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July 02, 2013

Natalie Roos’ top things to do in Cape Town in winter

The City Bowl, Bay Harbour, Porter's and Neighbourgoods markets are Natalie's favourites in the Mother City. Image courtesy Natalie Roos.

I’m not a Capetonian by birth, but by breed. I’ve lived in this beautiful city since October 2010 and am still in awe of her beauty every day.

Before I moved here from Johannesburg people warned about the harsh winters, complaining about the rain. But since moving here, I have formed my own theory about the perceived and dreaded rain. I think that the “terrible weather” is just a rumour, started by a few Capetonians to deter visitors so that they can enjoy all the wintry bliss the city has to offer for themselves. But that’s just my theory.

Yes, it rains in winter, but the gloomy days are offset by beautifully clear, mild, sunny days with no wind and fantastic visibility from the top of Table Mountain. As much as I adore Cape Town in summer, I think that I love her even more in winter . Lush and green, wonderfully warm on sunny days, the rainy days create the perfect environment for meanders out to the winelands and intimate chats over coffee at one of the citiy's many quirky restaurants and coffee shops.

Cape Town always quietens down during the winter months, which means that there are some fantastic Winter Specials running everywhere from hotels to restaurants, spas and salons. I like to take full advantage of these in the colder months.

I’ve compiled this list of some of my favourite things to do in Cape Town in winter.

Visit the markets

The Old Biscuit Mill (Woodstock)

Set in Woodstock’s up-and-coming art district, the Neighbourhood’s Market is one of Cape Town’s trendiest and best-stocked markets with everything from fresh produce to artisan coffee and beer, fashion and fresh flowers. The markets get very busy, so it’s best to go early (open Saturday mornings only).

Try this: Luke Dale-Roberts’ potato rosti with bacon/salmon, poached egg and hollandaise sauce.


Bay Harbour Market (Hout Bay)

The Bay Harbour Market runs all weekend, from Friday evening through to Sunday. All the stalls are indoors with a giant fire roaring and live music to keep put you in good spirits. You’ll find a wide selection of food and drink, with a great vegetarian selection and some fantastic craft decor products such as ceramics and wall decals.

Try this: Pork belly from the Kitchen Cowboys stand.

Vegetarian suggestion: Basil pesto and mozzarella Panini from the Turkish stand.


City Bowl Market

The City Bowl Market on Hope Street is indoors with an upstairs fashion section. They have a fantastic selection of fresh produce, at prices that are way below what you’ll find in grocery stores.

Try this: South China Dim Sum (they serve vegetarian options too).


Porter’s Market

Out in the Constantia wine district, the Porter’s Market is set outdoors in Cape Town’s beautiful nature. The market is known for great fresh produce and you can do all your weekly shopping from cheese and meat to bread and vegetables, while sipping on a steaming cup of moerkoffie with condensed milk.

Try this: Karoo Lamb to braai at home.


Spend a day in the winelands


Haut Espoir

For a beautiful view, fantastic red wines and one of the kindest and friendliest winemakers around. Rob loves his wines and loves telling people about them.

By appointment only 021 876 4000.


Moreson Wine Farm in Franschhoek is a must-try.


Their wines are fantastic and they have a range of bubbles second to none and a gorgeous orchid nursery for you to marvel at. Their restaurant, Bread & Wine is my absolute favourite place to go for a cheese and charcuterie board with a bottle of bubbles.



The cosy tasting room has a fireplace and a delicious menu of cheese, breads and meats for you to nibble on.




Tastings are hosted by the winemaker, RJ, or the farm’s owner himself. These wines have a different composition to the warmer Stellenbosch/Franschhoek wines, with flavours of green grass, apples and green pepper. While you’re there, book a table at Cassia for lunch +27 (0)21 976 0640.


Enjoy a lazy lunch/coffee

Jason Bakery (Cape Town)

This is a tiny bakery on Bree Street, where the owner, Jason, bakes artisan bread and serves scrumptious sandwiches and good coffee.


Bread & Wine (Franschhoek)

This cosy and inviting restaurant has an exciting menu with food that is made to perfection.


El Burro (Cape Town)

This authentic Mexican restaurant serves up authentic food surrounded by beautiful decor. They have a lunchtime special with half-price lunches on weekdays from 12pm to 5pm.


Chapman’s Peak Hotel (Hout Bay)

With gorgeous views of the ocean, the hotel serves up some of the best calamari you’ll ever taste.


De Oude Bank Bakkerij (Stellenbosch)

Baker Fritz serves artisan bread and coffee in his beautifully decorated restaurant.


Haas Coffee (Bo Kaap)

This art gallery-come-coffee shop serves up great coffee and is the perfect to spend a rainy day.


Visit a spa

Winter may be beautiful in Cape Town, but sometimes it's ok to spend the day indoors, beign pampered by the professionals.

The Spa at Cape Grace

The service and atmosphere at this spa is absolutely unbeatable, so take advantage of all it has to offer.

For more information, contact +27 (0)21 410 7140.

Librisa Spa at Mount Nelson

A leading day spa in Cape Town, Librisa is situated at one of the city's favourite hotels. Why not treat yourself to a pamper session and then sit down to some high tea.

For more information, contact +27 (0)21 483 1000.

A home away from home, Rivierbosch cottage is perfect for a weekend away.

Plan a mini-break at a guest house or B&B

Rivierbosch (Stellenbosch)

This cottage is perfect for rainy weekends curled up with a bottle of red, a good book and a roaring fire.


Harbour House Hotel (Hermanus)

The luxurious rooms, with custom-made baths in the middle of open-plan rooms, as well as beautiful views of the sea and loads to do in the surrounding areas will ensure a getaway to remember.


Take advantage of the restaurants

A favourite of many Capetonians, Harbour House restaurant will warm your heart.

Harbour House (Kalk Bay)

This restaurant is a favourite among many a Capetonian, with amazing views and cosy fire places. 

For more information, contact +27 (0)21 788 4133.


La Mouette (Sea Point)

Enjoy a fantastic six-course tasting menu for only R165.

For more information, contact +27 (0)21 433 2600.


Societi Bistro (Cape Town)

Another of the city's loved restaurants, Societi Bistro has a fireplace to warm the chilly nights as well as great dishes for your taste buds to savour.

For more information, contact +27 (0)21 424 2100.


Natalie Roos is a Capetonian Jill of all trades and has interests in writing, make-up artistry and fashion. Read her blog at www.tailsofamermaid.com or follow her on Twitter at @NatalieRoos

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