Gay Cape Town – Your Complete LGBTQ+ Travel Guide
The star attraction in Cape Town is visible from nearly everywhere. Whether you decide to take the cable car or hike up to the top of Table Mountain or nearby Lion's Head, you will be rewarded with truly breathtaking views of the city. Sunrise and sunset are the most popular times. Also, guided tours abound which include options between a sunrise or sunset hike. The tour ratings are all 5-star as well! Alternatively, for a more relaxing experience, we highly recommend this full day private tour which includes pickup/drop-off and all entrance fees to the top of Table Mountain via cable car, the Penguin Colony at Boulders Beach, and the Cape of Good Hope after a stunning drive along Chapman's Peak Drive, one of the most beautiful roads we have ever seen. It's also surprisingly reasonable in terms of cost for a full-day tour with private driver.
Overview – With its rugged natural beauty, diversity of cultures, and seemingly endless adventures, Cape Town is truly a destination like no other. Considered a gateway to the African continent, Cape Town is known for its rich history, vibrant arts scene, and strong emphasis on sustainable living and environmental conservation. Nestled between famed Table Mountain, one of the world's new seven natural wonders, and the Atlantic Ocean, Cape Town stands out from any other city with it's unique geography, rich history, and resilient people. We know you'll leave vowing to return. With some destinations, you can simply check them off your list, but not Cape Town. A visit to Cape Town is an experience. It's only our second time here, but we could easily see ourselves returning to live for months at a time.
- Dave Matthews, South African born musician and gay rights supporter
Top 10 Things To Do in Cape Town
Follow the pink strip -Barhop to Cape Town's incredible gay nightlife by simply following the pink strip in the trendy De Waterkant Village, a.k.a. the gayborhood.
Head to the beach -With two fabulous gay beaches, hop in an uber to Clifton 3rd, the main gay beach in town, or famed Sandy Bay, one of the best gay nude beaches in the world.
See a drag show -Book a table at Beefcakes Cape Town to watch our favorite drag queen, the incomparable Kitty de la Renza, perform her dazzling one woman show! It's full of costume changes and fabulosity!
Brunch at The Charles -Enjoy strong coffee and delicious brunch specialties like the Shakshuka on a shaded patio with fountain in the heart of the gay village. You can also book a room here at their lovely guesthouse.
Enjoy afternoon tea -Reserve high tea well in advance at the legendary Mount Nelson, a luxury Belmond Hotel. The iconic pink lady has been host to royalty and celebrities from Marlene Dietrich to the Dalai Lama since opening her doors in 1899.
Walk around Bo-Kaap -Don't miss the colorful houses on cobbled streets in the hillside neighborhood of Bo-Kaap, one of the most popular daytime attractions in Cape Town.
Hike Lion's Head -For one of the best hikes in the world, climb up to Lion's Head Summit via chains, staples, and ladders! Book a tour at sunrise or sunset, the two most popular times.
Visit Robben Island -Explore the fascinating townships around Cape Town and learn about Apartheid before taking the ferry to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. Book this incredible experience here.
Go wine tasting -Head out to wine country on a private tour to the beautiful Stellenbosch and Franschhoek wine growing regions which includes a visit to Delaire Graff, our favorite of the wine estates.
Explore the Cape Peninsula -A visit to Table Mountain, the Penguin Colony at Boulders Beach, and the Cape of Good Hope are all musts for first-time visitors. A full-day tour with private driver to all three and more is also surprisingly affordable!
When to go - For clear sunny skies and longer days, we recommend December through March which corresponds to Summer in the southern hemisphere. If you are planning a trip in December, don't miss the Mother City Queer Project (MCQP), which is one of the largest LGBTQ+ annual events on the African continent and the highlight of the gay Summer season in Cape Town. If you are looking to add-on a safari in Kruger National Park on your trip to South Africa, we highly recommend Kruger Shalati, the train on the bridge hotel.
Without a doubt, Kruger Shalati was one of the most unique hotels and experiences EVER. It's also extremely convenient from Cape Town, as there are direct flights to Skukuza Airport (airport code: SZK), which is the only commercial airport within the park. Kruger Shalati is also just a 10-minute included transfer with all meals, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, and twice daily safari game drives also included with rates no matter the booking platform. For our complete hotel review, check out the video above, Kruger Shalati Hotel Review, as well as our Gay Safari YouTube video to learn more.
