Why Cape Town should be at the top of your bucket list
If this is your first visit to South Africa then this First-Timer’s Ultimate Travel Guide to South Africa is a must read to prepare for your trip. To learn how to get around the city please read our 10 ways to get around Cape Town South Africa
With so many options any visitor to Cape Town would be spoilt for choice about how to spend their days. One thing to note… 48 hours or 72 hours is not nearly enough to see and experience the bounties of this city. We have beaches, mountains, nature reserves, wildlife and game parks, botanical gardens, hot springs, marine life and friendly hospitable local people.
The cuisine of Cape Town is as varied as the origins of our forebears and includes influences from the Dutch East Indies colonies as well as from later waves of European and African immigrants and refugees. The same is true of the architectural styles found in the older neighbourhoods with Georgian, Victorian and Cape Dutch design being prevalent.
Cape Malay cuisine is unique to Cape Town and is the original fusion of Indonesian, Indian and European influences. The Cape Malay slaves combined their food memories with the available produce and the dietary requirements of their slave masters to develop an entirely new culinary tradition.
When is the best time to visit Cape Town
The timing of your visit should depend on what your interests are.
For the West Coast Wildflower spectacle the best time to visit is the last week of August through September.
For whale watching on the Cape Whale Coast the best time is between end of June through November.
For beach lovers November through April is sunny with occasional showers.
How to get to Cape Town
The Cape Town International Airport is the hub for travellers into the Western Cape province.
This is also the departure point for domestic air travel with flights to all parts of the country departing daily.
Cape Town city center is a 25 km drive from the airport and there are public busses, taxis and private transfers available to the city center.
Read more about the best ways to get around Cape Town.
Where to stay in Cape Town
The most scenic places to stay in Cape Town are on the Atlantic Seaboard.
The suburbs of De Waterkant, Green Point, Mouille Point, Three Anchor Bay and Sea Point are relatively affordable year round with prices increasing over the festive season.
The more exclusive suburbs of Camps Bay, Fresnaye, Bantry Bay and Llandudno are quite pricey throughout the year but more so during peak season. One of our favorite places for a staycation was at self-catering apartments at South Beach, Camp Bay.
Good seaside alternatives may be Noordhoek and Hout Bay further down the Atlantic Seaboard or Simon’s Town, Fish Hoek and St James on the False Bay coast.
Bed & Breakfast / Guesthouse / Self-catering apartments
There are quite a variety of options in Bo-Kaap, the City Bowl and the Atlantic seaboard, although most will not be Muslim owned or operated.
In the city center check out Cape Town City Living apartments for self catering options.
For Muslim owned properties the best areas are Walmer Estate, Rondebosch East, Crawford, Gatesville / Rylands, Surrey Estate and these are available on AirBnb. One thing to note is that there may be reduced access to some forms of public transport in these areas although Uber and Taxify services are available.
There are mosques or Islamic centres in the above-mentioned areas and sizable Muslim communities and easy access to halaal cafes, restaurants and butcheries.
Budget hotels - under €50 / US$ 57 per night
There are numerous apartments, lodges, Inns and backpackers lodges in this price range to be found in the city center, Bo Kaap, Green Point, Sea Point and Observatory.
The ones located in the city are usually within walking distance to The Company Gardens, Iziko Museums, Long Street food options, Cape Town Central Station and Taxi deck.
The stop for the Open Bus Tours is also walkable distance. The Table Mountain Cableway is accessible with a short tuk-tuk ride from Long Street.
Mid-priced hotels: from €50 - €150 / US$ 57 - 170 per night
The Holiday Inn Express is located in St. George’s Mall and has very basic rooms and amenities. They do serve breakfast but it is not halaal, although we were informed on the last day that we could have requested halaal friendly hot meals.
The Holiday Inn is located in Strand Street and has a few more amenities than the Holiday Inn Express. There are numerous halaal cafes and restaurants in the city center and other local brand hotels in the same area with similar prices.
