Go Temple hopping in Cambodia and discover Angkor Wat!

Bordered by Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, Cambodia is a country rich in heritage. It has warm, friendly people and an untouched wild landscape. Angkor Wat is located in Siem Reap, a resort town in north western Cambodia. It’s located in the largest temple complex in Southeast Asia and the largest temple complex in the world!

Siem Reap is a town that offers a large variety of activities, a range of world-class restaurants and is very affordable which makes it an ideal destination for those who enjoy travelling on a budget. Besides exploring the attractive temples, you can also spend some time feasting at the food markets in town or try out a fish pedicure.

Photo credit: @Dineo_Zonke via Instagram

About Angkor Wat

Many Cambodians describe Angkor Wat as a miniature replica of the universe in stone which represents an earthly model of the cosmic world. The beautiful and extensive temple ruins at Angkor, a UNESCO Heritage site, represent the Khmer civilisation. In total, there are about 50 Buddhist and Hindu temples in Siem Reap for you to explore.

Angkor Wat is an architectural masterpiece. The well preserved Khmer monument is the most photographed in the world, and nothing is better than actually experiencing and exploring the temple in person. Building Angkor Wat was, of course, a very complex process.

Photo credit: @Dineo_Zonke via Instagram

Bayon Temple

Bayon Temple is famously known as the “temple with the many faces”. It is also very popular among travellers. There are approximately 200 smiling faces, each about 4 meters high, carved into stone towers. Bayon was built by Jayavarman VII, the former King of the Khmer Empire.

Ta Prohm

The well known Tomb Raider movie was filmed in Ta Prohm in 2012. Among locals, the temple is now also called the “Tomb Raider Temple”. You can visit the temple early in the morning; this is highly recommended because many tourists will be watching the sunrise over Angkor Wat during this time. Ta Prohm is nested in the jungle, surrounded by lush vegetation and many of the trees have become one with the ruins that remain. Photographers can beautifully capture this amazing battle between nature and architecture. Fig and Bayon tree roots are intertwined with the buildings, creating an aesthetically pleasing environment.

Photo credit: @Dineo_Zonke via Instagram

Angkor Pass

Depending on how you would like to visit the Angkor Archaeological Park, there are three different types of passes to choose from. What’s awesome is that you don’t need to explore all the temples in one day.

  • 1-day pass – US$ 37 (about R500)
  • 3-day pass – US$ 62 (about R860)
  • 7-day pass – US$ 72 (about R1,000)

Please note: The 3-day pass is valid for 10 days from the issue date, the 7-day pass is valid for 1 month from the issue date. With both passes it’s not necessary to plan your visits on consecutive days.

Transport options

The majority of tourists who visit Angkor Wat specifically go there for the glorious sunrise. You should get to there early, especially if you are travelling during high season. It is wise to book your transport to Angkor Wat the day before you plan to visit. This will give you enough time to rest. You can wake up on time and be ready for the adventurous day ahead. An early start ensures you a good spot to watch the sunrise and take pictures from.

If you have not yet purchased your ticket on the day, ask your driver to start by taking you to the ticket office, which is about 5 km from the entrance of Angkor Wat. As long as you don’t stay too far outside the city there isn’t much difference in locations as it relates to getting there for sunrise. Make sure your driver knows what time you want to arrive at the gates of Angkor Wat for sunrise. The gates to the temple open at 5 am.

Tuk Tuk

Renting a tuk tuk for the day is a fun way to fully enjoy your temple hopping experience. Expect to pay about R200 for the driver to drive you around the whole day. You can arrange pick up times with your driver that best suits your needs.

Car

A more comfortable option compared to renting a tuk tuk is to rent a car. The Cambodian heat can be unbearable so cooling off with an A/C will definitely be refreshing. For a full day tour including sunrise and sunset, you’re looking at about R600. If you’re not concerned with seeing the sunrise or sunset, you can get a day tour for about R500 by car.

Minivan

Renting a minivan is suitable if you are travelling in a group as it may be an expensive option if you’re travelling alone. An A/C equipped minivan can typically fit 10-12 passengers and will usually cost around R900 in total for the day.

Photo credit: @Dineo_Zonke via Instagram

When is the best time to visit Siem Reap?

The best time to go to Angkor Wat is from December to February.

Accommodation in Siem Reap

Stay at Siem Reap central area for convenient transport to the Angkor temples and the airport. It’s also within the prime nightlife & food district of the city. Grab rock-bottom rates and avoid fully-booked rooms by booking online as soon as you have booked your cheap flight to Cambodia. There are many different types of accommodation for all budgets. The cheapest can cost you about R150 per person, per night.

Visa Requirements

South Africans need to apply for a visa in order to visit Cambodia. Either a visa on arrival or e-visa which is valid for 30 days and costs about R500.

Photo credit: @Dineo_Zonke via Instagram

Useful Khmer Phrases

Khmer is the local language spoken in Cambodia and its constructed on a series of symbols. Here are a few key phrases in transliteration form for you to start practicing:
Hello – Chom Reap Sour
Yes – Bah (for males) and Jah (for females)
My name is… – Knyom Chhmua…
How much is this? – Bo man?

Have you visited Cambodia yet? Share your experiences in the comments section below!

The post Go Temple hopping in Cambodia and discover Angkor Wat! appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

23 Budget-Friendly Family Activities in Cape Town

There’s no denying that Cape Town is a playground of beauty, adventure and activities. A hotspot for creativity, shopping, nature and gourmet food, you don’t have to be a tourist to enjoy all that the city has to offer. We’re always on the prowl for interesting things to do on a budget. Take a look at these family activities in Cape Town that won’t break the bank. Some of them are even free!

1. Half-price cableway at sunset

family activities in cape town

Photo credit: @r62eventsandtours via Instagram

Feel like a tourist but pay like a local, with the half-price sunset special during summer. Enjoy a drink or two on top, taking in the sweeping views of the city on a cool summer’s evening. Don’t forget to bring your camera and ID!

When: 18:00 daily, November-February

Price: R145 adults, R72.50 children (under 18 years). Free if you go on your birthday!

2. Hop aboard the Red Bus

family activities in cape town

You don’t have to be a tourist to enjoy a day out exploring Cape Town’s stunning attractions! Gather a group of friends or bring the family and spend the day sightseeing, while learning about the city’s history along the way. The Hop-On Hop-Off bus is a great way to spend a birthday, or just have a fun day out. Choose between the Classic Red City or Blue Peninsula tours, Cape Point guided tour, Winelands tour, Township tours and Big 5 Safari tours. Buses depart from selected bus stops every 15-20 minutes.

Price: R200 online/ R220 at any ticket office for the Classic 1-day tour

When: First bus leaves the Waterfront @ 08:20, last bus leaves Greenpoint @ 19:40 returning to the Waterfront

3. Museum day

family activities in cape town

Photo credit: @romildogrotajr via Instagram

Getting a bit of a culture fix can be a great way to get to know the city. Cape Town is chock full of museums and art galleries, so you can easily spend a day hopping from one to another. Even if you’re a Capetonian, you’ll be surprised at how much history you don’t know about your city!

Some museums and landmarks worth checking out:

  • District 6 Museum
  • National Gallery
  • Zeitz MOCAA
  • Slave Lodge
  • Iziko Museum
  • Castle of Good Hope
  • 18 Gangster Museum
  • Noon Gun

4. Stargaze at the Planetarium

family activities in cape town

Photo credit: @rodmccall via Instagram

You don’t need to be a kid to go stargazing and appreciate the beauty of other galaxies far, far away. From interactive lectures and mapping out the solar system to educational film festivals, pop in for an hour-long show before or after lunch and learn something new about our stellar universe. A day at the Planetarium is one of the best family activities in Cape Town.

Price: R60 for adults/ R30 for children, SA students & pensioners

Show Times: Tuesday-Sunday, 12:00-16:00/ Evening shows on Wednesdays @ 19:00

25 Queen Victoria Street| 021 481 3900

5. Movie time at the Labia

family activities in cape town

Photo credit: @kristieesp via Instagram

An iconic landmark in Cape Town’s art scene, the Labia’s laidback old-school charm makes it a great place to watch your favourite arthouse film or catch the latest blockbuster. The best part? You can enjoy an ice-cold beer, G-&-T slushy, or soft drink in the cinema. At just R50 a ticket, you can treat yourself to a drink and a bag of fresh popcorn all for under R100!

Price: R50 a ticket. Look out for their dinner and movie specials at selected restaurants around town.

68 Orange Street, Gardens | 021 424 5927

6. That’s so Darling

family activities in cape town

Photo credit: @tales_of_nadia via Instagram

A small town blooming with wildflowers, festivals, theatre, wine farms, museums, hiking trails and cosy lodges – Darling will have you falling in love with its nostalgic charm in no time. Barely an hour’s drive from Cape Town, you’ll feel like you’re somewhere in the countryside as you walk through the town. Start your day with breakfast at one of the padstals along the route, watch a slice of comical satire at Evita se Perron, and be sure to pop in at Darling Brew for a late lunch and beer tasting – you won’t be disappointed!

Also read: Discover Epic West Coast Gems

7. Walk through Woodstock

family activities in cape town

Photo credit: @jonathan_rtz via Instagram

A once flourishing seaside resort, it’s hard to imagine Woodstock as anything other than an industrialised area that is undergoing massive gentrification and urban renewal. Bustling with creativity on every corner, Woodstock is home to niche art studios, trendy coffee shops, furniture workshops and design agencies aplenty. Yet, under all this lies a prevalent and vibrant history that is coming alive on its walls and buildings. Spend a morning perusing the shops along Victoria Road, and into the narrow and colourful streets.

Take a street art tour with local tour guide, Juma, and learn about the history of the area behind these graffiti artworks. Tours cost R350 for 1.5 hours and start at the Woodstock Exchange. Grab some brunch at the Old Biscuit Mill on weekends and pick up some quirky vintage décor along Albert Road. If you’re an arty family or just love the city’s history, this is one tour you shouldn’t miss.

8. Explore the Constantia Valley

family activities in cape town

Photo credit: @rosemarygiralt

While the beautiful Cape Winelands is our pride and glory, you don’t have to venture too far to enjoy the classic flavours and scenery of Cape Town’s best wine farms. The Constantia Valley is home to some formidable estates and you can easily spend an entire day visiting your favourites. Some of the nine farms along the Constantia route include Steenberg, Constantia Uitsig, Eagle’s Nest, Buitenverwagting and Silvermist. Ziplining, horse riding and bike trails are just some of the family-friendly activities on offer. Stay for lunch and wine tasting, surrounded by enviable views of the city. Groot Constantia and Buitenverwagting have beautiful lawns for you to enjoy a delicious picnic while the kids play on the jungle gyms.

Wine tastings in the area range between R50 – R150 per person.

Also Read: 6 Undiscovered Wine Farms around Cape Town

9. Mojo Market madness

family activities in cape town

Photo credit: @themojomarket via Instagram

The perfect brunch spot, a stone’s throw from the Sea Point promenade! Pick up some hand-crafted jewellery, vintage clothing and home décor pieces as you wander between the buzzing food stalls. You’ll find everything from fresh smoothies and ice cream to sushi, gourmet breakfast plates and home-baked treats. Grab a table to watch a football game or bring a board game to relax for a few hours. Catch live music on stage every evening from 19:00 and weekends around lunchtime.

Open: Monday-Sunday, 10:00-22:00

30 Regent Rd, Sea Point | 087 940 7474

10. Mid-week dinner specials

We all love a good dinner special, especially at our favourite restaurants. Here are some irresistible ones to schedule in your weekly calendar:

Mondays:

  • Jazz up your Monday with half-price burgers and pizzas at Gardens Collectors Club. From the usual classics to gourmet toppings, you’ll definitely be back for more.

51 Kloof Street, Gardens, 021 422 5822

  • Enjoy a seafood platter for two at Blowfish Restaurant until 22:00. R99 gets you a platter of fresh fish, calamari, prawns, mussels, rice, veggies and chips.

Dolphin Beach Hotel, Marine Drive, Table View, 021 556 5464

Tuesdays:

  • From 18:00 onwards, The Twankey Bar serves up delicious grilled or battered linefish and chips with a 500ml draught or glass of wine for just R95. Pop in earlier for their happy hour special before tucking into dinner.

Next to the Taj Hotel, Cnr Wale Street & St. Georges Mall, 021 819 2000

  • It’s the battle of the buns at Devil’s Peak Taproom every Tuesday from 18:00. For R75 you get a gourmet cheeseburger and 340ml lager – the perfect combo deal.

150 Cecil Road, Salt River, 021 201 1401

  • Manga offers a two-for-one sushi special for lunch and dinner. Only available at their stores in Mouille Point and Church Square.

Beach Rd & Rothesay Place, Mouille Point | 32 Parliament St, CBD

Wednesdays:

  • Two-for-one pizzas at Hail Pizza just behind Clarke’s in Bree Street. Valid every Wednesday 18:00 – 20:00.

133A Bree St, Cape Town CBD, 021 424 7648

  • Arrive hungry for bottomless ribs at Beerhouse every Wednesday from 11:00 throughout the day. At only R99, booking is a must and strictly no sharing or takeaways – challenge accepted!

223 Long Street, CBD, 021 424 3370

  • Sotano in Sea Point serves up delicious two-for-one lamb burgers at just R110 from 17:00 onwards.

121 Beach Road, 021 433 1757

Thursdays:

  • Primal Eatery is one of the best steakhouses in town, and from Tuesday to Thursday they serve up 300g sirloin or rump with a side at just R145. We highly recommend booking a table!

