I hated leaving and ached (still do) to return after.

    • Liz November 12, 2015 at 10:46 am #

      Exciting, I am headed to Helsinki next year!

  12. Susie November 12, 2015 at 9:21 am #

    Whenever I think back to my time in Cape Town, it’s usually accompanied by one of those long, drawn out sighs; I miss the city so much!

    I LOVED Table Mountain; the view is just insane. I could have stayed up there for hours. I wish I had gotten to do Chapman’s Peak (closed due to falling rocks) or a sunset cruise (canceled because of that damn fog!). Ah well, I just have to go back 😉

    One of my favorite things I did in South Africa, and perhaps in all of my travels, is paragliding off of Signal Hill. It was just the most incredible experience. I HIGHLY recommend it when you return to the city.

    I also loved Hout Bay’s weekend market, which was filled with all different foods from around the world and also had handmade crafts and artifacts to buy, plus had live music. Our group accidentally spent most of our afternoon there! I also agree dinner with a local family is a great thing to do as well…our tour guide invited us back to his house and we all had a home cooked meal in his backyard.

    I loved the city so much that I’m writing one of my essays for my Master’s degree on tourism development in Cape Town and the city as an emerging tourism destination.

    What a great post, and your photos are beautiful, as always xx

    • Liz November 12, 2015 at 10:47 am #

      Woah that’s awesome!!

  13. Liz November 12, 2015 at 9:23 am #

    Oh my gosh what amazing pictures! I want to go to South Africa so badly, my flatmate is from Durban so hopefully my dreams will come true soon 🙂

    • Liz November 12, 2015 at 10:47 am #

      Do it!

  14. Sarah P November 12, 2015 at 10:26 am #

    Oh man this is great!! My college roommate was from Cape Town, and I’ve wanted to check it out ever since! Now I’m looking at tickets…

    • Liz November 12, 2015 at 10:47 am #

      Book now!

  15. Crazy Travelista November 12, 2015 at 11:02 am #

    Great post! I am not a fan of big cities either, especially the more and more I travel. But Capetown seems so unique and not like any other place. These pics make me wanna go right now! And I especially loved the local dinner idea. I did that in cappadocia, Turkey and it was one of the most memorable parts of my trip! Ok im going to shut up now and start looking at tickets! Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Liz November 14, 2015 at 2:49 pm #

      Wahoo! Also Cappadoccia rocks!

  16. md_in_usa November 12, 2015 at 2:49 pm #

    Was just there late October 2015. Thought the surfing in Muzienberg was great. Liked Clifton beach. Did a kayak trip in Three Anchor Bay with Kaskazi Kayaks.

    Pretty impressed with Cape Town, glad you liked it.

    • Liz November 14, 2015 at 2:49 pm #

      Oh I’d love to kayak there!

  17. Victoria@ The British Berliner November 12, 2015 at 7:29 pm #

    Awww! What cute pictures Liz!

    I’ve been to Cape Town just once. About 11 years ago. A German girlfriend of mine lives there half the year and bought a house on the cliffs, when she was drunk! It was really more of a dare, but we all thought it was hilarious when she actually bought it anyway so I went to visit her LOL!

    Cape Town is a lovely place and because the house was actually in the cliffs facing the beach, we always had lovely sea views. I remember well Boulders Beach as the penguins are just so adorable and funny. We also went on a hosted dinner in the home of a middle-aged “Cape Malay” lady but it was more a museum, a tour and a dinner around Bo-Kaap the “coloured” part of town which also happens to have the very brightly coloured houses.

    As for the Saturday Market, I thought I wouldn’t stand out so much, being of the same skin-tone as the locals n’ all, but they kept charging me more than my German companion! On asking why, they told me that I “looked different” because I dressed differently and walked like a man and so, I must be one of the Ministers daughters LOL!

    • Liz November 14, 2015 at 2:49 pm #

      LOL!

    • jay m. January 3, 2016 at 10:10 pm #

      looked different?! oh no!

  18. Danny Mellema November 13, 2015 at 4:47 am #

    Capetown was absolutely awesome! I could sadly only spend 1 week there and cage-diving got cancelled, but I had a great time there. I made friends in no time there. Tablemountain and Cape of Good Hope are the things I was most excited with. Great pictures Liz! Makes me want to go back to South-Africa and do the things I couldn’t.

    • Liz November 14, 2015 at 2:50 pm #

      Thanks!

  19. Brooklyn November 13, 2015 at 10:21 am #

    I have dreamed of going to South Africa since I was a kid. The older I get the more I want to go. I literally spend way too much time Googling things to do and places to stay.
    It just looks like one of the most gorgeous countries and I cannot wait until I save up enough money to go and do it right 🙂
    Do you plan on going back? And how was your safari?

    • Liz November 14, 2015 at 2:51 pm #

      Yeah I will definitely go back, the safaris were amazing!

  20. Steph of Big World Small Pockets November 13, 2015 at 2:24 pm #

    My first ever backpack trip outside Europe was to South Africa – arrived in Cape Town and couldn’t leave, so know the feeling! This 6 month trip I took aged 18 changed me further! Still nomading 13 years later!

