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
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.
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.
What to Do
The intersection of shopping and art
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
What to Pack
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.
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.