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Secret spots + things to do in the Western Cape

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Secret spots + things to do in the Western Cape

From secret forest cafes to vinyl stores and aircraft museums

Last updated: Tuesday, 14 November 2023 

Every city and small town has its best-kept secrets, some hiding in plain sight and just around the corner. From hidden cafes in the forest and coffee shops in the middle of nowhere to one of the largest glass collections in the world, here’s our (constantly growing) selection of hidden gems in the Western Cape.

GO TO A GLASS MUSEUM (IT’S FREE)

Hidden in the winelands at Glenelly Estate is a glass museum with over 600 pieces of glass art from around the world (some from the 1st and 2nd Century). You could see pieces from artists like Salvador Dali and Italian glassblower, Lino Tagliapietra. Plus, there’s a French-style bistro on site. Learn more about one of the largest privately-owned glass collections in the world.

Hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 10am - 5pm; Sundays, 10am - 3pm


Ida’s Valley | Lelie Street | Stellenbosch | @glenellyestate | Image: Glenelly Estate

COFFEE & PASTRIES AT A DEAF-RUN CAFE

This roastery, café and deli in the Southern Suburbs is not only a hidden gem, it also serves the community. ILOVECOFFEE is the only coffee brand roasted, packed, brewed and served by members of the Deaf community with 70% of workers being deaf or hard-of-hearing. At the Claremont branch you can enjoy various bites from bagels and quiches to sweet treats like the white chocolate cheesecake.

Hours: Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 4pm; Saturday, 8.30am to 2pm


103 Garfield Road | Claremont | @ilovecoffeegroup | Image: ILOVECOFFEE

PICK LAVENDER AND DRINK WINE

Canettevallei Lavender and Wine Farm is Stellenbosch’s own little piece of France with a three hectare family farm that’s been around for over 300 years. Here you can pick your own lavender bunches for R50 from June to October, taste exclusive wines from winemakers going back 9 generations and buy an assortment of original products including cottons, linens and lavender honey, preserves and cordials.

Hours: Mondays to Saturdays, 10am to 5pm


Stellenboschkloof Road | Stellenbosch | @canettevallei | Image: Canettevallei

SMALL TOWN FARMER’S MARKET

This farmer’s market in the mountains has roosterkoek, homemade kombucha, and handmade dairy products from the area (like butter and cheese) – it’s like a mini Oranjezicht market (except it's not in Cape Town). Piket-Bo-Berg Farmers Market is hosted the last Saturday of every month (except during December).

Hours: Last Saturday of every month, 9am - 12pm


Piketberg | @piketbobergfarmersmarket | Image: Piket-Bo-Berg Farmer’s Market

VISIT A NEIGHBOURHOOD DELI

This neighbourhood deli in Green Point is easy to miss, but impossible to forget. It’s an ode to olden day corner stores that are driven through community. Cushty Deli has been around since 2018, and quickly became a popular spot among the locals who live around the corner. It’s easy to lounge there all morning, with its fresh pastries, all day breakfasts, coffee, superfood smoothies and harvest-style lunches. It’s fully operational during loadshedding and has free wifi. 

Hours: Monday to Saturday, 7am - 5pm; Sunday, 7am - 3pm


6 Street George Road | Green Point | @cushtydeli | Image: Cushty Deli

SHOP FOR VINTAGE RECORDS 

The little door on Long Street that has a lot of history and a big reputation. What does its shelves hold, you might ask. Disco, boogie, jazz, metal, hundreds of 80s singles, soul, reggae, blues… you name it. Mabu Vinyl has been around since the year 2000, and even featured in the Oscar-winning Searching For Sugar Man documentary. You can spend hours browsing through the old records, books, comics and even cassettes. It’s all hidden at the top of the staircase on Long Street

Hours: Wednesday to Saturday, 8am - 4pm


285 Long Street | Gardens | @mabuvinyl | Image: Mabu Vinyl

VISIT A MILITARY AVIATION MUSEUM 

Here’s a place you’ve probably never heard of before. It’s like Top Gun in Cape Town. The South African Air Force (SAAF) Museum at Satellite Ysterplaat is the second-largest military aviation museum in the country. See varied collection of exhibits covering the full period of the SAAF's existence, including aircrafts, weapons, engines and uniforms

Hours: Wednesday to Friday, 7am to 3pm; Saturday, 8.30am to 12pm


Piet Grobler Street | Ysterplaat Airbase | Cape Town | Image: @chloehuttonxx

GET WOOD-FIRED SCONES AT THIS FARM

Homemade jams, pecan nut pie and scones are just some of the treats offered at The Scone Shack. Situated near Cape Point Reserve, this rustic outdoor cafe on Lalaphanzi Farm has animals that roam free around the eatery. Meet piggies like Rasher or Bacon, and maybe Rooster the chicken will pop by your table while eating your breakfast. The scones are baked in a one-of-a-kind wood burning oven and jams are made in a potjie, with sweet flavours like black plum, pineapple and apple and cinnamon. 

Hours: Monday to Friday, 8am - 5pm; Saturday + Sunday, 8am - 4pm


Lalaphanzi Farm | Plateau Road | Cape Point | @scone_shack | Image: Travelling Gypsy

STOCK UP AT THIS COSY DELI 

This little deli and goods store is straight out of your cosy cottage dreams, with warm lighting, wicker baskets and dark green finishes. Good General Store is set in a garage off of a heritage house in Stellenbosch. It sells everything from cinnamon coffee muffins and fresh sourdough to raw and flavoured honeys and even lemon marmalade (made from the old lemon tree in the back garden). 

