In September the Northern hemisphere prepares for the onset of fall with wooly scarves and cozy coats popping up in stores and ‘pumpkin spice’ appearing in our drinks, pastries, and scented candles. For some this a welcomed change, but for others who long for sunshine, blue skies, and sandy beaches, this signals the end of their favorite season. Sun worshippers will be happy to know they can chase summer to South Africa, the perfect winter getaway.
While the top of the world begins to freeze over, the Southern hemisphere ushers in spring. South Africa, which experiences relatively moderate temperatures year round, comes to life in the springtime, August to mid-October. The temperatures warm, the white sandy beaches begin to draw crowds, markets and galleries are bustling with activity, and people drift to outdoor patios to enjoy a refreshing glass of chenin blanc. Here we listed our top picks for shopping and dining in South Africa during the warmer months.
The Best Shopping in South Africa
Open Air Markets
Open air markets are the ideal way to enjoy the sunshine and warm breezes while shopping for unique treasures for your friends and family back home. Our top pick is The Watershed at the V&A Waterfront. “The Shed” is easily the best spot in central Cape Town to browse crafts and designs from local artisans. Not a small affair, the market is home to 150 retailers who represent nearly 400 boutique designer brands.
The Old Biscuit Mill in Cape Town is not to be missed. The market within this beautiful village of artisans is open both day and night, with plenty of restaurants and farm stalls selling treats should you need to take a break from browsing. Other markets worth visiting are the vibrant Bay Harbor Market — for the views alone! — and the rustic Hermanus Country Market. See more of the peninsula’s stunning coastline on our Cape Point Tour.
For the latest trends and fashions in South Africa you can visit one of the many shopping malls. The expansive V&A Waterfront Shopping Mall is housed in a beautiful building with an abundance of natural light, making the structure itself a pleasant place to spend an afternoon. The mall features over 450 retailers with a diverse offering of local and international retailers. We doubt you’ll go home empty handed.
For travelers who like to shop until they drop, we recommend the Canal Walk Shopping Centre in Cape Town. The massive mall has everything you need under one roof, including a movie theater, so you can enjoy a leisurely day of fun and fashion. Canal Walk would be a great way to end your day after a brief tour of Cape Town.
If you’re looking for a more intimate, personalized shopping experience, there are an abundance of art galleries to enjoy in South Africa. You can enjoy high-end luxury art buying experiences as well as smaller, more localized galleries offering more affordable works.
A wonderful place to start is in Cape Town Centre, which features a number of small galleries and art studios. Some of the best are Eclectica Contemporary, 34 Fine Art Gallery, and What If The World — a gallery housed in a stunning decommissioned synagogue.
For those looking to venture out into wine country, a trip to Stellenbosch will bring to you to a number of small galleries to visit in between sips and bites. The “GUS” or Gallery University Stellenbosch is housed in a stunning space that frequently rotates artists and exhibitions so you’ll always be able to see something fresh. Other galleries in the area worth visiting are the Stellenbosch Art Gallery and the SMAC Gallery, if you’re searching for contemporary pieces.
One of the best galleries in the nation is the Grande Provence Estate in Franschhoek. Grande Provence Estate is a vineyard that also houses a fine dining restaurant, shopping, and the gallery. The gallery showcases some of South Africa’s finest established and emerging artists. Other galleries for casual browsing are the Lembu Art Gallery & Studio in Hermanus and the Everard Read Gallery in Johannesburg, which showcase both local and international artists.
The Best Dining in South Africa
South Africa’s verdant land, rich soil, and coastline make it a foodie’s dream. South Africa produces some of the best wines in the world, which are served alongside fresh, seasonal produce, artisanal breads and cheeses, and just-caught seafood. The challenge isn’t finding a good restaurant to enjoy, the challenge is deciding which restaurants to enjoy. Beyond our ‘Finest Food and Drink’ tour, here are a few of our many, many favorites in and around Cape Town:
Publik Wine Bar
Centrally located, Publik Wine Bar is an intimate establishment that offers South African wines produced by independent wineries. What makes this wine bar unique is that it shares a space with an artisan butcher, offering up shareable plates of charcuterie and a wide variety of cheeses from local farms.
Harbour House is a must for seafood lovers. The menu features freshly caught, local seafood served in a variety of ways, including sushi. The stunning restaurant is conveniently located on the V&A waterfront — the ocean views to match — making Harbour House the perfect choice after a day of shopping. In addition to expertly prepared seafood, meat, and local fare, you can enjoy an extensive wine list and top-notch desserts.
Gold Restaurant serves traditional South African fare. Each meal features fourteen expertly prepared courses, highlighting foods from various regions throughout the country. Dinner is served alongside traditional South African entertainment, making this “culinary safari” an unforgettable experience.
For more tips, ideas, and advice for seeing all there is to see in South Africa, visit us at vacationtosouthafrica.com.