South Africa is a country with a little bit of everything.
It’s got great markets and amazing restaurants – sure to make any food lover’s day. Beautiful sights and the most diverse scenery from modern cityscapes to sprawling winelands. And let’s not forget the adventure sports you’ll find at practically every turn – shark cave diving in Cape Town to surfing in Durban.
Needless to say, I had an amazing time in the ‘Mother City’ this April.
During my recent visit, the South African rand was at a low point, meaning bad news for locals but good news for me as a cash strapped traveller.
On top of that I was able to reconnect with old friends and meet a handful of new ones – who were happy to take me beyond the local tourist traps and show me a more authentic side to their homeland.
Here are a handful of my favorite things to see and do at my first stop in Cape Town:
- V&A Waterfront: Okay, so this part of the city is super expensive, but the good news is walking around and browsing come free. Spend some time strolling around the promenade, watch the beautiful yachts sail through the port and enjoy some of the live music and dancing in the heart of the square. If you have a little extra money to blow, you can feast on fresh seafood, book a boating tour around the harbor and even shop at some of the high end boutique stores.
- Hillsong Church: I won’t lie I’m pretty much a Hillsong groupie. It’s on my Christian bucket list to visit each Hillsong church around the globe (so far London, New York and South Africa have been ticked off). If you haven’t been to one of this international mega church’s services I promise you it’ll be worth your while. You’ll be greeted by beautiful worship music, followed by a powerful message of God’s love – and leave the building with renewed sense of hope, ready to go a little deeper in your walk with Christ.
- Table Mountain: This was for sure one of the highlights of my trip. I journeyed across the city by bus to get to the mountain base, then caught a cable car to the top. From there you’ll find the most stunning views of the city. Definitely a must see if you’re ever in South Africa.
- Bo Kaap – This beautiful little community is most known for its stunning neon and pastel colored houses. Take a walk along the narrow, cobblestone streets to capture some of the most amazing photographs from your trip; pop in to one of the local restaurants or soak up some of the rich history of this Malaysian settlement in one of the free city tours.
- Charly’s Bakery: When it comes to baked goods, locals in Cape Town swear by this place. After hearing about it glories, I walked an hour in the blazing hot sun to try and find it. I ended up getting a delicious chocolate cupcake and got to sit down in the quirky café for 20 minutes to cool off before devouring it.
- District Six Tour: This place has a lot of fascinating history. From what I was told it was originally a mixed community made up of freed slaves, immigrants, artisans, merchants and laborers. Known for its lively arts scene, jazz music and intellectual minds, the Government decided to confiscate the land, forcing out black South Africans in the early 1900s. It was declared a white are and the vibrant area gradually was no more. Through free city tours and a nearby museum you can learn more about this interesting part of the country’s racial and political history.
- Robben Island. It’s hard to imagine a trip to South Africa without taking a day trip out to Robben Island. In case you didn’t know this was where South African President and freedom fighter Nelson Mandela spent 18 years behind bars before the fall of apartheid. You’ll get a new appreciation for everything Mandela did – once you see the jail for yourself and hear about all the adversities he faced. Interesting fact: three of the former inmates of Robben Island went on to become President of South Africa: Nelson Mandela, Kgalema Motlanthe and current President Jacob Zuma.