Hours: Monday to Friday, 9am - 4pm


18 Helderberg Street | Stellenbosch | @goodgeneralstore | Image: Good General Store

MAKE A PIT STOP AT THIS DESERT GEM

If you’re travelling on the N7, you can’t miss this bright orange padstal just outside Piketberg. Desert Rose Farm Stall is a sweet reminder of days gone by, with its 1950’s diner eatery, old wares and homemade pancakes. There’s an entire wall filled with old number plates and retro petrol pumps line the outside of this quirky padstal. Kids can play on the jumping castle and jungle gym while parents enjoy the no-fuss menu with savoury pancakes, saamies and craft beer. Or just pop into the shop and fill up with fresh fruits, snacks and other goodies. 

Hours: Monday to Sunday, 7am - 5pm


Corner of N7 & Koringberg turn off | Koringberg | Facebook | Image: Lara van Zyl

EXPLORE LANGA THROUGH COFFEE + ART

Just a few minutes walk from the Guga S’thebe Arts and Culture Centre is a little coffee shop, overlooking a quiet side street lined with churches, a school and the homes of Cape Town’s oldest township. Its best-kept secret, according to its Instagram, is the Oreoccino – an oreo frappuccino. Plus, there’s an art gallery right next door. Find out more about MSquared EspressoLab.

Hours: Monday to Sunday, 8am - 6pm


17 Lerotholi Avenue | Langa | Cape Town | @msquared_espressolab | Image: MSquared EspressoLab

HAVE COFFEE IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE

Giant stacks of hay mark the spot at this coffee shop, which is truly situated “tussen niks en nerens” on the R44 between Hermon and Wellington. Morale Coffee To Go has everything from coffee to frozen drinks, breakfast buns and boerie rolls. There are chairs set out where you can enjoy your coffee with a stunning view of the mountains.

Hours: Monday to Sunday, 7am - 5pm


R44 between Hermon and Wellington | @moralecoffeetogo | Image: Arne van Rendburg

VISIT A SMOKEHOUSE IN A VALLEY

Have you ever tasted traditional Texan barbecue? Tucked away outside the Elgin Valley, just past Paul Cluver Wines, is a hidden smokehouse of any meat-lover’s dreams. Hickville Smokehouse serves everything from tacos and nachos to beef brisket and smoked ribs. Enjoy the scenic view of the valley from the veranda, while kids play on jungle gyms and slides. 

Hours: Wednesday to Friday, 10am - 4pm; Saturday + Sunday, 9.30am - 5pm


N2 | Elgin | @hickvillesmokehouse.elgin | Image: Hicksville Smokehouse

TRY UNIQUE AFRICAN ICE CREAM 

Tapi Tapi celebrates food from all over the African continent with their unique ice cream. At this little hole-in-the-wall eatery, customers can try flavours like hibiscus curd, matemba-salted toffee with scotch bonnet chillies, and sorghum porridge and coconut. There are plenty of vegan flavours and the offerings change constantly. Plus, they offer unique cocktails (like the Dawa, with ginger, rooibos and lemonade) and fynbos rosé lollies. 

Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 12pm - 7pm 


76 Lower Main Road | Observatory | @_tapi_tapi | Image: Tapi Tapi 

STOP FOR FRESHLY-BAKED ROOSTERKOEK  

This unassuming petrol station just off the R27 in Yzerfontein has a little secret in a bright blue container. Roll down your windows, and the smell of freshly baked roosterkoek will be enough to entice you to make it a pit-stop. Route R27 Roosterkoek, a rustic eatery for hungry travellers, has over 16 filling options, from simple butter to boerewors and relish. Get it with a side of moerkoffie (served in a tin cup) or add some fresh biltong to your padkos.

Hours: Monday to Sunday; 8.30am - 5pm


West Coast Road between Darling and Yzerfontein | Facebook | Image: Sarah Jarvis

DISCOVER A SECRET CAFE IN A FOREST

Half the fun of the Secret Forest Café is finding it. Hidden in Tokai Forest, this family-run coffee stand welcomes joggers, cyclists and families going for a morning stroll (that are lucky enough to find it, at least). Reward yourself with a cup of coffee and freshly baked croissants or gourmet bagels. Plus, some doggie treats for your furry friends

Hours: Tuesday to Friday, 7am - 1pm; Saturday + Sunday, 7am - 3pm


Tokai Forest | Sweet Valley | Cape Town | @thesecretforestcafe | Image: Secret Forest Cafe

SEE ANTIQUES FOR FREE

If you love vintage trinkets and old wares, then you can’t miss this museum in Paarl. There’s two huge sheds that house fascinating collections of old wares, from veteran motors and vintage furniture to old petrol pumps and sewing machines from the 1900s. The coffee shop serves farm-style food, like “ouma se kerrie vetkoek” and moerkoffie – plus there’s a kiddies play area and farm animals that roam the grounds at Toeka Stoor.

Hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 9am - 4pm


Domaine Brahms Wines | Paarl | 076 914 5714 | @nostalgietoekastoor | Image: Toeka Stoor

FIND THIS CAFE IN A CHURCH

There’s a little coffee shop tucked away inside the entrance of the Central Methodist Mission on Greenmarket Square. Heaven Coffee is something of a haven in the community, with visitors from the CBD, office workers and those who are just curious. There’s one small table located at the foot of the stairs, making for an epic Instagram pic. Grab a coffee and croissant on the go or enjoy the solace of the church on a rainy day.

Hours: Monday to Saturday, 7.30am - 5pm

38 Burg Street | Cape Town City Centre | @heavencoffeect | Image: Heaven Coffee

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DISCOVER MORE IN THE WESTERN CAPE

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Check out these new and curious bookstores.

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