6 Things You Can't Leave Cape Town Without Doing

cape town south africa life is lekker

1. Wander Woodstock

Woodstock is to Cape Town what Shoreditch is to London and Brooklyn to NYC. Basically if Solange was in Cape Town, this is where she would hang out and take achingly cool pictures to post later on Instagram. What used to be an industrial neighbourhood has slowly been inflitrated with hipster coffee shops and quirky boutiques. Unlike the cookie cutter malls in other parts of the city, Woodstock is where you'll discover some of South Africa's most talented artists and designers. I recommend starting off at The Old Biscuit Mill, followed by a hearty face stuffing at the Neighbourgoods Market if it is a Saturday. On other days of the week satisfy your foodie pangs at The Test Kitchen or confusingly, down the road at The Kitchen  where Michelle Obama lunched while she was in town. While you're in The Mill (I'd like to think that's what Cape Tonians call it), the Kat Van Duinen boutique is another favourite where Kat's commitment to South African workmanship is to be admired, in the form of handmade leather bags and slinky silk dresses. 

Once stuffed and laden with shopping bags, explore yonder into Woodstock by strolling down Albert Road which is heaving with art galleries (What If The World is a good'un), foodie hotspots and the hipster kind of graffiti that comes with gentrification. Woodstock is one of Cape Towns oldest neighbourhoods- even my Grandmother was born here- and is one of the most interesting parts of the city so don't miss it! 

Abode Design Old Biscuit Mill Woodstock Cape Town

Spotted: The most amazing map of Africa we've ever seen- plus bonus points for being made out of old books. Found in the Abode store, Old Biscuit Mill, Woodstock 

bo kaap cape town south africa coffee haas collective origin roasting

2. Brunch in Bo Kaap 

If I ever lived in Cape Town, Bo Kaap is where you would find me. Who wouldn't want to live on streets where you can paint your house whatever colour you like and the neighbors won't care? A short walk out of the bustle of the city centre, this quiet neighbourhood on the slope of Lion's Rump hill is one of the most colourful places in the world according to the Huffington Post. Another one of Cape Town's historically rich areas,  home to CT's first ever mosque, it's lower streets are filled with artist's studios and gallery-cum-coffee houses while the upper streets remain the main residential area of Cape Town's muslim community. 

The breakfast and coffee at the Haas Collective on Rose Street is simple yet stunning, with a wonderful little store and design gallery filled with eclectic locally made pieces. They even have an advertising agency across the road, adding to their creative power house. Origin at 28 Hudson Street is another place that serves up a flawless brunch in a deconstructed warehouse type setup where they take their coffee and tea making very seriously. This isn't just a cafe apparently, so don't show up in last nights clothes hoping for a greasy breakfast, but a 'tasting room' for their artisan roastery and barista school upstairs. Luckily their food and coffee are as delicious as they are slightly pretentious, and will leave you feeling ready to conquer Cape Town. In a touristy, completely non-colonial way of course. 

bo kaap cape town south africa visit explore see

3. Buy Proudly ZA   

For God's sake, don't make like most tourists in Cape Town and head straight for the Waterfront to do your shopping. I really don't see the point in travelling all the way to South Africa only to go shopping in Topshop, so head to Long Street for some unique pieces that you won't find anywhere else. My favourite is Merchants on Long, and not just because their staff are ridiculously good looking. (S/O to the hot Congolese guy on the till). Merchants on Long is a treasure trove of African design, stocking the who's who of African fashion from Nigeria's Jewel By Lisa to Cote d'Ivoire's Laurence Airline. Housed in an historical and beautiful building, Merchants on Long are our kindred 'Made in Africa' spirits that we can't help but champion. Especially since they've recently opened a shebeen across the road serving 'Sowetan' Old Fashioned cocktails and Ostrich egg cinnamon mojitos! I picked up some incredible knitwear from one of our favourite South African brands MaXhosa by Laduma from there, which has been the perfect armour against London's bitter winter elements. The brand was born out of Laduma's desire to provide something that genuinely depicted his Xhosa cultural aesthetics for his initiation ceremony. Yes I know its menswear, but I'll just pretend I borrowed it from my 'boyfriend'. 

4. Have a 'lekker jol' up Long Street

Long Street is Cape Town's party central, and it has yet to let me down. Start off with good intentions at Mama Africa which will line your stomach with ostrich steak, creamed spinach and an energetic marimba band. Once suitably prepared, bar hop your way down the street (and back again if you can handle it) for a heady mix of locals, tourists, students and South African house music. On the day I dropped by Mos Def was dong a meet & greet with local hip hop heads at Boaston Society, I discovered a great fabric store with cloth all the way from Mali, and reminisced on all my nights hopscotching Long Street as a wannabe UCT student, so be up for anything. 


5. Catch some V&A Waterfront breeze

Although a tourist trap, if you are in Cape Town it is worth checking out the V&A Waterfront. Mainly because it's one of the best and easiest places to get a good snap of you and Table Mountain to show off to your friends on Facebook. The Waterfront is a perfectly picturesque and pleasant way to spend an afternoon in Cape Town- plus there is something about having cocktails on a sunny day overlooking some water that really makes you feel like you're living the life. 

6. Get Creative at City Hall 

Cape Town's City Hall is an iconic gem built in the style of the Italian Renaissance. It was from one of it's balconies that Nelson Mandela addressed a crowd of over 100 000 people when he was released from prison in 1990. And where I fell in love in the middle of an electro house rave at a Design Indaba 2012 party, but that's a story for another day. It does shabby chic very well, and has recently been repurposed into a cultural and music space hosting creative events such as City Hall Sessions and Music Exchange, so check out what's on while you're in town. Although I promised never to go out for NYE ever again, I couldn't resist a street party basking in its glow to launch Cape Town as the World Design Capital for 2014. 

Cape Town is such a gorgeous city with so much to discover- a few days in town and you'll be cheesing like this too! 

Know some better things to do in Cape Town? Let everyone know in the comments below. 

Author: Kiran Yoliswa is the Co-Founder of Styled By Africa.