As spring was nowhere in sight, and all four of us could use a bit of sunlight on our pale faces, we decided to look for a sunny spot to spend our spring holiday. Seeing as it would be our last getaway as a family of four (with the fifth member arriving soon) we wanted it to be warm, family friendly and not-too-adventurous for a change, so we could all relax, soak up some sun and have lots of quality time.
Many destinations popped up – we travelled the world for six months two years ago, so there are lots and lots of places we’d love to revisit – but none of those ticked all the boxes, mostly because of non-direct flights and imminent time difference. Travelling for seventeen hours and having to change flights while seven months pregnant did not appeal to me, plus I wanted to choose a place that offered above average healthcare – just in case.
And then it dawned on us: why not go to Cape Town? We’d been there before, absolutely loved it, and it matched all our wishes. Direct flight from Amsterdam, hardly any time difference, child friendly, amazing food and equal beaches, plus midst of summer!
So, baby-mooning in Cape Town it was….
Cape Town highlights:
Honestly, I don’t know where to start. Visiting for the second time made it a lot easier, as we had discovered so many gems the first time. Cape Town is such an amazing, interesting place, in so many ways. Its’ (complicated) history, raw edges, beautiful architecture, funky vibe: everything is on offer, as long as you are willing to both look and listen for it.
The city is divided into different neighbourhoods, varying from shopping to restaurant hopping, from museums to beach walks. It’s all there!
We love to explore and find our favourites in terms of coffee bars, restaurants and parks, so while we stayed at Camps Bay (a beachfront suburb), we normally started our day with a coffee at our fave place, then drove on to either a food market or some cute vintage shops, before having lunch at a well-known place or new gem. After the obligatory midday nap we either visited the beach or enjoyed the most amazing sunsets from our Airbnb, cooking up a storm with all the local goodies we got earlier.
As there is so much to do and explore, we opt for early nights and fresh starts!
Where to stay:
That decision totally depends on what you are looking for. We wanted both city life and beach time so chose a specific area in the city and moved to a tiny beach town after three days (more on that later).
There are many neighbourhoods to choose from, but just to give you an idea:
Camps Bay – small, waterfront suburb with lots of rental homes and Airbnb options. We love it as you can walk to the beach, enjoy superb sunsets and the shops at the boulevard provide everything you need. There’s also good restaurants so this place is an excellent start or end to your family holiday! (Clifton and Bakoven are pretty much the same).
Gardens – one of our favourite areas! It’s an inner-city suburb and great for strolling, coffee and croissants, (vintage) shopping and organic lunches. It has a super relaxed vibe, with lots of colourful houses and narrow streets. Kloof Street is amazing.
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront – home to many restaurants, hotels, an aquarium and the upscale Victoria Wharf shopping centre, this area is loved by many. Always busy (and buzzy!) it’s a safe – be it touristy – part of Cape Town.
Bo-Kaap – one of the oldest neighbourhoods of the city, this renovated area still boasts the unique architectural style of the past, while offering a plethora of restaurants, guest houses, a museum and a shopping mall. It is also the birthplace of Cape Town’s Muslim community so you will find centuries-old mosques as well.
Hout Bay – just across Chapman’s Peak (a must in terms of views!) you will find this popular beach town. With its harbour, weekend Bay Harbour Market, incredibly beautiful stretch of beach and seafood restaurants – it’s an area loved by many.
Tamboerskloof – this neighbourhood lies between Gardens and Bo-Kaap, at the foot of Lion’s Head. A lovely area with gorgeous Victorian-style homes and views of the bay and Table Mountain. This residential suburb is perfect for quiet strolls along the tree-lined streets (with hardly any cars). Great starting point if you want to explore Cape Town.
I would definitely recommend renting a car, as it’s much easier to get around (even though public transport is well-organised), but also because certain areas aren’t as safe as others.
Our favourite stays:
La Botessa – Brand new luxury suites, situated in a 17th century building at Church Square in the centre of the Mother City. Beautifully styled, mixing history with modern-day amenities and service, plus an all-day breakfast, lunch and drinks on demand. Feel like spoiling yourself even more? Take a peek in the onsite Boutique… True indulgence!
