Weed Friendly 0-5 rating: 5 Easy to find and good quality.
Nightlife 0-5 rating
5 Bars, clubs and festivals are basically what South Africa is known for throughout the country. We suggest partying in Johannesburg plus good photo ops in Maboneng then enjoy festival season while bar hopping in Cape Town.
Beauty Scene 0-5 rating
5 South Africa has everything you need from products to stylists. There is also no shortage of hair and nail salons whether you’re a high or low maintenance baddie.
We were deciding where to go next when we took a quick trip to Baltimore, one of the underrated travel destinations in the United States. We decided that we would make our way to South Africa. We’ve learned a few budget travel tips along the way so we start checking for tickets a few weeks before we want to travel. There isn’t much difference between buying tickets a few months out and a few weeks out so relax and be spontaneous. We took a weekend trip to Los Angeles and booked flights and accommodations two nights before from DCA to LAX for less than $1,000 usd.
South Africa is an easy trip to take because for Americans it’s a Visa Free country with a 90 day stay. We landed in Johannesburg right at the beginning of the South African winter and had to go shopping immediately. The malls are overwhelming and large. We found Westgate and Rosebank Malls easy to navigate if you’re looking for essentials and don’t want to take hours looking through hundreds of stores. Johannesburg has something that they call Jozi vibes. It’s this kind of cheerful coolness that flows through everything and everyone.
We loved going to Maboneng for impromptu photo shoots and people watching. The clubs in Maboneng play good music and locals come and dance all night. There was literally no shortage of things to do in Johannesburg from historical tours to dance classes. Shoutout to Soweto’s Finest Dance Studio https://www.instagram.com/sowetosfinestdancestudio_/?hl=en .
There are plenty of casual fine dining restaurants, vegan restaurants, and vegetarian restaurants and we made a list of everything we ate below.
Grocery shopping: ShopRite and Pic-N- Pay are chain grocery stores and Kaylee’s Market in Joburg.
James XVI has amazing Ethiopian cuisine. There is only one vegan option so just go eat. https://www.lonelyplanet.com/south-africa/gauteng/johannesburg/restaurants/james-xvi-ethiopian/a/poi-eat/1585519/355617
Kaylee’s Market & Eatery is an all vegan restaurant with an extensive menu full of both comfort foods and healthier plates. The cakes and desserts are top tier and there’s a vegan grocery store attached. https://kaylees.co.za/
Modrockers is a plant based fast food burger joint. If Wendy’s or Chick Fil A went vegan it would be Modrockers. It is ironically located next to a McDonald’s. https://www.happycow.net/reviews/modrockers-johannesburg-283938
Dosa Hut is an Indian restaurant specializing in dosas. We ordered the Mysore Masala Dosa over and over and over. http://www.dosahut.co.za/
We have a homegirl from Durban so we had to visit. The flight there from Cape town was short and pleasant. Durban is a big state with small town vibes. Getting around Durban can be a bit challenging sometimes because everything is so far so we recommend staying in a few different parts to really get a feel for the whole thing. The center is quaint and family oriented with lots of restaurants and shopping. The beach is beautiful and you’re likely to run into a few monkeys during your stay too.
The Japanese Gardens are a peaceful place to hang out and it’s a good place for people with digital nomad jobs to chill and get some peace and quiet. Durban is a great place to stay if you want the city resources without the fast pace of the city. Another must try in Durban is Bunny Chow. Bunny Chow is an Indian dish that originates from Durban. It’s curry stuffed inside bread kind of like a Panera bread bowl and you cannot leave Durban without trying it. https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/02/01/511834972/bunny-chow-south-africas-sweet-sounding-dish-has-a-not-so-sweet-past
Durban is another spot with amazing food. The highlights, other than the Bunny Chow, are listed below:
The Vegan Chef is a small vegan spot with good pastries and other sweets. https://www.theveganchef.co.za/?v=edb5dc74af1c
Oh My Soul Cafe has a large menu and tasty food. The ambiance is also quaint and super cute. https://ohmysoulcafe.com/
Capetown is picturesque. The ocean and the mountain are a heavenly backdrop for any vacation, especially for those interested in solo travel destinations. Getting around is super easy with Uber and if you’re adventurous, there are shuttles and public transportation around the city too. It’s even a beautiful place to slow down and take a walk around town.
