An Essential Guide to Cape Town

Babylonstoren, Winelands
Babylonstoren, Winelands | Jess Stafford/© Culture Trip
Lee-Shay Collison

Whether you’re travelling the world or enjoying a gap year before college, Cape Town is a cultural hotspot for millennials from all corners of the globe. The city’s strong arts and culture scene, variety of food, historical attractions and easy-going lifestyle, all contribute to its charm. Read our guide for the best, most enriching experiences in Cape Town.

Babylonstoren, Winelands

Art and culture

Cape Town boasts a vibrant art scene, with a multitude of art galleries committed to visual and contemporary art around the city. A walk along the city’s coolest streets will introduce you to a plethora of hip art galleries, vintage stores, and interior design shops where you can spend hours browsing the objects and artworks on display or for sale. In the centre of town, stroll through the beautiful Company’s Garden where you’ll find South Africa’s oldest art gallery, as well as several museums dedicated to South African natural and social history.

Company’s Garden
Street art in Woodstock

Performing arts are also a major feature of the city, and a great way to learn about the history and character of Cape Town through plays and musicals. Catch a show at local theatres like the Artscape, Fugard and Baxter, to name a few.

Company’s Garden

Along Signal Hill, you will find the Bo-Kaap, an historic suburb known for its colourful townhouses. Take a walk up Wale Street and visit the Bo-Kaap Museum, where you’ll discover the history of the former Malay Quarter. To the west of the CBD are the bohemian suburbs of Woodstock and Observatory, well known for its many art galleries, interior design shops, fashion studios, and trendy bars and cafés. Check out the Neighbourgoods Market at the Old Biscuit Mill on Saturdays for where you can try a wide array of local food and check out designer goods.

V&A Waterfront


Cape Town is well known for its laidback approach to life, largely due to the numerous beaches, wine farms and outdoor activities on offer, especially during summer. Between November and March, the city comes alive with a myriad outdoor carnivals, markets and music festivals, while the Cape Winelands provide the perfect setting for languid lunches and wine-tasting. Braaing (barbecuing) is also a huge pastime among Capetonians, and a popular way to spend the weekend whether at home or at one of the many outdoor braai spots around the city. If you haven’t eaten shisanyama (braaied meat), then you haven’t truly experienced Cape Town!

Babylonstoren, Winelands

Clothing wise, Cape Town style is mostly relaxed and casual, except when attending large social events like the J&B Met or partying at a swanky bar or club.

Capetonians are also active and love the outdoors. You’ll often find a throng of joggers wending their way along the Sea Point promenade, hiking Lion’s Head, or picnicking at beautiful parks and gardens like Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden or Green Point Park. There’s also ample opportunity for water sports, abseiling, cycling, swimming and fishing at various beaches and nature reserves, such as Cape Point and the West Coast National Park.

Life’s a beach

Food & Drink

South African cuisine is a delicious fusion of Dutch, French, British and Cape Malay cooking borne from settlers at the Cape. Although you’ll find many restaurants dedicated to local cuisine like Mama Africa and Bo-Kaap Kombuis, there are a variety of venues that serve contemporary cuisine from around the world. Bree and Kloof streets are especially favourite foodie hangouts, while delicious artisanal food is abundant at places like The Old Biscuit Mill, the V&A Food Market and the Hout Bay Market. You can also enjoy fine dining at many Cape Town wine estates like La Colombe and De Grendel and more.

Coffee culture is big in Cape Town
Fish on the Rocks at Hout Bay


Cape Town’s nightlife is mostly active from Thursday to Saturday, when numerous bars and nightclubs are open until the early hours. Check out Long Street and Bree Street in the CBD for some of the best bars and clubs, or Camps Bay where resto-bars like Cafe Caprice are a hit. During the week, the city’s bars are generally emptier but still remain open until late for a post-work tipple.


In truth, Cape Town does not have the best public transport system, but there are a few decent modes of transport you could use. Metrorail is South Africa’s national commuter rail provider, but service is extremely unreliable and trains are delayed almost daily. A more convenient and safer alternative is the MyCiti bus service, which runs in the CBD, along the Atlantic Seaboard, and in certain areas of the Cape Flats. All you have to do is purchase a MyConnect card, which costs around ZAR30 (UK£1.80) , from a MyCiti Kiosk or participating retailer. If you’d prefer to travel by car, there are countless metered taxis in the city to get you from A to B, or you can choose to travel with Uber.

Golden Arrow buses and taxis

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

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