Let's face it: You came here to study, but you're not going to have your nose in the books for the whole four months that you're here. You're going to want to see the country you traveled all this way to see! I know you already have plans to climb the peaks and mountains, hit up the beach, and check out the Waterfront and Long Street, but whatever you do, DON'T miss out on these 10 great things that Cape Town has to offer.
1. Old Biscuit Mill
Old Biscuit Mill is a food and goods market that runs every Saturday until 2 p.m. I can promise you, my friends and I go almost every single week. The food is all more delicious bite by bite, and the options are endless. From sweets and pastries, to Greek gyros, Spanish paella, sushi, dim sum, burgers, South American cuisine, crepes, I mean the list goes on and on. Even the pickiest eater among us finds something that they could eat over and over again. And not only that, but there are booths with local artisans and retailers that sell things that could serve as souvenirs, or as a treat for yourself.
2. Kirstenbosch Gardens
Kirstenbosch is a HUGE garden property that became a public garden after the death of Cecil Rhodes. The Cape is actually home to it's own floral kingdom, which means that many plant species found here cannot be found anywhere else on the planet. The gardens are also broken down into exhibits as well, with sections for plants with strong scents, to medicinal plants, edible plants, etc. There is even a bridge that takes you above the tree canopies to give you a panoramic view of the city and Table Mountain. Trust me, this place is beautiful. If you're not keen to just walk through the gardens, definitely pack a picnic and hang out with some friends, or take along a book or some studying. The gardens are so peaceful. Plus, there's a great restaurant on the grounds.
3. Cooking classes in Bo Kaap
Bo Kaap is the community with the colored houses that you might see from any research you've done on the city. It's a colored neighborhood very close to the city center. There is a museum there, and a few restaurants, but I took a cooking class there and you'd be surprised at how much history and culture you get from sitting down to learn a recipe from someone who has lived there their whole lives. And if you're convinced that you burn everything you cook, keep your mind open to it. The class I took was run out of the woman's home, and she was very attentive to making sure our food was good. Plus, you get to taste everything, and I got a cookbook and some spice to take home as well!
4. Sea Point Promenade
The Promenade is a gorgeous stretch of a park that runs from the Waterfront, down to Camps Bay. It runs along the ocean side and is full of cool sculpture parks and picturesque photo spots. It's possible to rent bikes from certain points for scheduled amounts of time in case you're not an avid walker. We rode from Sea Point to the Waterfront for an hour, and it was the perfect amount of time to enjoy the seascape and get in a picture or two.
5. Boulders Beach in Simon's Town
Boulders Beach is about an hour away from Cape Town, but it's worth going out to visit. The beach is home to the African penguin, and the colony is gigantic. There are lookout points where you can watch dozens of penguins soak up some rays, or there is a beach entrance where you can get up-close-and-personal with one of those little guys. Not only that, but the beach is actually the most beautiful beach I've ever seen, and we had a lot of fun climbing on the rocks and looking for some penguin friends. Just be careful not to get too close, as the penguins have been known to bite.
6. The Slave Lodge
The Slave Lodge is a museum on Adderley in the city centre which served as the first stop on the slave trade back in the colonial period. Since then, it has been turned into a museum that houses the accounts and history of the colonial period of South Africa, the slave trade itself, and Apartheid. Seriously, don't miss this museum, as it adds a lot of insight into the history of not only Cape Town, but South Africa as a whole. Also, make sure you check out the exhibits upstairs, as they compliment the information on the first floor. Make a full day of checking off the museums, the planetarium, Parliament, and the National Gallery all border the same park.
Mzoli's is a restaurant in the township of Gugulethu. If you're looking for an up close look at a township, head there. Mzoli's is all about the meat, but if you have dietary restrictions that won't line up with that, the atmosphere alone is a great reason to go. The food is good, the music is great, and it's an unforgettable experience that helps boost tourism that benefits the township. Just make sure you leave enough time to be picked up before it gets dark, as it isn't safe to roam around Gugs after sunset.
8. High tea at the Mount Nelson Hotel
It might not seem like it, but high tea is a big deal in South Africa. I know, I didn't believe it either, until a close friend had told me that it was a must to attend one. The best by far is at the Mount Nelson Hotel in the city center. It's elegant, the tea selection is exceptional, and the food is amazing. It's about 300 rand per person, which might be one of your more expensive excursions in Cape Town, but it is all you can eat, so you can definitely get your money's worth out of it. If you have a sweet tooth, this is the thing for you. I'm talking endless desserts until you cannot possibly fit another macaroon in your mouth. Plus, the experience of having high tea in such a classy place is a cool one.
9. Water Shed at the V&A Waterfront
The Waterfront is massive, but definitely make sure you check out the Water Shed next to the aquarium. This place might be a little more expensive for souvenirs, but the products are all made by local artisans and township artists. You'd be surprised what kind of art gets made out of the things you throw away, from old records, to soda can tabs, etc. If you're looking for a souvenir that is unique from the ordinary shot glasses and beaded necklaces, check out this place.
10. A walk down Lower Main
Lower Main is a road that is located right across from the UCT dorms, Obz Square. Down that road are quirky thrift shops, restaurants, bars, and shops. Whether you need a change of atmosphere to pump out a paper in a cafe, or you are looking for a chill bar closer to home, Lower Main is definitely the spot to look for it. Plus, the thrift stores are a super cheap and trendy way to pick up a souvenir or change up your wardrobe once you get sick of what you brought from home.
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<div>Cortney Cordero is a senior majoring in journalism at Hofstra University with a minor in creative writing. This New <span style="font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;">Yorker has wanted to travel to Africa since she was in Kindergarten. This fall, her dream is finally coming true, and she </span><span style="font-size: 13.0080003738403px; line-height: 1.538em;">wants to share her experience with you.</span></div>