It’s a brand new year, and whether you’re celebrating another 365 days of new opportunities, or steeling yourself for what’s to come, you deserve a toast. Make the most of the last days of the summer holidays with a sunset sojourn somewhere stunning. Here are six superb sundowner spots that won’t let you down.
Standing, literally, head-and-shoulders above the rest of Johannesburg is Alto234, the tallest building in South Africa and third-highest on the continent. Beyond the altitude, and the 360-degree views that come standard, Alto234 is built on a range of bespoke experiences, running from the afternoon through to late at night. Each is charged at R370pp and includes entry to the rooftop bar and a glass of Moet et Chandon champagne. The Sunset Experience runs from 4pm-7pm, ensuring you can enjoy both the golden hour of sunset and the city’s sparkling lights after dark.
Johannesburg: Marble (or Radisson RED)
Marble is justifiably famous for its flame-grilled fine cuisine, but in the summer the real highlight comes before dinner, as you settle in at the elegant bar. Choose between a seat out on the terrace, or up at the marble bar counter, before sipping your way through the extensive cocktail menu of bespoke signatures. It’s hard to imagine a better sundowner than the fragrant Lemon Verbena Margarita, with rooibos-infused Patron, Cointreau and salt pearls.
It’s a popular spot, with good reason, but if you can’t get a seat head over to the Radisson RED in nearby Oxford Parks. Here the rooftop set-up may be more laid-back, but dishes up the same endless sunset views and a fine menu of dinner and drinks.
Cape Town: The Lawns at The Roundhouse
Since opening in 2018 The Lawns has generated enough of a following to no longer fall under the label of local secret, but tucked away in the forests below Kloof Nek they still retain a frisson of making a special find. It’s a laid-back space where tables are scattered across wide lawns, with plenty of umbrellas keeping the summer sun at bay. The menu ranges widely, from wood-fired pizza to Mediterranean-style plates heavy on seafood, with an extensive selection of signature cocktails and jugs to toast the sunset. Want to upgrade the experience? Book a table at Salsify, in the historic hunting lodge just above, for inspired cuisine from chef Ryan Cole.
Cape Town: Baptiste Rooftop
There’s no shortage of sundowner spots in and around Camps Bay, whether it’s a pavement table steps from the beach, or a cosy couch at The Bungalow. But our pick for this summer is the Baptiste Rooftop, perched atop The Marly Hotel. Leave the hoi polloi on the ground floor and book a seat up top. The menu runs from small plates and seafood (beware the SQ prices) to sushi, with a superb cocktail menu to boot. Bookings are essential, with a R400 deposit payable. And, don’t pack the bikini: the rooftop pool is strictly, and sadly, for hotel guests only.
Cape Town: Aegir Project
Leave the glamour of the Camps Bay strip behind and head for the Deep South. While Noordhoek Farm Village offers fine cuisine (hello, Food Barn) for sundowners you’ll want to book ahead for an upper-level terrace table at Aegir Project. This pioneering craft brewery produces some of the best brews in the city, with a range of seasonal and experimental taps alongside their regular releases. To eat? A great menu of beer-friendly food. Don’t miss the Banh Mi sando or the wood-fired pizzas.
Umhlanga: Backyard Bar
The obvious choice for sundowners in Umhlanga is to head for the coast. And don’t get us wrong, the Ocean Terrace at The Oyster Box Hotel is a delight. But for something less traditional, head a short way up the hill to Umhlanga Arch, where Back Yard serves up stellar sunsets with a colourful combo of Tiki-inspired cocktails. The classic Tiki blend of dark and white rums, with plenty of fresh fruits is the perfect choice for a sultry KwaZulu-Natal evening.
Knysna: Ocean Sailing Charters
On the Garden Route, the best sunsets are afloat, and in Knysna that means a sundowner sail through the famous Knysna Heads. Daily sunset outings with Ocean Sailing Charters depart from Thesen Island — home to a clutch of worthy restaurants and bars for afterwards — before raising the sails and threading a route down the lagoon to traverse the famous rocky headland. On your way, you’ll be sipping on Cap Classique and keeping a keen eye out for whales and dolphins once you hit the open seas.