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The Design Capital of the World

If you’re ever like, “Hmm…should I go to Europe or should I go to Africa?” then we’ve got good news: They had a love child, and her name is Cape Town. With classical architecture from the Dutch and Brits, a jaw-dropping landscape and a thriving cosmopolitan culture, this South African hot spot is truly the best of both worlds. Whether you're shopping for locally-designed furniture in Woodstock, eating milk tart on Bree Street or chilling with penguins at Boulder Beach, here’s how to see this under-the-radar design capital like the smart insider that you are.

 

Where to Stay

Classic Dutch architecture and minimalist flair

Steenberg

Just outside the city, at the foot of wine country, this 17th-century farmhouse and rolling vineyard is luxurious yet relaxed and rustic. The restored suites are built around a tree-lined square with lush gardens, and each features exposed wooden beams and funky antiques. Warning: Between the unbelievable food, wine, spa and utter tranquility, you may never make it into the city.

capegrace Leading Hotels of the World

Cape Grace

Set on the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, this hotel can't be beat for the views and classic Capetonian style. Service is top-notch, with a chauffeured BMW at the ready for adventures beyond the panoramic pool.

granddaddy South African Safari

Grand Daddy Hotel

Love quirky vintage charm? The hip set checks into this historic-turned-modern hotel, where you can choose between sleek suites or designer Airstream trailers on the roof.

What to Do

The intersection of shopping and art

bokaap Barry Haynes/Wikicommons

De Waterkant to Bo-Kaap

Forget those kitschy wooden giraffes and zebras. Find graphic textiles, bead-work bowls and other not-for-tourist treasures in the historic De Waterkant district. (Make a special stop at beloved shops Africa Nova and Nap Living.) Then walk to the Bo-Kaap neighborhood to watch the sculptors at the Street Wires studio.

millbasin Honeytrek.com

Woodstock

Think of Woodstock as the Brooklyn of Cape Town, packed with vintage finds and trendy cafés. On Saturdays, nearly 100 gourmet food and art vendors pop up at The Old Biscuit Mill, a warehouse turned hipster fantasy. Come hungry, since this is your chance to eat as many Dutch pancakes as humanly possible.

waterfront ARKA Travel

Victoria and Alfred Waterfront

This super-scenic harbor is the gateway to the city's history and style. Take a leisurely stroll to take in the buildings. (Remember “Cape Dutch Architecture” to sound extra savvy.) Then focus your shopping efforts at The Watershed, which is made up of 150 boutiques for African design.

Where to Venture

Spend a day outside the city

Cape Peninsula and The Winelands

Take a half-hour road trip to the charming beach towns of Kalk Bay and Noordhoek--and don’t miss the penguin colony at Boulders Beach. (No joke, 100-plus tuxedo-ed cuties await you.) If you’ve got an extra day, head north toward the towns of Stellenbosch and Franschoek to stop by the famed vineyards and take in the Boschendal winery’s stunning architecture.

Where to Eat

Taste the rainbow

Africa Cafe

The country's first "African restaurant" offers seasonal cuisine from Tanzania, Malawi, Ethiopia, South Africa, Morocco and more with dining rooms in the striking style of each country. It's so authentic and exotic, you'd be hard-pressed to find these culinary delights without a bush plane.

capetownresto11 Hemelhujs

HEMELHUIJS

Just off of bustling Bree Street, Hemelhuijs is a design and dining oasis in the middle of downtown thanks to constantly changing tableware and playful displays of flowers and knickknacks. If you haven't tried melktert (milk tart), you haven't lived.

tjingtjing Brandon Shigeta

Tjing Tjing

This rooftop deck and loft-like lounge is a hidden hot spot for late-night cocktails and people-watching. Passion fruit caipirinhas? Yes, please!

What to Pack

capetownpack1 Eddie Bauer

A Wind-Resistant Trench

Cape Town is dangling at the edge of a continent, so it gets pretty gusty. A stylish wind-resistant jacket is your new best friend.

Eddie Bauer ($150)

capetownpack2 Fortune

Your Fitbit

Swap your heels for a pair of comfy flats in this oh-so-walkable city--and behold as your fitness tracker progress goes through the roof.

Amazon ($85)

capetownpack3 Twenty20

A South-African Adapter

Got a universal adapter? It won’t work in Cape Town. (Really.) Order up a South Africa-specific adapter and you'll be up and running on 230 volts in no time.

Amazon ($6)