With dramatic mountains, a long stretch of Atlantic coastline and a picturesque working harbour, there are few cities to rival “The Fairest Cape”, as British explorer Sir Francis Drake described it in 1580. Its Mediterranean climate, superb natural attractions, historic landmarks and fabulous restaurants offer all the ingredients for a top holiday destination.
Table Mountain dominates the city’s landscape and Table Mountain National Park is a national treasure and World Heritage Site. The Cape Floristic Kingdom is known for its incredible botanical heritage and the Table Mountain National Park has more floral species than the British Isles.
A trip to the top of Table Mountain is an absolute must. You can do this either by cable car, or on foot via Platteklip Gorge if you are in a more energetic mood. The trail to the top of Lion’s Head is another great alternative. The views will give you a clear perspective of the gorgeous city below and you can see as far as Robben Island and beyond on most days.
Cape Town city is loosely divided by Table Mountain into distinct sections. Of main interest are Central Cape Town (the V&A waterfront and the City Bowl), the southern suburbs (where Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens is), and the Atlantic Seaboard (Camps Bay and Clifton).
The peninsula extends further south for another 60km and a trip out to Cape Point with its rocky ledges and deserted beaches is well worth the effort. If you are heading out that way, the drive along Chapman’s Peak is one of the most scenic drives in the country. Mariner’s Wharf in Hout Bay lies at the foot of Chapman’s Peak Drive and is a great place to visit, with its fun restaurants, sandy beaches and perfect views.
Still in the southern suburbs, Groot Constantia is popular for its top class restaurants and wine estates, and the Constantia Wine Route is a big attraction for foodies and wine-lovers.
Take a day trip to Simon’s Town and make sure you visit the penguinds at Boulders Beach. For fresh fish and laid-back vibes, Kalk Bay and Muizenberg are the business. Fish Hoek is popular for seaside activities and antique shops and is a real favourite.
Back in the City Bowl, the V&A Waterfront provides for a leisurely outing. It is the epicentre of Cape Town and attracts high numbers of international tourists daily. Also departing from here is the ferry to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Ahmed Kathrada and many others were incarcerated during the apartheid years. The departure point for the ferry is about a 5 minute stroll from the Cape Grace Hotel.
If history is your thing, there are numerous museums and attractions close to the city centre. The Castle of Good Hope was built between 1666 and 1679 and is the oldest building in South Africa. It is a good place to start your tour of the city, which incorporates historic attractions such as the Bo-Kaap Museum, the District Six Museum, the Company’s Garden, City Hall and the Grand Parade, among many other notable historic attractions.