Getting here – For logistics, most travelers arrive to South Africa via Johannesburg Tambo International Airport (airport code: JNB) or Cape Town International Airport (airport code: CPT).
The second on-airport hotel option is the budget-friendly City Lodge Hotel at Tambo International Airport, where we stayed. The City Lodge Hotel has a pool, small gym, and huge restaurant which opens for breakfast at 4am, perfect for those traveling early morning for Kruger area flights.
Where to stay - If it's not full, The Grey Hotel is an excellent budget-friendly choice. This is where I (Trai) stayed on my last visit to Cape Town. It's in the heart of the De Waterkant Village (aka the gayborhood), and the location cannot be beat. There is also an amazing rooftop pool with views to relax on a sunny day. This is one hotel to reserve well in advance of your stay.
Another perfectly located gay popular guesthouse in the Village is The Charles. With just 8 rooms, 3 cottages, and a wonderful cafe and coffee shop, this is a strong contender for us on a return visit to Cape Town. We absolutely loved our breakfast here (see 'Where to eat' below).
Where to eat and drink – One of our favorite things about Cape Town was the affordability of the culinary scene. Even at touristy hotspots with a view like The Bungalow at Clifton Restaurant, our multi-course meal with premium cocktails and sparkling water for the table set us back less than R900 ZAR or less than $50 USD.
Bungalow at Clifton is a buzzy, chic beachside restaurant perfect for that wow factor. The tables are dressed with crisp white linens, chill house music plays, and the views cannot be beat. If you need a spot to come to enjoy a nice bottle of champagne, this is it. It's also a short walk to the gay beach at Clifton 3rd.
Where to find gay nightlife – The trendy De Waterkant neighborhood is Cape Town’s gay village where you’ll find many of the city’s best gay bars, restaurants, and clubs. Just follow the pink strip to find them!
Our first stop to explore the gay nightlife in Cape Town is Manhattan, the cafe, bar, and meeting place for the gay community since 1994. It’s located at the corner of Dixon and Watercant Streets in the heart of the gayborhood. The vibe is casual and friendly but always busy. We see Negronis on the cocktail menu for R80 ZAR or just $4 USD, so that’s an easy choice. Manhattan has an extensive list of cocktails on offer which brings out the locals and tourists in full force every day of the week. They also have a full kitchen and indoor seating, but in summer, everyone is outside on one of the two patios.
Next up, we cross back over the rainbow crosswalk and follow the pink strip to our next LGBTQ-owned venue. We have dinner and a show reservations at Beefcakes Cape Town. Beefcakes has become synonymous with a great night out for the LGBTQ+ community and let’s face it, bachelorette parties. But don’t let that stop you from coming. Beefcakes is an absolute blast. And that gorgeous hunk in our pictures is Gerald, our beefcake and server for the night. He and the entire team at Beefcakes are amazing and gorgeous.
After getting the party started at Beefcakes, it's time to hit the dance floor at The Pink Candy Nightclub, the best gay club in Cape Town. The bartenders are sexy and shirtless and the crowd is quite international. We meet people from all over the world. The Pink Candy is great place to come solo, as a couple or in large groups to dance and have fun. We’ve literally seen it all tonight. We love the lady that stands outsides the urinals and yells, "pee and go" to keep the line moving!
Where to find gay beachgoers – There are two popular gay gay beaches in Cape Town, one nudist and one textile-friendly. Read on to learn more about each.
Cape Town’s famous gay nude beach, Sandy Bay, is located about 9 miles from the De Waterkant village near city center. The trip takes less than 30-minutes and costs us R192 ZAR or about $10 USD with Uber. There is a decent twenty-or-so minute hike down to the beach from the parking and ride share drop off area so be forewarned, it’s a trek as with many of the best gay nude beaches in the world like Spain's Playa del Muerto in Gay Sitges or Mexico's Playa del Amor in Gay Zipolite, two of our favorites.
If you prefer a gay beach with easier access and one that’s textile-friendly, head over to Clifton 3rd, which is the main gay beach. While it’s not exclusively gay, it is the most popular. It’s also easily accessible located just 10-15 minutes from De Waterkant. A Uber cost us less than R100 ZAR or $5 USD.
