The Mother City really is unlike anywhere else in the world. Welcome to Cape Town; weaving around the rugged peaks of mountains older than the Himalayas, strolling along windswept beaches, sampling the world’s finest wines in picture-perfect vineyards and criss-crossing between colonial mansions and traditional townships; it’s hard to believe this is one place. And that’s just the city itself — only two hours’ drive away are dusty roads that lead to nowhere and national parks packed with fascinating, native wildlife.

Cape Town

Southern Africa’s most cosmopolitan city; Cape Town’s fragmented history is evident through the myriad of architecture and cultural influences. Grand Dutch homesteads, wine-making from the French, typically British Georgian mansions, and vibrant colours from the Malay slaves. Meanwhile, people from all over Africa have consistently flocked to the furthest tip of the continent to make a new life for themselves. This eclectic mix of people and cultures is what gives Cape Town its unrelenting, infectious buzz.

For an instant hit of Cape Town’s urban-cool, More Quarters provides an excellent base. Just 15 minutes uphill from the touristy V&A Waterfront and 15 minutes downhill from Table Mountain National Park, More Quarters’ 18 apartments occupy a pretty, cobbled cul-du-sac off trendy Kloof Street. With all the service of a slick hotel — warm smiles, unrelenting service, serene interiors and on-tap travel advisors — but with the independence of your own living space, More Quarters makes it easy to ‘play local’ in the heart of the city.

Arrive at the right time and throw yourself into First Thursday: a monthly evening event that turns Kloof Street and the surrounding neighbourhood into a carnival-style food and shopping fiesta. After revelling in kerb-side drinks on Long Street and browsing Bree Street’s galleries, book a table at The Black Sheep for craft beers and burgers within stumbling distance of bed. The next day, once the lovingly-made More Quarters corn fritters have sorted out your sore head, dodge the crowds and be the first up Table Mountain to get your geographical bearings.

From here you can plot your route. East of the centre is the increasingly gentrified Woodstock and Salt River, with artisan coffee houses, design studios, street murals and galleries. The Old Biscuit Mill and surrounding streets are a good place to start — refuel with a local brew at the Expresso Lab Microroasters and a bite to eat at Saucisse Boutique Deli before you set out.

West is the more mainstream V&A Waterfront complex, worth a visit for the views of Table Mountain and new architectural delight, the Silo Hotel. The coast meanders from here into the promenade at Sea Point and Clifton’s infamous four beaches. For the city’s most epic views trek to the top of Lion’s Head or, for a less strenuous version, book a picnic at The Roundhouse’s Rumbullion lawn perched high above Camps Bay.

Leave a day to explore the Cape Peninsula itself; including surfer hang-outs at Muizenburg, ice creams and pre-loved shops at Simon’s Town, penguins at Boulders Beach and the community market (every Thursday) at Cape Point Vineyard. Head back into town via the epic Chapman’s Peak drive and if hunger calls pop into Fish on the Rocks in Hout Bay for some top fish and chips and seal watching.

To get under the skin of the city, balance beaches and vineyards with a journey through its moving past at District Six Museum and Robben Island. Be inspired by entrepreneurs and social projects in the townships on an enlightening Uthando Tour; chatting to 80 year olds at Khayelitsha’s ‘Kindergarten for the Oldies’ is unforgettable. For grassroots culture, Coffeebeans Routes gives you the chance to see musicians’ houses as part of their Jazz Safari.

Time to Escape the city?

When heading out of Cape Town, most people make a beeline for the Garden Route but it’s worth looking beyond this well-trodden path. Meander inland for a luxury farm-stay at Bartholomeus Klip, spend a night in the manicured vineyards of Franschhoek and soak up the wild coast from Mosaic Private Sanctuary near Hermanus.

Bartholomeus Klip – Swartland

For hospitality-with-heart, you can’t beat a few nights at Bartholomeus Klip. After passing through pretty Stellenbosch and industrial Malmesbury, you quickly get into big-sky country — where dirt roads lead to nothing and ancient mountains pierce otherwise uninterrupted horizons. In the depths of Swartland, near charming Riebeeck-Kasteel (one of the oldest towns in South Africa), Bartholomeus Klip is a 10,000-acre farm and reserve; home to eland, zebras, bat-eared foxes and ostriches, to name buta few. Surrounded by hibiscus and oak trees and filled with the sounds of birds and insects, the ten-bedroom Victorian lodge is so unspoilt that it was the chosen location for the Queen’s honeymoon in the recent BBC series The Crown. The hotel’s interiors are beautiful, staff are charming, activities plentiful and life at Bartholomeus Klip is as idyllic as can be.

Le Petite Ferme – Winelands

If anything can entice you away from Bartholomeus Klip it might be the promise of some of the world’s most beautiful vineyards. Nestled in a valley just below the world-renowned Helshoogte pass, Franschhoek is an enclave of fine food, wine and art. Spend a day browsing the high street and hop on the wine tram to get a sense of (and taste for) the different estates. For the best views spend the night in one of La Petite Ferme’s romantic Vineyard Suites, where private plunge pools look out over the whole valley. If you don’t have time to stay, stop off for a lunch of boerewors kebabs and Baboon Rock Chardonnay (aptly named given the afternoon visitors) from the Deli.

Mosaic Lagoon Lodge – Overberg

Coast calling? Head up and over the mountains towards Overberg. Hermanus has become world-renowned for whale-watching, but beyond this touristy town is the lesser-known foodie mecca of Stanford; which is worth a visit at any time of year. Just beyond the organic bakeries and pretty spires of the village is Mosaic Private Sanctuary: a peaceful fynbos-filled estate sandwiched between Hermanus Lagoon and Walker Bay Beach Nature Reserve. Built around ancient Milkwood tress, each of Mosaic Lagoon Lodge’s rooms are private, romantic hideaways with four poster beds carved out of a washed up Ghanan tree, copper sinks and ethically-sourced interiors. Activities include dune-biking, kayaking, nature walks, beach picnics, yoga and of course, taking time out at the Rain Spa. Sundowners and nightcaps around the fire-pit are joined by swallows, bats or flamingos overhead, and beautifully crafted meals reflect the farm-to-fork ethos of Stanford.

And all that only just scrapes the surface: There’s canyoning and shark diving; tented camps with candle lit spa treatments and ancient cave drawings; organic food barns and Michelin-starred chefs and most importantly, bundles of energy and optimism — people trying to make a difference, make things better and forge the right path for a new country on the edge of a continent.

Need to know…

Cape Town is ten hours from London and British Airways flies there daily. Peak season is December to March when skies are blue and the sun is hot. Whale-watching is best between September and November. If you want someone else to do the hard work for you get in touch with SallyandAlice.com who will create the perfect luxury South African adventure.