Insider’s Guide to Cape Town, South Africa —

South African–Canadian artist Ben Johnston takes us to his favourite spots in Cape Town.


Four years ago, Ben Johnston moved back to Toronto, where he was born, to unleash his bold typographic murals on the city. They can be spotted throughout the west end, like the trippy Stay True on Queen Street West and the striped Bellwoods in Skey Lane. He’s found the faster pace he was looking for, but he returns to Cape Town to unwind: “It’s like the whole culture is built around good food, good drinks and chilling out.”

Oct 16, 2018
People dining and drinking on the patio of a bar.
   Photo: Yours Truly

1. Yours Truly on Kloof Street

This is my buddy Daniel’s bar. The space brings the outdoors in with plants and trees everywhere, and it’s a great place to get a Cape Town beer like Citizen. This location is also beside a back–packers’ lodge, so it creates a cool vibe with both out–of–towners and locals who are into surfing and skateboarding.

A woman sitting on a rock and looking out at the water.
   Photo: VWPix / Alamy Stock Photo

2. Beta Beach

People will often head to this beach to lounge in the sand or play volleyball after work. I like it because it’s hidden, and though the water may be cold, it’s crystal–clear blue. You can swim between big boulders near the shore, tan and enjoy a great view of Lion’s Head mountain.

Someone cutting a piece of blueberry cheesecake.
   Photo: The Old Biscuit Mill

3. The Old Biscuit Mill

On Saturday mornings, we go to this market for brunch and sit on the hay bales out front drinking mojitos from the makeshift cocktail bar. Walk through the food stalls on one side of the indoor–outdoor complex, then check out the selection of up–and–coming South African makers, like jewellery designer Famke, on the other side.

4. Salon Ninety One

This is a little contemporary gallery where you can discover new artists – owner Monique du Preez is good at finding unique people. I’ve shown my own work in a typographic exhibition, including a laser–cut wood skateboard and watercolour prints. Recently, I saw Linsey Levendall’s intricate and graphic paintings – he’s another South African artist who’s now living in Canada.