Cape Town

One of South Africa's most important cities is situated at the most south-western point of the African continent. Enjoy the amazing diversity this bustling city has to offer. On this page you will find an overview of Cape Town's top attractions.

cape-town-south-africa

Cape Town simply has it all. A modern, cosmopolitan city with fantastic restaurants, world-class hotels that suit every budget, amazing beaches and, decidedly important, a very pleasurable climate all year long. To add just a little more to the magic: Cape Town is spectacularly located between two oceans, and a very flat mountain on the other side.

Cape Town also is very much a cultural holiday destination: you can learn about its turbulent history by visiting Robben Island or the Distict 6 Museum. You can meet the locals by making an intriguing day trip to one of the townships. Walk through the city streets and soak up the history through historic buildings and streetnames, some of which still resemble a very Dutch character. Cape Town is an easy travel destination, is winter there is a two hour time difference and in summer only one, so you will not suffer a whole lot from the effects of a jetlag. You will find multiple possibilities for finding your much needed relaxation stime: stroll trough the magical Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, ease yourself on the stunning beaches of Clifton or Llandudno, or simply catch a movie at the V&A Waterfront.

Also close to the city a lot is to be discovered. Get into your rental car and explore the Cape Peninsula all the way to the famous Cape of Good Hope. On the other side of town, in the hinterland, you can indulge yourself in numerous historic wine estates and their fantastic wine making capabilities around the charming towns of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. With so much to see and do, Cape Town is a destination where you easily can spend a week or so.


Our insider top tips for Cape Town:

Get on top of Table Mountain


table mountain cape town

You won't be able to miss it when staying in Cape Town: the permanent guarding flat topped mountain right in the middle of the city. The iconic mountain looms over the city with roughly a thousand meters. From the top the view over the city and further is spectacular. On clear calm days you can see as far as the continent's most south-western tip, the Cape of Good Hope. Monitor the weather closely if you want to visit the top of Table Mountain: clear skies in the morning does not mean a thick cloud cover cannot make the mountain disappear in the afternoon. Our insider top tip: take the cable car up around one and a half hours before closing time, you'll find it much quieter and a sensational sunset awaits you. Please do not forget to bring a windbreaker or sweater. Many people forget that it cools down quickly on top of a mountain. For sport enthusiasts there are many hiking trails that lead you to the top. Making use of the most common trails means that you'll be kept busy for about three hours. Trust us: your reward awaits you when you reach the top of Table Mountain!

Visit Robben Island


robben island cape town

A short distance away from Cape Town lies Robben Island. Normally the island is clearly visible when you are a bit higher up in the city (from Signal Hill or the slopes of Table Mountain for instance). Robben Island is listed on UNESCO's world heritage list, and with good reason. This was the place where many political prisoners were being kept in detention during the years of the apartheid regime. Among them was Nelson Mandela, the man who would later become South Africa's first democratically elected president. Madela spent more than two decaded imprisoned on the island. The island and the excellent Robben Island Museaum provide great insight in South Africa's complex history. To get to the island you can make use of the ferry service which departs every hour from the Nelson Madela Gateway at the V&A Waterfront. Robben Island indeed is a very popular attraction so it can get rather crowded on the ferries and sometimes tours are fully booked. Therefore, we do advise to make an advance booking or let your hotel make a booking for you. A trip to Robben Island takes up to about half a day home and away.

Stroll through Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

kirstenbosch botanical gardens cape town

The Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens are situated on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, and wonderful walks through the gardens can be made throughout the year. The history of the gardens take you back to earliest days of Dutch settlement on the Cape of Good Hope. Remains of the hedge, planted on behalf of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) to serve as a demarcation of the Dutch territory, can still be seen in Kirstenbosch. More than 8000 species of plants and trees can be admired while you stroll over meandering lanes. There also is an attractive sculpture garden showing contemporary African art. Our insider top tip: visit Kirstenbosch around noon and pick up a picnic basket in the little shop found at the restaurant. With this you can enjoy a relaxed afternoon on the carefully manicured lawns of Kirstenbosch in the shade of ancient oaks.

Shopping in the V&A Waterfront


waterfront cape town

Not so long ago, the port pf Cape Town was a somewhat shady part of town. How different does the V&A Waterfront look nowadays? It now is a bustling shopping centre with many shops and restaurants right on the water's edge overlooking the working port of Cape Town. The 'V&A' is the most visited attraction in the whole of Southern Africa. The Waterfront is easily accessible from anywhere in the city and as such lends itself perfectly for an 'in between' activity. This also is the place from where the Robben Island ferry departs. Travelling with children? Visit the Two Oceans Aquarium around the corner and come face to face with ragged toots sharks and other creatures from the deep from the waters around South Africa. It is also possible to book a sunset cruise at the V&A Waterfront. See the sun set away from the butle while sipping a cool glass of South African white wine.

