Cape Town: Stunning from sea to sky.
A coming-together of cultures, cuisines to suit every palate, funky and historic places of interest and breath-taking landscapes; there’s nowhere quite like Cape Town, a singularly beautiful city crowned by the magnificent Table Mountain National Park. There truly is something here for everyone.
Cape Town is sandwiched between the Atlantic to the west and its imposing granite mountains, nature reserves, and winelands to the north and to the east.
The City Bowl, a natural amphitheatre nestling just below Table Mountain, is home to Cape Town city, and the waterfront. Should you choose to set down your anchor and live in this beautiful place, you will be spoiled for choice with suburbs which spread along the coast; the Atlantic Seaboard, to the west, is known as the ‘Riviera’ for its long sandy beaches and sought-after properties. It’s easy to get around Cape Town- it is a long-standing joke amongst locals that you are pretty much always twenty minutes away from anywhere. Public transport here is reliable and safe – which makes cramming as much as possible into one day unbelievably affordable.
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- The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art (MOCAA)
The coastal metropolis of Cape Town, South Africa has been in the spotlight in recent months with the September opening of long-awaited art mecca, the Zeitz MOCAA. This mega art museum, Zeitz MOCCA is a must-see in this gem of a city.
After nine years of planning and construction, the biggest and only contemporary art museum in South Africa opened amidst much celebration in September in a prime location on the city’s buzzing waterfront.
Its hollowed-out 93-year-old grain silos are almost too much to take in: nine floors of 80 gallery spaces flow around a cathedral-like atrium, housing owner Jochen Zeitz’s collection as well as some temporary exhibitions. And if convenience is what you are after, book into the five-star hotel The Silo which takes up the six floors above the museum. Impressive and fascinating!
- Flower season
Cape Town’s spectacular flower season shows off with its colourful blooms across the nature reserves of the Western Cape from August to late September. Western Cape is home to the Cape Floral Kingdom, recognised by UNESCO as one of the world’s richest areas of biodiversity. It is famous for its fynbos, a hardy but pretty shrubland. You can also witness the city in bloom at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens – of the 22,000 plants found in South Africa, 9,000 are found here. The country’s national flower, the Proteas, also never disappoint.
Cape Town has a rich heritage and no visit to Cape Town would be complete without exploring the places which reflect its chequered past. These include:
- The 17th Century Dutch-built Castle of Good Hope
- The District Six museum which houses evidence and memories of the bygone apartheid era
- A visit to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27-year sentence. It is best to ferry across early in the day as the waves grow choppier as the day goes on.
- The Bo-Kaap neighbourhood with its gaudy coloured buildings and Cape Malay culture.
- The views
No matter where you are in the city or surrounds, one thing is undisputable! The views are breath-taking: one only has to scroll through Instagram posts to see evidence of this. There is even an option of booking a helicopter flip from the Waterfront. Of course, the weather doesn’t always play along. The south-easterly wind has been known to ruin many a visit up Table Mountain so keep an eye on the weather when you plan.
Whether you walk up via the vertiginous trail at Platteklip Gorge or opt for the cable car, which rotates 360 degrees as you climb up to the 1,085ft peak, you’re guaranteed great panoramic views of the city below and the beaches of Camps Bay below the Twelve Apostles and beyond.
- The Marine haven and its Big Five
The Western Cape is known as the home of the Marine Big Five; shark, whale, dolphin, seal, and penguin. For the more adventurous, well-known Boulders Bay in Simon’s Town with its penguin colonies can be seen up-close on an excursion with Kayak Cape Town.
Just out of Cape Town, Gansbaai is widely renowned as the epicenter for shark cage diving. However, this is weather dependent. From Hermanus to the beaches at Clifton, you can spot Southern Right mother whales nurturing their calves in the calmer waters close to land. Peak viewing season is from June to November when as many as 37 species of dolphin and whales can be seen.
A visit to the Two Oceans Aquarium is a treat for both young and old. Make sure this is on your list of things to do whilst in Cape Town.