Where to find the best wine – For our final must-do highlight in Cape Town, don’t miss wine country in famed Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. About an hour’s drive outside the city, our first stop is Babylonstoren, one of the oldest Cape Dutch Farms in the region. This state-of-the-art winery has been recommended to us by an Austrian couple on our recent safari at Kruger Shalati and even Brian Kelly, The Points Guy, who we love following.
We have reservations for a cellar tour and tasting, but you can come for the garden tour, restaurants, spa, olive tour, or wine tasting. You can also visit by taking the Franschoek Wine Tram. The property is as equally massive as it is stunning, so plan for many hours here to explore.
After the cellar tour, we enjoy 10-wines paired with 10-bites. The spread is absolutely gorgeous. We’re floored this entire 2-hour experience including tastings cost only R365 ZAR which is less than $20 USD.
Next, it’s time for the short 20-minute drive to the unbelievable Delaire Graff Estate, where we have lunch reservations. With two outstanding restaurants, award-winning winery, exclusive lodges, a destination spa and high-end boutiques, this Relais & Chateaux property is the pinnacle of luxury with flawless hospitality, cuisine, wine, and art.
Planning a trip to gay South Africa, the rainbow nation? Then don’t miss this video as we take you with us on our gay safari in Kruger National Park!
Banking – There are international bank ATMs available at Johannseburg and Cape Town International Airports. We recommend getting South African Rand (ZAR) here on arrival. For reference, $1 US Dollar (USD) is worth about 19 Rand (the Dollar continues to gain against the Rand from 17 to 18 to now 19 over the past year as of the publication date of this article).
In addition, if you travel a ton like we do, look into the Schwab checking account where they reimburse all foreign ATM fees! We've saved thousands in ATM fees over the years with this account.
Travel Insurance – Don’t forget to add global travel medical insurance that covers you while traveling outside of your home country. We recommend Safety Wing. You can buy it even if you are already abroad. Most health coverage in the U.S. for example does not cover you in Mexico, thus it’s extremely important to protect yourself from out of pocket costs due to a medical emergency. We learned this the hard way which you can watch here. To learn more about Safety Wing, click here.
Travel Credit Card – For the best travel credit card, we recommend the Chase Sapphire Reserve. We use it to book free stays with reward points, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, primary car rental insurance, lounge access through Priority Pass, and to avoid foreign transaction fees just to name a few of this card’s incredible perks. To learn more, click here. Even though there is a hefty $550 annual fee, you get a credit of $300 for travel (i.e. airfare, uber, etc). For the remaining $250, the card easily pays for itself with free food and drinks at the complimentary airport lounges we frequent, including multiple lounges in Cancun’s domestic and international terminals. If connecting through Mexico City, the Grand Lounge Elite is our favorite lounge so far in Mexico. There’s even a tiny lounge available at Huatulco airport, the gateway to Zipolite. Also, if you don’t have global entry yet, another card benefit covers that application fee! Trai has had the card since 2017, and it’s his only credit card.
Car Rental – Should your travel plans call for hiring a car, we use rentalcars.com to search the best prices among the major car rental companies. With flexible rentals, no hidden fees, and price match guarantee, we feel confident booking with them. Just make sure to book with your Chase Sapphire Reserve for extra protection.
Travel Experiences – Discover authentic, unforgettable experiences and explore the world with Get Your Guide. They offer top-rated tours and activities in Cape Town. We have used Get Your Guide for numerous adventures around the world. They also offer convenient, safe and reliable car service that you can pre-book to have a private driver meet you at Cape Town International Airport in the arrivals area. The driver will carry a sign with your name on it for a seamless and safe transfer into the city.
Shop Our Travel Essentials – To keep all of your electronics charged around the world, we recommend this universal international travel power adapter. It’s also the one airline crew receive! For more of our favorite travel essentials, check out our Amazon Storefront.
Latest Blog Posts
Hi! We're Two Gay Expats
Hola amigos and welcome to our gay travel blog! We are Andy and Trai, a gay couple traveling the world with PRIDE 🌈 …and our rescue dog, Pattie!
After meeting in San Francisco in 2018 and later moving to Chicago, we decided to quit our jobs in 2021, sell everything, and become Two Gay Expats!
If you’d like to follow our adventures, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel and add us on social media using the links below. We’d also love to hear from you and meet up if we’re in your city!
❤️ Andy + Trai