Your Ultimate Travel Guide To Cape Town & The Garden Route-Part 1!
Cape Town, it’s the most stunning city in the world! It's in the way nature and urban jungle meets and compliments each other.
Cape Town is a glorious starting point and introduction to South Africa! So beautiful, modern, buzzing with energy, and amazing nature and beauty is brought to your doorstep!
I was lucky enough to be able to call Cape Town home when I was a teenager, once we left South Africa I did not return, until this past Christmas and what an epic return that was! South Africa, in general, has changed BIG time since apartheid and granted, it still has a way to go, Cape Town is a beautiful bubble in the middle of it all leading the way to better days and ways.
When in Cape Town exploring the Garden Route next is an absolute MUST!
This blog post will start at the beginning covering the basics:
When should you travel to South Africa
The safety issue
Where should you stay in Cape Town and along the Garden Route
In my next post I will cover the activities and the best things to do along the Garden Route, stay TUNED!
When should you travel to South Africa
The gorgeous summer months are from December to February. Sunny and hot, perfect beach weather! Strong winds blow during the summer months as well. TIP: It's handy to pack a light jacket or sweater just in case, the evening could be chilly on occasion.
Fall is between March to May, the weather is warm but not too hot. For those of you planning to explore deeper by going on safari or hiking, for example, this is the perfect time to visit.
The winter months are from June to August.
Spring is from September to November and it's a beautiful time to visit! If it's whale watching you're after, its the perfect time to do that!
The safety issue
Much has been written and said about the safety situation in South Africa, quite a few scary stories are going around enough to freak out visitors coming to South Africa for the first time. Petty crime is a common problem to countries where the majority of the population still suffers poverty and unemployment, it's a vicious cycle the government is still working to solve.
While Cape Town is considered safer in comparison to Johannesburg or Durban for example, the best all-around tip I can offer you from personal experience is use your common sense, and you will be fine.
Start with this- Don't do here what you wouldn't do at home!
Don't walk alone after dark, specifically in secluded areas, don't visit a township on your own, only with a guide. Don't leave valuables in your car which always tempt thieves to break in. Watch where you park your car, aim to park on main roads. TIP: In many areas, you'll find a person wearing a yellow jersey, these people will offer to watch your care for a tiny fee of 5 Rand = 0.30 euro cents, this way you can be relatively sure your car is secure. You're also helping a person out. This practice is encouraged by the municipality to help people find work and earn a living in an honest way. Don’t walk around with large amounts of cash, and don’t be flashy.
Uber: This is a great way to get around in Cape Town and the towns along the Garden Route. It is reliable and significantly cheaper to use. You also don't need to carry extra cash or even your credit card with you.
Rent a bike or electrical scooter: Keep in mind that Cape Town is a big city, stretched across a large area, not to mention hilly. Before renting a bike for the day, make sure it fits your planned route. In some areas along the Garden Route, you can book a mountain bike tour to explore the surroundings which is a great sporty option. For example in Stellenbosch, you can explore the different wineries on your bike. It will make the wine tastings easier if you know what I mean.
You can use the MyCiTi bus when in Cape Town and the bigger cities. They normally have good connections across the city however, keep in mind it can be crowded especially during rush hour making it less comfortable. TIP: To use the bus you need to buy a card beforehand! You can not pay cash on the bus.
Rent a car Especially if you plan to explore Cape Town's surroundings and the Garden Route. It can come in handy in Cape Town as well as it's very spread out, however, if you're staying only in Cape Town the other options will do fine as well.
There are many car rental agencies to choose from. TIP: You could choose the one-way car rental option, meaning you to pick up your car in Cape Town and drop it off in another part of the country. This is what we did, we drove the route from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth so we picked it up upon arrival in CT's airport, and dropped it off in PEZ airport before boarding a flight back to Cape Town. It's simply perfect or a road trip!
Where should you stay in Cape Town and along the Garden Route
I would recommend spending at least five days exploring this pearl of a city and the nearby surroundings.
Read this related post: Top 16 Things To Do In Beautiful Cape Town
Hotel recommendations for Cape Town:
The most buzzing and trendy area to stay at is Sea point, all the way through Bantry Bay to Camps Bay. The beach is within reach, the views are to die for, and it's filled with stylish restaurants and bars to enjoy day and night. The famous V & A Waterfront is 5 minutes by car.
Gardens just under the iconic Table Mountain is a great choice for travelers interested in a more quiet environment, restaurants, and mountains. From here you will be closer to the city center and though it's on the quieter side, it's nice and the views are perfect for sundowners on rooftops.
5 hotel recommendations to choose from:
The Hyde Hotel: Located in Sea Point, this is all-suite fully serviced boutique apartments and studios designed in a modern style including a secure parking garage. It features a gorgeous rooftop pool and bar, and a courtyard restaurant. The famous Victoria & Alfred Waterfront can be reached within 10 minutes by car. The spectacular Camps Bay & Clifton Beaches are about 5 km from the hotel.
For all the details: https://www.booking.com/hotel/za/the-hyde.en-gb.html
Winchester Mansions Hotel: Situated on the Sea Point Promenade facing the Atlantic coastline, it features an Italian-style courtyard surrounded by palm trees and fountains, all in original Cape Dutch décor. Sundays here are for jazz brunches with live music and the V&A Waterfront and Cape Town’s center are a 10-minute drive.
For all the details: https://www.booking.com/hotel/za/winchester-mansions.en-gb.html
Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel: It's the most stunning I've seen in Cape Town! Located in the heart of the city opposite the Company Gardens and surrounded by greenery and the views from all angles are breathtaking. Very luxurious, very relaxing. Don't miss their famous afternoon tea on the terrace or have a swim in one of the pools. They also have an extensive wellness facility perfect for indulging yourself!
