After a whirlwind tour of South Africa, I can say with certainty that Cape Town is one of the most uniquely beautiful places I've ever been. The entire peninsula is one big group of mountains that are all surrounded by gorgeous beaches. Who doesn't love to sit on the beach and look at a view of the mountains? I can't thing of another place on Earth besides Queenstown, NZ that has as many hiking opportunities as they do water.
The one thing I can say that I WASN'T prepared for was the lack of partying/safety at night solo. I'm happy to stay in as much as the next person but exploring nightlife is one of my favorite things to do in a city. I love meeting new people and trying new cocktails and fun bars. My advice: take a friend or stay in a hostel that hosts activities. I highly recommend Yours Truly hostel, they have two bars on site that are both really fun. For a quieter option, I loved The B.I.G. hostel. They host group outings daily and have a ton of great, more local recommendations. Favorite places included El Burro, Up Yours, and Kloof St House (best cocktail bar)
Another surprise on this trip for me was that hop on/hop off busses, albeit super hideous and touristy, are an incredible way to get around a place. Multiple locals that I met suggested it so I gave it a go and ended up loving it. I highly recommend it if you're going to CT. You can see everything you need to see for less than $20, do the two day option and see the city at your own pace.
Cape Town is also really affordable. Ubers are the safest transport option and are between $1 and $5 almost always. Uber to/from the airport was $10 each way.
- Cape Tour - 100% book this one: www.luckyandlost.co.za/1-day-essential-tour Super fun, young couple who owns and runs it. Definitely the best local experience with some homemade cape malay food.
-Kirstenbosch botanical gardens: I normally ALWAYS skip botanical gardens but this place is absolutely incredible.
- Spier Wine Farm: If you have a lot of time, stay at the farm and enjoy all of the amenities. If you don't, I recommend Wine Flies tours company.
- Safari: There are a few one-two day trips from Cape Town but I recommend going to Kruger National Park. If you're not into safaris, still go for at least a day trip! Kruger National Park is still awesome without safari!
- Shopping: Biscuit Mill is only open on Saturdays, Green Market is all African touristy items and each vendor has pretty much the same thing, V&A Waterfront is pricey but has a variety of items from trinkets to fancy art pieces.
-Learn something about Nelson Mandela: I went to Robben Island which was super interesting but it does take 4 hours because of the ferry and lines. There are lots of other options in South Africa to learn more about his legendary life. Take the time.