We’ve been to Capetown in both winter and summer and we recommend the summer, December-February. The streets are filled with people of all ethnicities and outdoor dining is at its height. Also, Capetown is most known for Table Mountain. Take advantage of warmer temperatures and go hiking in the summer. Lion’s Head is a great start if you’re physically fit and want a bit of a challenge as a first time climber. Also, shoutout to Sethu and Winnie at McQueen’s, https://mcqueensbeauty.co.za/ ,and the whole staff at Yemaya Salon, https://www.urbanspa.co.za/ for keeping our nails and feet together and massaging the kinks out after hiking up the mountain.
We listed all of the restaurants that we loved in Capetown below. It is one of the top culinary destinations in the world. Thanks to South Africa being the Rainbow Nation, there are Asian restaurants, Indian restaurants, Ethiopian restaurants, and Mexican restaurants in addition to tons of vegan food.
Grocery Shopping: Woolworths and Checkers are both chain grocery stores with large selections and good vegan alternatives for dairy and meat. Based on Plant and Nude Foods are specialty stores and what one doesn’t have the other certainly will. Nude Foods also has dry goods, soap, soy wax and other goodies. Wellness Warehouse also has vitamins and other organic food and healthy products.
Simply Asia is a fast Asian restaurant that serves noodles and curries. The 5 Spice Ramen is our favorite and we ate lunch here almost daily. It’s also literally everywhere and has gluten free noodle options. https://simplyasia.co.za/
I Love The Dough. Clever name. Good pizza. The vegan pizza is #trapqueenapproved https://www.ilovethedough.co.za/
Little Ethiopia Restaurant is a small spot that we found. It’s a jewel though and the service is amazing. We were starving and the chef was the only person there. All of her employees had called out but she still made us food before she closed down for the day. http://littleethiopia.co.za/
Conscious Kitchen has lots of healthy vegan options and cool vibes. The staff is super friendly and the swings are fun to eat in as you watch Cape Town life go by. The view of Table Mountain is as awesome as the club sandwich. https://www.theconsciouskitchen.co.za/
Scheckter’s Raw isn’t a raw restaurant but they are known for their raw desserts. We love their avocado toast and crispy kale. The food is light and healthy. https://schecktersraw.com/
Dapper Coffee is a hipster cafe with terrific coffee. It’s black owned and the chai is perfectly spiced. https://www.dappercoffeeco.co.za/
Wild Eatery is a vegan restaurant and cute little food truck housed behind Nude Foods. Get the Inari bowl and browse through Nude Foods on your way out. https://www.wildeatery.co.za/
Andiccio24 has vegan pizza and it’s open late. Pick your own pizza toppings. https://www.andiccio24.co.za/
Grumpy & Runt is a bundle of joy right next to one of the jewels of Cape Town. The donuts are round mounds of lusciousness and the sandwiches are good too. https://www.grumpyandrunt.com/
The Falafel Guy is you know…falafel but to the max. Think toppings on toppings. https://www.instagram.com/thefalafelguysa/
Prashad Vegetarian Indian Restaurant can make almost everything on the menu vegan and everything should be tried. If you’ve never tried Indian food, start here, close your eyes and pick. https://www.prashad.co.za/
Nu is centrally located and has a few good vegan options on the menu. You can stop in for something quick like a wrap or a smoothie or sit down and have a chat with the friendly staff. https://nufood.co.za/
Moro Gelato has vegan sorbet. The chocolate and peanut paradiso flavors are delightful. http://morogelato.co.za/
Bamboo Plant Power is an all vegan restaurant with quite a few gluten free options. The calamari is made with oyster mushrooms and is chewy and perfectly seasoned. https://bambooplantpower.co.za/
Cause & Effect is one of the best bars in Cape Town . This bar is a whole mixology experience. The drinks are strong and tasty and each drink comes with its own bit of presentation and drama and they have vegan options. The vegan board is shareable so bring friends. It was featured on CNN and World’s Best Bars https://www.worlds50bestbars.com/list/51-100