Updated: Oct 21, 2020
With the iconic Table Mountain at its heart and the two oceans at its feet, Cape Town is located at the tip of the African Continent. It is South Africa’s legislative capital and one of most beautiful places on earth with an amalgamation of cultures, cuisine, and landscapes.
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Cape Town is located at the south western tip of the African continent and it is South Africa’s legislative capital. Not just its rugged landscape and the iconic natural landmarks – Table Mountain, Signal Hill and the Twelve Apostles, Cape town’s beauty also lies in its timelessly beautiful beaches, vineyards and the unique flora and fauna dotting its coastlines. Often called the “Mother City”, its complex colonial history has created an a truly magnificent diversity. Famed for centuries as the Tavern of the Seas, Cape Town today is a cosmopolitan and vibrant city in a beautiful setting – part of it in the slopes of the Table Mountain and other parts lie in the flats below stretching southwards towards False Bay.
Head to Victoria & Alfred Waterfront located at the foot of Signal Hill and on the shores of the gorgeous Table Bay. This is Cape Town’s tourist magnet - a place where people gather to eat, drink, shop, party while admiring the breathtaking views of Table Mountain and blue waters of the Table Bay.
The city’s rich history and thriving culture is at full display here. The place is packed with attractions and activities, you can spend an entire day here and end with a stunning view of the sunset.
Start your Victoria & Alfred Waterfront experience with a walking tour. The waterfront is part of the harbor dating back to 17th century is dotted with many landmarks that shaped the history of Cape Town – Clock Tower, Port Captain’s Office, the Pumphouse, Robinson dry docks and also a Swing bridge. There is also a public square called the Nobel Square that has sculptures of South Africa’s four Nobel Peace prize winners. The Two Oceans Aquarium displays the incredible diversity of Atlantic and Indian Oceans including an African Penguin enclosure. A large warehouse next to the aquarium – Watershed houses 100s of vendors selling in the best of South Africa’s art and crafts.
Victoria Wharf is one of the most popular shopping destinations in the continent. The are countless restaurants, cafes, and pubs in the waterfront but for best food options head over to the Food Market. The market features vendors selling street food from around the world including Sushi, Thai, Malay, and Mexican cuisines. From Ferries Wheel to Cruises, Shopping or Dining this place has it all to spend an entire day. There are number of cruises that you can take – harbor cruise, the sunset cruise, or a boat ride to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years in confinement.
The most amazing attraction in Cape Town is undoubtedly the flat-topped Table Mountain. It provides a breath-taking backdrop to the city and is visible from every part of it. Getting to the top of the mountain is a must-do activity. Take the gondola to the top to get sweeping views of the Cape Peninsula and the Atlantic Ocean far and wide. From the top you get panoramic views of the breathtaking beauty of entire city. Best times are early morning or late afternoon.
Be prepared to spend at least a couple of hours since there are much more than just the views down below from every angle. The plateau on the top is almost 3 Kms long with Devil's Peak to the east and by Lion's Head to the west. At times there are thick fog cover and it moves from one side to the other in just few minutes.
From coast to coast Cape Town’s pristine beaches with its soft white sand and majestic blue waters are of timeless beauty through out the year. The spectacular backdrop of the Cape Mountains makes the beaches the most scenic in the world. Closer to the city center and situated in one the most affluent neighborhood Clifton Beach is the local’s favorite. Comprising of four beaches separated by giant boulders, each of the beaches has its own personality from laid back to trendy. Just down the road is the curving crescent of Camps’ Bay.
With the Twelve Apostles in the backdrop this is perhaps the best of all. About 20 kms down south on the way to Hout Bay is the Llandudno. Its rocky coastline has a piece of soft cove that can be reached through a narrow winding road through a hillside neighborhood. Further away from the city is Blouberg – the stretch consists of Dolphin Beach, Small and Big Beach. These are best known for being quiet and good for wind related sports like kitesurfing.
Further down in the Western Cape on a slightly warmer sea is the Boulders Beach and Muizenberg. Boulders Beach is just beyond picturesque Simon’s Town and home to a colony of African Penguins that are endangered. The penguins walking past the boulders are a highly entertaining sight. Muizenberg with its warmer waters and Victorian bath houses is the place to go to learn surfing.