Beachfront Villa – This was one of the best Airbnb’s we have ever stayed at. Perfect in terms of location (less than 3 minute walk to Camps Bay beach, coffee and groceries), style and amenities. Beautifully decorated, spacious, great service and a small pool to entertain the kids.
Where to eat:
Coffee & breakfast:
The Blue Café (Tamboerskloof) – One of our favorites! Great coffee, fresh juices, lovely croissants, organic everything… I love the fact that many locals are regulars as well – makes you feel like you actually live in the city.
Bean There Coffee Roastery (city centre) – Quirky hangout with excellent coffee and pastries, and lots of beautiful products for true coffee aficionados.
The Ladder on 136 – New kid on the block, offering superb fresh coffee, delicious breakfast and numerous (kids) art workshops.
Origin Coffee Roasting – Industrial setting, great coffee (and tea) and the most delicious pastries and bites.
Bungalow – Seaside bliss offering sushi, salads, burgers and anything you wish, really. Cool vibe with airy spots and great for people watching!
Deer Park Cafe – This cute little venue is located right next to Rocklands Road Park and playground, which makes it the perfect spot for a tasty (often homemade) lunch, consisting of locally sourced produce.
Bistro sixteen82 at Steenberg (Constantia Valley) – In for a chic-yet-informal sit down lunch? This is your spot. Fab food, even better wines and surrounded by beautiful lawns and ponds, so the kids can roam free. Don’t forget to take a stroll after lunch and admire the cool sculptures that are scattered around the grounds.
The Lawns at the Roundhouse – Go for the views, rolling lawns and laidback vibe. Start with some wine or a cold beer, order a few pizzas and calamari and you are set for a lazy afternoon come evening, dreamily staring at the ocean while the kids play and run around.
La Tete – Owned by two passionate brothers, this modern style restaurant has a focus on produce and traceability- while the menu is not kid friendly persé, the food is gorgeous and surprising and the service super friendly, so solutions are quickly found.
Greenhouse (Constantia) – Upscale, beautiful place for some excellent food. Make sure to call in advance, as it is hugely popular and thus rather booked up. Just a short wonderful drive away from Cape Town centre, cruising many streets lined with beautiful old trees.
The Codfather – Perfect place for fresh sushi takeaway after a long day at the beach!
Maison J – We picked up fresh coffee and croissants here every single morning, as the locals do.
Nourish’d Café & Juicery – Healthy juices, sandwiches and salads. Perfect if you don’t feel like making it yourself but still want something fresh and delicious.
Things to do:
Well, as we were visiting for the second time, we sort of had a routine- which I love, for it makes me feel like I actually live there. So this is what we’d do on a very regular basis!
Oranjezicht market – We are absolute suckers for farmers markets, and this one ticks all the boxes! Fresh produce, the most beautiful flowers, ice cream, sandwiches, fresh coconuts, the list goes on and on (and on). Open during the weekends, it tends to get rather busy but the crowd is a very nice mix of both tourists and residents, and no one seems in a hurry. Start with a coffee and a cupcake (or pastry) and slowly make your way along the many food stalls, tasting everything and chitchatting with the vendors. Don’t forget to bring a few bags, as you will most definitely end up buying lots of goodies.
Tidal Pool Camps Bay – However hot it gets during the day, the ocean is freezing- believe me. The only exception being tidal pools (still freezing but a tad better), and we specifically love the one in Camps Bay. Surrounded by a cute little city beach, this is the perfect spot for some swim ‘n play.
Walk from Camps Bay to Clifton & beaches – A little strolling never hurt nobody, especially when combined with short beach visits. So pack up a small bag with water and beach toys, and slowly walk the boulevard between Camps Bay and Clifton (or even further up north) while detouring to one of the many little coves along the way.
Two Oceans Aquarium + Playgrounds (Dunes, Deer Park/Rocklands Road Park) – I yet have to meet a kid that does not like a playground or two, so this is an easy pleaser! The aforementioned playground in Rocklands Road Park is great as it is surrounded by a park and rather quiet; Dune Beach Restaurant is fab as it is right on the beach in Hout Bay, so while the kids play on the sandy playground, you can either enjoy a coffee or early aperitif while staring at the sea. The Aquarium is great for both hot and rainy days!
