“There is no other place that I would rather be imprisoned for 26 years than on some island nearby.” Nelson Mandela on Cape Town
From its position at the southern-most tip of Earth’s most epic continent, South Africa offers more opportunities for adventure and cultural refinement than one may consider possible in a single country. Where else can you hike to the top of a mountain and discover a staggering array of plant and animal species, cage dive amid one of the world’s highest concentration of great white sharks, taste wine on horseback, have brunch on the beach, and watch lions roam freely in the wild?
Start by visiting Cape Town during the buzzing summer season (December to March), where a vibrant day scene rival the pulse of the night. The Mother City radiates a consistent, palpable hum of cool year-round, however, thanks to local artists, stunning backdrops and the laid-back vibe of the Capetonians. When it’s time to wind down and reflect, take a scenic drive to the winelands at Stellenbosch and Franschhoek where you can visit world-renowned wineries, an eclectic motor collection, and the beautifully preserved Bablyonstoren Farm.
For the finale: a safari in Kruger National Park and a stay at one of the luxurious, stylish resorts that are nestled right in the center of one of the world’s most extraordinary wild animal habitats. Former South African president Nelson Mandela may have perfectly articulated South Africa’s ability to inspire and enrich when he said of it “There is no other place that I would rather be imprisoned for 26 years than on some island nearby.”
This smart in-and-outdoor space on Bree Street is an institution of sorts, featuring craft beers (&Union brew their own) and charcuterie aplenty. Local live bands play on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays.
During the summer months, modern French fare is served on a sun-drenched, brick paved courtyard at Bizerca in Cape Town’s Heritage Square. Lovingly prepared by a husband and wife team, the menu is crafted using only locally sourced ingredients.
The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa
Set in the heart of Table Mountain National Park, the Twelve Apostles is a veritable haven of calm, perfectly placed between a high mountain range and the Atlantic Ocean. Enjoy two pools, two restaurants, and an award-winning spa, or head out to Cape Town’s nearby beaches and bars.
Green Point. The newly opened upstairs bar serves thirty-seven varieties of imported tequila.
One of the oldest and most beautiful farmsteads in the Franschhoek wine region, Babylonstoren is worth visiting for its stunning garden alone. The guest suites have recently undergone a multi-million dollar refurbishment that echoes the style of Cape Dutch farm buildings. Thorough attention to detail and a menu featuring homegrown organic produce are the order of the day at Babel, the farm’s restaurant. Owner Karen Roos has created something truly exceptional here.
Shark Cage Diving
Come face to face with a four-meter great white shark on a cage diving adventure in Gansbaai, South Africa.
View the magnificence of the Western Cape from a fresh perspective on a Tandem Skydiving trip.
Nature lovers and adrenaline junkies will enjoy hiking Table Mountain, the iconic landmark that towers over Cape Town. For those who prefer a more leisurely route, take the cable car to the top and marvel at the spectacular view.
Grand Café & Beach
Party with the lean of limb and high of cheekbone at this summertime beach restaurant and bar in Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront. Grand Café & Beach is the best place in the city to watch the sunset… and the beautiful people.
In November 2012, seminal menswear designer Paul Smith put his British stamp on Cape Town’s fashionable Bree Street.
Expect only the freshest ingredients at this organic breakfast and lunch spot in the heart of the Gardens where the menu includes six varieties of home-baked bread.
The Woodstock Foundry
A new edition to Cape Town’s creative community, the Foundry houses an eclectic mix of retail, studio, and workshop spaces. Highlights include Bronze Age, a casting factory and outlet; Vogle, a design store that supplies furniture to local hotels; and Superette, an artsy café and restaurant ideal for a healthy breakfast.
Matchless views of Bantry Bay, a gargantuan spa, and a private African art collection worth $65 million make Ellerman House the epitome of comfort and class (and a favorite of Sir Elton John). Stay in one of 11 beautifully appointed rooms, or for larger groups seeking a more private oasis, stay in one of the two five-bedroom villas, which include all hotel amenities as well as your own private butler.
Kyoto Gardens Sushi
Owned by spirited ex-Porsche salesman Scott Lee Wood from Los Angeles, Kyoto Gardens serves the best sushi in Cape Town. A cool beech wood interior, great service, and a first-class wine list help seal the deal.
The Pot Luck Club
Set on the sixth floor of Woodstock’s Old Biscuit Mill, the views of Table Mountain alone make the trip to this high-end brasserie worthwhile. Be sure to book early, though: tables are hard to come by in peak season.
Surrounded by thirty acres of vineyards and plum orchards and with a stunning mountain backdrop, these super-deluxe Franschhoek digs are in a class of their own. Peaceful and secluded, the sprawling estate boasts eleven enormous suites, five private villas, an infinity pool, and a world-class spa and restaurant.
Power and Glory
At night, this coffee and brunch spot morphs into one of the city’s coolest and liveliest bars. DJs spin ’80s music, there’s a great artisanal food menu, and local microbrews are on sale for beer aficionados.
Orphanage Cocktail Emporium
This Capetonian speakeasy has a cocktail list as long as the line at the door. Always slammed with a cool, young crowd, the ’20s flapper vibe fits perfectly with the turn-of-the-century building.
The glass storefront, high ceilings, and white-tiled interior of this concept space offers a place for coffee, comfort food, and apparel. This innovative café/clothing outlet is meticulously curated by its hip, young staff. The menswear range includes Acne, A.P.C., and Our Legacy. Another bonus is the (almost entirely) Aesop beauty collection on display in the upstairs grooming section.
Old Biscuit Mill
This nineteenth-century building in fashionable Woodstock is home to more than 30 workshops, studios, designer stores, and restaurants, and it remains a creative hub for Cape Town’s artists and designers. The Mill is also the site of the Neighbourgoods Market, a weekly gathering of local farmers, fine-food purveyors, and organic merchants, open every Saturday from 9am to 2pm (a must go-to).
Based in The Gardens district of Cape Town, Robert Sherwood offers interior design, decorating, art, and architecture for hotels, resorts, and private residences. The mostly artisanal pieces range from minimal sculptures to large-scale abstract works.
Singita Sweni Lodge
Singita Sweni Lodge is nestled amongst hundreds of trees within a 33,000 acre private compound at the edge of Sweni River in Kruger National Park. Inside the walls of this tranquil hideaway the rich, calming colors and textures echo the natural surroundings.
Delaire Graff Estate
Laurence Graff, chairman of Graff Diamonds International, acquired this magnificent Cape Winelands property in 2003. The estate now includes vineyards, a luxury lodge and spa, a Graff Diamonds store, and a privately curated art gallery, including works by Deborah Bell, Sydney Kumalo, and Fred Schimmel.
Royal Malewane is situated on a private reserve within the Greater Kruger National Park. It is an exclusive luxury African safari getaway for those who value privacy, personalized service, and the best game viewing in Africa. The self-contained, stylish and luxurious Africa House, located a few minutes drive from the main lodge, is the perfect option for groups of up to 12.
Johann Rupert Car Collection
Located in the beautiful L’Ormarins wine estate, the private vehicle collection of South African businessman Johann Rupert offers a unique perspective on one hundred years of motoring history. More than three hundred cars, motorcycles, and a range of memorabilia are on show.
Located in the picture-perfect Cape Town suburb of Constantia, Klein Constantia has been a cool climate vineyard and wine estate for over 300 years. Fans of the estate’s famous wines have included Napoleon Bonaparte and Charles Baudelaire.