solo-travel-western-cape

Solo Travel Inspiration in the Western Cape

When I first moved to Cape Town, I often had to travel alone. Sometimes, it was a choice – other times, it wasn’t. Regardless, solo travel has shaped me as a traveller – and as an adult.

Weirdly enough, solo travel has even made me more confident, especially when it comes to social interactions. I am naturally reserved – but when it comes to travelling, I almost turn into a different person.

When I first started doing reviews, I did them alone. This taught me which questions to ask.

It also showed me how to engage naturally with others, even total strangers. And to do so in a way that was respectful, polite and interesting.

Thus, because of my personal circumstances and my career choice, I became a natural solo traveller.

Solo Travel Can be Fun – and Safe!

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Photo credit: Elgin Adventure Centre

I know solo travel scares a lot of people. Not only because it comes with greater risks – like general safety or targeted crime – but because it forces us to really sit with ourselves.

It shows whether we actually can handle spending time alone with ourselves.

Yet, it is something that I believe everyone should try at least once in their lives. Whether that means flying overseas – or braving your local coffee shop alone.

Solo travel is not reserved for singles or the friendless either, as people often falsely believe.

In fact, most solo travellers choose to travel alone. (I must say, solo travel cuts out a lot of stress and frustration. Mainly because you only have yourself and your moods/reactions to worry about.)

If you do it right, it can be safe enough too. Although, when I travel alone, I still make sure I always tell someone where I am going.

Or I share my live location with them. It’s better to be sensible and careful.

Discover Yourself through Solo Travel

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Solo travel encourages growth, gently nudges you to be a little braver and shows you that, sometimes, the best travel partner is you, yourself.

Solo travel is also humbling. It teaches you how to be careful and more sensible when you travel. (Although these were often lessons I learned in hindsight.)

Finally, it teaches you how to appreciate and even enjoy your own company.

My Best Solo Travel Inspiration across the Western Cape

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With this post, I wanted to show my readers that good solo travel is possible – and better still, it is fun and rewarding.

Here is my best Western Cape solo travel inspiration:

1) Enjoy Cake or Breakfast at a Local Eatery

While dining out alone certainly takes some getting used to – I think it’s a wonderful experience.

Whether you enjoy a bit of downtime (minus any conversation) or heading to a cafรฉ or locale for a quick read, few things are more enjoyable than solo dining. Particularly when you order a good breakfast or brunch.

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You might feel a bit self-conscious the first few times you eat out alone.

But, after a while, you hardly notice the sensation of dining alone! (And this is one of the rare examples where it isn’t rude to be on your phone at the table.)

I first started solo dining for work purposes when I had to go out on reviews – but eventually, I found myself venturing out on weekends, finding new local wine farm restaurants and local cafes to enjoy.

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I usually order a hearty, delicious brunch and coffee or a sinfully good slice of cake.

Whatever you order and wherever you go though, Cape Town has some amazing coffee shops, eateries, pubs and more for solo dining.

Here are some Northern Suburbs’ food gems where I have enjoyed solo dining.

2) Go (Seasonal) Flower Picking at Jamestown Flower Farm

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Jamestown Flower Farm is one of the best things to have ever bloomed into life near Stellenbosch.

If you haven’t yet visited this beautiful, quaint flower farm, where you can actually pick your own flowers (during the season) – then you need to add them to your local travel bucket list.

Although this is certainly a fun experience to share with your partner, friends or loved ones, you can quite happily explore Jamestown on your own and have a glorious time picking purchasable, take-home flowers.

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Plus, everyone should buy flowers for themselves to enjoy at least once in their lifetime!

I left the city early and headed there a few months after they had just opened for business – and the experience remains one of my best solo travel experiences.

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I didn’t miss the company of others (there are enough people mingling around with their own flowers and buckets so you hardly feel lonely) and there is something really grounding about gardening or picking flowers by yourself.

Best of all, this is an affordable, fun experience for young and old to enjoy. ๐Ÿ™‚

For more information on Jamestown Flower Farm’s seasonal flower picking, you can read my review here.

3) Hop on a City Sightseeing Bus Tour for a Fun Day Trip

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City Sightseeing is found in top cities the world over and I have heard positive things about this company’s tours and travel experiences both locally and internationally.

Perhaps the best thing about this travel company though, is the safe, informative and solo-travel-friendly experiences that they offer.