50 New Church Street, Gardens

11. Get your game on at Big Box Café

family activities in cape town

Photo credit: @thebigbox_boardgames_cafe via Instagram

Looking for a fun thing to do in Cape Town? Tucked away in the CBD is Cape Town’s only board game café where you can spend an entire afternoon or evening. Grab a table and choose anything from their vast collection of board games, while their cosy kitchen can whip up some tasty treats to keep you going. Whether you’re a strategic mastermind or looking for some wholesome family fun, the guys at Big Box cater to all kinds of players.

Price: games are free to play

Open: Monday-Wednesday, 08:00-17:00/ Thursday-Friday, 08:00-22:00/ Saturday, 10:00-22:00

18 Roeland Street, Gardens | 071 314 9134

12. Cape Town Science Centre

family activities in cape town

Photo credit: @capetownsciencecentre via Instagram

Calling all science buffs and curious minds – discover a world of interactive displays, science shows, theatre, hands-on experiments and workshops to keep your hands and mind busy at the CTSC. Saturdays are filled with robotics workshops, topical discussions, chess tournaments, and lessons geared around exam preparation for scholars.

Open: Monday-Saturday, 09:00-16:30/ Sundays & Pub. Holidays, 10:00-16:30

370B Main Road, Observatory| 021 300 3200

13. Birthday freebies at the Aquarium

family activities in cape town

Photo credit: @leschroeder via Instagram

Yip, you read right. The Two Oceans Aquarium has just announced you get free entrance on your birthday! If you can’t visit on your birthday, the offer is still valid for six days after. Simply bring your ID book or driver’s licence and collect your free pass from the ticket office.

Scuba diving, kelp forests, penguin interactions, shark feedings and glow-in-the-dark jellyfish displays are just some of the amazing things you can experience at the aquarium. A day at the Aquarium is definitely one of the most popular family activities in Cape Town!

Open: Every day, 09:30-18:00

Dock Road, V&A Waterfront | 021 418 3823

14. Make some furry friends

family activities in cape town

Photo credit: @sidewalkspecials via Instagram

Animals are the greatest companions we could ask for, and what better way to help them than volunteering to make their world a little better? There are lots of local animal shelters and charities that would greatly appreciate your time. Make a donation, bring some supplies, or spare a few hours of your time to walk them, groom them and help clean their rooms. You’re guaranteed lots of licks, tail wags and kisses in return!

Check out some of these animal shelters in your area:

DARG: info@darg.org.za | Main Rd, Hout Bay

Uitsig Animal Rescue Centre: hello.uitsig@gmail.com | Thandanani Farm, just before the Duynefontein turnoff, Melkbosstrand

Sidewalk Specials: contact@sidewalkspecials.org  | Find them at the Granger Bay market on the 1st Saturday of each month

TEARS: volunteer@tears.org.za | 4 Lekkerwater Road, Sunnydale, Noordhoek

Fallen Angels: info@fallenangels.org.za | Just before the Duynefontein turnoff, Melkbosstrand

African Tails: manager@africantails.co.za | 56 Koeberg Rd, Brooklyn

Lucky Lucy: volunteer@luckylucy.org | N7, between Philadelphia and Malmesbury

15. Rainbow Puppet Theatre @ the Waldorf School

family activities in cape town

Photo credit: @therainbow.puppettheatre via Instagram

Theatre is the rawest and most honest form of storytelling. Pry your little ones away from their screens and video games for a morning and watch their minds be transformed by the magical world of theatre. Using hand and rod puppets in a beautiful custom-made set, the shows are inspired by Grimm’s fairy tales, each story carrying an uplifting message. Shows are recommended for age 4 years and up.

The venue is great for kiddie’s parties, and the troupe also has a mobile puppet theatre for home events.

Price: R20 per ticket

When: Saturday mornings, two shows @ 10:00 and 11:15

Where: Constantia Waldorf School, Spaanschemat River Road, Constantia | 021 783 2063

16. Ice skating at Grand West

family activities in cape town

Photo credit: @proactiveconcepts via Instagram

Practise your graceful (or wobbly) moves on the ice at the Ice Station at Grand West. The Olympic-size skating rink is open to all ages and abilities and is a hotspot for families over the holiday season. This is great fun in a group or even for a date night!

The rink hosts ice hockey championships and figure skating competitions throughout the year, and spectators are welcome to sit in and watch.

Price: R60 incl. skate hire/ R50 bring your own skates

Open Times:

Mon – Tues 10:00 – 12:30 14:00 – 16:30
Wed – Thurs 10:00 – 12:30 14:00 – 16:30 20:00 – 22:30
Friday 10:00 – 12:30 14:00 – 16:30 18:00 – 20:30 21:00 – 24:00
Saturday 12:00 – 14:30 15:00 – 17:30 18:00 – 20:30 21:00 – 24:00
Sunday 12:00 – 14:30 15:00 – 17:30 18:00 – 20:30

Grand West, 1 Vanguard Drive, Goodwood, | 021 535 2260

17. Get a Rush!

family activities in cape town

Photo credit: @misshurlbatt via Instagram

Bouncing around on trampolines is not just for kids. You can work up quite a sweat and have great fun challenging your friends to a game of dodgeball or slam dunk basketball. When you’re not tumbling around the nets, you can enjoy some coffee, snacks and free Wi-Fi on the side. Great for birthday parties and some weekend fun!

Price: From R115 per hour. See their online pricing guide

Open: Monday-Thursday, 13:00-21:00/ Friday-Saturday, 09:00-22:00/ Sunday, 09:00-19:00

5th Floor, 109 on Main, Claremont | 087 094 0178, 021 683 3841, 021 671 1489

18. SUP Boarding

family activities in cape town

Photo credit: @supcapetown via Instagram

One of the best ways to get fit while you take in views of the city, SUP boarding is becoming a favourite summer pastime. There’s no better way to start your day than a refreshing dip in our sparkling ocean – this is a great family activity in Cape Town.

SUP Cape Town offers a 1-hour paddle along the Waterfront canals at R220 per person, or spend 1.5 hours paddling in the open ocean at R550 per person.

Let Ocean Riders take you out along the canals of Intaka Island, the CTICC and off Muizenberg and Clifton beaches. A 1-hour intro lesson and paddle ranges from R180-R350 per person.

If you’re looking for a full-day SUP experience, the guys at High Five can treat you to a sunrise paddle and brekkie or a sunset paddle and braai. Enjoy a 2-hour guided session off Blouberg beach at just R400 for an entire group of three!

For the yogis out there, you can even try SUP Yoga with SUP Yoga Cape Town at R300 per person for 1.5 hours in the Camps Bay tidal pool.

19. Hit the mountain bike trails

family activities in cape town

Photo credit: @ashortchase via Instagram

Swap your Sunday drive for a Sunday ride instead. If you’re up for a little exercise, this is a fun thing to do in Cape Town. The city is full of exciting and scenic bike trails to explore. Here are nine of our top picks:

  • Meerendal Wine Farm: 21km, easy riding. Start point – wine farm
  • Deer Park, Table Mountain: 16-34km, intermediate riding. Start point – Chelmsford Rd, Vredehoek
  • Cape Point Reserve: up to 45km, easy riding. Start point – anywhere
  • Koeberg Reserve, Melkbosstrand: 7-25km, easy riding. Start point – Visitors Centre
  • Jonkershoek: 10-45km, intermediate to technical riding. Start point – Jonkershoek Reserve main gate
  • Tokai Forest: up to 40km, moderate to extreme riding. Start point – Arboretum
  • Dirtopia, Delvera Wine Estate: 7-18km, moderate riding. Start point – Dirtopia Trail Centre
  • Contermanskloof, Durbanville: up to 36km, intermediate riding. Start point – The Dairy Shed
  • Bottelary Hills, Stellenbosch: 10-45km, easy riding. Start point – The Radish Restaurant

Note that park entry fees or trail fees may apply.

20. Green Point Park

family activities in cape town

Photo credit: @guessential via Instagram

Looking for a space to bring the whole family, picnic, throw some frisbee and walk the dogs? Green Point Park is a recreational hub with lots to see and do. It features an amphitheatre, outdoor maze, exercise gym, wetlands garden, 25,000 indigenous plants, two child-friendly playparks, tea garden, nursery and loads of picnic areas. This is a great space to enjoy some fresh air and be active. If you’re planning to host a kiddies party or large gathering, come early to secure a good spot.

Note that swimming, skateboarding, alcohol, loud music and braais are not permitted.

Open: 07:00-19:00 daily

1 Fritz Sonnenberg Rd, Green Point | 021 417 0111

21. Swim at Silvermine

family activities in cape town

Photo credit: @lieslhermanus via Instagram

A short trot from Ou Kaapse Weg leads you to the sparkling freshwater Silvermine Reservoir where you’re free to swim, hike, picnic and braai. Dogs are welcome, but owners must have a Level 1 My Activity permit. Gates open at 07:00 and close at 18:00 in summer.

Price: R50 for adults, R25 children (2-11 years), Free to SANParks Wild Card & My Green Card holders

Silvermine Reserve, off Ou Kaapse Weg | 021 712 0527

22. Have a picnic on Beta Beach

family activities in cape town

f Photo credit: @brendongrobler via Instagram

Beta Beach is one of Cape Town’s top beaches, and with its perfect positioning and big boulders to laze on, it’s easy to see why. It’s seclusion away from the bustle of Camps Bay and Clifton beaches make it a more peaceful spot to catch a tan, read your book and enjoy a picnic with your crew. And the water’s not far away for a refreshing dip. As the sun sets, watch everyone migrate to the big flat rocks to get the perfect view (and selfie)!

23. Pick roses at Chart Farm

family activities in cape town

Photo credit: @stephaniemarthinus via Instagram

Summer is here and the roses are in full bloom! Spend the morning or afternoon filling a bucket with your favourite coloured roses and enjoy the beautiful views of the farm. You’re also welcome to pick table grapes, lemons and chestnuts – delicious seasonal essentials! Their dog-friendly coffee shop serves up very reasonably-priced breakfasts, lunches and freshly-baked cakes. A perfect family outing!

Please bring your own bucket and secateurs if possible.

Price: R6 per rose

Open: Monday-Sunday, 09:00-16:30

Klaassens Road, Wynberg| 021 762 0067, 066 100 8924

 

If Cape Town is your back garden, make sure you take advantage of all these great activities. If not, book your cheap flights to Cape Town and start exploring the Mother City!

Got any other budget-friendly ideas on family activities in Cape Town? Share them in the comments below.

You might also be interested in:

All information on this blog page was correct at the time of publishing and may change at any time without prior notice. Travelstart will not be held liable for loss or inconvenience resulting from the use of out-dated or incorrectly noted information.

Featured image courtesy of @supcapetown via Instagram

The post 23 Budget-Friendly Family Activities in Cape Town appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

25 Fun Things to Do in Cape Town on a Budget

There’s no denying that Cape Town is a playground of beauty, adventure and activities. A hotspot for creativity, fashion, nature and world-class cuisine, you don’t have to be a tourist to enjoy all that the city has to offer. We’re always on the prowl for interesting things to do on a budget. Take a look at these fun things to do in Cape Town that won’t break the bank at R350 and under. Some of them are even free!

1. Half-price cableway at sunset

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @r62eventsandtours via Instagram

Feel like a tourist but pay like a local, with the half-price sunset special during summer. Enjoy a drink or two on top, taking in the sweeping views of the city on a cool summer’s evening. Don’t forget to bring your camera and ID!

When: 18:00 daily, November-February

Price: R145 adults, R72.50 children (under 18 years). Free if you go on your birthday!

2. Hop aboard the Red Bus

fun things to do in cape town

You don’t have to be a tourist to enjoy a day out exploring Cape Town’s stunning attractions! Gather a group of friends and spend the day sightseeing, while learning about the city’s history along the way. The Hop-On Hop-Off bus is a great way to spend a birthday, or just have a fun day out. Choose between the Classic Red City or Blue Peninsula tours, Cape Point guided tour, Winelands tour, Township tours and Big 5 Safari tours. Buses depart from selected bus stops every 15-20 minutes.

Price: R200 online/ R220 at any ticket office for the Classic 1-day tour

When: First bus leaves the Waterfront @ 08:20, last bus leaves Greenpoint @ 19:40 returning to the Waterfront

3. Museum day

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @romildogrotajr via Instagram

Getting a bit of a culture fix can be a great way to get to know the city. Cape Town is chock full of museums and art galleries, so you can easily spend a day hopping from one to another. Even if you’re a Capetonian, you’ll be surprised at how much history you don’t know about your city!

Some museums and landmarks worth checking out:

  • District 6 Museum
  • National Gallery
  • Zeitz MOCAA
  • Slave Lodge
  • Iziko Museum
  • Castle of Good Hope
  • 18 Gangster Museum
  • Noon Gun

4. Stargaze at the Planetarium

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @rodmccall via Instagram

You don’t need to be a kid to go stargazing and appreciate the beauty of other galaxies far, far away. From interactive lectures and mapping out the solar system to educational film festivals, pop in for an hour-long show before or after lunch and learn something new about our stellar universe.

Price: R60 for adults/ R30 for children, SA students & pensioners

Show Times: Tuesday-Sunday, 12:00-16:00/ Evening shows on Wednesdays @ 19:00

25 Queen Victoria Street| 021 481 3900

5. Armchair Sundays comedy night

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @armchaircomedy via Instagram

Buckle up for an evening of laughter as the Armchair’s local residents and guest comedians make for an entertaining end to the weekend. Nestled in the quirky, bohemian neighbourhood of Obs, you can expect all sorts of weird and wonderful characters on stage at this beloved theatre, which has been the starting ground for many of South Africa’s top comedians. Grab a beer and a front row seat to some of the best Cape Town comedy.