There are boutique hotels like Mojo Hotel and chain hotels like Radisson Blue Le Vendome in Sea Point that fall in this price range.
Luxury hotels - above €150 / US$ 170 per night
The Taj Hotel is located on Wale Street a few blocks down and in the same area as the Holiday Inn Express.
The Hilton Cape Town City Centre is located on the corner of Buitengracht and Wale streets in Bo-Kaap. Their on-site restaurant 126 Kitchen and Café is certified Halaal.
On the Waterfront there is the Table Bay Hotel, Victoria and Alfred Hotel, One and Only and many others. All these hotels have shuttle services to the city center and can arrange sightseeing tours.
Where to eat halaal in Cape Town city center
Many eateries located in and around the city center or V&A Waterfront are Muslim owned and / or halaal certified. Most any of the chains like McDonalds, KFC, Nandos and Steers have halaal branches in the city center or suburbs.
Mariam’s Kitchen has branches all over the city center and they specialize in local take-away specialties like Gatsby’s, Salomies and Bunny chow.
Rosa’s Bakery is located in Upper Longmarket street and they serve freshly baked pastries, breads and sandwiches every day.
Batavia Cafe in Rose Street, Bo Kaap serves modern fusion cooking in a relaxed contemporary environment.
126 Cape Kitchen and Café at the Hilton Hotel, Bo Kaap is ideal for a special meal.
Saray Restaurant is located in De Waterkant at the Harbour Edge Building and serves delicious Turkish fare.
There are food hall style food bazaars like Eastern Food Bazaar that is located in Longmarket street; while Food Inn and The Village Buffet are located in Long Street. These are all halaal and serve different types of cuisines.
At the V&A Waterfront there is Myatt Cafe & Chocolatier and Col’Cacchio in the Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre and numerous fast food outlets in the food court that are halal.
Popular foods in Cape Town
- Gatsby – footlong sub sandwich filled with potato fries, chicken, steak or viennas
- Salomie – Roti filled with curry
- Boerewors roll – sub sandwich with spicy sausage and onion and tomato relish
- Bunny chow – half or quarter bread filled with curry
- Koesisters – Cape Malay Spiced doughnuts
- Milk tart – Cape Malay custard tart
How to get around Cape Town
Visitors to Cape Town have access to Golden Arrow and MyCiti bus services, metro rail services, private taxi services, Uber and Taxify. There are also numerous car rental agents operating from the Cape Town International airport and branches in the city.
Must see attractions in Cape Town
Activities and organised tours may be arranged via the hotels or if you are staying independently tours can be booked online through Get Your Guide.
Our private organized tour company of choice is Cool Running Travels and you can read about our Cape Peninsula Tour from Cape Town with them. The owner is Muslim and can make provision for prayer stops and facilities on the private tours, if requested.
- Table Mountain
- Victoria and Alfred Waterfront & Food Market
- Robben Island
- Chapman’s Peak Drive
- Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve and Cape Point
- Boulder’s Beach
- Seal Island
- Groot Constantia
- Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
- Watch the sunset from Lion’s Head or Signal Hill
- The Company’s Gardens
- The Good Company Market in the Company’s Gardens – Sundays 10am-3pm
- The Slave Lodge
- The Bo-Kaap Museum
- The District 6 Museum
- Zeitz Mocaa Museum of Contemporary Art – Free entry on the First Friday of every month; Free entry to African citizens on Wednesdays between 10am-1pm (on presentation of ID/Driver’s Licence/Passport)
- On the First Thursdays of every month a number of the galleries and exhibition spaces in the City Bowl and East City have extended opening hours past 9pm or later. It’s a cool itinerary for a self-guided tour.
- The Old Biscuit Mill’s Neighbourgood’s Market -Saturday 8am-2pm
- The Earth Fair Food Market in St George’s Mall – Thursdays 11am-3pm
- My Gourmet Market (halaal) Paarden Eiland – Sundays 9am-6pm
- The Mojo Market Sea Point – Every day 8am-11pm
Have you or your family visited Cape Town? Would you return and why?
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