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Life in Cape Town is a lesson in the art of leisure. Capetonians are known for their appetite for the good life, and expats will find it difficult to resist the Mother City's indulgent pastimes for long.
A naturalist's playground with a cosmopolitan heartbeat, Cape Town offers a lifestyle that balances an emphasis on the great outdoors with an appreciation for arts, culture and entertainment. It's possible to climb Table Mountain in the morning, go wine tasting in the afternoon and end the day with fine dining at one of the city's renowned restaurants.
Even if food, wine and sun aren't one's idea of an ideal lifestyle, Cape Town's niche boutiques and mega malls can be perfect for those that would rather wander shopping aisles than nature trails.
Shopping in Cape Town
Cape Town has an abundance of locally inspired, creative shopping options. The city has a strong movement of young designers, stylist artisans and craftspeople, and in many cases, they have their own shops or studios.
There are also plenty of standard department stores to satisfy the whims of any shopper, as well as a few not-to-be-missed speciality stores. The Old Biscuit Mill is an unorthodox shopping complex that is home to a selection of eateries, restaurants and craft stores. It also hosts the well-loved Neighbourgoods Market on Saturday mornings, a must-see for expats who love food trucks, organic produce and quirky crafts.
For a more normalised mall experience, the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront is a popular destination, housing South Africa's favourite stores as well as a range of high-end international brands. Other popular shopping destinations include Cavendish Square in the Southern Suburbs, as well as Canal Walk and Tyger Valley in the Northern Suburbs.
Outdoor activities and sport in Cape Town
With all the natural beauty that surrounds the city, expats are spoilt for choice when it comes to outdoor activities. Table Mountain is at the centre of ecotourism in the city, offering residents hiking trails, mountain biking and several nature reserves. For an incredible view of Cape Town, take a ride on the Table Mountain cable car.
Cape Town's beaches are also not to be missed, and there are plenty to choose from. Recommended beaches include Camps Bay and Llandudno just north of the city centre as well as various beaches in the Southern Peninsula, such as Boulder's Beach, where visitors can swim among the area's freely roaming African penguins.
There is also more than enough sport in Cape Town to keep fans happy. The Cape Town Stadium, originally built for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, often hosts local and international football (locally known as soccer) and rugby matches. The Newlands Stadium in the Southern Suburbs is the venue of choice for cricket matches in the city.
Fitness fanatics will find plenty of opportunity to partake in the city's many marathons, not to mention the famous Cape Town Cycle Tour.
Nightlife in Cape Town
Cape Town's nightlife has something to cater to all tastes. Long Street, in the centre of the city, has one of the highest concentrations of entertainment venues. With everything from gourmet burger restaurants to an Irish pub and clubs playing electronic music into the early hours of the morning, there's always plenty to do in Long Street. The city also has an active music industry, with artists and bands of all kinds of genres performing throughout the city. Younger expats typically flock to the student nightlife offered by Claremont, a suburb to the south of the city, and craft beer connoisseurs will enjoy the wide selections on offer at trendy bars across the city.
Meeting people and making friends in Cape Town
Making new friends can be one of the toughest parts of moving to a new city. A great way to meet new people with similar interests is to join a local club or meetup group. Here are some suggestions.
Internations Cape Town
Internations is an international organisation devoted to connecting expats and organising social events for them in cities across the globe.
International Women's Club of Cape Town
This club is aimed at bringing expat women together and helping them support each other through the process of adjusting to new environments. They offer various lectures, classes and other activities to members. They also host several interest groups, like gardening, movie club and wine appreciation.
Atlantic Athletic Club
Expats who want to keep fit while they work on their social life might join a running club like the Atlantic Athletic Club. The club offers a variety of social runs and beginner runs, as well as training runs for the more competitive.
Expats who work from home may find the lack of water coolers an additional barrier to meeting new people. Consider using a coworking space like Workshop17's Watershed at the V&A to meet other digital nomads.
►For more ideas on what to get up to in the city, check out See and Do in Cape Town
"It takes a while to get settled here but once you find your feet, the city offers you an amazing lifestyle. For me, it's been the perfect mix of city-living and having nature on your doorstep." Read more of British expat Shantalie's thoughts on life in Cape Town in her expat interview.
"The sea, the mountain and the winelands – there is so much to see and do. It's paradise for those who enjoy laidback, outdoor living or for those who simply like to sit in quiet contemplation surrounded by beauty." Londoner Zandi shares her experience of Cape Town in her expat interview.
Are you an expat living in Cape Town?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Cape Town. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
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