Price: R40 at the door

When: Sundays @ 20:30

Obviouzly Armchair, 135 Lower Main Rd, Observatory, Cape Town | 021 460 0458

6. Movie time at the Labia

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @kristieesp via Instagram

An iconic landmark in Cape Town’s art scene, the Labia’s laidback old-school charm makes it a great place to watch your favourite arthouse film or catch the latest blockbuster. The best part? You can enjoy an ice-cold beer, G-&-T slushy, or glass of wine in the cinema. At just R50 a ticket, you can treat yourself to a drink and a bag of fresh popcorn all for under R100!

Price: R50 a ticket. Look out for their dinner and movie specials at selected restaurants around town.

68 Orange Street, Gardens | 021 424 5927

7. That’s so Darling

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @tales_of_nadia via Instagram

A small town blooming with wildflowers, festivals, theatre, wine farms, museums, hiking trails and cosy lodges – Darling will have you falling in love with its nostalgic charm in no time. Barely an hour’s drive from Cape Town, you’ll feel like you’re somewhere in the countryside as you walk through the town. Start your day with breakfast at one of the padstals along the route, watch a slice of comical satire at Evita se Perron, and be sure to pop in at Darling Brew for a late lunch and beer tasting – you won’t be disappointed!

Also read: Discover Epic West Coast Gems

8. Salsa on the Promenade

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @lyndacoop via Instagram

Strap on your dancing shoes and salsa down to the Sea Point promenade every Sunday from 15:30 where beginners and seasoned dancers swing their hips to Latino beats against the gorgeous ocean backdrop.

Price: free!

When: Sundays, 15:30-18:30

Where: Sea Point Pavilion

9. Walk through Woodstock

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @jonathan_rtz via Instagram

A once flourishing seaside resort, it’s hard to imagine Woodstock as anything other than an industrialised area that is undergoing massive gentrification and urban renewal. Bustling with creativity on every corner, Woodstock is home to niche art studios, trendy coffee shops, furniture workshops and design agencies aplenty. Yet, under all this lies a prevalent and vibrant history that is coming alive on its walls and buildings. Spend a morning perusing the shops along Victoria Road, and into the narrow and colourful streets.

Take a street art tour with local tour guide, Juma, and learn about the history of the area behind these graffiti artworks. Tours cost R350 for 1.5 hours and start at the Woodstock Exchange. Grab some brunch at the Old Biscuit Mill on weekends and pick up some quirky décor and vintage items along Albert Road.

10. Taste the wines of the Constantia Valley

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @rosemarygiralt

While the beautiful Cape Winelands is our pride and glory, you don’t have to venture too far to enjoy the classic flavours and scenery of Cape Town’s best wine farms. The Constantia Valley is home to some formidable estates and you can easily spend an entire day visiting your favourites. Some of the nine farms along the Constantia route include Steenberg, Constantia Uitsig, Eagle’s Nest, Buitenverwagting and Silvermist. Pop in for a wine tasting or stay for lunch, surrounded by enviable views of the city.

Wine tastings in the area range between R50 – R150 per person.

Also Read: 6 Undiscovered Wine Farms around Cape Town

11. Mojo Market madness

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @themojomarket via Instagram

The perfect brunch spot, a stone’s throw from the Sea Point promenade! Pick up some hand-crafted jewellery, vintage clothing and home décor pieces as you wander between the buzzing food stalls. You’ll find everything from fresh smoothies and ice cream to sushi, oysters, gourmet breakfast plates and home-baked treats. Catch live music on stage every evening from 19:00 and weekends around lunchtime.

Open: Monday-Sunday, 10:00-22:00

30 Regent Rd, Sea Point | 087 940 7474

12. Sundowners at The Vic

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @thomasshacks via Instagram

This stylish Victorian-inspired bar is the ideal spot to grab an after-work drink or spend a Friday night jamming to folk rock and indie vinyl. Cosy up on the velvet couches on a chilly night, or dine al fresco in the cute courtyard. The bar mixes up some great cocktails and classic G&Ts, while the kitchen serves simple and tasty food – try any of their pizzas and bar nachos and you’ll know what we mean!

Open: Tuesday-Saturday, 12:00-01:00/ Sundays, 12:00-21:00

84 Kloof Street| 021 811 0292

13. Dinner specials throughout the week

We all love a good dinner special, especially at our favourite restaurants. Here are some irresistible ones to schedule in your weekly calendar:

Mondays:

  • Three-course dinner at Asoka for R195. Choose from a selection of delicious Asian plates from 17:00 onwards.

68 Kloof Street, 021 422 0909

  • Jazz up your Monday with half-price burgers and pizzas at Gardens Collectors Club. From the usual classics to gourmet toppings, you’ll definitely be back for more.

51 Kloof Street, Gardens, 021 422 5822

  • Enjoy a seafood platter for two at Blowfish Restaurant until 22:00. R99 gets you a platter of fresh fish, calamari, prawns, mussels, rice, veggies and chips.

Dolphin Beach Hotel, Marine Drive, Table View, 021 556 5464

Tuesdays:

  • From 18:00 onwards, The Twankey Bar serves up delicious grilled or battered linefish and chips with a 500ml draught or glass of wine for just R95. Pop in earlier for their happy hour special before tucking into dinner.

Next to the Taj Hotel, Cnr Wale Street & St. Georges Mall, 021 819 2000

  • It’s the battle of the buns at Devil’s Peak Taproom every Tuesday from 18:00. For R75 you get a gourmet cheeseburger and 340ml lager – the perfect combo deal.

150 Cecil Road, Salt River, 021 201 1401

  • Manga offers a two-for-one sushi special for lunch and dinner. Only available at their stores in Mouille Point and Church Square.

Beach Rd & Rothesay Place, Mouille Point | 32 Parliament St, CBD

Wednesdays:

  • Two-for-one pizzas at Hail Pizza just behind Clarke’s in Bree Street. Valid every Wednesday 18:00 – 20:00.

133A Bree St, Cape Town CBD, 021 424 7648

  • Arrive hungry for bottomless ribs at Beerhouse every Wednesday from 11:00 throughout the day. At only R99, booking is a must and strictly no sharing or takeaways – challenge accepted!

223 Long Street, CBD, 021 424 3370

  • Sotano in Sea Point serves up delicious two-for-one lamb burgers at just R110 from 17:00 onwards.

121 Beach Road, 021 433 1757

Thursdays:

  • Primal Eatery is one of the best steakhouses in town, and from Tuesday to Thursday they serve up 300g sirloin or rump with a side at just R145. We highly recommend booking a table!

50 New Church Street, Gardens

  • All you can eat sushi at Active Sushi for R199 from 17:30 onwards

32 Hudson St, CBD, 021 418 2604

Fridays:

  • Happy hour tapas and tipples at Harringtons. Choose any four tapas off their menu for R200, valid from 17:00 – 20:00. Enjoy their classic cocktails, beers and local bubbly at half price!

61 Harrington Street, 021 461 2276, 021 422 3232

14. Get your game on at Big Box Café

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @thebigbox_boardgames_cafe via Instagram

Looking for a fun thing to do in Cape Town? Tucked away in the CBD is Cape Town’s only board game café where you can spend an entire afternoon or evening. Grab a table and choose anything from their vast collection of boardgames, while their cosy kitchen can whip up some tasty treats to keep you going. Whether you’re a strategic mastermind or looking for some wholesome family fun, the guys at Big Box cater to all kinds of players.

Price: games are free to play

Open: Monday-Wednesday, 08:00-17:00/ Thursday-Friday, 08:00-22:00/ Saturday, 10:00-22:00

18 Roeland Street, Gardens | 071 314 9134

15. Cape Town Science Centre

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @capetownsciencecentre via Instagram

Calling all science buffs and curious minds – discover a world of interactive displays, science shows, theatre, hands-on experiments and workshops to keep your hands and mind busy at the CTSC. Saturdays are filled with robotics workshops, topical discussions, chess tournaments, and lessons geared around exam preparation for scholars.

Open: Monday-Saturday, 09:00-16:30/ Sundays & Pub. Holidays, 10:00-16:30

370B Main Road, Observatory| 021 300 3200

16. Birthday freebies at the Aquarium

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @leschroeder via Instagram

Yip, you read right. The Two Oceans Aquarium has just announced you get free entrance on your birthday! If you can’t visit on your birthday, the offer is still valid for six days after. Simply bring your ID book or driver’s licence and collect your free pass from the ticket office.

Scuba diving, kelp forests, penguin interactions, shark feedings and glow-in-the-dark jellyfish displays are just some of the amazing things you can experience at the aquarium. A day at the Aquarium is definitely one of the most fun things to do in Cape Town!

Open: Every day, 09:30-18:00

Dock Road, V&A Waterfront | 021 418 3823

17. Make some furry friends

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @sidewalkspecials via Instagram

Animals are the greatest companions we could ask for, and what better way to help them than volunteering to make their world a little better? There are lots of local animal shelters and charities that would greatly appreciate your time. Make a donation, bring some supplies, or spare a few hours of your time to walk them, groom them and help clean their rooms. You’re guaranteed lots of licks, tail wags and kisses in return!

Check out some of these animal shelters in your area:

DARG: info@darg.org.za | Main Rd, Hout Bay

Uitsig Animal Rescue Centre: hello.uitsig@gmail.com | Thandanani Farm, just before the Duynefontein turnoff, Melkbosstrand

Sidewalk Specials: contact@sidewalkspecials.org  | Find them at the Granger Bay market on the 1st Saturday of each month

TEARS: volunteer@tears.org.za | 4 Lekkerwater Road, Sunnydale, Noordhoek

Fallen Angels: info@fallenangels.org.za | Just before the Duynefontein turnoff, Melkbosstrand

African Tails: manager@africantails.co.za | 56 Koeberg Rd, Brooklyn

Lucky Lucy: volunteer@luckylucy.org | N7, between Philadelphia and Malmesbury

18. Rainbow Puppet Theatre @ the Waldorf School

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @therainbow.puppettheatre via Instagram

Theatre is the rawest and most honest form of storytelling. Pry your little ones away from their screens and video games for a morning and watch their minds be transformed by the magical world of theatre. Using hand and rod puppets in a beautiful custom-made set, the shows are inspired by Grimm’s fairy tales, each story carrying an uplifting message. Shows are recommended for age 4 years and up.

The venue is great for kiddie’s parties, and the troupe also has a mobile puppet theatre for home events.

Price: R20 per ticket

When: Saturday mornings, two shows @ 10:00 and 11:15

Where: Constantia Waldorf School, Spaanschemat River Road, Constantia | 021 783 2063

19. Ice skating at Grand West

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @proactiveconcepts via Instagram

Practise your graceful (or wobbly) moves on the ice at the Ice Station at Grand West. The Olympic-size skating rink is open to all ages and abilities and is a hotspot for families over the holiday season. This is great fun with a group of friends or for a date night!

The rink hosts ice hockey championships and figure skating competitions throughout the year, and spectators are welcome to sit in and watch.

Price: R60 incl. skate hire/ R50 bring your own skates

Open Times:

Mon – Tues 10:00 – 12:30 14:00 – 16:30
Wed – Thurs 10:00 – 12:30 14:00 – 16:30 20:00 – 22:30
Friday 10:00 – 12:30 14:00 – 16:30 18:00 – 20:30 21:00 – 24:00
Saturday 12:00 – 14:30 15:00 – 17:30 18:00 – 20:30 21:00 – 24:00
Sunday 12:00 – 14:30 15:00 – 17:30 18:00 – 20:30

Grand West, 1 Vanguard Drive, Goodwood, | 021 535 2260

20. Get a Rush!

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @misshurlbatt via Instagram

Bouncing around on trampolines is not just for kids. You can work up quite a sweat and have great fun challenging your friends to a game of dodgeball or slam dunk basketball. When you’re not tumbling around the nets, you can enjoy some coffee, snacks and free Wi-Fi on the side. Great for birthday parties, team building or some weekend fun!

Price: From R115 per hour. See their online pricing guide

Open: Monday-Thursday, 13:00-21:00/ Friday-Saturday, 09:00-22:00/ Sunday, 09:00-19:00

5th Floor, 109 on Main, Claremont | 087 094 0178, 021 683 3841, 021 671 1489

21. SUP Boarding

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @supcapetown via Instagram

One of the best ways to work on your abs and take in views of the city, SUP boarding is becoming a favourite summer pastime. There’s no better way to start your day than a refreshing dip in our sparkling ocean – hands down the most fun thing to do in Cape Town.

SUP Cape Town offers a 1-hour paddle along the Waterfront canals at R220 per person, or spend 1.5 hours paddling in the open ocean at R550 per person.

Let Ocean Riders take you out along the canals of Intaka Island, the CTICC and off Muizenberg and Clifton beaches. A 1-hour intro lesson and paddle ranges from R180-R350 per person.

If you’re looking for a full-day SUP experience, the guys at High Five can treat you to a sunrise paddle and brekkie or a sunset paddle and braai. Enjoy a 2-hour guided session off Blouberg beach at just R400 for an entire group of three!

For the yogis out there, you can even try SUP Yoga with SUP Yoga Cape Town at R300 per person for 1.5 hours in the Camps Bay tidal pool.

22. Hit the mountain bike trails

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @ashortchase via Instagram

Swap your Sunday drive for a Sunday ride instead. If you’re up for a little exercise, this is a fun thing to do in Cape Town. The city is full of exciting and scenic bike trails to explore. Here are nine of our top picks:

  • Meerendal Wine Farm: 21km, easy riding. Start point – wine farm
  • Deer Park, Table Mountain: 16-34km, intermediate riding. Start point – Chelmsford Rd, Vredehoek
  • Cape Point Reserve: up to 45km, easy riding. Start point – anywhere
  • Koeberg Reserve, Melkbosstrand: 7-25km, easy riding. Start point – Visitors Centre
  • Jonkershoek: 10-45km, intermediate to technical riding. Start point – Jonkershoek Reserve main gate
  • Tokai Forest: up to 40km, moderate to extreme riding. Start point – Arboretum
  • Dirtopia, Delvera Wine Estate: 7-18km, moderate riding. Start point – Dirtopia Trail Centre
  • Contermanskloof, Durbanville: up to 36km, intermediate riding. Start point – The Dairy Shed
  • Bottelary Hills, Stellenbosch: 10-45km, easy riding. Start point – The Radish Restaurant

Note that park entry fees or trail fees may apply.

