The ultimate guide to exploring Cape Town like a tourist

With travel restrictions easing and South Africa off many countries’ dreaded ‘red list’, tourists are returning to our beautiful shores. This is where they can play and stay this summer — and where you can be a tourist in your own town.

That happens. Things are finally looking up on the visitors’ side. Last December, the Mother City has seen an increase in visitor numbers, with Cape Town International Airport reporting a recovery of 66% for domestic arrivals and 29% for international arrivals compared to 2019.

Alderman James Vos, a member of Cape Town’s municipal committee for economic growth, said that judging by demand, this upward trajectory will continue for trips to Cape Town and South Africa. This bodes well for February, considered the “second” peak season in South Africa and the Western Cape.

Tasso Evangelinos, CEO of Cape Town Improvement District (CCID), says: “Having won the Telegraph Travel Readers Award for “The Greatest City in the World” in 2018 and the 2021 Travel + Leisure Award for Best Destination in the Middle East and Africa, The cap — and its vibrant CBD — is the perfect destination for explorers and other travelers looking to catch up on the last two years’ hiatus.

He adds that it is imperative to support the hospitality industry, as well as local businesses, now. “It has been devastating to see the continued impact of the pandemic and travel bans on businesses in Cape Town CBD. And now that South Africa’s COVID-19 restrictions have been eased again, it’s time for an adventure in our beautiful historic central city. It’s open for business!

Here’s a guide to exploring your city like it’s the very first time:

Walking under the sun

The best way to soak up the true spirit of Cape Town is on walking tours. As a qualified tour guide, Lesley Cox specializes in helping visitors absorb the sights and sounds of the city through engaging walking tours. Relaxed and informative, these walking tours come highly recommended. Choose from the Heritage City Center, Castle of Good Hope, Society Garden, and other themed tours, such as Memorial Art in the City Center.

The Ark for the Ark. Photo: @capetownwalkingtours/Instagram

Share a drink with Gorgeous George

Created from two beautifully restored heritage buildings, the Gorgeous George is a strong contender for the title of the hippest hotel bar in town. Boasting incredible views, a fantastic restaurant, a rooftop bar and a pool that looks like it was handcrafted by the summer gods themselves, Gorgeous George is where friends come to stay and play – and toast the holidays!

Poolside paradise. Photo: @gorgeousgeorgecpt / Instagram

A hassle-free bus

If you’re looking for something a little quieter, look no further. Taking a red bus tour allows you to sit back, relax and explore all the CBD has to offer. With optional audio guides and the ability to hop on and off as you please, tours are incredibly customizable. You can choose from a range of packages for children and adults, including a hop-on hop-off tour between the CBD and the V&A Waterfront. Whether you want to spend your time sightseeing, sampling the local arts, culture and culinary scenes, or mixing it all up, taking a bus has never been so much fun. It’s the perfect way to be a tourist in your own neighborhood.

The red bus. Photo: @sacitypass / Instagram

you deserve it baby

Although it is not an adventure in itself, it is certainly the ideal way to start a successful year! Southern Sun The Cullinan offers iconic spa experiences that are both indulgent and unique, creating the perfect symmetry between luxury and wellness. There’s no better way to enjoy your vacation than by indulging in therapeutic massages, cleansing facials and invigorating body treatments. Every element of a Cullinan spa visit is designed to stimulate the senses and prepare you for 2022.

Pure class. Photo: @jennyrobert_ex_decor / Instagram

Food, glorious food

Nowhere else in South Africa will you find such an eclectic collection of gastronomic delights. Widely regarded as the nation’s foodie capital, Cape Town is where you can find everything from exquisite meals crafted by award-winning chefs like Luke Dale Roberts, to the glorious Gatsby. If you throw a stone in any direction, it will crash through the window of a cooking experience that could change your life or at the very least give you a beautiful new food baby. Cape Town could be called the culinary capital of summer delights.

Where to find the Greatest Gatsby:

SKY-HI ride

Tied to a chair 146 meters above the City Bowl, everything in Cape Town looks serene, like a landscape painting come to life. For a few moments you are on top of the world and the view from up there is stunning. Like all good things though, these moments are fleeting and before you know it, you’re plummeting back to Earth on the thrill ride that got you there. This is the internationally acclaimed Sky-Hi Ride at the Sky Hotel, and it’s one of only three comparable experiences in the world.

Browse Public Art

Few things are more enjoyable than enjoying a low-speed ride through the CBD, soaking up all the arts and culture the mother city has to offer. As an art and design tour specialist offering both public and private tours, Kate Crane Briggs of Culture Connect runs tours that are the ‘city walk’. Focusing primarily on design and architecture, heritage and social history, visiting Briggs is a fantastic way to reacquaint yourself with the CBD.

Go grow! Photo: @cultureconnect_sa / Instagram

Sharpen your craft

Calling all crafters! Meet cool people and socialize while creating something beautiful. Join the Craft Circle and bring your embroidery kit, clay toolbox, sewing machine, sketchbook, or whatever you want. The three-hour sessions are led on Wednesdays by Andie Reeves, teacher, textile artist and owner of the Cape Town Craft Club.

Embroider like a boss! Photo: @capetowncraftclub / Instagram

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Picture: Cultural connection / instagram

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