In this blog, the lovely Eva Nollen, a Dutch, Amsterdam-based mother of 3 and expat who lived in Cape Town for several years, tells us how you can spend 3 days with your family in Cape Town. In our opinion, this one should be added to your travel bucket list, and what better way to explore a city, than with a ‘local’s’ favorite insights?
“South Africa, beautiful Cape Town in particular, is an all-time favorite holiday destination and not without good reason! In this urban jungle, where you’re surrounded by white beaches, breathtaking nature, and a buzzing cityscape, you’ll never run out of things to do.
I can guarantee that every family member will enjoy themselves here! While living in Cape Town as an expat for almost 6 years, I managed to find the best spots on and off the beaten track. Check out my favorites below for 3 days with your family in Cape Town!”
“Get active! There’s truly no better way to recover from a journey than with a Cape Town-style hike. If your kids are slightly older, I recommend walking (and eventually climbing) up Lion’s Head. It’s an adventurous, but totally doable hike that takes roughly 1,5 hours. There are some ladders and (minimal) climbing involved, but my then 4-year-old son was happy to participate.
The view of the city from the top is magnificent and totally worth it! For your family’s older members and more experienced hikers, climbing up Table Mountain should be an excellent challenge. Although you’ll find various trails ranging in difficulty, the quickest and easiest route up takes roughly 2 hours. Make sure to pack light, but bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and a hat. Sturdy shoes are recommended.”
“After your hike, drive to Kloof Street for lunch. Cafe Paradiso is our favorite! It lies in the heart of Cape Town at the foot of Table Mountain, and has a rustic-chic farmhouse setting with a stunning garden area and adorable cobbled pathways.
Your kids will love making their own pizzas and baking cookies in the kitchen, while you indulge in fresh pasta and mouth-watering risotto, and sip on some local wine. If you’re a seafood-lover, I recommend going to V&A Waterfront and getting a table outside at the Harbour House. They serve amazing sushi and the views are spectacular. Sometimes, you even see seals swimming beneath the terrace.”
“After lunch, you should roam around V&A Waterfront, which boasts all kinds of stores, street-entertainers, and food-stalls. V&A Waterfront is also home to an impressive aquarium, which your young ones will love. For the art-lovers in the family, the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art, which often has beautiful and inspiring exhibitions on display, is just around the corner.
Alternatively, The Watershed (a local market area) is a must-visit. Here, you’ll find over 150 designers offering unique local crafts from textiles to ceramics, furniture, fashion, and jewelry. I can guarantee that you’ll find something to take home here!”
“On your second day in exciting Cape Town, you can explore one (or several) of the many beaches the area has to offer. Book a surf lesson for your kids (or yourself) at Muizenberg Beach. There are quite a few surf shops on the main strip, but we always loved Surf Emporium.
You can rent your board and wetsuit there, and should you opt for a lesson, then the teachers are great. Roxy and her husband run this shop, and they are the most amazing people.”
“You will probably be hungry after riding the waves. Luckily, there are plenty of food options around! If you feel like a burger and fries, go to Tiger’s Milk.
You will love the restaurant’s versatile menu and hip industrial decor. They are very child-friendly, and the easy-going vibe is great!”
“Craving seafood? Live Bait, located right on the strip, is an excellent spot owned by the same owners as The Harbour House. Make sure to try their fantastic sushi!”
“If you have some time to spare, drive down to Kalk Bay, a favorite among locals, expats, and tourists alike, and perhaps one of Cape Town’s best spots. If you decide to go here for lunch, another Harbour House restaurant is located on a large rock by the sea.
While you enjoy a fresh seafood pasta, you can see seals jumping in the sea, and waves crashing onto the rocks around you. It’s my favorite spot! Just want to walk around? No problem! Explore the many boutiques on the strip or make a coffee and pastry stop at Bootlegger Coffee Company.”
“After lunch, drive down the Cape Peninsula and find Boulders Beach. This will undoubtedly become your kids’ new favorite spot. The beach is home to a big colony of penguins, and you can walk along a sea-side boardwalk to see them from up-close. How cool is that? Boulders Beach is also home to a small local-crafts market, and you’ll often find local entertainers doing their thing.”
“After visiting the penguins, continue driving to the Cape of Good Hope, one of South Africa’s most beautiful national parks. On your drive towards the Cape of Good Hope, the southern tip of the Cape Peninsula, which boasts spectacular ocean views, you may even bump into some baboons, zebras, and ostriches. Regardless, the drive will be marvelous!”