For all the details: https://www.booking.com/hotel/za/belmond-mount-nelson.en-gb.html
The Silo Hotel: Located on the edge of V&A Waterfront, this hotel is stunning, featuring unique art and design throughout. No room is alike and the rooftop featuring an outdoor pool is amazing, as the views are.
For all the details: https://www.booking.com/hotel/za/the-silo.en-gb.html
Read this related post: 4 reasons to stay at the Silo Hotel
The three boutique hotel: This hotel packs a lot of history in it, it's set in a historic building in central Cape Town, with a rooftop sundeck offering panoramic views of Table Mountain, Devil’s Peak, Lions Head, and Signal Hill. There is secure, onsite parking.
For all the details: https://www.booking.com/hotel/za/flower-villa-boutique.en-gb.html
Hotel in Stellenbosch
Stellenbosch is your first stop on the Garden Route, it's otherwise known as the capital of the Cape Winelands. This a small, beautiful and cozy town surrounded by beautiful scenery and wineries to explore. This hotel is right at the center of it all, and is absolutely gorgeous! The Oude Werf Hotel meaning the old yard is a historical landmark, what was the country's earliest church is now a deluxe hotel combining period inspired chic and beautiful decor throughout (loved the room!) with a restaurant, bar and pool area.
For all the details: https://www.booking.com/hotel/za/ouwe-werf.en-gb.html
Hotel in Mossel Bay
The Protea Hotel is definitely a great choice! Located just 5-minute walk from Santos beach, it overlooks the Mossel Bay Harbour. It offers a terrace and a pool, both with Indian ocean views. The pool is on the small side however, the beach below is so stunning you won't spend too much time in the pool. On the beach, you have water sports opportunities as well as different restaurants. The suites are beautiful, very spacious, with a private balcony overlooking the ocean.
The trendy Café Gannet Seafood Restaurant on the property offers a’ la carte menu and specializes in fresh seafood, including sushi, Mossel Bay mussels, and wild coastal oysters. You can also opt for dining on the outdoor terrace. After dinner, you can enjoy drinks at the Blue Oyster Cocktail Bar.
During the season you can watch the whales go by right from the bar!
They totally spoiled us from start to finish as the service was exceptional. This was one of our absolute favorites!
For all the details: https://www.booking.com/hotel/za/protea-mossel-bay.en-gb.html
Hotel in Knysna
Knysna is situated in the heart of the Garden Route and is the perfect town to stay while exploring the surrounding areas, and there's much to discover here!
You'll be able to read all about discovering the magic of this area in my next post!
There are two options to choose from when it comes to accommodations; you could stay higher up on the mountain overlooking the lagoon or stay closer to the action so to speak on the waterfront, in Thesen Island.
We opted to stay up the mountain in a lovely inn called the Orange Inn, and while we enjoyed our stay very much looking back I would recommend staying down in Thesen Island, close by the fun vibes, restaurants, and parties. As much as we enjoyed the views up the mountain, it was a bit too quiet for us.
Two gorgeous options for Thesen Islands:
For all the details about the Orange Inn: https://www.booking.com/hotel/za/knysna-stays.en-gb.html
Going on Safari on the Garden Route- Addo Elephan Park
Addo Elephant National Park is a diverse wildlife conservation park situated close to Port Elizabeth, it's one of the country's 19 national parks. It currently ranks third in size after Kruger National Park. What started back in 1931 in an effert to save 11 Elephants on the brink of extinction is now home to more than 350 of them, as well as Cape Buffalo, Black Rhino, a range of Antelope species, wild cats as well as the rare flightless dung Beetle.
Here you have a few options; stay is a guest farm about 6 km from the entrance to the park, stay right in Addo National Park it's self or right on the edge of the park.
Addo Wildlife Lodge: The lodge offers standard rooms in chalets or suites, beautiful views, and great food. Guests here can enjoy arranged guided game drives.
For all the details: https://www.booking.com/hotel/za/addo-wildlife-addo.en-gb.html
Addo Dung Beetle Guest Farm: We had a wonderful stay here! Located about 6 km from the Addo Elephant National Park and overlooking the Zuurberg Mountains, this working citrus farm offers self-catering cottages and chalets built in typical African style and very elegantly decorated.
My favorite features? There is an outdoor shower which was fun to use, kind of luxury meets back to basics. The cottages all have thatched roofs! And guests can prepare meals on their own braai.
Important to know!
A buffet dinner is offered on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with 7-days prior arrangement, at an additional cost. You must register in advance as they buy supplies only on a need to buy basis, meaning no surprise guests for dinner!
It’s somewhat secluded, it’s about 10 km to the next little town so make sure you have supplies with you when you arrive.
Last stop- Port Elizabeth
You can find the big hotel chains here on the waterfront or opt to stay in a cozy local B & B as we did and really enjoyed, as you get to meet and engage with the local people.
Bayside Guest House
This lovely 4-star guest house is run by a very friendly local family, they were very helpful and accommodating. It's less than 600 m from Pollock Beach and the promenade. It's also only 7 km from the Port Elizabeth Airport.
It features an outdoor pool and very comfortable spacious rooms, all with garden views. Breakfast is served overlooking the pool and garden. There are a number of restaurants serving a range of local and international cuisine within 5 minutes’ drive away.
For all the details: https://www.booking.com/hotel/za/bayside-guesthouse.en-gb.html
Do have any questions? Don’t hesitate to contact me! Email me at: email@example.com
Next blog post will cover the route itself and the wonderful adventures that await you on the Garden Route!
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