Cape Town is a mountain plateau flanked by two oceans, graced with long beaches and some of the world’s most unique vegetation. The Cape Peninsula’s combination of sea, spreading valleys and purple-headed mountains remains breathtakingly beautiful.
In the heart of the mother city is Greenmarket Square, abuzz with flea markets, stalls, restaurants and cultural voyeurs. West of the city is one of Cape Town’s most exotic districts - The Bo-Kaap. Here winding, narrow streets are flanked by restored early 18th and 19th century cottages painted in pastels. Cape Town is alive and bubbling with a laid-back ambience filled with music, restaurants, museums, theatres, nightclubs and much more.
The V&A Waterfront is based in the oldest part of the harbour and emerged into a multi-faceted playground crammed with shops, craft markets, up market hotels and quay-to-quay pubs and restaurants, all below the spectacular backdrop of Table Mountain. It is no doubt the most successful tourist development of its kind in South Africa.
Robben Island, the world-famous place where Nelson Mandela was condemned to life imprisonment is today protected as a nature reserve and the old jail buildings now function as a museum dedicated to the struggle against apartheid.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens grace the eastern slopes of Table Mountain show casing its magnificent flora before blending into natural protea fynbos and yellowwood forests on the mountain slopes.
Cape Town consists of contrasting fortunes and diverse cultures with a significant history and magnificent beauty. The flat-topped Table Mountain is the spiritual, cultural and suburban heart and soul of Cape Town. An aerial cable-way allows visitor to glide up and down the mountain, with the most incredible views and just missing the mountain’s rock formation and crevices by some rather thrilling narrow margins. Established paths also allow visitor to hike up and down the mountain and there are nearly 500 ways of getting to the top on foot whilst crossing deep crevices with breathtaking views of waterfalls and various indigenous plants with yellowwood forests. One of the hiking routes starts from the beautiful botanical gardens at Kirstenbosch which graces the mountain’s eastern slopes and is world renowned for its diverse flora and impressive settings. Flanking Table Mountain are the imposing peaks of Lion’s Head and Devil’s Peak.
Sliced into dramatically plunging cliffs cloaking Chapman’s Peak is perhaps the world’s most spectacular scenic drive with its brilliantly coloured layers of red, orange and yellow together with dark lines of manganese. At the end of Chapman’s Peak Drive, lies the sleepy village of Hout Bay with its mountainous settings and popular wharf.
Just 30 minutes’ drive from the city’s luxury hotel district is wine country, where cellar and wine tasting are held in magnificent mountain settings and home to South Africa’s highest concentration of vineyards today. This region is studded with literally hundreds of wineries and distinguished by beautiful landscapes and elegant Cape Dutch architecture. Steeped in the colonial culture and ancient history, the rolling vineyards with stunning mountain backdrops and quaint villages are amongst the world’s best and they produce award winning wines and other fresh produce. Many estates have luxury hotels, spas and guesthouses with top restaurants and eclectic cuisine. Stellenbosch, Franschoek, Wellington and Paarl are on the leading wines routes and other estates such as those in the Constantia Valley, outside Cape Town, are also set in beautiful landscapes and surrounded by endless mountains and vineyards.
Near the southernmost tip of Africa just an hour from Cape Town and home to the Southern Right Whale is Hermanus, the largest coastal town in the Overberg. This is said to be the best land-based spot in the world where one can get close to these magnificent mammals. Other little towns in this area such as Arniston and Struisbaai are peaceful havens that have preserved their country ways.
The Northern Cape is an eco-tourist’s dream of diverse and untouched natural scenery, with rugged mountains, pristine flatlands, deep-red dunes, stunning plant life and plentiful game roaming free. Its vast and open tracts of empty land and brilliant blue sky are seen year round, but it is the wildflowers of Namaqualand bloom in July and September, that presents visitors with a spectacular multi-hued display.
Cape Town is rapidly becoming one of the best destinations in the world to visit and the Western Cape is a widespread area with mountains, rivers, art, food and golf-enthusiasts has a great variety of excellent golf courses with panoramic views. Taking a drive around the Cape Peninsula’s coastline comes highly recommended. Stop over in Hout Bay for spectacular scenic views and pop in at Boulders near Simon’s Town to see the African penguin colony, then experience a wine tasting in Constantia.
Given Cape Town’s seductive summer climate, visitors enjoy the beautiful beaches of Clifton, Camps Bay and Llandudno, to say nothing of the nudist beach at Sandy Bay.
The Houses of Parliament are just around the corner, as is the sensational Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, the hottest and happening part of the city, with boutique shops, the fun and entertaining Two Oceans Aquarium and innumerable great restaurants from which to watch the comings and goings of the world’s finest ships, cruise liners and luxury yachts. A short ride away is legendary Robben Island and the prison cell of Nelson Mandela the world loved and admired former president of South Africa.
You may, of course, simply be traveling to Cape Town for some time out with the beautiful people on the magnificent Clifton, Llandudno or Camps Bay Beaches, followed by a chilled sundowner cocktail at a beachside bar. It's all part of being on holiday in Cape Town.
With its instantly recognisable flat top, Table Mountain stands proudly as one of the new 7 Wonders of Nature and dominates the city skyline.
Cape Town Beaches
You could spend a week in Cape Town and go to a new beach every day but it's best to start with a few of our can't-miss favourites: the four Clifton beaches and nearby Camps Bay are everyone's top city beaches, located literally a few minutes from the city centre on the Atlantic Seaboard. Camps Bay is perfect if you're in the mood for a sunset cocktail or meal as well - simply pop across the road where a long row of restaurants and cafes await.
Cape Point Nature Reserve
At the southern tip of the Cape Peninsula lies the wild and rugged Cape Point Nature Reserve. Go on an organised tour to Cape Point and you'll be whisked straight through the reserve to the point itself where you can walk or take the funicular up to the old lighthouse at the very tip of the peninsula. The views are certainly spectacular.
If you thought the V&A Waterfront was just a collection of shops with a harbour-front setting then you're in for a wonderful surprise. While you can certainly shop up a storm at the glamorous boutiques and market stalls, it's only once you venture outside that you really understand why Cape Town's Waterfront has become South Africa's most visited tourist attraction.
Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
Kirstenbosch is without doubt one of the world's greatest botanical gardens but don't think you have to be a botanist to enjoy it: anyone of any age is sure to love the incredible variety of flowering plants and mature trees, arranged in astonishing and informative displays, and set to a dramatic mountain backdrop.
Less than an hour's drive from Cape Town lie the serene green valleys of the Cape Winelands and the cosy little towns of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl. The crisp country air will help you build up an appetite for all things good as you sample wines at the region's world-renowned estates or go on guided cellar tours; what better then to head to Franschhoek - the gourmet capital of South Africa and home to a handful of the country's top restaurants and one of the world's top 100.