Where to go
Rising 1,087 meters south of the city center, flat-topped Table Mountain is the most photographed landmark in South Africa and a constant reminder that nature is queen in this stunning seaside city. Created from massive beds of sandstone and slate, the mountain forms the northern end of the Cape Peninsula and lies within Table Mountain National Park. http://www.tablemountain.net
Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
In a beautiful setting on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens are part of the Cape Floristic Region UNESCO World Heritage site. The site was bequeathed to the state by Cecil Rhodes in 1902 and the gardens were established in 1913 to preserve the country’s indigenous flora-one of the first botanical gardens in the world with this mission. More than 20,000 native South African plant species are collected, grown, and studied in the hilly 528-hectare nature reserve of indigenous forest and fynbos. http://www.sanbi.org/gardens/kirstenbosch
Clifton Beach..and there are more
About six kilometers from the city center, the beaches of Camps Bay and Clifton lure the buff, the bronzed, and the beautiful-as well as the big bucks. At Clifton, Cape Town’s St. Tropez, some of the city’s priciest real estate overlooks four gleaming white-sand beaches flanked by smooth granite boulders and washed by sparkling, but crisp, blue seas. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clifton,_Cape_Town
Penguins are adorable in any setting, but seeing them waddle around in their natural environment is a particular thrill for wildlife lovers. About an hour’s drive from Cape Town, Boulder’s Bay in Simon’s Town shelters a breeding colony of more than 2,000 endangered African Penguins. This beautiful wind-sheltered, white-sand beach belongs to the Table mountain National Park Marine Protected Area. http://www.sanparks.org/parks/table_mountain/tourism/attractions.php
Signal hill & Lion’s head
Five minutes drive west of the city center, Signal Hill offers stunning views over Cape Town, Table Bay, and the glittering Atlantic Ocean from its 350-meter summit. The hill forms the body of the adjacent Lion’s Head peak and was named for its historical use when signal flags were flown from here to send messages to approaching ships. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lion%27s_Head_(Cape_Town)
Cape of Good Hope
Named for the optimism resulting from a sea route from Europe to India and destinations further east, the Cape of Good Hope is a peninsula near Cape Town in South Africa. It’s a rocky promontory which was once thought to be where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans met, though modern geographers have confirmed this as Cape Agulhas, about 90 miles southeast.
Legend has it that the ghosts of the crew of The Flying Dutchman haunt the headland and its waters, though visiting tourists are much more likely to see penguins, dassies, antelopes and perhaps a southern right whale. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cape_of_Good_Hope
For nearly 400 years, Robben Island in Table Bay, was a brutal prison where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years in a tiny cell during the apartheid era. Today, the island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must-see attraction for anyone interested in South African history. Tours to the island begin with multimedia exhibits in the museum at the Nelson Mandela Gateway on the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront before travelers board vessels to the island. http://www.robben-island.org.za/http://www.robben-island.org.za/
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
Stretching around two harbor basins, the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront is a buzzing entertainment quarter reminiscent of Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. Once a scruffy fishing harbor, this reimagined waterfront district is now one of the city’s top tourist attractions, and many of the old buildings have been preserved and restored. Millions of visitors a year flock here to the shops, jazz venues, restaurants, hotels, theaters, drama school, cinemas, and museums.https://www.waterfront.co.za/
Hermanus- Whale Watching
About 120 kilometers east of Cape Town, Hermanus is one of the world’s whale-watching hotspots. From July through November, large numbers of southern right whales migrate through these waters, and visitors can even spot them from shore – especially during the prime months of September, October, and November. https://www.hermanus.co.za/
Gently rolling streets lined with brightly colored houses greet visitors in the Cape Malay (commonly referred to as Bo-Kaap) neighborhood, located in the heart of the city at the foot of Signal Hill. This vibrant area is home to Cape Town’s Muslim community, consisting of those who have descended from the “Cape Malays,” slaves brought by Dutch settlers from Indonesia, Malaysia, and other African countries. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bo-Kaap
History buffs can visit two notable historic buildings within five minutes’ walk of each other in central Cape Town. Built in 1905, Cape Town City Hall is a striking mix of Italian Neo-Renaissance and British colonial style. The 60-meter-high bell-tower, with a carillon installed in 1923, was modeled on Big Ben in London.
District 6 Museum
In 1966, 70,000 residents of multi-ethnic District Six were displaced when the South African government decided the community was to be a white one. This poignant museum honors the people of this now-vanished district. On the museum’s floor is a large-scale map where former residents are encouraged to label their old homes and features of their neighborhood. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/District_Six_Museum
About 53 kilometers east of Cape Town, Stellenbosch is one of South Africa’s prettiest towns. Elegant Cape Dutch estates rise amid a patchwork of vine-cloaked fields and ancient oaks backed by mountains. This lively university town resides in a picturesque valley, and its fertile soils nurture some of the country’s best produce of wine. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stellenbosch
What to eat & drink
Braai (BBQ) is a national sport, a religion even, and many Capetonians agree. A traditional braai isn’t just about roasting meat, but a social event where friends and family gather to share food and have a fantastic time.
You can’t talk about braai without mentioning boerewors – beef and pork sausages seasoned with a generous amount of spices including coriander and nutmeg. This is a classic road trip food for Capetonians
This dried, cured meat is the favourite snack of South Africa. Biltong is often made from beef, though it can also be made from game meats like ostrich. It’s high in protein so pack some with you when you go on safaris and hikes.
There are few foods as truly Capetonian as a gatsby. It originated in the Cape Flats and dates back to the mid-70s. Technically it’s a large submarine-style sandwich that comes with various fillings. The reality is that it’s crammed full of a variety of meats, chips, and sauces, costs only a few Rands, and is almost impossible to finish due to its size.
Cape Town has several popular “African” themed restaurants that will leave you thinking that zebra, kudu, springbok, and warthog are regular features in our diets. Though the country’s residents are big meat eaters, this is usually in the form of beef, pork, and chicken. Wild game meat is not a regular dish served up on South African tables, but still makes for a fun night out.
South African wine has received much attention thanks to its quality. The wine making history started in Constantia near Cape Town, and has since expanded to nearby valleys. Vineyards here produce a wide range of varieties including Pinotage, South Africa’s signature variety.