23. Green Point Park

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @guessential via Instagram

Looking for a space to bring the whole family, picnic, throw some frisbee and walk the dogs? Green Point Park is a recreational hub with lots to see and do. It features an amphitheatre, outdoor maze, exercise gym, wetlands garden, 25,000 indigenous plants, two child-friendly playparks, tea garden, nursery and loads of picnic areas. This is a great space to enjoy some fresh air and be active. If you’re planning to host a kiddies party or large gathering, come early to secure a good spot.

Note that swimming, skateboarding, alcohol, loud music and braais are not permitted.

Open: 07:00-19:00 daily

1 Fritz Sonnenberg Rd, Green Point | 021 417 0111

24. Swim at Silvermine

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @lieslhermanus via Instagram

A short trot from Ou Kaapse Weg leads you to the sparkling freshwater Silvermine Reservoir where you’re free to swim, hike, picnic and braai. Dogs are welcome, but owners must have a Level 1 My Activity permit. Gates open at 07:00 and close at 18:00 in summer.

Price: R50 for adults, R25 children (2-11 years), Free to SANParks Wild Card & My Green Card holders

Silvermine Reserve, off Ou Kaapse Weg | 021 712 0527

25. Have a picnic on Beta Beach

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @brendongrobler via Instagram

Beta Beach is one of Cape Town’s top beaches, and with its perfect positioning and big boulders to laze on, it’s easy to see why. It’s seclusion away from the bustle of Camps Bay and Clifton beaches make it a more peaceful spot to catch a tan, read your book and enjoy a picnic with some friends. And the water’s not far away for a refreshing dip. As the sun sets, watch everyone migrate to the big flat rocks to get the perfect view (and selfie)!

26. Pick roses at Chart Farm

fun things to do in cape town

Photo credit: @stephaniemarthinus via Instagram

Summer is here and the roses are in full bloom! Spend the morning or afternoon filling a bucket with your favourite coloured roses and enjoy the beautiful views of the farm. You’re also welcome to pick table grapes, lemons and chestnuts – delicious seasonal essentials! Their dog-friendly coffee shop serves up very reasonably-priced breakfasts, lunches and freshly-baked cakes.

Please bring your own bucket and secateurs if possible.

Price: R6 per rose

Open: Monday-Sunday, 09:00-16:30

Klaassens Road, Wynberg| 021 762 0067, 066 100 8924

 

If Cape Town is your back garden, make sure you take advantage of all these great activities. If not, book your cheap flights to Cape Town and start exploring the Mother City!

Got any other budget-friendly ideas on fun things to do in Cape Town? Share them in the comments below.

All information on this blog page was correct at the time of publishing and may change at any time without prior notice. Travelstart will not be held liable for loss or inconvenience resulting from the use of out-dated or incorrectly noted information.

Featured image courtesy of @supcapetown via Instagram

The post 25 Fun Things to Do in Cape Town on a Budget appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

The Low Down on What it’s Really Like Snorkelling in Bali

Bali is famous for many things – sacred temples, beautiful beaches, exciting nightlife, delicious food, amazing surfing, and cute little island towns. But just below the waves, there is

another side to Bali that you absolutely need to explore if you want to make the most of your trip to Indonesia.

And although scuba diving in Bali is an unforgettable experience, if you would prefer something less technical, snorkelling in Bali is also a great experience and all you will need is a mask and fins.

Sounds like something you would love to do? Carry on reading and we will give you the low down on essential information such as visibility and sea temperatures and all the best snorkelling spots in and around Bali.

snorkelling bali

Photo credit: @manuelbergmann via Instagram

Best Time for Snorkelling in Bali

The rainy season in Bali is typically from October to March. The ocean can be quite rough and murky during these months and aren’t ideal for snorkelling. Although the weather can be unpredictable and go from lousy to fantastic within hours, so it might still be possible to get some snorkelling in if you are planning your holiday during this season.

The best time for snorkelling in Bali is definitely during the dry months from April to September. If you want to swim with the manta rays, the best time to visit is between April and May. And if you want to see the famous Mola Mola (oceanic sunfish), the best time to visit is between July and September.

Also see: Your Guide to the Best Time to Visit Bali

snorkel with turtles

Photo credit: @manuelbergmann via Instagram

Sea Conditions

The ocean temperature is quite consistent throughout the year, ranging between 24-29 degrees Celsius and visibility usually ranges from 10 to 50 metres.

The currents around Bali can be quite strong so it is important that you:

  • know how to handle getting caught in them
  • find out what the conditions are like where you plan to snorkel
  • go with someone else or a group (especially if you are a newbie)
  • try to plan a morning trip because the sea tends to get rough in the afternoon
wreck snorkel bali

Photo credit: @jeangrey6 via Instagram

The Best Snorkelling Spots in Bali

Northern Bali: Tulamben and Amed

USAT liberty shipwreck – Tulamben

The USAT Liberty Shipwreck is one of the most well known and popular snorkelling sites in Bali. The USAT Liberty was a World War II cargo ship that ran aground in 1942 after being hit by Japanese torpedoes. The ship remained intact on Tulamben beach until Mount Agung erupted in 1963 and the tremors caused the ship to break up and slip off the beach onto a sand slope. The ship is covered in colourful corals and home to hundreds of strange and wonderful reef fish and marine animals.

USAT liberty wreck

Photo credit: @snorkellingqueen via Instagram

Coral Garden – Tulamben

The coral garden is a shallow reef situated just a few hundred metres from the USAT Liberty wreck site. It is close to the shore and has a depth of 2-15 metres, which is perfect if you are a beginner snorkeller or just want to take it easy. The Coral Garden is a vibrant kingdom of soft and hard corals, playful tropical fish, lazy moray eels, peculiar bumphead parrotfish, and graceful blacktip reef sharks.

coral garden tulamben

Photo credit: @snorkellingqueen via Instagram

Japanese shipwreck – Amed

The Japanese wreck is a mysterious and magnificent snorkelling spot just off the beach in Lipah Bay, near Banyuning. How it ended up on the sandy seabed is a mystery, but its fate helped create a perfect landscape for marine animals and beautiful Gorgonian fans to flourish. Barracuda, blue spotted sting rays, scorpion fish, and octopus are just some of the creatures that you might find hanging around.

japanese wreck bali

Photo credit: @ringabiketour via Instagram

Jemeluk Bay – Amed

Famous for its Underwater Temple (a.k.a. Underwater Post Office) and rich marine life, Jemeluk Bay is one of the most popular snorkelling spots in the area. Underwater sculptures are scattered throughout the bay to support coral growth and have created a vibrant world that will excite all levels of snorkellers. You can expect to see corals, angelfish, surgeonfish, damselfish, and blue spotted rays.

snorkelling with manta rays

Photo credit: @snorkellingqueen via Instagram

Bunutan Point – Amed

Less touristy than the other sites, snorkelling at Bunutan Point tends to be an easygoing affair. The reef begins in shallow water and gentle slopes into the ocean towards a coral garden alive with all kinds of colourful sea life. Triggerfish, boxfish, barracudas, and tropical reef fish are common sights at this snorkelling site. Curious blacktip reef sharks are also often spotted cruising around Bunutan Point.

bali snorkel

Photo credit: @chlmrin via Instagram

Menjangan Island

Situated next to West Bali National Park and surrounded by crystal blue water, Menjangan Island is a dreamscape for snorkellers. It was ranked 3rd on Discovery Channel’s list of The World’s 10 Best Spots for Snorkelling and has some of the loveliest corals in Bali. You will encounter clownfish, blue tangs, Moorish idols, starfish, yellow tangs, pufferfish, and if you are lucky, whale sharks, manta rays, and turtles.

menjangan island

Photo credit: @manuelbergmann via Instagram

Pemuteran Biorock

For something a little different, Pemutran Biorock is an artificial reef located off Pemuteran Beach. The reef is made up of steel structures that use low-level electricity to speed up coral growth as part of a restoration and conservation project that began in 2000. It is an interesting snorkelling spot and home to all the usual suspects, including yellow striped snappers, catfish, damsels, and humbugs.

biorock bali

Photo credit: @89feri via Instagram

Eastern Bali: Padangbai

Blue Lagoon – Padangbai

If you are a newbie snorkeller or just want to take it easy and float in luminous blue water with schools of tropical fish then Blue Lagoon is the spot for you. The water is usually very calm and the coral reefs rest on top of a sandy bottom in shallow water, so it is great for a leisurely snorkel. Some of the curious creatures you will encounter are emperor angelfish, trumpet fish, stargazers, octopus, and reef sharks.

coral garden bali

Photo credit: @snorkellingqueen via Instagram

White Sand Beach (a.k.a. Pantai Pasir Putih) – Padangbai

Not only is White Sand Beach a great beach for lazing about beneath the Balinese sun, but it is also a fantastic spot for snorkelling. When you sink beneath the waves, corals invite you to look a little closer and meet some of the marine creatures that flutter and float around them. Cute tropical fish, curious moray eels, and even turtles hang out in the water surrounding White Sand Beach.

clownfish snorkel

Photo credit: @ringabiketour via Instagram

Southern Bali: Nusa Islands

Nusa Penida

This tiny island lies just off the south coast of mainland Bali and has some of the absolute best snorkelling experiences in Indonesia. Calm on the surface but teeming with life beneath the surface, Crystal Bay is a world-famous snorkelling spot. And if you want to swim with gentle manta rays and the famous Oceanic Sunfish (Mola Mola), head to Manta Point, which is considered a legendary snorkelling spot in Bali.

snorkel with mantas

Photo credit: @elli_beeee via Instagram

Nusa Lembongan

Lembongan Island is a small island next to Nusa Penida with some incredible snorkelling experiences if you can handle the strong current (getting snorkel guide for this island is recommended). The best snorkelling spots around Nusa Lembongan are Mangrove Point and Mushroom Bay. The water is crystal clear and home to creatures such as reef sharks, triggerfish, parrotfish, ocean sunfish, and barracudas.

buddha temple lembongan

Photo credit: @ringabiketour via Instagram

The Gili Islands

If you want to snorkel with green and hawksbill turtles, the Gili Islands (Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air) just off Lombok are the Turtle Capital of the World. If you are up for the journey, a ferry ride will take you from Padang Bai to Lombok Island and then onto the Gili Islands.

Find and compare cheap flights to Bali on Travelstart.co.za!

snorkelling with turtles

Photo credit: @mathiasbanck via Instagram

And remember:

  • Do not touch the anything or stand on the reefs while snorkelling. Marine life and corals are extremely fragile and even a simple touch can damage them.
  • Support local businesses by using small local companies for snorkelling trips.

If we missed any great snorkelling spots in Bali, let us know in the comments section below!

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The post The Low Down on What it’s Really Like Snorkelling in Bali appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

New York: Cheap Things to Do & What’s Worth the Splurge

“New York, New York it’s a hell of a town’’ sang Leonard Bernstein – a hell of an expensive town you might be thinking to yourself! At Travelstart, New York represents a pipe dream for many of our travellers. They long to see the Big Apple, but the perception of New York as a staggeringly expensive city pushes it further down their holiday wish list.

Having just visited New York City with our partners at Virgin Atlantic, we can confirm that visiting New York can quickly become a costly exercise. However, there are many free things to do and affordable things to do to enjoy this city on a shoestring. Let’s explore where you can save money in New York, and what’s worth the splurge! As with any trip, it’s about prioritising.

Free and Cheap Things to Do in New York

Pound the Pavements

flat iron

The best way to experience New York is by walking its action-packed streets, and Manhattan is small enough to do just that. Pounding the pavements is a great way to see the most famous sites, from the Flatiron building to the Empire State Building, but also to discover the unexpected. We stumbled across talented street artists, a sex museum, incredible Halloween installations, designer pop-up sample sales, crazy characters and mind-boggling food on our walkabouts. If your feet get weary and you can’t go on, you can always abort your mission and jump on the subway.

Staten Island Ferry

staten island ferry

There are plenty of ferries that take you to or around the Statue of Liberty, but those in the know assured us that Lady Liberty is better seen from afar than ascended. So rather than forking out a few hundred Rand to go up the Statue of Liberty, we kept our cash and decided to take the Staten Island Ferry instead. This entirely free service runs 24/7 between Whitehall Terminal (located in Lower Manhattan) and Staten Island. The 20-minute trip is a fun way to get some fresh air, enjoy magnificent views of the New York skyline and get up close to the Statue of Liberty. We were worried at the volume of people wanting to board our ferry at first (it’s used by both commuters and tourists), but the ferries are enormous and there was plenty of seating inside and space outside to enjoy the views and take photos.

Times Square

times square

Bright lights and larger than life, a billboard advertising the new Grinch movie sarcastically and rather accurately describes Times Square as the place “where classy meets subtle.” Wandering around Times Square entails marvelling at the sheer volume as well as true creativity of the billboard displays, popping into the coolest shops (M&M’s store anybody?) and wowing over the arts and music. If you’re on a budget, be sure to avoid the cartoon characters walking about – take a photo with one and you’ll be expected to fork out up to $20 (About R300) for their troubles. Stand in front of the live streaming Street-Level Times Square Cam on the Visitors Centre on 46th Street and wave to your family and friends as well as thousands of strangers from anywhere around the world who happen to be watching the Times Square camera live.