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In Cape Town, City Sightseeing offers everything from incredible hop-on, hop-off wine tours to fun trips around the coastline and even harbour cruises at the V&A Waterfront. They make for the perfect day trip or impromptu outing.

I have done a few of their tours on my own (and some with friends on separate occasions) and I have always really enjoyed these excellent hop-on, hop-off offerings.

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The experience is well-priced (they also often run great specials and discounts, especially if you buy your tickets online), extremely safe and smartly put together.

You can enjoy the audio guides as you ride or simply soak up the surrounding beauty.

Either way, these tours are arguably one of the best ways to see the Mother City – especially as a solo traveller.

4) Road Trip along the Route 62 to See the Countryside

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Perhaps it’s because I know the Route 62 (especially the drive from Cape Town to Montagu) so well that I can describe every twist and turn in the road – but there’s something especially alluring about this world-famous route that makes it perfect for solo road trips!

I think most of us can agree that road trips can be fun, even on your own.

All you need is some good coffee, a great playlist (I plan mine religiously before setting out) and a tankful of petrol.

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Whether you karaoke your way out of the city, leaving the traffic and more impatient drivers behind, or drive in contemplative silence, as you take in the passing countryside, the Route 62 is ideal for a memorable road trip.

I love the trip from Cape Town to Montagu (and back) because it offers a wonderful combination of beautiful mountain passes and vistas, stunning rolling farmlands, unusual roadside attractions and best of all, charming Route 62 towns.

There are plenty of pitstop places – perfect for bathroom breaks, quick meals and leg stretches – with lovely farmstalls, filling stations and town eateries to choose from.

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5) Wander around the Zeitz MOCAA Museumย 

As Africa’s largest contemporary art museum, the quirky, though undeniably impressive Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa is one of the finest additions to Cape Town in recent times.

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Whether you are an art lover or not, Zeitz MOCAA is an unmissable local attraction.

And yes, you guessed it: you can explore this ground-breaking African marvel as a contemplative solo traveller.

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A short while after this amazing public museum first opened, I had the pleasure of wandering through its lofty halls, up the giddying spiral stairs and even up onto the rooftop area by myself.

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Built in a reformed grain silo in the V&A’s classy Silo District, this museum makes for a captivating visit from start to finish.

Especially when you factor in nine floors (seven of which are accessible to the public) and over 100 unique gallery spaces.

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Honestly, it was a great outing. I took my time, amassed endless photos and got to see art (and my city) in a new, far more daring, light.

Although the museum is a bit on the pricey side (presently R210 per adult – but free to under 18s), they do offer specials and/or deals for South Africans and those with African passports.

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For more on this unique, mindblowing museum, read my review here.

Note: COVID-19 may affect opening hours; please visit their website for current and future updates and information. Or contact them directly before booking.

6) Visit a Local Bookstore like The Book Loungeย 

As a book lover of repute, any time I get to explore a local library or bookstore, I am in paradise.

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Cape Town has some excellent libraries and bookstores – but perhaps one of the best and most famous is The Book Lounge.

Perched on the corner of Buitenkant and Roeland Street, The Book Lounge is a safe haven among readers, students and gift shoppers.

It is a perfect place for an entrepid solo explorer – after all, you are never truly alone when there are great books to be devoured or bought!

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With coffee shops, colleges and workplaces surrounding it, The Book Lounge and its charming building provides a unique, sheltered escape from the stressors of inner-city life.

 

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Back in my student days, The Book Lounge was a short walk from my flat and uni so it became a place for me to visit on weekends, in between class and even on book launch nights with my English lecturer and classmates. (Many a Game of Throne spoiler was leaked within its hallowed walls.)

Best of all, this laid-back, independent bookstore has friendly staff, a wide range of books, author events and more to keep you coming back for more.

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My Insider’s Tip: They also offer some of the best carrot cake and coffee in the Mother City! ๐Ÿ™‚

7) Explore the V&A Waterfront on Foot

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While studying and living in the CBD as a student, the V&A Waterfront was one of my favourite places to explore, especially on weekends when I was alone in the city.

Although I have happily explored every inch of this popular tourist destination with my friends and family, some of my best outings were when I visited it alone.

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The V&A Waterfront is a shopping mecca (with over 450 outlets) and arguably one of the most visited attractions in the Mother City.

