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Top Dating Ideas in Cape Town
A selection of fun, romantic things to do for clueless couples
Though it’s a well-known fact that Cape Town swoons visitors from around the world, the Mother City, with her splendid natural beauty, also happens to be a prime place to fall in love. With trendy eateries, intimate bars and scenic wine estates on every corner and a plethora of fun, innovative activities at every turn, Cape Town is chock-a-block with great options for a memorable romantic rendezvous, whether it’s a first date or a 50th anniversary.
Nevertheless, despite the breadth of alternatives available, when it come to arranging a top-notch date with a prospective sweetheart (or even a long-term partner), it can be a challenge to come up with an original fail-proof plan. So, what follows is our carefully considered pick of timeless romantic (and at times unconventional) date ideas in Cape Town to help you hit the right note in your blossoming relationship. From dinner theatre and stand-up comedy to sunset cruises and open-air cinema, this overview includes a little something for all tastes and types, pockets and penchants.
TOP DATING IDEAS IN CAPE TOWN
Picnic in Scenic Surrounds
Whether you pack your own hamper of tasty treats or have picnic basket professionals The Picnic Company (they create a variety of gourmet spreads and deliver to the chosen location) do it for you, dining under clear open skies in the Mother City’s breathtaking outdoors is a sure way to win over a prospective lover. And fortunately, there are plenty of stunning natural spots in Cape Town to stretch out that blanket and tuck into a delicious alfresco feast. Fine examples include expansive botanical garden Kirstenbosch, one of the Mother City’s many pristine beaches (the idyllic Clifton Fourth at sunset is a favourite choice) or one of the several viewing sites along Chapman’s Peak Drive, a spectacular stretch of rocky coastline near Hout Bay. Should you decide to go the simpler route and recruit The Picnic Company to prepare your meal for you, consider opting for their Mezze Picnic (think Mediterranean finger foods like dolmades, pitas and nougat bites) or Afternoon Tea Picnic (it includes cucumber and smoked trout sandwiches, freshly baked scones and more), both of which are specifically designed for two. The best picnic spots are all around and will make for a wonderful time with the people you are with!
Unit C18 | Prime Park | Mocke Road | Diep River | +27(0)21 706 8470
An authentic Italian dinner at True Italic
Italians go as far as to claim the very invention of amore – some bragging that when not eating, drinking, singing or watching football, these Europeans are indefinitely making love. In short, when it comes to a romantic date night dinner, there’s no better choice than a genuine Italian eatery. And True Italic on Bree Street, a traditional osteria (rustic restaurant) run by a Bologna local and his sister, is as authentic as it gets. For one, the charming house of pasta makes a home in a 200-year-old building and still uses candlelight to build ambience. More importantly though, all of the food on the nightly changing menu is made with love. You won’t find any bastardised pizzas or imitation pastas (think spaghetti bolognaise) on the blackboard; rather, you can expect antipasta platters piled high with imported meats and cheeses, handmade pasta fresca (fresh pasta), homemade Sicilian sausage, Campari cocktails, short espressos and desserts freshly baked according to long-standing family recipes. Imported Italian wine completes the intimate A-Z Italian experience, and as this space is modeled on the unfussy, laidback restaurants found in historic Italian city centres, you don’t need to worry about dinner being too pretentious.
15 Bree Street | City Centre | +27(0)21 418 7655
Movies at the Pink Flamingo Rooftop Cinema
Spruce up the traditional Ster-Kinekor movie date and take in a film together at this charming open-air cinema atop Long Street’s innovative Grand Daddy Hotel. Nestled between vintage Airstream trailers – it’s the world’s only rooftop trailer park – and boasting views of the twinkling CBD skyline, the alfresco theatre screens cult classics and old favourites (think flicks like Dirty Dancing, Amélie and Pretty Woman) every Monday evening under the starry night’s sky. The ticket price includes a welcome drink, popcorn and a mixed bag of sweets, and in winter, guests are given hot chocolate and warm blankets to cuddle under. Pre-ordered gourmet food baskets – which contain an array of delicious snacks – are also available for those keen to add a little something extra to their sky-high romantic rendezvous. All in all, there are few more magical and unusual city centre spaces to spend some quality time with that special someone.