Visit Central Park

central park

A sanctuary in the middle of Manhattan magic, Central Park, which is an unmissable New York attraction, is a great place to slow down and spend a few hours away from the hustle. This huge and beautifully maintained park boasts acres of grass that beg to be picnicked upon, playgrounds, ice-rinks, museums, yoga classes, running tracks and more. Kick off your shoes and play frisbee on the lawns, grab a coffee and wander around spotting your locations from your favourite movies or just read a book in the peace and quiet. Public vehicles have recently been banned on the few roads that run through Central Park, which makes it even more appealing!

Walk the Skyline

high line

With lofty views of the city from a different perspective, the High Line is a free public space built on a historic elevated freight line on the west side of Manhattan. This 2.3 km rail trail is a linear park where you can enjoy art, walk through gardens, experience a performance, and buy delicious food while enjoying a unique view of the city and its compelling portfolio of architecture and design. Saved from impending demolition, the High Line has become a world-renowned example of how cities can transform industrial infrastructure into beautiful public spaces. It’s definitely worth a visit if you have an hour or two to spare!

Visit Chelsea Market

chelsea market

Close to the High Line, the trending Meat Packing District plays host to fashion designers, galleries, museums and markets. Make your way towards the Chelsea Market for lunch and walk the halls perusing the cute speciality stores, the art on display and grab lunch at one of the dozens of eateries. No matter what you’re in the mood for, Chelsea Market has something to satisfy your stomach – from Italian fare and oyster bars to tacos and doughnut shops.

Chow Down on American Street Food

hot dogs

Eating on the go in New York is affordable. It’s also the best way to multi-task like a true Manhattan local. Just like they do in the movies, stop at a local vendor and grab yourself a steaming hot dog, a slice of the most incredible pizza or a fresh pretzel for $1-$3 (Between R15-R45). No one ever said New York would be good for the waistline, but all that walking will help ward off any extra kilos!

5th Avenue Window Shopping

saks 5th avenue

Breakfast at Tiffany’s, anyone? Remember that 5th Avenue is one of the top shopping destinations in the world, which means this is one place all the top brands are putting their best foot forward. Marvel at opulent, creative and crazy window displays and explore the hottest new releases and fashion ranges. The usual luxury designer brands aside, 5TH Avenue highlights include Saks 5th Avenue, Tiffany & Co, Fao Schwatz (a magical toy store) and the Apple store. Even if you have no plans to shop, 5th Avenue should be on everyone’s New York to-do list!

Visit The National September 11 Memorial

sept 11 memorial

If you’re prepared for an emotional outing, visiting “Ground Zero” – the former site of the Twin Towers before the 9/11 attacks –is a very special thing to do while you are in New York. Once a devastating reminder of the horrific tragedy, this space has been transformed into a beautiful tribute to the 2977 victims who lost their lives in the terror attacks.

The Memorial’s staggering design features twin pools of water-the largest man-made waterfalls in North America. Inscribed in bronze around the perimeter is the name of every victim, a powerful reminder of the incredible loss of life. Walk a little further to the fire station – the first responders on the day of the attack and take a minute to pay your respects to the brave firefighters who sacrificed their lives to help others.

Book your Virgin Atlantic flights to New York now!

What’s Worth the Splurge in New York

Ellen’s Stardust Diner

STARDUST

Everyone should visit a diner for breakfast in New York- it’s practically a right of passage- and if you can choose only one, you should choose Ellen’s Stardust Diner on Broadway.

This fifties-themed diner is the ultimate way to start your day, because not only is the food amazing (think bacon and egg waffles) but the servers are the hottest up and coming Broadway stars, taking turns to perform your favourite songs with you sip on your morning coffee. One of our favourites was a hugely talented server singing La Bamba while wearing Edward Scissorhands talons that he would twirl as he danced and run through unsuspecting patron’s hair. It’s like a party with your pancakes and you’ll leave energised, ready for the day! Prepare to pay about $20 (R350-ish) for breakfast – but it comes with a free show!

Disclaimer! Don’t be put off by the queue, this is one famously popular spot, but the line moves quickly and it’s 100% worth the short wait.

Horse & Carriage Ride through Central Park

horse ride nyc

 

Fun, romantic, exhilarating or cheesy, no matter which way you spin it, riding in a horse-drawn carriage through Central Park is the stuff that fairytales are made of! Truly a fun thing to do while in New York, a Horse and Carriage ride is a terrific way to get your bearings of the park, learn a little about the sites and famous movie settings from your guide and of course, it’s great for selfies!

Do your research and book online, you can expect to pay about $55 (About R800) for a 20-minute ride for 4 people.

Jekyll & Hyde Club

nyc restaurant

 

The world famous Jekyll and Hyde Restaurant and Bar is a one-of-a-kind place! In an intimate, eerie and bizarre setting enjoy live entertainment and spooky special effects throughout dinner.

Encounter bizarre characters such as Claw the Gargoyle who will sing customised songs to birthday guests, Tobias the Werewolf and prankster, or an authentic Egyptian mummy. The servers and staff perform magic tricks, introduce you to the oddest creatures and generally have fun freaking the patrons out. The food is pretty delicious and the portions are enormous, and you’ll pay about $39 (R600) for the Standard Service package which includes dinner, an appetiser or dessert, unlimited soft drinks and bewitching entertainment all night. There are many other options available too.

Grab a Drink at 230 Fifth Rooftop Bar

230bar

The rooftop bars of New York provide patrons with the perfect panoramic backdrop to enjoy sundowners high above the humming city streets. Drinks may be expensive, but treat yourself to even just one drink and savour the splurge as the sun sets on another day. After all, how can you visit Manhattan without a taste of the nightlife? 230 Fifth Rooftop Bar is the biggest in New York. Located on (you guessed it ) 5th Avenue, they’ve got plenty of seating, great music, gowns to borrow on chilly nights and an amazing view of the Empire State Building. We also loved Magic Hour- a rooftop bar located on the top of Moxy Hotel on Times Square, with its carousel of rotating tables and putt-putt course.

Your Visa

Travelling on the South African passport means procuring a visa for the majority of the most popular destinations in the world, which can be expensive, time-consuming and stressful. The plus side for the USA visa is that your hard work pays off! Not only is the USA visa processing time very quick when compared to Schengen and UK visas, but you will also be automatically given a 10-year multi-entry visa for the USA! Which means at the drop of a hat, you can buy your Virgin Atlantic flight on Travelstart and be in the USA in no time. Double bonus – if you fly to New York via London with Virgin Atlantic, your valid USA visa means you won’t need a transit visa for England.

A Central Hotel

moxy hotel

New York is all about walking and it’s pretty safe to even stroll the busy areas at night. Try book a hotel that’s close to the action if you can – we opted for the uber-cool Moxy Times Square which was ideal for sightseeing, shopping and restaurants. The rooms were spacious and modern, and the hotel was very funky. It has multiple restaurants and bars and also had free candy since it was Halloween and gave us ponchos when it rained. Be sure to book early because affordable hotels in Manhattan understandably fill up fast. If you need to stay a little further out for budget’s sake, never fear. One subway ride into central Manhattan is only $2.75 (About R40).

Book your New York hotel now.

Sample Sales

If you travel to New York during shoulder season, you may be fortunate enough to stumble across some sample or clearance sales as we did. Having arrived in New York with zero intention whatsoever to shop, we may have been swayed by a sample sale pop-up, where the Rebecca Minkhoff bags and shoes were about 80% off the original retail price. Great deals on designer brands were also to be found in Macy’s and other department stores, so seek carefully and ye shall find!

The post New York: Cheap Things to Do & What’s Worth the Splurge appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

Chichén Itzá – Mexico’s New 7th Wonder of the World

Mexico is the 14th largest country in the world and has 32 states. It’s known for its Pacific and Gulf of Mexico beaches, diverse landscape of mountains, desserts and jungles. Discover Chichén Itzá which is one of the new 7 wonders of the world and a UNESCO world heritage site! There are over 4,400 Maya sites throughout Latin America, with about 200 of them located in Mexico.

About Chichén Itzá

Chichén Itzá is the most visited ancient ruin in Mexico and is located in the state of Yucatán. The main purpose of Chichén Itzá was to serve as a religious center for the people in this region. Built by the Maya people, the ruins were once a large city and cover an area of 5 square kilometres. “Chichén Itzá” means: “At the mouth of the well of the Itza.” This is derived from chi which means “mouth” or “edge,” and ch’en meaning “well”. The name is fitting because the many cenotes (natural pit) nearby which they used as a source of water. Chichén Itzá was also an important trading center for the Maya people.

Photo credit: @Dineo_Zonke via Instagram

The buildings are grouped in a series of architectonic sets, and each set was at one time separated from the other by a series of low walls. El Castillo (the castle) dominates the center of Chichén Itzá. This 30 m high pyramid has exactly 91 steps on each side leading up to the top on the temple. When you include the steps taken to enter the temple, the total number of steps adds up to 365 – one for each day of the Mayan solar calendar, known as the Haab’. The same calendar that predicted the year 2012 to be the end of the world.

One of the reasons Chichén Itzá is a world-class site is because of its phenomenal architectural design. Twice a year, shadows align the steps of El Castillo creating an image of a snake. The sites are known for their exceptional acoustic design. For instance, El Castillo creates sounds that mimic the chirp of a bird which resembles the sound of the Mexican Quetzal, a sacred bird in the Mayan culture. The ‘chirp’ can be triggered by a hand clap made at the base of the staircase.The structures of Chichén Itzá were overgrown with jungle and slowly decayed until major archaeological projects began in the 1920’s. Since then, more of the ancient structures have been cleared and restored and more and more tourists come to visit.

The Maya People

Originating in the state of Yucatán, about 2600 B.C, the ancient Maya people were famous for their outstanding skills in agriculture, pottery, calendar-making and Mathematics. There are an estimated 7 million Maya people still living in and around the state of Yucatán, making them the largest single block of indigenous peoples north of Peru. They inhabit southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador and Honduras. The term Maaya is a Yucatec Mayan language word that describes the language spoken by indigenous people in the Yucatán Peninsula, México

Photo credit: @Dineo_Zonke via Instagram

How to get to Chichén Itzá

Car rental: Rental car and driving privately to Chichén Itzá is one of the best options. There’s no reason for you to be intimidated by driving in Mexico. If you use a third-party website to rent cars, which often has really low prices, be aware that you’ll still have to buy insurance at the rental counter, which may double or even triple the original quote. Entrance fee at the ruins is 237 Mexican Pesos (R 165) and It’s free for kids under 12. This is a large park and usually visitors are on a tight schedule, consider the services of a guide. They can be found in the museum at the entrance and are very nice and reasonably priced.

Bus: ADO bus service from Cancun costs 202 Mexican Pesos (R136) for a one-way trip and takes 3 hours. You will be dropped right next to the ruins. You will need to purchase a ticket to visit the ruins. You’ll have about 4 hours to spend in the area if using the faster bus. Remember that if you are coming from Cancun or anywhere in that coast, you are in Eastern Standard Time and when you get to Chichén Itzá, it’ll be Central time, so you gain an hour to explore the ruins!

Day Tour: Many tourists visit Chichén Itzá as a day trip, especially from Cancun since there are a number of companies that organise tours. You can take a break from the busy city life and book a day tour to Chichén Itzá which is approximately 200 km away from Cancún. A full day tour (8am – 6pm) is approximately 36 USD (R 530) pp and includes all entrance fees, a buffet lunch with delicious Mexican food and a stop for a swim at a cenote.

Photo credit: @Dineo_Zonke via Instagram

Travel Tips

Travel Tip 1: At the site you can only get around on foot so make sure you wear comfortable shoes.

Travel Tip 2: Chichén Itzá is very hot, even if you visit in the mornings. It is advised to bring with you a hat/umbrella, sunblock and water.

Travel Tip 3: If you choose to visit the ruins without booking a day tour. The best option is book a hotel overnight in the area then visiting the ruins in the morning. The gates open at 8 am. You’ll experience significantly less crowds before the tourist busses arrive at about 10 am. It’s also the best time to avoid the heat.

Travel Tip 4: Chichén Itzá closes at 4 pm but reopens from 5 – 6 pm. Often you have the place almost to yourself.

Travel Tip 5: If you want to know more about the Mayan local communities, their cooking, religious rites, calendar system and ancient arts, visit the small towns around Chichén Itzá.

Chichén Itzá is incredible! While visiting, you can shop for souvenirs. Items like magnets are still super cheap so it’s always nice to pick up some gifts for your loved ones at home! In general, though, prices are higher here and you should shop around and negotiate on the cost.

What are you waiting for? Book your next trip to Mexico and explore one of the New 7 Wonders of the world!

*Disclaimer!

All information on this blog page was correct at the time of publishing and may change at any time without prior notice. Travelstart will not be held liable for loss or inconvenience resulting from the use of out-dated or incorrectly noted information.

The post Chichén Itzá – Mexico’s New 7th Wonder of the World appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

Greece visa requirements for South Africans

Dreaming of waking up in a white-washed villa in Santorini, or exploring the Parthenon in Athens? Greece is a Mediterranean haven of great food, gorgeous beaches and picturesque villages. The Greece visa application process is a simple one, and you can easily find out all you need to know.

South African passport holders require a Greek Schengen visa to travel anywhere in Greece. You can apply at the Greek Consulates or Greek Visa Application Centre located in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban. We advise you to apply for your Greece visa two to three months before you travel to avoid disappointment or delays.

Please note this process is applicable to South African passport holders.

The short-stay Schengen visa is available as a single or multiple entry visa. It is valid for 90 days.

How to apply for your Greece visa:

  1. Schedule an appointment online with your nearest VAC
  2. Submit your documents, booking confirmation, proof of payment and biometrics in person at the VAC
  3. Expect to wait between 15-30 days for your application to be processed
  4. Collect your visa or have it couriered to you, as soon as you’re notified

All Schengen states require everyone to appear in person for biometric data to be collected. Greece is no exception, though travellers who have submitted their biometric data to Greece within the last five years may be allowed to submit their application through an authorised representative.

