Millennials have a bad rap online these days, with countless articles accusing your average youngster of being a selfie-obsessed, smashed-avo-munching narcissist. A millennial, really, is just anyone born between the early 80s and late 90s. Each generation has its quirks, and this one is no different.
When millennials travel, they’re after enriching experiences and authentic connections. It’s not about ticking off big attractions—or even taking the best Instagram shots. It’s about meaningful, genuine, and hopefully life-changing experiences. And if it happens to look good on Instagram, we’re not complaining.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the best off-the-beaten-track Cape Town experiences—the things locals do. The best thing about them is it doesn’t matter your age—it’s about how you approach travel.
Spend a Night in Langa
Langa is Cape Town’s oldest township and an energetic neighbourhood with much to explore. Some families have opened their homes to visitors with Airbnb and a stay with them is something quite special. Submerge yourself in the history and community with the Airbnb experiences on offer. They give you the opportunity to learn something new and engage in a meaningful and memorable way. Dinner at Mzansi’s Restaurant is highly recommended. If you can’t make it to Langa, have dinner in Khayelitsha with the inspiring young people behind Dine with Khayelitsha.
Walk the Pipe Track
Of the many spectacular walking trails in Cape Town, the Pipe Track is certainly one of the most highly-rated. It’s a relatively flat trail, which hugs Table Mountain. The views of the ocean and Lion’s Head are out of this world. It’s the perfect opportunity to appreciate the plethora of natural fynbos that lines the route and to take a deep breath of fresh air.
When it comes to choosing an eatery, there are three important things to consider: location, menu, and (of course) Insta-worthiness. After all, if you ate and didn’t post about it, did you really eat? When it comes to décor, the stylish Mulberry & Prince is an Insta-dream. For food, you’ll have to have your battery fully charged when heading to Foxcroft (Constantia), Royale Eatery (Long Street), Pajamas and Jam (Somerset West), and Hokey Poke (Church Street, CBD) as their meals are exceptionally good looking. If you (and your followers) have a sweet-tooth, a milkshake at Gibson’s and My Sugar is highly recommended. If you’re health-focused, you’ll love the selection at the Oranjezicht City Farm Market at the V&A Waterfront on Saturdays, as well as the raw vegan options at Raw & Roxy (CBD) and Scheckter’s Raw (Sea Point).
Go Gin Tasting
Cape Town’s gin scene is booming so it’s the best time to taste the unique flavours the Mother City is producing. The fynbos and rooibos varieties you’ll find here are truly unique and there are at least ten gin distilleries in and around Cape Town where you can get your fix, as well as the Gin Jol by Kiff Kombi, which takes you on a half day gin tour to sample the wares at local distilleries.
Honestly, Eat the Chocolate
We’d go out on a limb to say Honest Chocolate is one of the coolest chocolatey nooks in the world and we have four words to prove it: Banana bread bunny chow. This unique treat is made by hollowing out a fresh banana mini loaf and filling it with macadamia chocolate spread (possibly the only way one could ever improve banana bread). Their small chocolate café on Wale Street in town specialises in hand-crafted chocolate made with cacao liquor, cacao butter and agave nectar. They had us at “chocolate”, but to add to perfection, they also have a Secret Gin Bar in the back courtyard in the evenings.
Window Shopping in the CBD Area
Travelling is about collecting moments and not things, but if you are going to buy something, it’s always best to buy something locally-made you won’t find anywhere else. In the CBD you’ll discover local designer shops like Me Me Me and Merchants on Long in Long Street. Just on the edge of the CBD, you can browse local designer wear and accessories at Bo-Op, while MonkeyBiz sells the most incredible beaded items reflecting the vibrancy of the Bo-Kaap. Vintage lovers will have a field day at stores like Second Time Around (Long Street) and Afraid of Mice (Longmarket Street) where you’ll find once-in-a-lifetime pieces.
Relax at the Mount Nelson
If you’ve ever fantasised about living in a Wes Anderson film, you’ll feel right at home at the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel. Visit the pale pink (a shade of “millennial pink”) hotel for their awe-inspiring morning or afternoon teas or if you want to up the relaxation, book into their spa that will have you feeling brand new in no time. Their Oasis pool is one of the largest heated pools in the country and poolside service is available from October to April, fabulousness guaranteed.
Walk the Promenade
The Atlantic Seaboard’s water might be too cold to swim in, but it sure is pretty to look at. Put comfortable shoes on and walk all along the beautiful waters from Mouille Point to Sea Point with many noteworthy spots along the way. For a sweet treat, stop at the Creamery in Mouille Point, get an ice-cream sandwich from Crumbs and Cream on Main Road or get a Nutella-drenched crepe at the Sea Point Pavillion. For coffee or lunch, stop by Strolla on Beach Road (near the Sea Point end of the Promenade) or Bootleggers or the Mojo Market on Main Road. Once you’ve passed the Pavillion and reached the end of the promenade, you can carry on walking through Bantry Bay and you’ll reach Camps Bay, where you’ll be met with a wondrous view of the Twelve Apostles and a whole host of sundowner spots and tapas bars.
Party Like a Hipster
The CBD is filled with trendy bars and clubs where you’re bound to rub shoulders with some of the most eclectic folks in town. Head to the hipster’s haven of Bree Street for tapas at La Parada, Mediterranean and Asian cuisine at Villa 47, or cheese drenched goodness at Culture Club Cheese. Later you can head over to Arcade, Orphanage, or Mother’s Ruin Gin Bar for drinks. Otherwise head over to Kloof Street for easy-going fancy food at Black Sheep before having craft beers at Yours Truly or cocktails at Asoka. If you’re a little edgier House of Machines (Shortmarket Street) will be on your frequency and you’ll be able to load up old school hotdogs with truffle oil and polenta fries from the adjacent Sneaky Sausage while you’re there.
First Thursdays are monthly highlights in Cape Town and the CBD is certainly the place to be. If live music is your thing check out the Waiting Room (Long Street), Café Roux (Shortmarket Street), The Crypt (Wale Street) for live jazz, or the Kirstenbosch Summer Concerts.