    • Liz November 14, 2015 at 2:51 pm #

      amazing!

  21. Marly November 15, 2015 at 3:11 pm #

    Unfortunately, I haven’t made it to Cape Town (yet). It’s very high on my to-go list!!

    When it comes to changing flights to stay in a certain place. Yes. Been there, done that.

    If you have ever been to Leon, Nicaragua. Or Nicaragua in general, you’ll know what I am talking about… Changed my flights twice to stay three times as long as I had planned! 😉

    • Liz November 17, 2015 at 1:35 pm #

      Woah that’s awesome!

  22. Katy November 16, 2015 at 9:02 pm #

    Wow wow wow! You look like you had the best time EVER! I’m super jealous seeing these sunny pics as the rain lashes my window in France. South Africa is defo on my travel bucket list!

    • Liz November 17, 2015 at 1:36 pm #

      It’s amzing!

  23. Elizabeth November 24, 2015 at 8:02 pm #

    Hi Liz – my husband and I were just in Cape Town in September and completely agree with you – it’s amazing. We were there for nine days and it didn’t feel like enough! We pondered just staying forever… 🙂

    • Liz November 30, 2015 at 5:09 pm #

      It’s a special place!

  24. Mia November 26, 2015 at 10:54 pm #

    Hi Liz,

    South Africa is the wonderful country to visit especially the Cape Town, through the pictures that shared with us is wonderful and lovely too.

    • Liz November 30, 2015 at 5:13 pm #

      Thanks!

  25. vodka martini recipes November 30, 2015 at 12:18 pm #

    Thanks so much for this blog; I have not been in Cape Town in years but I loved my holidays there in the past; brought back some memories and a desire to go there again!!!

    • Liz November 30, 2015 at 5:18 pm #

      I hope you get the chance to return!

  26. jay m. January 3, 2016 at 10:14 pm #

    cape town is so rad. it is said that you shouldn’t go anywhere twice. ha! i am getting ready to go again (last week in january). want to experience the beach and such – i live in beijing so this will be a breath of fresh air, literally. i was in the cape in july/august for winter – got to love offseason. it was really chill and i had the opportunity to get more indepth with the locals and local flavor. one of the unsung things to do in cape town is the high tea.

    great website, by the way.

    • Liz January 18, 2016 at 12:20 pm #

      I always revist places, I think its one of the best ways to get to know a place really well!

  27. Leasell January 21, 2016 at 10:37 pm #

    I’m a South African living in Spain and these pictures has just made me want to go home! lol..
    Loving Spain though!

  28. Michelle January 24, 2016 at 12:49 pm #

    This is just fantastic. My husband and I are going to South Africa later this year as a late honey moon. I loved reading this, I’m researching what to do while we are there. We definitely want to see Table mountain, go on safaris, see the Penguins, and were also cage diving with the great whites. I’ll be looking into some of the places you’ve mentioned. 😁😁

  29. sahra January 28, 2016 at 9:44 am #

    cape town is seriously THE BEST. I visited last March and lets just say I bring it up to my boyfriend that we should move there almost daily. It was so amazing, and has such a great way of life! How adorable that you got to see the baby penguins! When I went it was beautiful but there were no babies <3

    XO Sahra

  30. Carrey April 4, 2016 at 9:12 pm #

    What an awesome article! Thank you for portraying beautifully what an amazing destination Cape Town is, really awesome! From a South African whose heart lives in the Mother City 🙂

  31. Lisa April 29, 2016 at 5:38 am #

    I loved the way you have explained Cape Town in this post. We live in Durban and been to Cape Town a few times now… it’s probably our favourite city in beautiful, sunny, South Africa. Soooo happy I took the time to read this post… first time we heard of home hosted meals…. so keen to try it now on our next journey. Thank you for sharing!

  32. dannielle | While I'm Young and Skinny June 7, 2016 at 2:29 am #

    I’m totally using this to plan my trip! I’ve wanted to go for ages and have only just started researching properly. I’m a bit apprehensive going as a solo female, do you think it’s okay? I know we need to just forget that hesitance but I’m still nervous!

  33. Rachel September 21, 2016 at 2:32 am #

    I’ve never been to Cape Town, but it looks beautiful. I definitely want to make a trip out there. Thank you for sharing your experience!

  34. Jesse September 21, 2016 at 5:21 pm #

    Hi, there, I am really glad I have discovered your amazing blog. Let me add my favorite tourist place in South Africa
    1. Durban Beaches
    2. Golden Mile
    3. Promenade
    4. Victoria Indian street market (market streets of India)
    5. Umgeni River Bird Park

  35. Alina December 14, 2016 at 9:14 pm #

    Thanks for this interesting blog. I have learned so many things from you. Keep it up!

  36. marrymoore December 19, 2016 at 4:38 am #

    Thanks so much for this informative blog! enjoyable to see so many fun and new destinations. I can’t wait to get my own travels started and of course, continuing to follow your own. Happy New Year!

  37. Peter Schroeder January 3, 2017 at 7:33 am #

    Awesome stuff! Would you recommend living in Cape Town for May and June?

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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