FEBRUARY 18, 2020 By ELSA DIXON
There is a reason why Cape Town is repeatedly voted the most beautiful city in the world. In fact, at least ten, all centered around Table Mountain. The Mother City is dominated by this iconic landmark, continually changing its appearance, from having a clear tabletop etched against the blue sky, to being covered by a ‘tablecloth’ as the clouds descend on it.
Cape Town has beautiful white sandy beaches, a vibrant harbor, a cosmopolitan atmosphere, cultural diversity, excellent restaurants, and very hospitable people. For a beach holiday, the summer months, between October and March, would be best. However, the weather is moderate throughout the year, allowing you to enjoy all that Cape Town has to offer.
1. Table Mountain
Take a ride up to the top of the mountain in the Revolving Cable Car for spectacular 360-degree views of the city, suburbs, Robben Island, mountain ranges, and the surrounding ocean and beaches. Tickets can be booked online in advance. If you want to save money, the afternoon rides are a little cheaper than during the morning.
However, early morning is the perfect time to go up before it gets too busy or hot. For the physically fit, you can also hike up the mountain. For the disabled, there are ramps at the entrance and a suitable pathway at the top. There are gift shops, as well as a lovely restaurant with spectacular views at the top of the mountain.
Directions: 11 minutes drive to Cape Town City Center via the M62.
2. Victoria and Albert Waterfront
Enjoy the historic Victoria and Albert Waterfront with its vibrant atmosphere, sophisticated restaurants, and beautiful shopping centers. There is plenty of outdoor, local entertainment to keep you entertained. At any given time, enthusiastic African choirs dance and sing, mimes, marimba players, and other small instrumental groups perform.
Allow plenty of time to explore all that the Waterfront has to offer. The visitor information desks hand out detailed maps of all the stores and places of interest: a fascinating aquarium, boat rides, historical walk with markers, a new art museum, the Silo, and plenty more.
The parking garages are extensive, so take special note of exactly where you park and which entrances, elevators, or escalators you used.
Directions: 8 minutes drive to Cape Town City Center via the M6.
3. Robben Island
Visit Robben Island, a World Heritage site, where Nelson Mandela imprisoned for 27 years, and learn about its 500-year history. Allow four hours for the whole experience.
There are four ferry departures scheduled each day, depending on weather conditions. Buses transport you to fascinating historical sites around the island, with the tour guide giving a running commentary. The tour ends with a visit to the prison cell where Mandela was incarcerated. On a clear day, you will have a stunning view of Table Mountain and Cape Town.
Departure from the Nelson Mandela Gateway at the V & A Waterfront. It is advisable to book online in advance.
The Bo-Kaap (‘above the Cape’ in Afrikaans) is a very distinct neighborhood with colorful houses and cobbled streets, situated at the foot of Signal Hill, above the city center. The area is known as the Malay Quarter since slaves, mostly brought in from Malaysia, Indonesia, and other parts of Africa in the 1760s, inhabited the houses.
Learn more about the Bo-Kaap, the Malay and local Islamic culture at the local museum on Wale Street. Be sure to visit the Rose Corner Café, fully stocked with herbs and spices, and to get a taste of typical Cape fare, such as samoosas and koeksisters.
5. Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
Stroll the magnificent Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, a Cape Floral World Heritage site, and walk across the tree canopy walkway, a thrilling 49 feet high scenic bridge, called the ‘boomslang’ (tree snake).
Although most flowers and shrubs will be in full bloom in Spring (September through November), the Gardens impress throughout the year. For an informative overview of the gardens, while also avoiding the long walks, you can also take the shuttle car tour that leaves on the hour from the Visitors’ Center (Gate 1).
Be sure to visit the cycads section. The gift shop has beautiful products of an exceptionally high standard.
Directions: 12 minutes drive from Cape Town City Center via the N2 and the M3.
6. African Penguin Colony
Stop at Boulder’s Beach along the False Bay coastline to admire the African Penguin Colony. These penguins are found only in South Africa and Namibia and are on the verge of extinction. The pathway takes one past their nests, leading to a lookout over the beach where the penguins frolic and swim.
Directions: 46 minutes drive from Cape Town City Center via the M3.
7. Cape Point
Drive through the Table Mountain National Park to reach Cape Point, the most southern point of the Western Cape, where the warm and cold streams of the Atlantic and Indian oceans come together.
You can ride the funicular to the top for an excellent view, or walk the cliffs by yourself. Besides a take-out cafe with an extensive menu, there is an excellent restaurant, Two Oceans, for which you need to book in advance. Watch out for baboons and diving birds! Keep all food closely guarded or locked up in your car.
Directions: 1 hour 8 minutes drive from Cape Town City Center via the M3, or 21 minutes drive from Boulder’s Beach via the M4.
8. Chapman’s Peak Drive
Follow the breathtakingly beautiful Chapman’s Peak Drivefrom Cape Pointback toCape Town foran unforgettable experience: stunning sea views, rock formations, and impressive feats of road engineering. There are designated viewing spots with parking areas along the way. There is a minimum toll fee.
In bad weather or hazardous conditions, authorities close the road to traffic.
Directions: 40 minutes drive to Cape Town City Center via the M6.
9. Gold Restaurant
Enjoy a slice of African culture at the internationally acclaimed Gold Restaurant by taking part in a fun interactive Djembe drumming session, followed by dinner, interspersed with live African entertainment.
Fourteen small dishes introducing Cape Malay and African cuisine, are brought to the table, each with an explanation of the ingredients and country of origin. It is a truly exceptional experience.
Directions: 8 minutes drive from Cape Town City Center.
10. Groot Constantia
Visit Groot Constantia, the oldest wine-producing estate in South Africa. Founded in 1685, the Visitors Route today features cellar tours, exploring the original Cape Dutch Manor House, historical wine museums and cellars, wine tastings and chocolate pairings, South African art, and top-class restaurants.
Directions: 21 minutes drive from Cape Town City Center via the M3.
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