We also love to browse the many (vintage) shops and boutiques on Kloofstreet and Bree Street in between coffee, lunch and early dinner; a picnic in Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden while listening to an open-air summer concert is magical too…
As I mentioned before, this time it was all about relaxing and quality time, so we travelled to tiny beach village Scarborough after three days in the city.
Only a 50-minutes drive from Cape Town, this place is everything you could wish for in terms of cuteness, quiet, early nights and family time.
It consists of a breathtakingly beautiful beach, scattered beach houses and three café’s to provide you with food, basic groceries and, of course, coffee.
So here’s what we did while spending twelve blissful days there:
The Hub Cafe – My favourite place to be, honestly. This place serves as a tiny grocery store, bakery, ice cream shop, small deli and restaurant. Not to mention the bike shop and a tiny swim/sportswear one, too. We’d start with a coffee or fresh juice, while the kids happily played in the small playground. After the beach we’d stop for some last-minute groceries, and maybe a small sundowner (or two).
Whole Earth Café – Right next to The Hub, you will find this gem. Organic, wholesome dishes, juices and great coffee makes this for a superb alternative. Be it coffee, breakfast or lunch: everything is super fresh and tasty. Plus: yet another playground!
Salt at Kalk Bay – Small eatery that offers fresh, healthy food and great coffee, with pretty views of the harbour.
Olympia Café & Deli at Kalk Bay – No nonsense venue with fab food. You cannot make reservations but trust me, this is where you want to go! Just pop in after a quick dip in the tidal pool, or during a little road trip.
Harbour House in Kalk Bay – Fresh sushi and seafood, with the best views of both Kalk Bay and the sea through the huge glass walls.
Cape Point Vineyards Community Market – Make sure to put this one down in your holiday agenda. Every Thursday several iconic food vendors offer you their amazing dishes and drinks. Grab some goodies before you settle on the lawn or at one of the many wooden tables. The kids can run around, participate in arts and crafts, enjoy the playground and occasionally stop by for a quick bite. The vibe and views make you want to stay forever. Be sure to be on time as it is a very popular event for both locals and tourists!
Cape of Good Hope National Park – We love to explore and boy, is this the right place! Small coves, windy beaches and stunning tidal pools- everything’s right there. You might even spot some cheeky baboons, whales and dolphins. Make sure to go by car, as the touring cars won’t take you ‘off the beaten track’.
Lalaphanzi Farm – This is our most recent discovery – so please, don’t tell anyone! While driving to the National Park, we came across these magical, Pippi Longstocking style grounds. Animals, wild flowers, a pond with a swing rope and old school canoes for the kids, cute wobbly ‘table for two’s’ scattered all over the place- it’s just the kind of place you dreamed of as a kid. Don’t forget to bring some cash, as the small onsite The Scone Shack offers you all things fresh (scones, juices, salads).
Oh and did I mention they have their own ‘the faraway school’? I seriously contemplated staying indefinitely…
Kommetjie Beach – Should you tire of Scarborough Beach (very unlikely, but still!), neighbouring Kommetjie Beach is amazing. Perfect for strolling but also for small kids, as the waves aren’t as brutal as the Scarborough ones. Just picture white sand, blue water and beautiful views…
Boulders beach penguins in Simons Town – Wonderful place to visit with the kids; I mean, who doesn’t like penguins? You can see (and smell!) the famous colony while strolling the boardwalk. There’s a cute little beach below where you can actually swim with them too!
Surf/bike – One of the many things we love about this area is the fact that everybody seems to enjoy sports and being outside. Either opt for some surfing (lessons) or go and rent a bike; there are so many beaches and trails and lovely spots to take your gear and enjoy the salty air and strong winds.