Wine tasting in the Cape Winelands

wine south africa winelands stellenbosch

Want to escape from the crowded city just for a while? Get into your rental car and within 45 minutes you will find a completely different world outside the city. Via the N1 or N2 motorways it is an easy drive to the towns of Paarl en Stellenbosch, centre of South Africa's wine industry. A little further lies the charming village of Franscchoek is a tucked away valley completely surrounded by mountains. Paarl, Stellenbosch and Franschhoek have something to offer for everyone: in Franschhoek you will find some of South Africa's finest restaurants, in Stellenbosch you can stroll along long avenues lined up with Cape Dutch houses, and in Paarl some of the best wineries await you. It is very possible to visit all three places within a day or two. By driving from one place to the next you will come across many wine estates, the one even more beautiful than the other. Our favourites? Try Boschendal between Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, Kanonkop Estate near Stellenbosch and Laborie in the centre of Paarl. Our insider top tip: a sensible (and responsible) thing to do is booking a pre-organised winetour from Cape Town. This way you won't have any trouble tasting all those delicious wines throughout the day.

Get some fresh air at the Cape of Good Hope


cape of good hope

The drive to the Cape of Good Hope is truly spectacular in itself. We do recommend planning a full day outing when you want to visit the actual Cape so you have the time to properly explore the Cape Peninsula. You will find plenty opportunities for stops along the way at the attractions encountered. From the centre of Cape Town we recommend setting off along the eastern side of the peninsula towards the south. En route you will pass small seaside resort towns like Muizenberg and Simon's Town. Not far from Simon's Town is the famous penguin colony on Boulder's Beach. It is a heartwarming experience being able to admire these little creatures so close. Further south is the entrance to the Table Mountain National Park and the Cape of Good Hope. From the parking lot a couple of impressive hiking trails start, icluding paths to Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope. After a walk it is a good idea to have lunch at the restaurant of the nature reserve. From here there are stunning views over the Indian Ocean on the one side of the peninsula, and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. In the afternoon you can drive back to Cape Town via the western side of the Cape Peninsula. On the way you pass villages like Misty Cliffs, Scarborough and Hout Bay. You'll re-enter the city again on the Victoria Road, a very impressive coastal road.

Meet the locals in the townships


township uthando tour

To better understand the city and its culture we recommend a visit to the townships that are mainly found on the Cape Flats on the eastern side of Cape Town (you probably did see the townships when arriving at Cape Town International Airport). uThando Community Projects is a series of varied developmental initiatives. The work done by the projects varies from orphanages, homes for the elderly, environmental projects, as well as theatre and dance classes for kids. The uThando excursion offers a an unique and authentic opportunity learning about the social challenges millions of South Aficans face every day. During this excusion you will visit one of these very special projects. Essential about this tour is that it is not set up as being a tourist attraction. The aim is to inform and inspire you, respecting the dignity and privacy of the people that make the projects. Read more about uThando Community Projects .

Relax on gorgeous beaches


cape town boulder's beach

Cape Town being situated on a peninsula between both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans means that you can expect some beautiful beaches to be very close. Please note that swimming around Cape Town can be a very cold affair, especially on the western side of the peninsula. This is the Atlantic side which receives a lot of cold water from the South Pole. A short distance from the city centre are the splendid beaches of Camp's Bay and Clifton. Clifton is escpecially popular as it in one of the beaches that is relatively wind free. Camp's Bay is the beach to head to when looking for a hip crowd: it is lined with a cool boulevard that offers many shops and trendy restaurants. When you are looking for some peace you can drive a little further south and visit the excellent beach of Llandudno. Here the houses of the rich and famous are sprawled up the coastal cliffs. Other good beaches are found further from the city. In particular, 'Long Beach' between the Kommetjie and Noordhoek villages is ideal for a long walk on a brad white beach.

Sundowners on Signal Hill


cape town signall hill

Be like a real 'Capetonian': buy yourself a nice bottle of wine and follow the winding road up to Singnal Hill just before sunset. From here there is a breathtaking view over Cape Town where millions of lights pop up. This also is the perfect spot for taking stunning pictures of the sun setting in the Atlantic Ocean. This is the time to open you bottle of South African white wine and enjoy a so called 'sundwoner'. It is a well known phenomenon in South Africa: celebrating the end of day while enjoying a nice cool drink. Signal Hill is centrally located in Cape Town allowing a 360 degrees view over town. On the one side you see the city centre with the V&A Waterfront and Robben Island more in the back. On the other side is Table Mountain is all its glory. Floodlights highlight the mountain in the evening so that you have a picture perfect view. Whan you take a little walk over Signal Hil; you will also be able to see the trendy neighborhood Camp's Bay.

Experience unique culture in the Bo-Kaap


cape town bo-kaap

On the lower slopes of Signal Hill, on the city centre side of Cape Town, lies a very historic part of the city. The Bo-Kaap (upper Cape) area is traditionally the centre of Cape Malay culture. In this picturesque part of town, with its famous coloured houses, about 90% of the population is Muslim. The inhabitants are mostly descendants of slaves brought here in the 16th and 17th centuries by the Dutch and the British. The Bo-Kaap shows a lot of street names referring to the Dutch heritage with names like Dorpsstraat (dorp = village), Bloemstraat (bloem = flower) and Jordaanstraat (Jordaan is a historic part of Amsterdam). The Bo-Kaap is best visited with a professional guide.

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Did you know?

cape-town VOC van Riebeeck

Jan van Riebeeck, commissioned by the Dutch East India Company, set foot on the Cape Peninsula to start a refreshment station for ships en route to Dutch possesions in the East? The fort built by Van Riebeeck (Castle of Hope) is the oldest intact European building in South Africa and can be visited in the city centre.

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