38 Long Street | City Centre | +27(0)21 424 7247
Oysters and Champagne at African Pride 15 on Orange Hotel’s Murano Bar
There are few more sultry matches than oysters and bubbly, and this stylish city centre hotel’s in-house bar claims the sort of opulent surrounds that are perfectly befitting for this luxurious combination. Decked out in royal purples and boasting rich velvet curtains and ornate furnishings, the circular watering hole – it’s named for the 20000 crystal links from Murano that dangle from the ceiling – treats starry-eyed couples to freshly shucked West Coast molluscs (either chilled or tempura fried) alongside an assortment of authentic French Champagnes (Veuve Clicquot, Moët & Chandon and Tribaut). What’s more, sweethearts can book the elevated private pod that rests right above the bar area for a more intimate evening experience. Should duos want to supplement their bubbly date with an elegant dinner, they can take a seat at the chic Savour Restaurant just next door and indulge in a diverse selection of delicious intercontinental cuisine. Do note, Murano Bar only opens at 4pm, and booking is recommended.
Corner of Grey’s Pass and Orange Street | City Centre | +27(0)21 469 8000
If fine music is a common passion, a fool-proof date idea is to spend an evening soaking up the soulful sounds of live jazz in an intimate Mother City setting. Being a proudly cultural city and base to its very own style of this musical genre, Cape Town claims a large number of spots where it’s possible to catch a sensual performance or two (here's an overview of top live jazz venues in and around the city centre). Regardless of where you pick though, you can rest assured that the cool, complex harmonies of this particular musical variety are bound to lull your partner into a state of bliss.
Though perhaps not a conventional date, heading out on of the Mother City’s many picturesque hikes is one sure-fire way to get to know each other a little better while at the same time connecting with nature. From casual strolls along coastlines to strenuous climbs up mountain sides, Cape Town claims a plethora of pretty hiking trails and routes ideal for anyone, from amateur ramblers to committed adrenaline junkies. For instance, you could consider scrambling up Lion’s Head or Devil’s Peak (they both flaunt majestic views from the top), ambling along the Olifantsbos Shipwreck Trail in the Cape Point Nature Reserve or trekking through the fynbos-rich Spes Bona Forest in the mountains above Kalk Bay. With spectacular scenery and a good mix of challenging and easier stretches, they’re all bound to get the blood pumping and the amorous energy flowing.
Break the ice with an afternoon or evening spent gliding around one of South Africa’s finest ice rinks, The Ice Station at GrandWest Casino and Entertainment World. Though sometimes base to figure skating and ice hockey contests and training sessions, this premier, Olympic-sized rink is open for the public’s enjoyment at certain scheduled times every day, including on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. With the option to rent skates if you don’t have your own, this is a fun, interactive and affordable (a 2.5-hour session costs only R35p/p) date option and a great way to help a new relationship blossom in a relaxed environment. What’s more, as the rink is located at entertainment hotspot GrandWest Casino, couples can pair a lively skating spell with a visit to the movie house or one of the several restaurant or bars at this bustling complex.
1 Vanguard Drive | Goodwood | +27(0)21 535 2260
Dinner and a Show at Richard’s Supper Stage
For a slightly more refined romantic rendezvous, consider spending an evening at delightful Sea Point-based dinner theatre Richard’s Supper Stage taking in their lauded long-running show “Kaapse Stories from the Mother City” (it plays on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays). Produced by co-owner and renowned showbiz heavyweight Richard Loring, the interactive musical – which is put on in an elegant, locally-themed dining area – sheds light on Cape Town’s colourful history and vibrant people through theatrical, often humorous storytelling and captivating song. The entertainment is accompanied by a tasty four-course meal infused with traditional Cape flavours (expect a Bo-Kaap platter for starters; Chicken and Prawn Curry, Cape Malay Vegetable Breyani and more for mains; and melktert, koeksisters and malva pudding for dessert), and in between performance times, audiences are wooed by the sounds of live piano, guitar and banjo. As the combination of theatre and food allows for some time to chat while also filling up the silent moments with catchy rhythms and dance, this option makes for great date material.
