Out of Africa

Safaris aside, Cape Town boasts art galleries, urbane eateries and more.

The call of Africa. Once it’s felt, there’s no denying it. Yes, embarking on a safari to get in touch with nature is a must-do. Not to be missed, though, is time in the South African city of Cape Town. Here’s the best way to experience the city’s flavor: combining its metropolitan and countryside all in one stay.


There’s much to see and do in Cape Town, whether visiting in the mild, rainy fall/winter season of May through August, or the spring/summer months of September through April.

The capital city welcomes visitors with open arms. This is particularly evident at MORE Quarters Apartment Hotels (www.morequarters.co.za), an urban escape in the Gardens district with its buzzed-about boutiques and restaurants.


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Accommodations run from the swanky such as the fine dining at The Greenhouse at The Cellars- Hohenort (courtesy The Collection by Liz McGrath)

Arrive in the evening and a seat by the lobby fireplace may call for a delayed check-in. Just as comfy are the contemporary accommodations themselves, one- and two-bedroom apartments and Redcliffe House, which sleeps up to eight. All offer the conveniences of home from a fully equipped kitchen to Wi-Fi. An added bonus at Redcliffe House is its swimming pool. Available to all guests is MORE Quarters’ breakfast room, ideal for grabbing a bite before heading out to explore Cape Town. To make that pursuit easy, consider tailoring a private tour through a company like Passage to Africa (www.passagetoafrica.com).

Setting the tone for discovering Cape Town’s urban side is MORE Quarters’ goal for their guests—“feel part of the city, being a local in a foreign city.” With that in mind, rub elbows with Capetonians at a favorite haunt—the Old Biscuit Mill (www.theoldbiscuitmill.co.za). The 19th-century, mostly open-air structure (open every day except Sunday) is home to day and night markets, not to mention kiosks and shops showcasing works from local artisans. Two hot restaurants to try—Test Kitchen (www.thetestkitchen.co.za) and The Pot Luck Club (www.thepotluckclub.co.za).

Highly recommended—arriving with an appetite on Saturdays when the weekly Neighbourgoods Market is underway. Grab a seat at the makeshift tables and benches and bask in the ambience (elegant candles in wine bottles included). Add some Flat White Coffee and a sweet from Queen of Tarts (www.queenoftarts.co.za) for sheer perfection.

It would be easy to while away the day at Old Biscuit Mill shops like Continuum (www.theoldbiscuitmill.co.za/continuum) and Abode (www.abode.co.za). Just outside, though, the neighborhood of Woodstock has many other opportunities to immerse in Cape Town’s vibrant arts scene. Here, stores like REcreate (www. recreate.za.net) showcase works from local artisans. Also on tap: a multitude of art galleries. Some are made to linger in—The Woodstock Foundry, Stevenson (www.stevenson.info) and Goodman (www.goodman-gallery.com) to name a few. In several galleries, it’s possible to see artist workspaces or even chat with the creators themselves about what serves as their inspiration. Include time in the Woodstock Exchange (www.woodstockexchange.co.za) where outdoor sculptures and art blend with specialty shops.

Another Saturday pastime, strolling cobblestoned Church Street during its Antique Market (www.churchstreetantiquemarket.wozaonline.co.za) to purchase vintage clothing, rare coins and funky artifacts from the 21st century. Not a Saturday? This is still an excellent place to shop, people-watch or stop for lunch. One suggestion—a sidewalk table at Café Mozart for Penny’s Homemade Chicken Pie (www.themozart.co.za). In the same area is trendy Bree Street, with a myriad dining options. Feel like progressive cocktails? Start at Publik Wine Bar (www.publik.co.za) and continue to Orphanage Cocktail Emporium (www.theorphanage.co.za).

With hours still left in the day, head to Table Mountain National Park. A Cableway (check for closures) whisks visitors heavenwards for a 360-degree view encompassing Cape Town, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront (www.waterfront. co.za), Robben Island (www.robbenisland.org.za) and Cape Peninsula. Get a more in-depth look at the surrounds with a guided hike in this World Heritage Site to catch a glimpse of flora and fauna including porcupines, mongoose and Cape Verreaux’s Eagles. Inspired by the latter, consider a bit of rappelling via Abseil Africa (www.abseilafrica.co.za).

Weary from the day, eek out enough energy to partake in Gardens’ restaurant scene. Romance comes by way of seasonal fare at Aubergine’s, the 1830s abode of former Cape Town’s first chief justice. Another option: soaking in spectacular oceanfront views over seafood at The Bungalow (closed winter months of May through August, www.thebungalow.co.za). The venue describes its twilight vistas as where the “sun drowns itself in a pink puddle.” The setting alone will prompt adding the Atlantic Seaboard beaches of Clifton and Camps Bay to itineraries. Don’t miss the beach perfect for spying penguins— Boulders on the False Bay coast.


A sense of history is immediately present upon driving up to The Cellars-Hohenort (www.collectionmcgrath.com), a five-star property that’s part of The Collection by Liz McGrath. Its locale is Cape Town’s lush “vineyard,” a.k.a. the historical Constantia Valley (www.constantiavalley.com).

Greeting at the doorstep is a resident cat, that could it parlay advice, would suggest a ramble through the property’s 9.5 acres with frequent sojourns in the gardens. Other worthy outdoor endeavors include floating in one of the estate’s two swimming pools, a match of tennis or honing golf skills on the Gary Player-designed chipping and putting golf green. Indoors another “attraction” awaits—treatments at Fresh Wellness Spa. A reason to venture off-site is the Constantia Valley Wine Route (www. constantiavalley.com). One must-do: tour vineyards for pre-tastes of wines to be enjoyed at dinner later that evening, among them Buitenverwachting (www. buitenverwachting.com), Steenberg (their Bistro 1682 and Catharina’s are great dining options, www.steenbergfarm.com) and newcomer Constantia Glen (www.constantiaglen. com). The perfect follow-up is brunch amongst equestrians at Noordhoek Farm Village’s Foodbarn Deli (www. noordhoekvillage.co.za). Take time to peruse the African Experience and Itchy & Stitchy Shop (www.itchyandstitchy.com).

Up next, make the breathtaking drive along Cape Peninsula, where it’s not unusual to see signs warning of baboon crossings. Stretching legs can be done at Cape Point Nature Reserve with hikes in and around both Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope. The former, and its lighthouse, can also be accessed by a funicular. However one arrives there, they’re rewarded with cliff-top panoramas of Dias Beach. Though there are lines of people waiting at the Cape of Good Hope for a photo in front of its sign stating, “Most South-Western Point of the African Continent,” joining the throng for a snapshot of one’s own is irresistible.

On the drive back to town, consider including an event compared to culinary theatre—lunch at The Flagship in Simon’s Town (www.chefbrucerobertson.com). Allot three hours for this five-course feast (primarily seafood focused) prepared by one of South Africa’s beloved chefs, Bruce Robertson. Flagship, which overlooks False Bay, just happens to be his home. Save room, though. There’s still dinner to be savored back at the hotel.

After a day in the wild, an unjarring return to the city can be had with dinner at one of The Cellars-Hohenort’s fine dining venues—The Greenhouse. Here, elements from Cape Town’s city and country sides meet—local produce/cuisine, paired with wines from the Constantia Valley Wine Route and décor that reflects regional art, as well as flora and fauna. A veritable kiss goodbye from Cape Town.

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