Cape Town is the type of city that has visitors proclaiming instant love, and residents nodding quietly in agreement. It’s also a transient city, one that sees an influx of comers and goers. And those who’ve lived here will know that there are dozens of things to miss when you move away. Here are 11 of them.
There are few better ways to spend a mid-week summer evening than by relaxing on one of Cape Town’s picturesque beaches. With 8pm sunsets and temperatures that allow you to bask in the afterglow until well into the night, mid-week beach missions after work – or after a heavy day of sightseeing – are a spectacular reality.
Cape Town’s proximity to nature makes it one of the best cities in which to be active. A lazy Sunday morning can be ramped up in a matter of minutes with a decision to head for the hills on a spontaneous hike on Table Mountain or up Lion’s Head. There are myriad options for rejuvenating walks on the city’s various mountains, and many are just a few minutes away from the city.
The city’s mountains and oceans ensure that the Cape Town inner city will always be compact in size. This means that those who live in and around the city, Atlantic Seaboard and nearby suburbs like Woodstock are usually no more than 10 minutes away from “everywhere”. The limited space for urban sprawl means the city has retained a unique charm, and though this has unintended consequences such as gentrification, traffic, transportation and land prices, the ability to get around a bustling city in just a few minutes is an asset for many lucky enough to live close to the city.
Cape Town’s climate often gets a bad rap. Summers are too hot and windy, winters are cold and wet. And even when those topics dominate conversations, people bemoan the “four seasons in one day” phenomenon. But anyone who’s lived here will tell you that summers offer endless sunshine, winter rains refresh and replenish, and just when you think the weather couldn’t get more frustrating, you’re treated to a sublime windless and cloudless day – perfect for taking advantage of everything that the city has to offer.
Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that Long Street has a special kind of energy that at the very least is enthralling. Though this bustling party street that runs through the heart of Cape Town can be a bit chaotic at times, there’s a youthful, hedonistic energy that has even the haters missing it after a few weeks away.
Much like the nearby Long Street, Bree has its own fair share of fans and detractors. Many love it for its trendy restaurants, bars and coffee shops. Those who hate it, bemoan it for its trendy restaurants, bars and coffee shops. But there’s something about being able to walk a lengthy inner city street for several hundred metres, and encountering dozens of creative, innovative and welcoming spots in which to rest up, recharge, or while away an evening with friends.
With so many late night options available in Cape Town, it’s no wonder that so many people who leave the city long for hungover mornings wandering the aisles of the numerous Saturday morning markets. There are few better cures for a late night and a few too many drinks than an over-priced sandwich, pizza or strong coffee prepared before your very eyes, and few cities do this as well as Cape Town.
When the urge to escape the confines of the city hits, there are plenty of options just a short drive away. Wine drinker or not, wine estates make for an incredible break, and being minutes away from these historical locations that produce some of the best wines in the world is easy to miss. The most expansive vineyards are just over 30 minutes away by car, but if you’re looking for a quick escape to a tranquil wine farm you’ll find one just a short drive away.
At times it feels as if Cape Town is a village in a city. Though it’s obviously not true to say that everyone knows everyone, it’s not uncommon to learn there are just one or two degrees of separation between many friends who live in and around the city. This has its pros and cons, but it’s an endless source of fascination and conversation for many people who live here, and definitely something to miss in bigger, more impersonal cities.
Cape Town is no longer a burgeoning foodie city — it’s now one of the world’s most lauded culinary centres. World-class restaurants, coffee shops and bars continue to pop up around the city. Many still offer competitive prices compared to other similar cities around the world, and if you’re looking for a treat for a special occasion, you’re literally spoilt for choice with hundreds of amazing options.
Even the most punctual people fall prey to Cape Town’s relaxed approach to punctuality. “I’ll be there non-now” could mean anything from five minutes, to a couple of hours. Though it can annoy timeous visitors and residents, everyone who’s lived in the city has run late, and subsequently been saved by the wide-spread acceptance that this is the Mother City, where a bit of tardiness is more than acceptable.