Three Days in Cape Town
It's still buzzing after this year's world cupnow without the crowds and those earsplitting vuvuzelasand there's never been a better time to visit Africa's most exciting city.
DAY 1: ART + DESIGN
Turning out everything from colorful handcrafted goods to edgy multimedia installations, Cape Town's diverse creative community redefines the South African aesthetic on a daily basis.
About three miles east of downtown, the Cape Town neighborhood of Woodstock has become the city's de facto arts capital and the heart of its design scene. The sunny, year-old café Superette, opened by neighborhood pioneers Justin Rhodes and Cameron Munro (who also run Woodstock's Whatiftheworld gallery and Neighbourgoods Market), is an ideal place to get oriented. The shop unites the duo's interests in food and design under one roof: Funky curios like artfully scribbled ceramic mugs share shelf space with raw chestnut honey and jars of agave nectar sugar, and all the coffee drinks are made with beans from Cape Town roaster Deluxe Coffeeworks. 218 Albert Rd., superette.co.za, espresso from $3.
A complete Woodstock gallery tour can occupy most of a day, since the top spots are spread across a relatively large area, not all of which is walkable. (Tip: It's best to break the tour into two segments, connected by a cab ride.) A fitting first stop is Rhodes and Munro's Whatiftheworld (208 Albert Rd., whatiftheworld.com), which focuses on emerging talents like the avant-garde performance artist Athi-Patra Ruga. About six blocks away, the artists-in-residence at Greatmore Studios lead workshops on etching, drawing, and more for anyone who signs up on the website (47-49 Greatmore St., greatmoreart.org, workshops free). From there, a five-minute cab ride leads to Goodman Gallery (176 Sir Lowry Rd., 3rd Fl., goodman-gallery.com), where the roster includes renowned South African artist William Kentridge and Zimbabwe-born painter Kudzanai Chiurai. Two blocks away, the Michael Stevenson Gallery represents some of the country's most important young artists (160 Sir Lowry Rd., michaelstevenson.com).
Chef Karen Dudley had already made her name as a catering star before launching her low-key sandwich counter, The Kitchen, last year. Open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., it has become the go-to gathering spot for artists, gallerists, and other Woodstock locals, who pull up stools at the six-seat bar to await hearty servings of seasonal salads like panzanella or tabbouleh and inventive sandwiches served on artisanal rolls. 111 Sir Lowry Rd., karendudley.co.za, sandwiches from $4.
For a souvenir with a story to tell, head to Heartworks in Woodstock's converted Old Biscuit Mill building. The collective employs crafters from the Khayelitsha township in southeast Cape Town—many of them displaced by political turmoil in Congo or Zimbabwe—who hand-embroider teddy bears, wall hangings, and pillows in a rainbow of colors. 373-375 Albert Rd., heartworks.co.za, pillows from $39.
After a long day of looking at art, it's nice to meet one of the city's creative forces face-to-face. Designer Heath Nash, whose whimsical Flowerball hanging lamps are made with plastic salvaged from landfills, regularly opens his studio to visitors (call about a week ahead to schedule a time). Nash's pieces are admittedly pricey—lamps start at $90—but he encourages browsing and will happily share stories about his recent collaborations with weavers in his native Zimbabwe. 2 Mountain Rd., heathnash.com.
The 20-room Hippo Boutique Hotel in Cape Town's Gardens section, one mile southwest of Woodstock, tempers its modern aesthetic with just the right touches. The cherrywood floors, mid-century sofas, and painted headboards guarantee a vibe that's more homey than highfalutin (5-9 Park Rd., hippotique.co.za, from $190). Of course, design means something different to everyone, and in the Sea Point neighborhood six miles farther northwest, the folks behind Nu Rock Inn prefer playful period details to any serious statement. Its 10 studios have '50s-style furniture and throwback games like foosball, and most open onto a shared balcony with views of Lion's Head mountain (68 Regent Rd., nurockinn.co.za, from $67).