A Glorious Getaway: 48 Hours In Camps Bay

Cape Town, South Africa is one of the world’s most magical cities and there’s enough to do in the area to take up weeks of you’re time. But if you only have a weekend to explore, or just want to break up your days in different areas of town, you might as well spend it getting to know one of the most beautiful parts, Camps Bay. The compact beach community is one of the poshest, most pristine areas of the city (and in Africa), and is full of cute boutique stores, fabulous restaurants, drop-dead gorgeous views and a hopping nightlife that goes well beyond midnight. All of the hotels, bars, restaurants and stores are found within walking distance to each other, so there’s really no need for a car at all once you’re there.

It’s simply the perfect destination for those just wanting to come to the area for the lovely beaches and warm sunny weather. Even on good days during the winter, you’ll still find plenty of people out enjoying the beach, with a few brave souls splashing around in the chilly water. Whichever time of year you go, Camps Bay is sure to be a place that you’ll remember fondly for a long time.

Day 1

camps bay day beach

Camps Bay in the daytime (Photo by Joe Kennedy)

If you’re flying into the airport, Camps Bay is about a half hour drive on the N2, but most of the drive is scenic and will go by in no time. Since you just arrived, you probably don’t want to take on any challenging activities, instead, after checking into your hotel, walk down the beach to take in the stunning scenery in all directions. If the views don’t make your jaw drop while standing on the beach, then nothing will. With your back facing the ocean, Lion’s Head will be to your left, the 12 Apostles will be right and front of you, and the seemingly infinite mountains of Table Mountain National Park will go on into the distance as far as you can see.

Once you’re situated and take it all in, you’ll probably want to get some brunch or lunch. The Grand Cafe has one of the nicest outdoor areas along the beach with some excellent fare to boot. There’s a large outdoor patio that’s completely outside, along with an upstairs area with wide open windows that let in the ocean breeze. It’s also one of the first restaurants you’ll see if you are coming from the airport, so if you’re super hungry you may want to stop here first. Of course, basically anywhere you walk into is sure to have decent food, so it’s sometimes best just to see which one’s don’t have a long wait to get in.

After getting fueled up, it’s time for some strolling. There is a stretch between some of the restaurants and bars on the main road where many vendors setup to sell their crafts. While some are priced a tad higher because it’s a tourist area, it’s still worth some time to walk through and browse what they might have. From dresses, to bead work, to the most random souvenirs, you are bound to find something cool worth taking home. Camps Bay is also a great place to get all your beach wear for the rest of the year. There are several shops in the area such as Rainbow Swimwear that cater to all things that scream fun in the sun.

While the shopping is good, the beach is probably where you want to be. The large rocks on either side of the beach are easy to climb and make great photo opportunities for selfies and portraits. If you’re like most people, you’ll probably want to bring a blanket and soak up the afternoon sun for a few hours, or even do a bit of surfing. Tropic Surf has surfing and paddle board lessons if you need some help getting started. There are also a few places where you can rent a board for a few hours. If you’re thirsting for a cocktail, there are several outdoor bars where you can walk up and sit for awhile while downing a drink before crossing the road back to the beach.

For dinner and some of the best seafood in Cape Town, it doesn’t get much better than the Codfather. The restaurant is also one of the best spots for a sundowners, and has a large outdoor patio that seems directly lined up to watch the sunset. Yes it’s a franchise with a few other locations, but this isn’t the Olive Garden we’re talking about. The restaurant was one of the first in all of Cape Town to serve sushi and has some of the freshest cuts of fish around. There isn’t a menu to pick from, but the well-trained servers can thoroughly explain what is on offer for the evening. When you’re seated, the waiter will walk with you to the display counter and tell you all about the fish and where it came from.

If you’ve still got some energy after dining, you’ll probably want to do some bar hopping, but since the partying goes pretty late into the night, you might want to take a quick nap back at your hotel before heading out. In the peak of the summer, the party scene at some of the bars can get pretty wild (just a warning). Some of the best bars include Mezepoli Meze & Wine Bar and Cafe Caprice, though pretty much any cocktail bar in the area will be satisfying.

Day 2

lions head hike

View of Camps Bay from Lion’s Head (Photo by Joe Kennedy)

After fueling up for breakfast at your hotel, start off the day with a brisk hike up Lion’s Head. You’ll need to circle around in your car to the starting point or call a ride to get there. The view from the top will give you an outstanding view of of Camps Bay and downtown Cape Town, and you’ll be able to take in the impressive nature that you couldn’t see from below. You can probably easily spot your hotel as well. Most people in good shape will be able to complete the hike without any issue, and it’s really only the last quarter or so of the hike that can sometimes pose a challenge when you have to start climbing steps. But even if you only make it to this part, you’ll still get postcard worthy views and a good workout. Be sure to bring water as there isn’t anywhere to get any on the trail. If Lion’s Head isn’t challenging enough, there are several other routes such as Porcupine Ravine and Tranquility Cracks which give you different perspectives of the area and a tougher workout.

The hike will have probably made you build up an appetite, so head to Col’Cacchio Pizzeria for some lunch. It’s one of the best places for pizza in Cape Town and many of the pizzas on the menu are designed by well-known chef’s around the city. If you’re in the mood for something more upscale, it’s hard to beat Umi — possibly the best Asian fusion venue in the city. The prices are definitely on the high side, but the impeccable food and ambiance is worth it.

After filling up, head over to Rose Korber Art, a lovely gallery that is attached to Rose Korber’s private house. Here you can browse a wide variety of paintings, photographs, sculptures and gorgeous bead work. Many of the best artists in Cape Town have their work featured here. Another great place to pop into is the Camps Bay Gallery inside the Promenade Shopping Centre. This modern gallery exhibits a small group of around a dozen artists (both established and up and coming) to the public in a quaint venue. Most of the artwork is available for purchase though can be a bit on the pricey side. Of course, you can always buy direct from one of the many artists that like to setup on the sidewalk on busy weekends.

By the end of the day, you’ll have just enough time for another sundowner or a walk to your new favorite spot to take it all in before you leave.

Where To Stay

pod view camps bay

View from room at POD Camps Bay (Photo by Joe Kennedy)

Boutique hotels don’t really get any better than POD Camps Bay, a stunning yet intimate hotel just one block away from the beach with fantastic views from every room. There are just 17 rooms at the hotel, but if you stay there, you’ll be pampered with a five-star experience and an extremely high level of detail. The entire place is modern and sleek, with most rooms having floor to ceiling windows that open to stunning views.

If you’re looking for something a bit larger, the Bay Hotel makes an excellent choice and maintains fantastic architecture that was built in 1904. There are four pool desks overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, along with a spa and fantastic balconies. Be sure to go for the incredible breakfast at the hotel’s Tides Restaurant, one of the best in the area.

Finally, for those on an ultra budget, the Camps Bay Resort is popular with backpackers and has 48 rooms and two swimming pools. Sure, you won’t get the comfort of the other two hotels, but if you plan on staying out most of the day, it will do the trick.

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