With the Mother City emerging as one of the world’s favoured destinations for solo travellers to Africa, the cosmopolitan CBD is perfectly poised to reap the rewards of this new travel trend.
A beauty of note, Cape Town has “captured the hearts” of solo travellers worldwide, according to UK-based adventure tour operator Explore!, which analysed 24 months’ of Google data to discover the most popular destinations searched by solo travellers.
Cape Town, which was ranked second in the Top 5 Locations for Solo Travel in Africa after Mauritius, “has seen a soaring interest in Google searches”.
This follows the city’s 2021 ranking by travel website Big 7 Travel, which listed Cape Town as the 42nd most popular city in the world for digital nomads (part of the solo travel phenomenon) in its “Best Cities for Remote Working” list.
Murray Clark, co-founder and CEO of Neighbourgood and Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID) board member, says Cape Town is a breathtaking blend of history, culture, and natural beauty, making it the ideal solo-travel destination. “Cape Town and the inner city offer a sense of discovery and connection, making it a true haven for independent explorers."
Clark’s property development company offers thoughtfully designed, all-inclusive living and working spaces that have exceptional amenities and a connected community.
Other hospitality sector operators, including Charlene van Zyl, general manager of ITC Hospitality which manages aparthotel One Thibault in the CBD, are also reaping the benefits of the city’s popularity. Van Zyl says most of their bookings are by European solo travellers.
Says Clark: “Cape Town offers a satisfying trip for solo travellers, whether you want to immerse yourself in local culture, explore the stunning natural beauty or bask in the friendly warm energy of being in the Mother City.”
Here's how to make the most of your inner-city solo adventure:
1. ROOMS WITH VIEWS
Cape Town offers a range of accommodation options. Neighbourgood East City and Neighbourgood Reserve (with its chic loft apartments) in the city centre are perfectly placed to cater for solo travellers. If you want to upscale, consider The Cullinan Southern Sun, Gorgeous George Hotel or Pepperclub Hotel. Or enjoy a luxurious stay at aparthotels One Thibault Residence, The Onyx Aparthotel and The Rockefeller Hotel & Residence, which all have extraordinary sea or mountain views.
2. PLETHORA OF PLACES
Whether you're a fun-seeker, a cultural enthusiast, or a lover of quiet retreats, the CBD offers plenty of attractions, activities, restaurants, cafés, and bars. And all with iconic Table Mountain as a backdrop.
Immerse yourself in South Africa’s rich and diverse heritage by visiting the extraordinary museums in and on the periphery of the historic Company’s Garden (the green lung of the city centre). Explore South African and African art at the Iziko South African National Gallery, and find out more about the slave trade at the Iziko Slave Lodge or take a tour of the District Six Museum.
You can also visit the CBD’s coolest street, Bree Street, with its destination restaurants and coffee shops, art galleries and specialist stores as well as bars and nightclubs.
3. BECOME A FLÂNEUR
Exploring Cape Town’s inner city on foot is incredibly rewarding. The queen of Cape Town’s walking tours is Kate Crane Briggs from Culture Connect. Briggs curates fascinating tours, from discovering the historic trees of the Company’s Garden to tours on art and architecture.
Then there’s Free Walking Tours, which offers an excellent way to immerse yourself in the culture, history, and vibrancy of the CBD – for free. The tours operate 365 days a year and include an Historic City Tour, Apartheid to Freedom Tour, and The Bo-Kaap Tour.
Lesley Cox of Cape Town Walking Tours believes guided walks are the best way to absorb the true spirit of Cape Town. “We have a rich tapestry of heritage, architecture, historical public buildings and public art, all brought alive by stories of people and events that have contributed to where we are today.”
4. EAT & DRINK
With over 86 coffee shops in downtown Cape Town, the city is considered by connoisseurs to be one of the coffee capitals of the world. There are also 147 restaurants and casual eateries, many of them award-winning establishments that have won global recognition. A key selection is to be found in the CCID’s Eateries Map of the Cape Town CBD (download here).
5. SIGHT-SEE BY BUS
One of the best ways to see Cape Town and explore the CBD is on the hop-on, hop-off Red Bus by City Sightseeing Tours. There are various tours, over 30 stops and visits to over 50 Cape Town top attractions. There are myriad package options available, and the CBD is on many a route.
IMAGES: The Harri, Carmen Lorraine