The past two weeks have been spent holidaying in Cape Town before the real travelling begins. I have family here and have been coming here ever since I was 7, so it almost feels like a second home. For this reason, it doesn't feel much like I've discovered anything new, but in a way it's nice coming back to the familiar, and sharing my favourite spots with my boyfriend Adam.

We have come with the rest of my family (one person can't come out here without the rest of us jumping on the bandwagon!) so we rented a place rather than shacking up with my aunt. The first 10 days were spent in a wonderful rustic lodge in Constantia near her house - the house was a great size for a holiday home, managing to fit all 7 of us with possible room for more. It had a pool perfect for lazing beside and an extensive braai (bbq) area by which we spent many hours fighting over the tongs and discussing the best way to braai. The last 4 days were then spent in an apartment in Clifton, just up the road from Camps Bay. It was the complete opposite of the lodge: plush, in the thick of it, and overlooking Clifton 2nd beach. We really did experience the best of both worlds.

What we did (apart from lying by the pool!):

1. Beached. There are so many beaches in Cape Town but you soon find your favourites.
  • Llandudno - really nice beach where you're guaranteed a good spot (except maybe on weekends) but the sea is freezing and can have a really strong current.
  • Boulders - tiny beach which always gets full quickly, with a warm(ish) sea. Main attraction = all the penguins that live there and swim with you in the sea!
  • Clifton 4th beach - nice big beach underneath Lion's Head. Has a great bar at the top called Bungalow (a smarter but still laid back version of La Med - its former self) where you can go for meals, drinks, and an amazing view of the sunset.
  • Clifton 2nd beach - just down the road from 4th beach but the greatest thing about it was the 30 second walk from our apartment!
2. Ate. As with beaches, there are an abundance of fantastic restaurants in Cape Town, ranging from cheap and cheerful to top end.
  • Peddlars on the Bend - pub/restaurant that serves food from burgers and chips to seafood and steak. Not a massive menu but the food is always really good, and they tend to show English football matches which the boys loved.
  • Bacini's - real Italian restaurant with football shirts and pictures of the homeland hanging on the walls. Pizzas are fantastic, and prices are good too.
  • Beluga - went here for my sister's birthday and it's definitely the type of place you go for a special occasion. Everyone dresses a bit smarter, and the food prices are slightly higher, but for good reason. They do great dim sum and sushi, as well as your usual pasta, meat and fish dishes - including the more unusual game such as Ostrich and Springbok.
  • Alphen - went here for my birthday and again, it's for special occasion purposes. It's a restaurant in the boutique hotel the Alphen, and although the prices aren't steep by English standards, it is more expensive than a lot of places in Cape Town. There's a pool bar that feels a lot like Ibiza, with chill out music and white sofas. Inside, the restaurant walls are covered in paintings, and lampshades hang from the ceiling, giving it quite a quirky feel. Again, the menu isn't huge but the food was exceptional - best steak I've had in a while!
  • The Red Herring/Skebanga's - laid back pub-type in the middle of nowhere but it does great pizzas, and you have a good view of the sun setting from the deck.
  • Hout Bay harbour market - great food market in what looks like an old type of warehouse. Loads of stalls selling every type of food, including some selling clothing, jewellery, and bric-a-brac. Live music plays, and it's always buzzing. On fridays, saturdays and sundays only.
  • Cape to Cuba - quirky Cuban restaurant in Kalk Bay. Great food, cool vibe. Word of warning - the double burgers are more like quadruple!
3. Hiked. Table Mountain is a must, if just for the view at the top (if you can see anything through the crowds that have just got off the cable car!) Make sure you start early to miss the midday sun. It took us about 3 hours to reach the top so if you fancy something less, go up Lion's Head which takes about an hour.

4. Shopped. Being on a budget (and being with men), I didn't get to do much shopping but there are some good places out there.
  • V&A Waterfront - pretty touristy, but there are good shops, bars, and a fantastic view of Table Mountain.
  • Cavendish - indoor mall with not much character but a wider range of shop.
  • Kalk Bay - a row of quirky independent shops, perfect if you like floaty dresses and silver jewellery.
  • Hout bay market on sundays, and generally the side of the road, are good for picking up African prints, trinkets, and wooden animals. The same goes for Green Market Square, although this is probably a bit more touristy.

Cape Town is quite possibly one of my favourite places I've been to: the people, the weather, the way of life (although sometimes it can be a bit tooo laid back!) is fantastic. Definitely a must!

Pictures to follow!