- Wine country
Cape Town is a favourite destination for wine connoisseurs from all around the world. Some of the best and oldest wine farms in the region can be found right in the city’s backyard.
Cape Town and its surrounds is a world-renowned wine region, recognised internationally for its fine wines. While the Cape’s famed winelands have spread to Stellenbosch, Paarl, Franschhoek and beyond, wine farming began in Constantia. With a wine-making tradition that spans more than 300 years, the Constantia Valley and its surrounds are the oldest wine-producing region in the Southern Hemisphere, its picturesque farms still producing world-class, award-winning wines.
An option is to explore the winelands of Stellenbosch and Franschoek by hopping on and off the Franschoek Wine Tram. For more variety and for those who enjoy beer, book a new tour with Kiff Kombi. You will be driven in a camper van to wineries and you will stop off at the newer microbreweries on a Wine, Beer and Biltong safari. They have also added a gin tour to their roster.
- Great food
South Africa was colonised by several countries over the course of history, and this resulted in a plethora of different foods, cooking methods and spices.
Much of the foodie action in Cape Town happens in the bar and restaurant hubs on Bree St, Long St and Kloof St. Some of the city’s most acclaimed restaurants are found off Bree St, including the Potluck Club and now The Shortmarket Club, where you can choose hefty cuts of tender beef from the meat trolley and enjoy clever takes on Cape Malay cuisine.
For the best fish and chips in town, make room for a hearty traditional lunch at the rustic Kalky’s in Kalk Bay, a 30-minute drive from central Cape Town.
If you are happy to travel a little further out of Cape Town, you will be delighted by some of Cape Town’s best kept culinary secrets. Café Orca on the beachfront of Melkbosstrand is regarded by locals and visitors as the ultimate in fresh seafood dining experience.
Damhuis is also one of the most enticing restaurants along the West Coast. Set in a beautifully renovated building which was originally a shed on the farm De Melkbosch in the 1700’s. Beautiful, uninterrupted views of the sea, and sunsets that deserve to be painted accompany an extensive menu. Many will tell you that the paprika Tiger prawns are always worth the drive.
- Cape of Good Hope
Portuguese explorer, Bartholomew Dias rounded the Cape of Good Hope in 1488. To him, it must have seemed like the end of the world. The most south-westerly point on the African Continent is rich in cultural and natural heritage. Lighthouses and views are top of the “to-do” list, and the Cape of Good Hope is a haven for historians, nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.
In order to maximise the enjoyment of this visit and see as much as possible, it is advisable to hire a car and drive through the dramatic landscapes, explore the trails and beaches and visit the shipwrecks.
And do pay a visit to the lighthouse at the slightly-higher-up Cape Point – there’s a funicular if you don’t feel like the hike. Time your trip back to the inner city in time for sunset taking a slow drive along Chapman’s Peak and through the stunning Scarborough.
There is lots on offer for adrenaline junkies and those who enjoy the tamer sports. Anyone for a surf at Muizenberg beach? How about trying your hand at challenging yourself with kite-surfing at Bloubergstrand? Or perhaps the idea of paragliding off the top of Lion’s Head appeals to your sense of adventure. If you feel like something a little more peaceful, you can ride horses on the Noordhoek beaches. Either way, you are really spoiled for choice in Cape Town.
- The beaches
Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula have two glittering coastlines with a beach to suit every mood and moment. Whether you’re into buzzing beachside bars, secluded coves, safe swimming beaches or a romantic spot for a sunset picnic, the following options just about cover all your needs:
- CAMPS BAY
Best for: family fun, sunbathing, beach volleyball, sunset cocktails
Best for: beach picnics, surfing, body boarding
- BOULDERS BEACH
Best for: penguin watching, family fun, safe swimming, snorkeling
- CLIFTON’S 4TH BEACH
Best for: sunbathing, people-watching, balmy sunset picnics, great holiday atmosphere
With all this and so much more on offer, Cape Town truly is a must-see.
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