Jessica Festa a RoamRight Blog Author

A Cultural Tour of Cape Town in Six Steps


Cape Town is one of South Africa’s top destinations, especially for those interested in exploring culture. Whether you're interested in traditional food, interesting museums, interactive experiences or guided tours, you can find it in the Mother City. To help you plan your trip, here is how to take a cultural tour of Cape Town.

1. Take In Dinner And A Show At Richard’s

Richard's Supper Stage and Bistro is one of Cape Town's most unique cultural experiences, especially for those who enjoy live entertainment and delicious Cape Malay cuisine. The two-part show focuses on Capetonian heritage and introduces you to quirky local characters who reference important aspects of Cape Town's history. You'll experience local culture through the eyes and ears as well as the tongue, as you savor a sumptuous buffet of baked chicken, vegetable biryani, prawn curry with basmati rice, beef fillet gowned in Madagascar pepper sauce and other traditional foods.

2. Visit The District Six Museum

The District Six Museum gives insight into a dark but important time in Cape Town’s history. Established in December 1994, the institution tells the stories of the city’s forced removals with a focus on District Six, a multicultural community of freed slaves, immigrants, merchants, workers and artists. Under Apartheid, however, over 60,000 people were forced to leave as the government declared it a “whites-only area.” The District Six Museum showcases artifacts and exhibitions as well as tours of the former district led by locals who had been displaced.

Other worthwhile institutions to visit while in Cape Town include the Iziko South African Museum, Irma Stern Museum, Bo Kaap Museum, South African Jewish Museum and the Gold of Africa Barbier-Mueller Museum, to name just a few.

3. Partake In A Cape Malay Cooking Safari

On a Cape Malay Cooking Safari, visitors explore Cape Town’s rich Malay culture. Within the Bo-Kaap neighborhood, full of rainbow-colored houses, cobbled streets, spice shops and Islamic book stores, you'll find the city’s Cape Malay hub, and you can even explore this cultural facet through a cooking class in a local home. Along with getting to ask questions and see local life in action, you'll learn to cook traditional dishes like samoosas, sambal, roti, chili bites, chicken curry and koeksisters.

4. See Live Performers On The Waterfront

A hub for shopping, dining and nightlife, no trip to Cape Town would be complete without exploring its famous waterfront. Start your visit at Moyo V&A Waterfront, an open-air marketplace featuring over 20 stalls of produce, sustainable meats, fresh seafood, delicious breads and traditional foods. Afterwards, take a stroll around the waterfront – mainly by the shopping mall – to see the dancers, singers, artists and buskers entertaining the crowds for tips. The waterfront is also where you’ll pick up the ferry to Robben Island, which leads me to the next cultural experience.

5. Take The Ferry To Robben Island

From the V&A Waterfront’s Nelson Mandela Gateway you can catch the ferry to Robben Island, the place where former African National Congress (ANC) leader and former South Africa President Nelson Mandela arrived in 1964 to carry out 18 of his 27 years in prison. While once a place of banishment, today Robben Island is a World Heritage Site, museum and reminder of how far the country has come since the end of Apartheid. Visitors can tour the Maximum Security Prison with an ex-prisoner for an inside account of what it was like. Visiting Robben Island is a very humbling cultural experience and a popular one, so be sure to purchase your tickets in advance.

6. Dine In A Local Home

Another great experience that introduces you to Cape Town's rich culture is having dinner in a local home. Andulela Tours can set up the meal, allowing you to see what a home in South Africa looks like, what a local might cook and ask questions as you eat together at their dining room table like old friends. During my experience on this tour I met a middle-class family with a beautiful home decorated in the mother's artwork, while also hearing their daughter play violin and sampling the father's homemade wine. As the family was passionate about sustainability, we ate a farm-to-fork meal of chicken liver on Cape seed bread, crayfish curry, stewed springbok, fresh vegetables and sweet malva pudding.

Which of these iconic Cape Town experiences would you try first?

Note: Available plans and coverages may have changed since this blog was published.


About the Author

Jessica Festa

Jessica Festa, a RoamRight Blog Author Jessica Festa is a full-time travel writer who is always up for an adventure. She enjoys getting lost in new cities and having experiences you don’t read about in guidebooks. Some of her favorite travel experiences have been teaching English in Thailand, trekking her way through South America, backpacking Europe solo, road tripping through Australia and doing orphanage work in Ghana. You can follow her adventures on her travel websites, Epicure & Culture and Jessie On A Journey. You can also connect with Jessica directly on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus, or follow her epicurean adventures on Facebook and Twitter.

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