“After that, drive back up the Peninsula along the Atlantic seaside. Drive past Misty Cliffs and up to Kommetjie, a tranquil little town with a very laidback surfer-feel to it. The blue ocean combined with the gorgeous white lighthouse is a true dream.”
“As you continue driving up north, you’ll reach Noordhoek, another adorable town. Should you feel like stopping, I highly suggest visiting The Farm Village, an easy, relaxed hotspot that is amazing for kids! Take a look at the little stalls, or have a coffee while your kids run around on the lawn and explore the playground.”
“Another beautiful stop along the route back to Cape Town, is Cape Point Vineyards in Noordhoek. Beautiful wines, and beautiful views! There is a huge lawn where the kids can play, and if you arrange for a picnic basket in advance (accompanied by one of their delicious local wines, of course), you can grab a blanket and lounge on the grass. There’s also a great playground on-site. In other words, you and your little ones will love it here.”
“Once you’ve passed Noordhoek, you’ll reach Chapman’s Peak Drive, one of the most breathtaking parts of the Cape Peninsula. Drive along the coast and mountains for beautiful views of the ocean and nearby beach towns. You’ll find several lookouts along the way, which are worth stopping at.
Beware that this is a tollway, and they only allow payment in cash or local bank cards (make sure you have roughly 35-50 ZAR with you). Drive through Hout Bay and continue driving up north, but definitely take the Llandudno exit along the way. Here, you’ll find another small bay, but without any commercial businesses. The beach is stunning and remarkably tranquil!”
“End your exciting road trip in Camps Bay, which is one of the more touristy beaches, but also a great hotspot and definite must-visit! You’ll find a plethora of lovely restaurants along the beach. I can guarantee that you’ll find a nice spot to watch the sunset! For the (young) adults and night-owls in the family, Café Caprice is a go-to for lounging, dancing, artisan cocktails, and a taste of Cape Town’s cosmopolitan social scene!”
“On your last day, go into town and visit one (or more) of Cape Town’s many museums and cultural spots. Bo Kaap and its adorable colorful houses, which radiate Cape Malay influences, are a must-visit. Make sure to stop by Batavia for a delicious coffee, fresh juice, or pastry.
Hop over to Long Street and roam around the local markets for some amazing South African vibes (and a cute souvenir). Or, as mentioned previously, visit the Zeitz MOCAA, the first contemporary African museum in Cape Town, set in the most astonishing building; floor after floor is filled with meticulous African art and its diaspora.
By the way, the V&A Food Market is located just around the corner and is a must-visit for foodies. Another vibrant food market located in the heart of Sea Point is Mojo Market: a go-to for international food stalls, live music, and cute boutiques.”
“More into a chic afternoon high-tea to round off your trip in style, then the stunning Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel is the place to be!”
“If you happen to be in Cape Town during the weekend, I highly recommend visiting the Old Biscuit Mill on Saturday morning! Not only is it home to a bunch of adorable boutiques and great culinary spots, but you’ll also find the trendy and buzzing Neighborgoods Market here, where designers of all origins sell their art and fashion, with products ranging from traditional African to Scandivanian expat-style. Make sure to check out the street-art in Woodstock while you’re in the neighborhood.”
The Test Kitchen has, on numerous occasions, been ranked highly in the Top 50 of Best Restaurants in the world, making it incredibly hard to get a table here, but if you do manage to do so, don’t miss this opportunity! Get a babysitter for the kids, and enjoy this incredible culinary experience.”
“Don’t miss out on a lovely wine-tasting at Groot Constantia Wine Estate. It has a huge lawn where the kids can run around and venture out into the vineyards. Their restaurant, Jonkershuys, offers some amazing local Malay dishes. You’ll love this gem!”
“Although Cape Town is filled with great stays, the 12 Apostles Hotel is truly extraordinary. They have a great spa, an extensive wine cellar, several restaurants and bars, and a fine-dining menu consisting of inventive Cape fusion cuisine. My favorite part, however, is the view from the terrace. Enjoying a cocktail (or mocktail) with your loved ones, while marveling at the sunset and stunning Table Mountain National Park scenery, is an experience to die for.
Although Cape Town’s hotspots are located right around the corner (including several mountain walks, beaches, and the main city), should you opt to spend the day at the hotel, you will have just as much of a great time. Your kids will love the on-site cinema, the pool toys provided during the summer, and spotting whales and dolphins from their lounge chairs. The Café Grill has a great kids menu and, at any point during the day, your little ones can help themselves to fruit salad at the refreshment station. What more could you ask for?”
More inspiration like this article about 3 days with your family in Cape Town? Catch up with travelbee Felicia for her tips on what to do around Cape Town or read our tips for stylish and sustainable family stays around Franschhoek.