Note: Any additional visas to your final destination must be obtained before applying for your Greece visa

Greece visa cost:

You can either make a cash deposit before your appointment, or pay by debit/ credit card at the application centre.

Visa fee: R1020 / EU60

An additional charge of R350 is payable should you choose to apply via GVC World.

The fee can be paid in cash to the following Nedbank account:

Bank Name: Nedbank
Branch Name: Business Banking North Rand
Account Name: Euro World
Account No: 1050318277
Branch Code: 146905 or 198765 (Universal Code)
Swift Code: NEDSZAJJ
Reference: Passport Number

Please note that application fees are non-fundable and subject to fluctuations in exchange rates.

When submitting your application, you can select an SMS service at R20 for visa collection notification. There is also an optional courier service at R200 per visa application.

Consular visa fees are waived for the following applicants:

  • Children under 12 years
  • Spouses and children (under 22 years) of EU citizens
  • Holders of diplomatic and service passports
  • Participants of NPOs taking part in events or conferences organized by NPOs
  • Scholars and students travelling for the purpose of study or educational training

greece visa

Requirements for the Greek Schengen visa:

South African applicants must present:

  • Fully completed application form. Application forms for minors (below 18 years) must be signed by both parents.
  • South African passport, valid for at least 3 months after your last day in Schengen territory. Passports must have two blank pages for visa stamps.
  • Two colour passport photos 35x45mm, not older than six months.
  • A return air ticket with travel dates. A reservation ticket is sufficient for application.
  • Proof of income in South Africa.
  • Proof of sufficient funds for duration of stay – minimum R700 per day or R3,600 reflecting in your account. You need to submit bank statements of the last three months. Any other bank account details may be submitted as additional proof.
  • Copies of travel medical insurance covering at least 30,000 Euros (R470,000), or SOS International cover from Discover Health.
  • Copies of all previous Schengen visas.
  • Confirmed hotel booking for entire stay (with hotel’s official letterhead) OR a sworn affidavit of invitation by a Greek resident with a certified copy of their ID/ passport.
  • For minors below 18 years: ID’s of both parents/ guardians and consent forms certified by the SA police. An unabridged birth certificate should be submitted or the official documents/court decisions establishing the minor’s parents/legal guardians. Parents must accompany minors in person at the Consulate.

Spouses of Greek/ EU citizens and children under 21 years are exempt from the above requirements, provided they supply the following:

  • Fully completed application form.
  • Originals and copies of spouse’s EU passport.
  • Full marriage / birth certificates.
  • Additional documents may be requested.

For a detailed breakdown of the Greece visa requirements, consult the Consulate’s checklist.

greece visa

Where to Apply:

Greek Consulate General – Johannesburg

Address: 261 Oxford Road, Fortune Kunene House, Illovo
Telephone: (011) 214 2300/2309/2317
Email: ecocom-johannesurg@mfa.gr / greekconsulate-johannesburg@mfa.gr
Website: https://www.mfa.gr/missionsabroad
Office Hours: Monday – Friday, 09:00 – 13:30 (Closed on Wednesdays)

Consulate of Greece – Cape Town

Address: 19th Floor Reserve Bank Building, 60 St.George Mall (cnr. Hout str.), CBD
Telephone: (021) 424-8160/1
Email: grconcpt@mweb.co.za / grcon.cpt@mfa.gr
Website: https://www.mfa.gr/missionsabroad
Office Hours: Monday – Friday, 09:00 – 12:00 (Closed on Wednesdays)

GVC World – Greece Visa Application Centre

Telephone: +27 012 425 3018
Email: info.zagr@gvc24assist.eu
Website: http://za-gr.gvcworld.eu/
Address – JNB 2nd Floor, Harrow Court 1, 11 Boundary Road, Houghton
Address – CPT 5th Floor, 47 Strand Street, CBD
Address – DUR 91-123 Cowey Road, Unit 101A, 1st Floor, Essenwood, Durban

If you have any queries regarding your Greece visa, contact our partners at VisaBox for an obligation-free quote and assistance!

greece visa

Are you nervous about having a visa application denied and losing all your hard-earned money spent on your flights? Check out our Visa Denied Service to add to your flight booking.

Don’t forget to sign up to our newsletter for more visa information, travel guides and flight specials!

Disclaimer:

All information on this blog page was correct at the time of publishing and may change at any time without prior notice. Travelstart is not affiliated to immigration authorities or their application centres and will not be liable for loss or inconvenience arising from the use of this volatile information.

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Why Windhoek is a top tourist destination in it’s own right

Windhoek is the capital city of Namibia, the country with the smallest population in Africa due to its vast size, much of it covered by desert. For many travelers Windhoek is nothing more than a transit city, a place to fly in to, collect a 4 x 4 rental and leave for the attractions of Sossusvlei or Etosha Pan.

Set amidst rolling hills the city and suburbs span about 14 kilometers north to south and roughly 7 kilometers east to west. With a population of under 300 000 people, traffic is never an issue and getting anywhere does not take long. The city is clean, well structured and has a diverse range of cultural attractions, architecture and entertainment. Previously known as South West Africa, Namibia gained independence in 1990 and is since then has it has enjoyed uninterrupted peace and stability, a rare status on the African continent.

Hot days and warm nights make it a city worthy of a few days of exploration before or after a wild African experience.

Be a culture vulture.

Heroes Acre is situated on the southern outskirts of the city and it a celebration of all who played a role in the long and difficult road to democracy. Located on a hill in a rural setting it is a peaceful place for quiet contemplation and to admire the views as birds call, small creatures scuttle in the bush and the city is spread out in the distance.  The imposing 8 metre high statue of the unknown soldier, and beneath it, the grave of the unknown soldier, serve as a memorial to all who died during the war of independence. The 36 metre tower represents a sword and symbolises the strength, bravery and dedication of the Namibian people, while the bronze frieze at the base depicts the history of the struggle. There is a restaurant on site for refreshments after climbing the multiple stairs in the hot African sunshine.

Iconic Christus Church in Windhoek

The landmark Christuskirche in Windhoek

The Independence Memorial Museum in the CBD is a tall modern structure opened in 2014. The restaurant and shop have viewing decks on all 4 sides and the glass lifts show off the city perfectly. The lower levels showcase the history of colonial repression, the liberation struggle and the road to independence.

The Christuskirche is opposite the Independence Museum. It was built in 1910 and is one of the iconic landmarks in Windhoek. The architecture is neo Romanic with an art deco influence and the stained glass windows and decorative detail inside the church are part of the rich German history of the city.

In the same street as the church is the old fort, or Alte Feste. Now a national monument, it has been the headquarters of South African and German troops as well as a hostel for the local high school.

Katutura Cycling Tour.

Katutura is a township 8 kilometers north of the CBD. It was established before independence by the South African Apartheid government as part of their black segregation program which resulted in forced removals. Katutura means “we will never settle here”.

Today Katutura is a lively community that welcomes visitors to craft and food markets, traditional restaurants and recreational areas and Eveline Street, “the street that never sleeps”.

Independence Monument, Heroes Acre in Windhoek

A monument to the struggle for independence

Shop till you drop.

The Carl List Mall is home to exclusive local boutique shops and international brands for the discerning shopper and lover of quality items.

The Old Breweries Craft Market is a collection of rather touristy curio outlets and restaurants set in the old brewery building. South Africans will not find anything they can’t buy at home, but for other visitors there is a wide variety of quality curios, mementos, clothing and books for sale. The Namibia Craft Centre in the complex is well worth a visit as they support crafters from far flung rural communities, providing life changing opportunities.

Bushman Art Gallery and Afrikan Museum has a fascinating collection of African masks, carvings, jewellery and domestic items on display and available to purchase. These items reflect the cultures of local tribes.

Windhoek has several fairly large shopping malls where you will find supermarkets, chemists, retail chains, restaurants and coffee shops. Maerua, The Grove, Wernhill, Town Square and Post Street and Khomas Grove Mall are the most popular ones to visit.

Eat, drink and be merry.

A drink or meal at Joe’s Beerhouse and evening cocktails at the Hilton Sky Bar are mandatory when visiting Windhoek, but there are many excellent restaurants and pubs dotted around the city.

Live like a local.

Meet the locals at these popular spots.

The Stellenbosch Wine Bar and Bistro for great food and excellent South African wines.

For fine dining indoors or on the terrace, the Am Weinberg Estate offers a sophisticated dining experience.

Andy’s Pub for excellent pizza and beer in a relaxed environment.

Slowtown Coffee for a great brew with breakfast or a snack while you watch the world go by on the main street.

For German style coffee and eats visit the Fresh n Wild coffee shop.

The Elisenheim Farmers kitchen is a 10 minute drive out of town. Family friendly it opens at 4 pm and is an excellent spot for a cold beer and hearty meal served inside or outdoors in an awesome rural setting.

The Sardinia Blue Olive restaurant is a firm favourite with locals for great Italian cuisine.

African bush in the suburbs of Windhoek

The African landscape is a short drive from central Windhoek

Book your cheap flights to Windhoek now.

Fast facts about Windhoek.

Currency: Namibian Dollars and South African Rand’s are accepted in Windhoek. Most major credit cards are accepted in the city.

Water: The tap water in Windhoek is safe to drink.

Language: English is the official language, and German is spoken by many in Windhoek.

Cost of living: Windhoek offers excellent value for money for any visitor with BP, USD or Euros as the exchange rate ranges between 14 and 18 to 1.

Access: Hosea Kutako International Airport serves the city of Windhoek and is situated 45 kilometers east of the city. It handles daily international flights from Africa, Europe and the Middle East.

Climate: The climate in Windhoek is generally hot and dry although it can get humid during the summer months.The nights can be extremely hot in summer making air conditioned accommodation vital to anyone unaccustomed to the heat.

Summer is from October to April with temperatures ranging between 20 and 34 C. Winter is from May to September where temperatures fluctuate between 18 and 25 C during the day but can drop to 0 C at night.

*Disclaimer!

All information on this blog page was correct at the time of publishing and may change at any time without prior notice. Travelstart will not be held liable for loss or inconvenience resulting from the use of out-dated or incorrectly noted information.

 

The post Why Windhoek is a top tourist destination in it’s own right appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

Choosing the Best Time to Visit Spain!

Spain is a wonderful destination that is any traveller’s dream. The country’s climate is varied across its regions and you could go from really hot days in Seville to the cool Mediterranean temperatures in Barcelona – all on one day! The best time to visit Spain would largely depend on what you’re hoping to see and do as it is a large country and has three distinct climates. These climates fall around the areas surrounding Madrid with its yearlong mild temperatures, Barcelona with its Mediterranean temperatures and then Seville, which offers summer days for most of the year.

With so much variety, you should take your time choosing the cities and regions of Spain that have the most to offer your personal preferences. Let Travelstart be your guide!

best-time-to-visit-spain-barcelona

Image courtesy of @igonzalezespada via Instagram.

Weather & Seasons

Ideally, the best time to visit Spain is over the spring and autumn periods as they offer great weather conditions with thinning crowds. During these times of the year, you can enjoy warm daytime temperatures that won’t leave you in a melting pot of perspiration or on the other extreme, looking for your woolen scarf! Spain is a large country with plenty to see and do across its varied areas. You could go swimming off the coast, wine tasting in the valleys and hiking on the plateau. Central Spain has hot and dry summers with higher rainfall levels than the rest of the country. The capital city in the centre of the action, Madrid, is perfect for that metropolitan feel, with vast differences between all four seasons.

Spain experiences four distinct seasons throughout its different regions. Summer in Europe has always been a popular choice for tourists and when it comes to Spain but if you’d prefer to skip the hordes of tourists then this may not be for you. All four seasons offer something unique and magical to the country, and you can look forward to events and festivals throughout the year.

best-time-to-visit-spain-promenade

Image courtesy of @kellytangbcn via Instagram.

Summer

The coastal region of Andalusia is any beach-lovers dream come true with its maritime climate – perfect for days spent lounging on the beaches. The good news is that this area is often less crowded than the rest of Spain so you’ll have more space to yourself to enjoy.  For that perfect summer glow then, the best time to visit Spain would be between June and August. Cities like Malaga and nearby islands off the coast such as Menorca and Palma de Mallorca, offer perfect summer destinations with beautiful coastal scenery and beaches galore. So, if you’re travelling in summer then make sure to pack in your swimsuit and plenty of sunscreen! Southern Spain can get a tad bit hot, up to 36°C in Seville, but on the other hand, it’s also ideal for winter travel with daytime highs ranging around 17°C in the heart of winter, in January!

Spring and Autumn

There are plenty of festivals during spring and autumn which coincide with the great weather conditions of the seasons! If you’re after the cultural scene of the country then the best time to visit Spain would be spring or autumn. Weather conditions across the country are more than ideal for almost anything, from strolls along the beaches and sightseeing, to wine tasting in the vast valleys of the Catalonia region!

Spring falls between March and May whereas autumn falls between the months of September and early November. For all of your inner-city touring, we recommend that you visit during these shoulder seasons. The weather is good and best of all, you’ll be skipping all of the crazy summer tourists that usually descend on the main cities of Spain from June to August.

Many travel to Spain to indulge their taste buds. and spring and autumn are perfect times of the year to do this. The restaurants are less busy and who knows, you might even convince the chef to create that signature dish of paella or indulge you with an extra scoop of your favourite dessert!

best-time-to-visit-spain-icecream

Image courtesy of @diana.c.barbu via Instagram.

