An Insider’s Guide to Cape Town
Summer has arrived in Cape Town and the air is buzzing with excitement as visitors arrive in full force and fall in love with the Mother City.
1. Table Mountain
The iconic backdrop to Cape Town is a must-see attraction and was also recently voted one of the New7Wonders of Nature. Choose a clear day and head to the top on the short 4 minute cable car ride or instead opt to climb up (the most direct route is Platteklip and took us about 1 hour 45 minutes but it depends on your own pace). Enjoy a drink in the cafe at the top and soak up the beautiful views. A return is R205 and a single is R105.
2. Cape Point and the penguins
It is well worth the trip to the Cape of Good Hope section of Table Mountain National Park and visit the rocky peninsula of Cape Point. Take the scenic drive through Chapman’s Peak Drive (one of the top drives in the world) and stop off at Simon’s Town on the way to see the Boulders Bay penguins. The African penguin colony started here back in the 1980s and has grown to be a huge tourist attraction.
When you get down to Cape Point head up to the lighthouse for the breathtaking views and then down to have your photo taken with the famous sign to say you’ve been to 'The Most South-Western Point of The African Continent'. It has to be done! You might also be lucky enough to spot a troop of baboons on your way through the park and from June to September it is a perfect place to see the Southern Right Whales.
3. V&A Waterfront
Coming to the vibrant V&A Waterfront for the shopping, great restaurants, markets and to take a boat trip. The shopping is excellent here and the harbour area is very pretty. There is no better way to spend a morning wandering here, people watching on a terrace and taking a short trip on a catamaran around the bay. You might also spot a dolphin or two.
4. Franschhoek & Winelands
Known as the culinary capital of South Africa, this beautiful wine valley has at its heart the pretty town of Franschhoek, established by the French Huguenots back in the 17th Century. There are some great boutique shops for gifts, as well as a multitude of great restaurants and wine farms to choose from. The wine tram is also a great thing to do if you spend a day here (it’s less than an hour from Cape Town).
Talking of winelands, you must go to Groot Constantia, the oldest wine estate in South Africa and only a short drive from the centre of Cape Town. Nearby historic Stellenbosch also offers for some of the best wine tasting in the world along with stunning views.
5. The beaches
Cape Town is known for its famous Atlantic Seaboard beaches so you must go to see stunning Camps Bay with the 12 Apostles set dramatically behind it, Clifton (the closest beach to the centre) and Llandudno. Also head around the coast and walk along beautiful Noordhoek beach which stretches for miles. Oh and for the famous panoramic views of table Mountain from around the bay, take a trip to Bloubergstrand beach.
One of the most significant botanical gardens in the world and also one of the most famous, it has a huge wealth of flora and fauna here. It is also set against the incredible Eastern slopes of Table Mountain, so as well as seeing the gardens you can also start a hiking trail here. In the summer Kirstenbosch has many summer concerts and cinema nights which are fun - book ahead as they are very popular. www.sanbi.org/gardens/kirstenbosch
7. Robben Island & Museums
The isolated island prison where Nelson Mandela was held captivity for so many years is now a museum. You can take a 30 minute boat ride from the V&A and go on a tour of the old prison to see firsthand what it was like. The tour is actually conducted by ex-political prisoners which make it very poignant. www.robben-island.org.za
Other museums you should definitely visit include the District 6 Museum (about the area destroyed during the days of apartheid) and the Iziko Slave Lodge. Near the latter is the historic Company's Garden, which is worth exploring and takes you towards the South African Museum and Planetarium, National Art Gallery and pretty rose gardens.