229 Main Road (corner of Glengariff Road) | Sea Point | +27(0)21 434 4497
Sunset Boat Cruise from the V&A Waterfront
Hands down, one of the most romantic things to do in Cape Town is to take a cruise out on tranquil open waters at dusk and watch the glowing sun dip down into the ocean. Based at the V&A Waterfront, the Waterfront Boat Company runs a range of daily scheduled boat trips all year round, the most popular of which – especially amongst swooning couples – is their Sunset Champagne Cruise. This 1.5-hour trip takes guests out to sea in the early evening on either a large sailboat or a motor vessel that, depending on which is chosen, travel out either across Table Bay or along the Atlantic Seaboard towards the breathtaking Clifton Beach. Before returning to the harbour, the crafts generally come to rest in the shelter of Granger Bay, from where passengers can watch the sunset while sipping on a complimentary glass of sparkling wine (each guest is given two glasses gratis during the cruise). Those with some extra cash can also opt for the more costly Cruise and Dine package, which includes a three-course supper at one of three select V&A Waterfront restaurants on top of the standard sunset sail. Booking is essential.
Shop 5 | Quay 5 | V&A Waterfront | +27(0)21 418 5806
Comedy in Hout Bay
There are few better ways to set first date nerves at ease than with some hearty giggles and guffaws brought on by top-notch stand-up comedy. On the first Wednesday of every month, the Bay Harbour Market in charming fishing village Hout Bay hosts their intimate monthly comedy supper club, bringing a side-splitting line-up of some of the country’s wittiest funnymen – think Rob van Vuuren, Nik Rabinowitz, Siv Ngesi and many more – to the stage. The comedians performing change regularly, but, regardless of who’s in the spotlight, the show, which costs R90 seated and R70 standing, promises a consistently good laugh – material for a truly memorable date. Couples can also combine top Mzansi humour with a tipple or two from the bar and with any of a wide range of delicious dishes – including wood-fired pizzas, Chinese dumplings and spring rolls – sold by the market food stalls.
Bay Harbour Market | 31 Harbour Road | Hout Bay | +27(0)82 570 5997
It may be somewhat cliché and commonplace, but heading out for a dop together (particularly at sunset) is part of a tried-and-tested formula for dating success. And fortunately, Cape Town is jam-packed with a diverse range of city centre, suburban and seaside spots that are ideal for a relaxed couple’s drink. For instance, for oceanfront sundowners, there’s the Grand Café & Beach in Granger Bay (it boasts its own private beach; though, prices are quite high) or for poolside cocktails, there’s the Hilton Hotel’s Signal Hill Terrace, an oasis in the heart of the city. Alternatively, for a more laidback and affordable drink, pop in to Oblivion Wine Bar in Claremont and enjoy a glass of red or white on their rooftop deck or trek out to the colourful Caribbean-inspired Cape to Cuba restaurant and Che bar, which rests right on the waters of Kalk Bay (their mojitos are world renowned). Otherwise, a selection of additional fine drinks venues can be found on our overview of Cape Town sundowner spots.
Hot Air Balloon Ride
Though a particularly pricy date option, a scenic hot air balloon flight over some of the Cape’s most breathtaking landscapes is guaranteed to impress any partner and make for a memorable experience. Paarl-based initiative Wineland Ballooning offers daily one-hour rides from November to April (weather-permitting of course) that take couples on a magical sky-high journey over the vineyards, farms, wheat fields and orchards of the Berg River Valley. The brightly coloured balloons take off at sunrise – arguably the most majestic and romantic time of the day – and go wherever the wind blows before landing softly on safe ground. Red-cheeked passengers are then transported back to Paarl, where they’ll enjoy an indulgent champagne breakfast at opulent luxury resort the Grande Roche Hotel – an added extra that makes the hefty cost (R2750p/p) even more worth it. All bookings for this enthralling experience must be made beforehand by phone, and couples should bear in mind that the flights only run under safe weather conditions (a plan B therefore might be required)
64 Main Street | Paarl | Cape Winelands | +27(0)21 863 3192
Looking for something specific to do to celebrate February’s commercial day of love? Have a gander at our overview of Valentine’s Day ideas.
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