Winter

Winter (November – February) in this beautiful country could easily be a contender for the best time to visit Spain as though you may not expect it, the cities and countryside come alive to a different kind of rhythm – a magical one! Imagine popular spots in Madrid, as you sip on your hot cup of espresso as you marvel and enjoy the best of what the city has to offer. A visit over the Christmas period is a guaranteed treat with Christmas lights and a visit to the Royal Palace. There is even an indoor ski-park in the heart of Madrid for those who want to ski and do some sightseeing and shopping on the same day.

The city of Granada is a great option in winter too as with its surrounding peaks, you will get a proper feel of a European winter. Best of all, the city is just one hour away from world-class ski-resort – Sierra Nevada!

The north of Spain is dotted with great snow-topped mountains which are ideal for some snow sports. Whereas Spain may not be your first choice for winter, you’ll be left with top-class facilities that aren’t brimming with tourists. The famous Pyrenees region, a few hours drive from Barcelona, is a must-see too as the ski resorts in the area are some of the best in Europe.

best-time-to-visit-spain-cathedral

Image courtesy of @theresahon via Instagram.

Average temperatures around Spain

Madrid

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Low °C 2 3 5 7 11 16 18 18 15 10 5 3
High °C 11 13 17 18 23 29 33 32 27 20 14 11
Rainfall (mm) 40 42 30 45 38 25 10 11 24 37 58 46

Barcelona

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Low °C 7 7 9 11 14 18 20 20 18 14 10 8
High °C 13 14 16 19 22 25 28 28 25 21 17 14
Rainfall (mm) 39 36 45 48 52 42 25 51 73 93 59 49

Seville

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Low °C 6 7 9 11 14 17 19 20 18 14 10 7
High °C 15 17 20 23 26 32 36 36 32 25 19 15
Rainfall (mm) 76 73 66 53 34 14 1 3 18 69 87 82

Daylight hours

Winter: 08:30 – 18:00

Winter in Spain offers daytime hours that last for up to nine and a half hours. Make sure to make the most of these shorter days by getting up early and planning some evening activities such as trips to the theatre or a delicious five-course dinner! Winter in Seville and its surrounding areas offer an extra 30 minutes of daylight fun with days of up to a full 10 hours of sunlight.

Summer: 06:00 – 21:00

Summer in Spain is a marvellous time if you’re looking for long days to get everything done and make the most out of your vacation! Expect the summer sun for up to 15 hours daily, giving you plenty of time to the beaches and outdoor activities..

best-time-to-visit-spain-beach-sunsets

Image courtesy of @marysombraplaya via Instagram.

What to pack

With the vast differences in climate across Spain, plan to pack in a few extra options so that you’re dressed for the beaches of Malaga and also the culturally-rich museums of Madrid. Assuming you’ll be travelling in either spring or autumn, here is a general list of what to pack into your suitcase:

  • Layers for changes in weather
  • A lightweight jacket
  • Conservative clothing for cathedral and museum visits
  • A sunhat
  • Comfortable shoes for walking/hiking
  • Swimwear for the beach
  • A large scarf / pashmina to use as a cover-up
  • A comfortable day bag
  • Camera and charger
  • A water bottle

    visit-spain-spring-valleys

    Image courtesy of @casaolea via Instagram.

How much are flights to Spain?

High season: June to August

Travel to anywhere in Europe is generally more expensive in summer than it is during the cooler months of the year. Spain is famous as a great summer destinations and ticket prices show this! Expect to pay around 20% more than during the rest of the year.

Popular season: Christmas and New Year

Over this popular period of travel, flights to Spain become more expensive than any other time of the year and you can expect to pay 30% more for flights and accomodation. So, if you’re planning to visit Spain over Christmas and New Year, book your tickets as early as possible!

Low season: November, end of January and February

If you’re keen on exploring Spain with a hot beverage in hand and a scarf wrapped around your neck then you’re certainly in luck as prices of flight tickets are cheaper. You can look at paying around 20% less than high season prices for your ticket to this beautiful country.

Popular annual events in Spain

There are literally hundreds of events and annual festivities that happen in Spain every year! The country is big and full of culture and tradition, with annual events to celebrate these dates. From religious to seasonal or simply a reason to have a big party, you will find something for every month of the year across the cities of Spain. Here are some of our favourite:

Three Kings Festival – 5 – 6 January, throughout the Andalusia region

Every year just after New Year, the Three Kings come to the cities and towns of the Andalusia region of Spain and bring gifts to the children of the area. There are parades and floats and lots of treats to go around and bring some cheer!

Las FallasMarch, Valencia

At the beginning of spring every year, the coastal city of Valencia puts on a display like no other! There are fireworks, parades, costumes and more, with the most extravagant of it being the massive papier-mâché figurines! These figurines are then set alight at the end of the festival, creating festive cheer throughout the city.

best-time-to-visit-spain-lasfallas

Image courtesy of @anepicedu via Instagram.

Holy Week (Semana Santa) – March (week before Easter), Seville

The Holy Week is one of the biggest celebrations in all of Spain and a massive tourist drawcard. The celebration is a very traditional one and you can look forward to streets adorned with flowers, daily parades of religiously-dressed locals, drums and large floats of the Virgin Mary. Expect a cultural atmosphere all week, leading up to a feast to behold!

Haro Wine Festival – end of June, Rioja

Wine-lovers – rejoice! If you’ve ever wanted to be completely soaked in wine then this is the festival for you. The Haro Wine Festival is a jovial one with people ‘battling’ with each other to pour this much-loved beverage all over their rivals in the name of fun. The festival is enjoyed by old and young, and ends in the town of Haro with dancing and having a good time.

Pamplona Bull Run – July, Pamplona

In the north of Spain in July, bulls run the streets and those in their way had better run! The Pamplona Bull Run has been a tradition in Spain since 14th century. Wild, uncastrated bulls are released in the streets of Pamplona and participants try their luck at trying to stay clear of the bull’s way and making it out unharmed – a feisty and entertaining festival to enjoy from the sidelines!

best-time-to-visit-spain-bull-run

Image courtesy of @teemunymander via Instagram.

La Tomatina – end of August, west Valencia

La Tomatina is a food fight that’s one of the most popular in the world with thousands of people joining in from across the world! Expect tons and tons of ripe tomatoes delivered to the city of Bunol in west Valencia on the last Wednesday of August for the craziest festival of them all. Bring a change of clothing as you’re guaranteed to be covered in red gooey mess!

Is Spain on your bucket list? With so much to see and do, and choosing the best time to visit Spain taken care of, its time to pack your bags and head off to this marvellous destination! Sign-up to our newsletter for the best flight specials and packages to Spain and hundreds of other destinations.

Featured image courtesy of @riccardo_trudu via Instagram.

 

 

The post Choosing the Best Time to Visit Spain! appeared first on Travelstart Blog.

Adventures in the Mother City: Experience the Best of Cape Town!

As the locals know, Cape Town is anything but boring. The Mother City sees throngs of excited visitors flocking to its shores throughout the year and with so many wonderful things to do, it’s difficult to choose! We’ve selected a snippet of exciting Cape Town attractions, so grab your camera and crew and start discovering the best of Cape Town!

Start your day kayaking in Table Bay

best of cape town

Ever imagined sitting in a boat amid frolicking dolphins, whales and seals, with the majestic view of Table Mountain at your feet? Experience Cape Town from a different angle, with a peninsula tour that is one for the memory books. Launching daily from the V & A Waterfront, the guides at Atlantic Outlook lead you to unparalleled views of Cape Town from the ocean.

For something a little different, trust these guys to make your tour extra special with their friendly resident DJ on board for entertainment and all-around good vibes. If you happen to spot some dolphins, feel free to hop overboard and take a swim with them.

After your tour, make a day of it and grab some breakfast at the Oranjezicht Farmer’s Market right next door. Definitely one of the most exciting ways to see the best of Cape Town!

Price: R400 (standard group tour)

Duration: 2 hours

Granger Bay Blvd (next to Oranjezicht Farmer Market) | 082 788 5053

Take a motorbike tour off the beaten track

If it’s exhilarating adventure you’re after, the guys at Africa Moto Tour certainly know how to pull out all the stops. Take a scenic peninsula tour over Chapman’s Peak to Cape Point, or go off-road and explore the gravel paths and mountain passes, winding your way along the coastal Clarence Drive and down through the green vineyards of Elgin.

Their 2- and 3-day tours take you through the Breede Valley, Karoo and even the Tankwa Karoo National Park. Feel the wind in your hair as you ride through the most beautiful landscapes, seeing the best of Cape Town and its surrounding areas.

Feel free to customise your tour exactly as you like. From organising the motorbikes and gear to scenic lunch spots and water stops along the way, you couldn’t ask for better tour guides!

Contact Africa Moto Tour for more information.

Roodebloem Rd, Woodstock | 074 350 99 89 or 083 287 64 11

Craft your own gin at New Harbour Distillery

best of cape town

Photo credit: @newharbourdistillery via Instagram

Gin and bare it all under the watchful eye of Nic Janeke, master distiller at New Harbour Distillery in Woodstock. You’ll have three hours to learn about the techniques behind crafting the perfect gin, assess flavour profiles, as well as how different botanicals affect the taste. The best part? You get to make your very own bottle of gin from scratch and keep it!

Classes are limited to 10 people and booking is essential. Larger groups can be catered for on request.

Price: R650 pp

Duration: 3 hours

64 Victoria Road, Woodstock| hello@newharbourdistillery.co.za

All aboard the Franschhoek Wine Tram

best of cape town

Photo credit: @wild_designs1450 via Instagram

Keen to go wine tasting in Franschhoek without drawing straws for a designated driver? The Franschhoek Wine Tram has partnered with City Sightseeing to showcase the beautiful farms in the Franschhoek Valley while transporting you there and back safely. Enjoy a long lunch or hop on and off at all nine wine farms, including Boschendal, Allée Bleue, Babylonstoren, Backsberg and Glen Carlou. Taste the best of Cape Town’s award-winning wines and French cuisine in the quaint town of Franschhoek.

Air-conditioned coaches depart from the V&A Waterfront, Camps Bay, Sea Point and Long Street every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Tickets include transport to and from Franschhoek, a wine tram ticket and complimentary wine tasting on the tram. This is hands-down one of the most popular Cape Town attractions.

Book your tickets online to secure your seat!

Price: R490 adults (R470 online)/ R250 children (2-11 years)

Duration: first departure at 08:25, return time 17:00

Also see: 6 undiscovered wine farms around Cape Town

Jazz brunch at Winchester Mansions

best of cape town

Photo credit: @blinney92 via Instagram

Who said breakfast should be boring? Jazz up your Sundays with a lazy brunch at the Winchester Mansions. Nestled in the hotel courtyard, relax to sweet sounds of soulful jazz as you’re offered a glass of sparkling wine upon arrival. You can expect a mouth-watering selection of fresh, buttery pastries, traditional English breakfasts, cold meats and cheeses, and sinful desserts. Without a doubt, one of the most popular places to visit in Cape Town.

See their monthly jazz line up and other special events.

Price: from R345 pp

When: Sundays, 11:00-14:00

Beach Road, Sea Point

Scoot around the slopes of Table Mountain

best of cape town

Photo credit: @scootourscapetown via Instagram

Scootours is a great way to explore the stunning views of the Mother City on these eco-friendly mountain bikes. Your tour features two downhill runs – the first one from Signal Hill to Bo Kapp, the second one is a freewheel track from Table Mountain through Deer Park and into Oranjezicht. Get your camera ready – this is one for your Insta Story!

Price: R550 pp (10 yrs+)/ R290 pp (4-9 yrs)

Duration: 1.5 – 2 hours

Meet at Table Mountain Kloofnek parking area | 082 776 0557

Main Road, Hout Bay | 076 8105120

Kirstenbosch summer concerts

best of cape town

Photo credit: @djmikeyadventures via Instagram

The much-anticipated summer concerts are back and ready to rock into full swing! The botanical gardens provide the perfect backdrop to these outdoor gigs, so pack your picnic basket and blanket and end off your Sunday with some groovy local beats. The 2018/2019 line-up features the likes of Majozi, Mango Groove, Jeremy Loops, Goldish, Matthew Mole, Goodluck and Shortstraw, including two international acts – James Morrison and James.

Tickets available via Webtickets. See the full line-up.

Price: range between R150 – R650

When: Sunday afternoons (November – April); Gates open 16:00 – 20:00

Tea by the sea at The Twelve Apostles

best of cape town

Photo credit: @12apostleshotel via Instagram

Treat yourself to a day of confectionary pampering with a high tea at The Twelve Apostles. Have a seat in the Conservatory or grab a table on the balcony of the Leopard Bar for stunning views of the shimmering Atlantic seaboard. The treats? Only the finest selection of freshly-baked pastries, macarons, shortbread, scones, panna cotta, savoury sandwiches and plenty more, accompanied by a range of fragrant teas and coffees. They also have a Vegan High Tea option available.

Price: R325 pp / R375 pp for the vegan option

When: Monday-Sunday, 10:00-16:00

Victoria Road, Camps Bay | 021 437 9029

Life’s a beach at Die Strandloper

best of cape town

Photo credit: @mahgobus via Instagram

You haven’t experienced the spirit of the West Coast until you’ve had lunch at Die Strandloper. Dig your toes in the sand listen to the gentle waves and crackling fires as you feast upon a smorgasbord of fresh seafood. Be treated to true West Coast hospitality, featuring mussel pots, freshly-baked bread, grilled line fish, fish curry and crayfish. Feel free to bring your own drinks, or order at the beach bar.

The laidback and rustic atmosphere of this iconic establishment will leave you with a full belly and a happy heart. Ask any local – this is one of the ultimate spots to enjoy the best of Cape Town’s freshest seafood!

Price: R310 pp / Kids aged 5-11 years pay R60 (excl. crayfish)/ Kids under 5 years eat free! Cash only

Open: Lunch service 12:00-15:00/ Dinner service 18:00-21:30

Leentjiesklip, Langebaan | 022 77 22 490

Heading up the West Coast? Discover more West Coast gems.