Family Photo shoot – Corny as it may sound, some actual footage of your family life is so valuable! I try to schedule one every few years and, after the initial awkwardness, the pictures always turn out to be wonderful. While searching for great new venues and activities on Instagram, I accidentally discovered that Tania Timkova of Neverending Magic, whom I have been following for quite some time, happened to be in Cape Town for a few months. A few messages back and forth et voilà: I booked our own shoot. The results are amazing and such an everlasting memory of our very last holiday as a family of four.
Well, even in a tiny beach town like Scarborough, it’s still all about location. We wanted to be within walking distance of the beach, but as the views are superb, the place needed to offer us those as well. We ended up renting an Airbnb – and it turned out to be the best house we have ever stayed at. Ever. Stunning views, beautiful styling, super spacious, wonderful amenities, excellent service, toys, pool, the best coffee machine I have ever seen, pool table… I could go on and on and on. This simply is the best family house one could ask for- and I would stay (and never leave!) again in a heartbeat.
In short, Scarborough is a wonderful place if you and your family need some relaxing quality time- just don’t tell anyone!
A few extra tips:
Last time we went to Franschhoek to visit (and try!) the many wineries. Should you want to include that in your trip as well, I can highly recommend the following estates:
Boschendal – An old school winery that has definitely been upgraded but not made too perfect and polished (yet!). Slow coffee below the huge ancient trees, a simple playground for the kids with lots of water to play with, and a wonderful butcher and deli to buy local produce for your ‘braai’ or a picnic. Many picture perfect little nooks and settings make for a wonderful outing with your family.
Warwick Estate – Not a big fan of picnics myself, this place proved to be different. There is a huge lawn for the kids to roam about, wooden benches with tables and cute umbrellas for shade, a wooden playground and the perfect shallow fountain to cool off after running around and trying all the delicious bites that come in a basket. Perfect for a very long, lazy afternoon with lots of wine!
The Farmstead – Upgraded old farm cottages, fresh eggs, cows and views to die for: and this is just a tiny part. Only minutes away from Franschhoek’s centre, you will reach this sanctuary by actually driving thorough a small river; sweeping trees, surrounding hills, birds and chickens will welcome you upon arrival. The simple yet elegant cottages are perfect in every way, as are the optional breakfast baskets filled to the rim with local goodies. Sway away in your own hammock or take a dip in the onsite pond, while the kids can go fetch some fresh eggs or fruit in the orchards. This is eco living as it should be!
La Cotte Farm – Beautiful cottages and villas, surrounded by mountains, wonderful vineyards and views. This is the place to be if you are looking for understated luxury, only a stone throw away from the center of Franschhoek. A pool and shared braai spots complete your stay.
Should you want to include a safari in your trip, these two companies are very well worth reaching out to:
- Africa Junkie (specialised in trips to southern Africa)
- Planet Africa Safaris (tailor-made exquisite journeys across eastern and southern Africa)
Favourite Packing Essentials:
Sunscreen! You will need lots and lots and lots. We love conscious brands such as Linea Mamma Baby and Sun Bum – friendly for both skin and environment!
Sun hats and caps (our very favourite brand being Deus ex Machina… for the entire family!)
Swaddles- these are lifesavers, honestly. They function as towels, curtains, scarves, sheets, cover-ups and so much more! We love the Aden + Anais ones, Bobbi and Kate’s beautiful muslin cloths and the gorgeous linen swaddles by The Archive Store.
Toys – we try to minimise plastics in our household. Until very recently, we bought well-known plastic buckets and spades whenever we went on holidays- it reminded me of my own youth. However: plastics ruin our beaches, oceans and, well, basically everything on this planet. So I promised myself not to buy those anymore and found the most amazing beach products from Funkit World.
Suitcases – believe it or not: as our kids are a bit older, they love the responsibility of having their own luggage. I made sure to buy sturdy, sustainably made items that are lightweight and not too big. Olliella’s See-ya suitcase (available at The Archive Store or Olliella) does the trick, and we love EastPack as well.
Oh and remember me mentioning the importance of good healthcare? Well, let’s just say I was very happy I made that one of our priorities.
The Mediclinic Cape Town provided more-than-excellent care when I, unfortunately, needed it. So make sure to always have certain numbers in your phonebook, just in case.
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