Lonely Planet Local Lucy Corne fell in love with Cape Town following an overland trip across the continent. She was hooked by its mountain-meets-beach beauty, its laid back attitude to life and its vibrant dining scene. She moved there in 2010 and every time she catches a glimpse of glorious Table Mountain, she considers herself one very lucky lady.

Looking down over Cape Town from the top of Lions Head peak, this view shows table mountain warmly lit in afterglow of sunset. The streets of the city are alight with the headlights of cars © Quality Master / Shutterstock
The lights come on as night falls over Cape Town, Table Mountain and the Twelve Apostles  © Quality Master / Shutterstock

For a great view of the city… you need only to open your eyes. Sure, it seems like a cheesy thing to say, but in my opinion, there are few places as strikingly beautiful as Cape Town. Whether you’re stuck in traffic heading into town on the M3, scrambling to the top of Lion’s Head or taking the train to Simon’s Town, the mountain is always visible and when a glimpse of it stops making you smile, it is surely time to move on.

My favourite places in the city… tend to make the most of Cape Town’s best asset – Table Mountain. I adore the Twelve Apostles Hotel, whether it’s for high tea, sundowners or a massage in the hotel’s spa. I also love the V&A Waterfront, although most locals tend to avoid it. I enjoy the holiday atmosphere and when you sit down for a Belgian beer at Den Anker, you get the postcard view of Table Mountain.

I have a young son… who loves visiting Clay Café in Hout Bay. Families sit alongside artsy 20-somethings to paint their chosen piece of pottery while sipping tea or munching on fresh salads and slabs of carrot cake. I’m never sure what’s more exciting for the kids, painting the porcelain, scrambling around the outdoor jungle gym or returning three weeks later to pick up their finished product.

Looking down over the coast, with ocean on the right and the Cape on the left - line after line of waves roll into Muizenberg Beaach © Achim Thomae / Getty Images
Waves rolling into Muizenberg beach, a surfer's haven © Achim Thomae / Getty Images

On a sunny day… I like to head to Muizenberg. It tends to be fairly windy, but it’s my closest beach and the seafront strip has undergone a major transformation in the past few years. There is now a selection of decent restaurants and cool places to grab a beer or a coffee. And of course, there are surf schools galore. Every couple of years I take a lesson and swear I will take up surfing, though in reality I prefer to watch the waves from the safety of the shore.

For cheap eats… I head to the Eastern Food Bazaar in the city centre. Hidden away in a covered corridor between Longmarket and Darling Streets, it’s a row of Indian, Chinese and Middle Eastern takeaways. Join lunching locals and grab a curry or a kebab for around R50, then indulge in some people-watching and an ice cream as you get back to your business on the streets of Cape Town.

What I love most about Cape Town… is that however long I live here, I feel like I haven’t scratched the surface of what there is to see, do and eat. There are beaches I still haven’t visited, hikes I probably haven’t even heard of and the city centre dining scene is so explosive that it’s tough to keep track of the latest restaurants and foodie trends. I simply cannot remember the last time I sat at home on the weekend complaining of boredom.

Massive watermelon-coloured protea flowers bloom from green foliage, with the cliffs of Table Mountain as a backdrop © Ariadne Van Zandbergen / Lonely Plane
Protea blooming in Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, with Table Mountain's cliffs as a backdrop  © Ariadne Van Zandbergen / Lonely Planet

When I need to relax… I go for a solo stroll through the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden – or at least, I should. Every time I go there, I marvel at how lucky we are to have this amazingly beautiful garden on our doorstep and promise myself I will take advantage and visit more often. You can often find a quiet corner in which to relax and there are gentle hikes through the forest. Plus there’s an awesome tearoom serving the fluffiest scones topped with jam and cream!

To splash out… I never think twice about booking a table at La Colombe, one of the top restaurants in the country. The food is outstanding, the experience is unpretentious and I’ve never had so much as a bad course there, let alone a bad meal. It’s fairly pricey by local standards, but for visitors to Cape Town, it’s actually a very affordable fine dining experience.

One thing I hate about Cape Town is… the minibus taxis, with their incessant honking, constant calling to potential passengers and their, let’s say, alternative approach to the basic rules of the road. They are a cheap and colourful way to get around, but as a pedestrian or driver on Cape Town’s roads, they soon become pretty tiresome.

Lucy walking through the rows of vines at the Warwick Estate © Lucy Corne / Lonely Planet
Lonely Planet Local Lucy Corne having a wander (and nibble) at the Warwick Estate in the Winelands © Lucy Corne / Lonely Planet

When I want to get out of the city… I head to the Winelands for a lazy lunch. One of my favourite spots is Warwick Estate, where you can spend hours working your way through one of their picnics while lounging on the lawns. For a sumptuous sit-down meal with views to match, try Glen Carlou, between Paarl and Franschhoek. When I feel like something a little less fancy, I swap wine for beer and grab a biltong and cheese platter at the Barley and Biltong at Spice Route, just outside Paarl. Their microbrewery is one of the best in the country.

You know you’ve been in Cape Town too long… when you understand – and use – the concept of 'now-now'. Capetonians are not best known for their punctuality, and when someone promises to do something 'now-now', this could mean anything from 'within the next five minutes' to 'at some point throughout the course of the day'. It frustrates some new arrivals, but Cape Town’s relaxed attitude to time is one of the reasons I adore the place. I’ve been pretty much late for everything my entire life and in Cape Town, I feel I’ve finally found where I was meant to be.

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