Catch a movie at the Pink Flamingo Cinema

best of cape town

Photo credit: @granddaddyhotel via Instagram

Step into an old-school vintage setup atop the Grand Daddy Hotel for a movie night like no other. As the only rooftop trailer-park hotel in Cape Town, you can experience something special about cosying up among their vintage trailers or on the couch, with the twinkling stars above you. Your ticket includes a welcome drink, popcorn and a bag of sweets. Delicious picnic baskets are also available and must be ordered in advance.

Price: R130 pp / Picnic baskets from R150-R175 (serves 2 people)

When: Mondays, movies start at 19:00

The Grand Daddy Hotel, 38 Long Street | 021 424 7247

Book a night at the Grand Daddy Hotel

Cocktails and tapas at Harringtons

best of cape town

Photo credit: @harringtonsct via Instagram

A touch of classic opulence and style, Harringtons is the perfect spot for after-work drinks, or to dance the night away.

Look out for their happy hour special (Thursdays-Saturdays) with half-price cocktails and any 4 tapas for R200.

Price: Cocktails start at R60 / tapas plates & bar snacks from R40

Open: Thursday-Friday, 12:00-late/ Wednesday & Saturday, 17:00-late

61 Harrington Street, Cape Town | 021 4612276

An arty affair at Zeitz MOCAA

best of cape town

Photo credit: @m2m via Instagram

Make your way to the Silo district for a slice of culture. Six floors of curious, thought-provoking art installations make up the impressive interior of this refurbished building. If the intricate design of the museum itself doesn’t enthral you, the art certainly will. Set aside a good 3-4 hours.

End your tour with a drink at the Silo rooftop bar – the views are unparalleled!

Price: Daily R190 / R95 First Fridays/ Free entry for Under-18s. See their price list for membership packages

Open: Wednesday-Monday, 10:00-18:00 (last entry @ 17:30)/ First Friday of the month, 10:00-21:00

Silo District, S Arm Road, V&A Waterfront | 087 350 4777

Sun, sea and braai at Kraalbaai

best of cape town

Photo credits: @brinchen1204 and @neilvercuiel via Instagram

A picture-perfect setting tucked away in the West Coast National Park, Kraalbaai is exactly where you want to spend your summer weekend. The shimmering, turquoise lagoon is home to a few houseboats, and you can spend the day fishing, water-skiing and kayaking. Pack a picnic basket, or use the braai facilities next to Kraalbaai Beach for a day of lunching and sun tanning. For a day or weekend out of the city, this is one of the most relaxing places in Cape Town’s surrounds.

Price: R45 per adult/ R22 per child – conservation fee payable at the gate

Open: Monday-Friday, 07:00-17:30

West Coast National Park (entrance off the R27) | 022 772 2144

Why not stay over? Book a luxury houseboat for your group!

Make a splash at Crystal Pools

best of cape town

Photo credit: @trailblazershikingclub via Instagram

Cool off at one of the Cape’s most beautiful hiking points. The trail starts along the R44 just past Gordon’s Bay. Be prepared to hike up a sweat before you reach the first pool, 45 minutes from the start. Kloofing enthusiasts can take the plunge a little further up at the second pool, or simply cool off under the waterfall. Bring plenty of water, snacks and sunscreen. The hiking trail is open from early November until the end of April.

Organise your permits in advance by emailing steenbras.naturereserve@capetown.gov.za two days before your hike. Permits cost R65 pp.

Off Sir Lowry’s Pass (R44), past Gordon’s Bay | 021 4446927

Get creative at Clay Café

best of cape town

Photo credit: @theclaycafe_houtbay via Instagram

Get in touch with your creative side and spend a morning or afternoon painting a bisque pottery piece. Anyone can join and the space can be booked for private events too. You’ll definitely get nibbly during your art session, and their delicious breakfast, lunch and dessert dishes will have you sticking around for longer. Once your piece has been painted, fired and glazed, you can collect it after 3 weeks. They get busy over weekends and holidays, so best to book in advance!

Price: R40 plus value of your chosen ceramic piece (R20 – R300)

When: Monday-Sunday, 09:00-17:00

Main Road, Hout Bay | 076 810 5120

Pre-drinks at Alexander Bar

best of cape town

Photo credit: @liloluv via Instagram

The perfect place to rub shoulders with theatre buffs or simply wind down the week and enjoy a drink or two. Catch a local production at their intimate theatre – Upstairs – and enjoy pre-dinner drinks in the charming Victorian-style bar, serving up fresh cocktails with jazzy disco and lounge music most nights.

Pop in for their weekly OMG Quiz Night every Wednesday.

Price: Cocktails from R60, Bar Snacks from R25, Cheese Boards from R90.

Open: Monday-Saturday, 11:00-01:00/ Sundays & Pub. Holidays, 15:00-00:00

76 Strand Street, Cape Town | 021 300 1088

Saturday market @ Vergenoegd

best of cape town

Photo credit: @vergenoegd_wine_estate via Instagram

Stock up on delicious food, craft beer, wine, jewellery and crafty trinkets at the Vergenoegd market just outside Stellenbosch. Bring along a blanket and spread out on the lawns for a relaxing day with the whole family.

You don’t want to miss the daily duck parade of their 1,000-strong feathery flock, which happens at 10:30, 12:30 and 15:30. The market is pet friendly, provided your pets are on a leash.

When: Every Saturday, 09:00-15:00

Vergenoegd Wine Estate, Baden Powell Drive, Faure, Stellenbosch | 021 843 3248

Zipline through the Constantia Valley

best of cape town

Photo credit: @roxannet7 via Instagram

Adrenalin junkies can get their thrill on while taking in the magnificent surroundings of Table Mountain Nature Reserve. Rated as one of the best Cape Town attractions, the scenery and panoramic views complement this epic journey with the highest zipline reaching 155 metres! Ideally situated along the Hop-on, Hop-off bus route, you can include this highlight while you explore the surrounding wine farms in the Constantia Valley.

Price: R580 pp

Duration: 2 hours

Silvermist Wine Estate, Constantia Nek, Hout Bay | 083 517 3635

Family fun at Blue Rock

best of cape town

Photo credit: @justjason_ via Instagram

An established cable ski, water park and picnic resort for the whole family, Blue Rock is the perfect place for a day out on the water. Its drawcard is the cable water-skiing, wakeboarding and kneeboarding, and anyone from beginners to advanced skiers can take part.

If water-skiing isn’t your thing, other activities include paintball, ziplining, canoeing and SUP, swimming and beach volleyball. There also a beach area with umbrellas, bean bags and tables for hire, as well as a restaurant and beach bar. Blue Rock is rated one of the best family places to visit in Cape Town.

Price: R55-R60 pp / Kids under 16 pay R35-50 entrance fee (access to picnic areas, swimming, rock jumping). Equipment rental R50-R190 per hour. View full price list.

Open: Mid-September to mid-May. (CLOSED mid-May to mid-September) Visit their website for seasonal operating hours.

Sir Lowry’s Pass, Somerset West| 021 858 1330

Discover the local music scene at Café Roux

best of cape town

Photo credit: @nvdphoto via Instagram

Whether it’s a mid-week music jam or a weekend showcase, you’ll always have a great time at Café Roux. The atmosphere is cosy and laidback, the menu simple and tasty, keeping the focus of the evening on the artists. Tapping into local talents across a spectrum of music genres, you can find the likes of Gemma Griffiths, Ard Mathews, Mr Cat and the Jackal, and Black Cat Bones performing at their venues in the CBD and Noordhoek.

See their line-up and book tickets to the next show.

Price: Show prices range from R80-R250/ Main Dishes from R72-R130

Open: Tuesday-Friday, 12:00-00:00/ Saturday, 16:00-00:00

74 Shortmarket Street, CBD/ The Farm Village, 240 Chapman’s Peak Drive | 061 339 4438 / 021 789 2538

Explore the East City Precinct

best of cape town

Photo credit: @eastcityprecinct via Instagram

Dubbed ‘hipster central’, this once neglected and semi-industrial area is now fast becoming the place to be. A hub of design and innovation, the East City is where the CBD and District Six meet, in a flurry of distinct contrasts. Decked with museums, design studios, shared office spaces, galleries, bookshops, theatres and rustic eateries, you can easily spend your morning exploring the cool architecture, street art and vibey coffee jaunts.

At night, the streets jostle with young people in search of hip cafés and good music. Fast becoming one of the hippest places to hang out in Cape Town, East City may just be the new kid on the block.

Go on a wild goose chase

best of cape town

Photo credit: @the_gallivanting_goose via Instagram

Looking for something different to do with your friends? Why not go on a ‘wild goose chase’ scavenger hunt! The team behind The Gallivanting Goose has designed a range of fun and exciting games in the form of an app that each team uses to beat their rivals and get ahead on the leaderboard. This is a great way to meet new people, host team buildings or simply to discover more about Cape Town. No driving is required and games last around 1.5 hours.

Choose your location: V&A Waterfront, Cape Town City Walk, Two Oceans Aquarium, Hout Bay and Stellenbosch

Visit their social media page for more information.

Sea Point Promenade

best of cape town

Photo credits: @benjaminmalherbe and @atlanticpointct via Instagram

“The Prom”, as locals call it, is a hub of activity during summer. You’ll find people running, cycling, skateboarding, and walking their dogs along the stretch. Take a dip in the Pavilion pool, picnic along the grass and wander between the pop-up art installations. There is also an outdoor gym and putt-putt centre to keep the kids occupied.

Rent a bicycle at the Pavilion from Up Cycles at R70 per hour, or a mountain bike at R300 for a full day and discover the city at your own pace. Grab a refreshing smoothie for R30, or a decadent soft serve for R20 and watch the shimmering waves crashing below you. Join in for some open-air summer salsa every second Sunday from 15:30 at the Pavilion. The perfect end to your weekend!

Free walking tours

best of cape town

Photo credit: @debaratibanerjee_ via Instagram

Some of the best things in life are free! Feel like a tourist in your own country with free walking tours taking place around the city, highlighting the very best of Cape Town’s history. Choose between the Historic City Tour, Bo-Kaap Walking Tour, and Apartheid to Freedom Tour. Tours depart twice daily, usually in the morning and afternoon. Look out for the green umbrellas outside Motherland Coffee in Greenmarket Square – just sign in and you’re all set to go!

The guides are super knowledgeable and happy to answer any questions you might have and suggest places to visit. The tours are free, but tips are much appreciated. Groups of 10 or more need to book a private tour.

When: Every day, tours depart at 11:00, 14:00 & 16:20

Duration: 1.5 hours

Motherland Coffee Company, Mandela Rhodes Place, CBD | 076 636 9007

Kalk Bay is always a good idea

best of cape town

Photo credit: @cpt_travel_girl via Instagram

This colourful and eclectic seaside town is the perfect way to spend an afternoon. Start your day with breakfast at Olympia Café or Bootlegger and spend the afternoon ambling through bookshops, vintage trinkets and quirky boutiques, making your way down to the harbour for some famous fish and chips. If you time it right, you can buy freshly-caught fish and have a chat with the resident seals. End your day with sundowners along the beachfront or a delicious ice-cream at Ice Café. There’s just something about Kalk Bay that makes you feel like you’re on holiday. Spend a day in Kalk Bay and see the best of Cape Town from the other side of the mountain!

Tip: get there early to avoid traffic and parking queues, or take the train from Cape Town station for a scenic ride along the coast.   

Surf’s up at Muizenberg Beach

best of cape town

Photo credit: @the.wayfindersph via Instagram

Grab your wetsuit and surfboard, because summer is around the corner and Muizenberg beach is just the place to catch some waves. For R150 you can rent a wetsuit and surfboard for 1.5 hours from Gary’s Surf School, the oldest surf school in South Africa. If you’re interested in taking a few surfing lessons, you can also check out Surfshack and Learn 2 Surf along the beachfront.

Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, you’ll feel right at home in these waters. Reward yourself with a post-surf brekkie at any of the cafés and bakeries along the strip.

Cocktails by the pool

best of cape town

Photo credit: @zellies1989 via Instagram

Rooftop bars are becoming synonymous with rooftop pools and Cape Town boasts some of the best. Spend the day working on your tan as you laze by the pool, sipping refreshing cocktails as you take in the incredible views of the city. For some of the best poolside views of the city, head over to the Zenith Sky Bar at the Cape Royale, The Cape Milner, or Red Roof rooftop bar at Radisson RED.

Entrance to the Red Roof and Zenith Sky Bar is free! At The Cape Milner, R150 secures you a lounger and access to the pool for the entire day.

Find accommodation at Cape Royale Hotel and The Cape Milner.

Imhoff Farm delights

best of cape town

Photo credit: @bosco1973 via Instagram

A tranquil spot to enjoy the fresh countryside and activities for the whole family! If you’re not perusing the art galleries and boutique shops, you can visit the petting zoo or go horse-riding along Noordhoek beach. For a little more excitement, gather a group for a round of paintball or laser tag. Indulge your taste buds with goat’s cheese tastings, artisan ice cream and sushi plates. You can easily spend an entire day at this gem in the heart of Kommetjie!

Open: Monday-Sunday, 09:00-17:00

Kommetjie Road, Kommetjie| 021 783 4545

There you have it – 29 ways to experience the very best of Cape Town and its surrounds in thrilling and unusual ways! With the beautiful Mother City offering so much excitement, from budget-friendly to more splurgy adventures, you’ll never be at a loss for something to do.

Book your cheap flights to Cape Town with Travelstart.co.za.

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What are some of your favourite Cape Town attractions? Let us know in the comments.

The post Adventures in the Mother City: Experience the Best of Cape Town! appeared first on Travelstart Blog.