To see all these beaches drive down to the Chapman’s Peak from Camps Bay - the 9 km coastal road on the Cape Peninsula is one of the most scenic coastal drives in the world. Stretching from Hout Bay to Noordhoek with 114 bends between the sea and the cliffs leading to Chapman’s Peak. At about 500 feet elevation it offers some breathtaking views of the Ocean and the mountains. Further down is Cape Point the end of Cape Peninsula and part of Table Mountain National Park.
Cape Point is about 50 kms south of Cape Town, the drive can take almost half a day as you stop by to see many of the attractions like the Penguins at the Boulders Beach, Seal Island at Hout Bay, Kirstenbosch Gardens and the UNESCO world heritage site – Cape of Good Hope.
The southwestern tip of the African Continent that used to be the stopping point for trading ships sailing between Europe and Asia before Suez Canal was built. Although many believe that the Cape of Good Hope is the southern tip of the African Continent and dividing line between the Atlantic and India Oceans – the distinction goes to Cape Aghulas, which is much further down towards east. Cape Point is one of the end points of the Cape Peninsula and a must visit for its rugged landscape and the diverse wild life.
Cape Point is one of the end points of the Cape Peninsula and a must visit for its rugged landscape and the diverse wild life. A funicular named Flying Dutchman takes you to lighthouse at Cape Point. You can even walk up there in about 100 stairs. Once at the top you get to see the Tip of the Continent and vast expanse of the Ocean with nothing in between up to Antarctica. On the way back stop at the Stellenbosch - a small town surrounded by the vineyards of Cape Winelands with its oak-shaded streets lined with cafes, boutiques, and art galleries.`
While in the city, do visit Bo kaap one of the oldest residential areas on Cape Town. Perhaps the most photographed area of the City for its brightly painted houses and quaint cobbled streets. Then there is the Castle of Good Hope a 17th century fort built by the Dutch East India Company.
For the cosmopolitan and the urban vibe visit Green Point a popular leisure district an extension of Sea Point that’s has a Promenade There are jogging trails, a lighthouse, and a biodiversity garden planted with indigenous flora. The park is also home to Cape Town Stadium, built for 2010 soccer world cup. Cafes, Bars, Italian restaurants, burger joints, steakhouses, and fish eateries line Main Road.
Best Places to Stay
City Bowl area which includes the V&A waterfront is perhaps the best but also the most expensive. This is where you are close to everything that Cape Town has to offer and normally all tours and excursions starts from here. Then you have Woodstock and De Waterkant that are trendy and affordable. Sea point -its promenade stretches for several kilometers lined with many restaurants serving global cuisines. Our personal favorite is Green Point which is an upmarket neighbor of Sea Point. It is steps away from the V&A waterfront and close to the stunning beaches in the Atlantic seaboard.
Cape Town has a Metrorail Transit System and a commuter bus service as well. The MyCiti bus is a quick and easy way to get around the city and surrounds. There are plenty of City Sightseeing tour buses which are perhaps the best way to see City and its surroundings. Uber and Taxis are also there. A car is the best for sights away from the city.
Best Time to visit
Peak Summer from December to February is the best times to visit Cape Town. Late April to early June also provides some clear weather for hiking. For whale watching and to see migratory birds it is between July to September.
The Rand is the official currency of South Africa. ZA is the symbol. Foreign currencies can be exchanged at the banks and at the airport.
A 5-day itinerary is a must; if you love adventure and keen to explore further and do some whale watching keep a day extra for it.
Authors and Food Travel Writers Suk & Sangy are a couple living in Toronto Canada with a nomadic soul. They have been travelling the world together for many years now and been to many places across 5 continents. As the pandemic put a restriction on their travel plans, they decided to spend their time sharing their past travel experiences through their blog – Urge to XPLORE. Also follow them on their Instagram!
Destination South Africa and Cape Town and the surrounding areas. Find things to see, activities to do, where to eat and places to stay when visiting "the Mother City" of South Africa; Cape Town. Find Travel Tips to inspire in this Cape Town Itinerary to help you plan your trip to South Africa easy.
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