Tourists and locals love exploring this vibrant, harbour-hugging gem.

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And, with its world-class shops and boutique stores, nearby aquarium, chic hotels, boat tours and cruises and amazing array of restaurants and takeaway joints to name only some of its nearby attractions – it isn’t hard to see why.

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I love the vast outdoor stretches of the V&A best though – particularly the Dry Dock-, Quays- and Clock Tower-Districts.

From the Cape Wheel right to the beautiful bumblebee-coloured Clock Tower!

I love the African wares and stalls that adorn its cobbled walkways.

I enjoy the fresh ocean breeze and bold seagulls that hang around near the picturesque harbour, looking for scraps.

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There is so much to discover and savour at the Waterfront – and if you have the chance, it is a safe and wonderful place to explore on your lonesome (on foot).

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8) Head to Green Point Park for Exercise and Nature

Another great nearby attraction is the popular, family-friendly Green Point Park.

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With gorgeous outdoor garden spaces, eco-conscious educational sections and mazes, fun playareas for kiddies and some beautifully scenic benches overlooking the rolling lawns, vibrant gardens and pretty dam, this free, public park is another excellent and relatively safe spot to visit on your own in Cape Town.

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I recommend driving or catching the bus to the park rather than walking to it (purely from a safety perspective).

Still, the area is pretty busy on weekends especially, so there are normally always people (mostly families, joggers and couples) in and around the garden and subsequent areas.

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I have explored the garden on a few occasions – at least twice on my own – and I have always felt safe here.

Obviously, you have to be careful anywhere you go in a city. But this is definitely one of the safer, more peaceful public spots around.

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This unique green space is a welcome respite. It also offers the most stunning views of the city’s famous mountains and (controversial) stadium.

Visit Green Point Park for your dose of Vitamin D and enjoy spending quality time in nature without even having to leave the city!

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9) Visit a Popular Local Beach during the Day

City beaches are not necessarily safe to visit alone at night or even on quiet week days when most people are at work. However, both the Camps Bay and Clifton 1-4 Beaches are perfect for solo travellers to enjoy on weekends and during peak times.

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I have often visited these beaches on my own over weekends and felt nothing but safe.

I must emphasise though, that I have always been careful to visit during busy times or during festivals when there are lots of people around.

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Honestly, whether you like thoughtful strolls along the beach, dipping your toes in the icy Atlantic (everyone should brave it at least once) or peoplewatching, the stunning, world-renowned Camps Bay and Clifton Beaches are glorious.

Better still, they are ideal for families, couples, friends and yes, solo wanderers too.

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Take a good book, hop on the MyCiti or City Sightseeing bus and make a day of it.

These beaches are beautiful year-round and ideal for exploring no matter who you are (or aren’t) travelling with.

10) Treat Yourself to a Luxurious Solo Hotel Stay: Veg out and Relax

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This was one of my harder solo experiences to embark on. Yet, once I had enjoyed a solo hotel stay or two (and the perks of a huge, comfy bed and great coffee to myself), I absolutely loved the experience.

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As travel bloggers, we are often invited to attend media trips/events. Or even to stay at beautiful places for reviews.

Because of this, travelling and staying alone is something you get used to. Sometimes, it is just you who is invited or your partner can’t take time off work, so you travel alone.

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But this is actually something I think everyone should do at least once.

There really is no better way to relax than in a beautifully appointed room. Especially when you have luxurious creature comforts, amazing views and room service (if you are lucky).

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If you can get a buffet or English breakfast included, even better!

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Check into a beautiful hotel (or Airbnb), pack some good books and snacks with and enjoy the ultimate self-care session. ๐Ÿ™‚

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If you are keen to read more about one of my favourite solo hotel stays to date, click here.

10) Visit a Beautiful Garden Open Dayย 

This is another excellent idea for those who both love being in nature, yet still want a safe outing.

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I have attended a few open garden days on my own. And, because these are curated outdoor events with plenty of families, couples and organisers on-hand, they are always safe and lovely events for solo adventurers.

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They are honestly some of my most stunning travel memories too.

I really have a blast without missing the company of others.

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There is so much to see and savour that you scarcely notice that you are alone.

Plus, quite often, other visitors make companionable small talk with you anyway.

