Cape Town Travel Essentials
Packing for South Africa is a bit of a challenge. As someone who frequently has the dreaded ‘HEAVY’ label plastered onto my suitcase at check-in, I had to think long and hard about what to pack for the country that would take us from Safari, to Beach, to the Winelands, to cooler days in the city, AND mountain treks!
Cape Town for the most part is warm, and an energetic hub where you’ll find chilled out locals mingling with artsy and model types too. It’s the perfect place to head if you want to experience a mixture of sun and beaches, as well as culture, art, as well as *lots* of incredible food. We visited in their Autumn season, so enjoyed warm dry days on the beach, as well as rain storms and temperatures that are more familiar with the UK.
And there lies the wardrobe problem! With a limited amount of luggage space (partly thanks to the crazy amount of beauty products that I took, more of that in this post), you’ll want to carefully plan your holiday outfits.
Here are my tips for looking fabulous in Cape Town!
From Beach to Braai!
Sunglasses – Even in the Autumn, you’ll definitely want to pack at least one pair of sunnies (I like to take a few really nice pairs, as well as a cheaper pair for on the beach). The sun is low in the afternoons, and it’s still incredibly strong in the middle of the day, despite the slightly cooler temperatures. I packed a cheaper pair from River Island (seen in these photos) as well as my new favourites from Quay for a mores stylish look for day times.
A comfortable pair of jeans – the fashion in Cape Town is fairly laid back and chilled. If you go for a lovely dinner on the waterfront, you will be more suitably dressed in jeans and a nice top, instead of your fancy frocks (save these for evenings in the hotel). I packed my most comfortable pair from American Eagle (read my post about finding the most comfortable jeans here) which I wore up table mountain, on our road trips, as well as for days exploring the city centre.
A cross body bag – and no, I don’t mean my Valentino! South Africa unfortunately still has a strong reputation for crime, and the risks are greater than ‘just’ the odd mugging that you hear about in places like Barcelona. So don’t be flashy with your bags. I saved my expensive bags for evenings in the hotel, and took a cheaper cross body bag from Forever21 out with me when we were exploring.
Comfortable walking shoes – I spent most of the holiday in my gold sandals from Accessorize. They are stylish but also flat and comfortable for lots of walking. Whether you’re heading into the markets, taking a beach walk or even heading up Lion’s Head, you’ll need shoes that you’re comfortable walking in.
Printed Trousers – For those cooler evenings and lunch times in smarter restaurants, printed trousers are a great option. Not only are they more conservative, but you can mix and match with plain tops; I loved wearing them with this tie-waist blouse, as well as with plain white t-shirts. These high waisted palm print trousers are also made from stretch fabric, meaning they’re incredibly comfortable for long walks, even longer car journeys and even the return plane journey home.
Leather Jacket – Especially in Autumn, the evenings are fairly chilly in South Africa. The sun goes down early (before 7pm) meaning that you’ll definitely want something warm around your shoulders for those evening meals when you’re sitting outside. I opted for a cropped leather jacket, a brown one from a few seasons ago in Reiss, but any cropped jacket would do the trick. Long woollen coats that we swear by in the UK are just to thick and bulky for taking away with you, so I’ve listed a few of my favourite options down below.
Shop My Favourites
Choosing appropriate items sounds like an easy task, but I used to always go overboard and pack many pieces that I simply wouldn’t wear. The most important thing is to choose items that work together, and that you can interchange to create multiple outfits from just a few pieces.
Colour – Choose one colour story, and mix solids, neutrals and patterns within this colour spectrum. For Africa I choose neutrals and warm natural colours, nothing bright or colourful. This meant that 99% of my tops and bottoms would be a perfect match.
Fabric – Of course this changes depending on where you’re going, but if you’re travelling for a couple of weeks like we did, you’ll want lighter fabrics that you can layer, as it saves space, and means that if you wash them, they will be much quicker to dry.
Cut – Ensure you’re comfortable in every piece, and know that it looks great! There’s nothing worse than that ‘I’ve got NOTHING to wear!’ feeling when you’re on holiday!
Style – Think about what you’ll be doing. Visiting temples? Exploring markets? Trekking? Research what the cultural expectations are, and be sure that you have a few ‘safe’ options that cover shoulders and knees.
Luxury – If visiting somewhere like South Africa, as I mentioned above, you don’t want to show off your luxury items. When you leave your hotel, it’s best not to draw attention to yourself, so leave those Louboutins at home!
In This Post I’m Wearing
Top by French Connection
Trousers by Reiss
Wedges by Ugg
Sunglasses by River Island
Photographed at the beautiful Ellerman House Hotel in Cape Town
What are your tips for packing a capsule wardrobe? Have you ever been to Cape Town, and if so, what were your most worn pieces?