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One of my personal favourites is Avondale Open Garden in the Northern Suburbs.

Honestly though, there are so many wonderful, springtime open garden events in Cape Town and the Cape Winelands. We are spoilt for choice in the Western Cape!

Places like Elgin and Franschhoek especially cater to this. Both valleys annually host amazing open garden days.

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Their events are spread across local farms, (normally private) gardens and wine estates.

Open garden events usually have a small entry fee – but it is so worth it!

Some even offer tea and cake or lunch at an additional cost. (That is if you can find a free table.)

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If you are looking for a beautiful, outdoorsy outing, an annual open garden event is always a great solo trip! ๐Ÿ™‚

11) Embark on a Guided Adventure Tourย 

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Photo credit: Elgin Adventure Centre

Another incredible, safe travel experience is joining a local company on a guided tour.

You travel with experts who keep you safe at all times. (Even while exploring the mountains or riding down quiet farm roads.)

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One such local, eco-tour company that I love is Elgin Adventure Centre. They provide the most stunning Cape experiences in Elgin.

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They offer everything from ziplining to wine-inclusive MTB tours.

This makes Elgin Adventure Centre a sure bet when it comes to memorable, quality travel experiences.

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Their tours are ideal for solo travellers, couples and families alike.

12) Explore Babylonstoren and Its Enchanting Garden

Last but far from least, we have the magical Babylonstoren and its breathtaking garden.

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This Franschhoek farm needs little introduction, as it is usually the name on everyone’s lips.

Whether you are a family, couple or solo traveller, Babylonstoren, a working farm and wine estate, is always a great bet.

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With two eateries, hotel- and spa-offerings, beautiful accommodation and farm shops, unique garden spaces and incredible wines, Babylonstoren offers so much for locals and tourists alike.

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I have had the pleasure of visiting this farm twice in recent years.

Once, with my loved ones and more latterly, on my own – but both times, I had a glorious day out.

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Babylonstoren changes deliciously with each season, too – so every time you visit, it feels different and new!

Travel Alone but Be Wise

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No matter who you are or where you are travelling to, whenever you travel (whether alone or with others) – always be sensible and safe.

Keep your valuables tucked away in public places, when possible and don’t draw unnecessary attention to yourself as a (solo) traveller.

Stay where there are crowds, as there is usually safety in numbers.

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If you need to ask for help, approach an industry professional (like a waitor, staff member or wine host) rather than a random stranger/member of the public.

Staff are best equipped to help and guide you anyway.

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Always tell someone where you are going and make sure you have enough petrol/data/money to get home if something goes amiss or you need to call for help and/or organise alternative transport.

Keep emergency numbers saved on your phone (or memorise some that you can easily recall in a pinch if your smartphone dies).

Above all, be safe and look after yourself, especially when you travel solo.

Don’t take reckless or silly risks – and always keep your wits about you.

Note: This post is a guideline only; travel experiences, encounters and safety levels may vary.

COVID-19 DISCLAIMER:

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Please remember that COVID-19 rules and regulations may affect opening times and availability of wine farms, museums, public places and even on-site activities loosely mentioned in this post.

As such, I can assume no responsibility for any closures or limited services.

For the latest provincial and national COVID-19 restrictions and levels, please visit an official government portal.

Please also remember to:

  • Wear a mask in public (fineable by law);
  • Practice social distancing;
  • Sanitise frequently;
  • Stay home if you feel unwell.

Author: Tamlyn Ryan

Content writer by day and blogger by night, Tamlyn Ryan passionately runs her own travel blog, called Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust, from her home base of Cape Town, South Africa. And, despite a national diploma in Journalism, in her free time, Tamlyn’s preferred niche remains travel writing.

Tamlyn is a hopeless wanderer, equipped with an endless passion for road trips, carefully planned, holiday itineraries and, above all else, an innate love for the great outdoors.

2 thoughts on “Solo Travel Inspiration in the Western Cape”

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words, Rethabile! I am so glad to hear you enjoyed the post.

      I think with any type of travel there are always risks and safety concerns – but solo travel is safe if you do it right. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s always a good idea to start small (like with a local guided day trip/tour – or meal out on your own in a local cafe/restaurant) and then branch out a bit as your comfort levels grow.

      I still get nervous travelling alone – but that’s natural! Just always tell a loved one where you are going.

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