We’ll warn you in advance… there simply isn’t enough space to tell you everything about Cape Town in one article, so we’ll have to leave some surprises for you to discover all on your own. But that is actually extremely fitting; because Cape Town is full of little surprises. Hidden beaches, where you thought there were just jumbles of boulders.
Cobblestone streets lined with beautiful old buildings, just around the corner from a busy modern thoroughfare. Gourmet meals in the most unlikely places. And everywhere, there’s the mountain… Table Mountain.
NOTE: Due to it's popularity, exchange availability may be limited in Cape Town. To help you get there we also offer discounted rentals at the following resorts. Click the resort name to check for availability: Burgundy Apartments | Ocean Shores
Sometimes sharply etched across a sky so blue you’d think it was painted by an enthusiastic child. Sometimes covered in a cloth of cloud that waterfalls off the edge in a state of constant motion. Ever changing. Always beautiful.
Take a cable car, climb its steep sides or hike across it from the must-see Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens; abseil, skydive, mountain-bike or ‘kloof’ down it. Just make sure you get up there before you go and, while you’re up there, see if you can spot the little dassies that live everywhere amongst the rocks.
The culture is unique. A melting pot of the many different races that have created the creatively diverse city of today. Walk down one street and you’d swear you were in Europe. Go around a corner and you’re in Victorian England. Another couple and you’re back in Africa, with gaily painted walls and an almost-audible heartbeat.
If you visit in summer, the beaches are a must. The trendy café-lined crescent of Camps Bay; Clifton’s four sheltered pockets; au naturel at Sandy Bay; the wide sweep of Milnerton Beach, popular for its fantastic view of Table Mountain and big variety of watersports.
Sunset over the ocean anywhere, preferably with a glass of local wine or beer in hand and a boerewors and lamb chop braai cooking right nearby is a delight.
The teal-blue ocean sparkles in the warm sun, inviting you to cool off your tanned skin for a moment. And it will be for just a moment - the Atlantic has a bite! If you prefer warmer water, the long way round to Muizenberg, with its bright bathing boxes, is a journey well worth doing. The Chapman’s Peak road clings to the steep sides of the Twelve Apostles and offers superb ocean views. Stop off at the African curio stalls along the way; pause in Hout Bay; come home via a lovely Constantia Valley wine estate.
Outdoor sports of all sorts are extremely popular. Look up and you’ll likely see a paraglider floating off one of the high spots. Surfing is huge, though you’ll need a wetsuit, and this has to be one of the most beautiful places in the world for mountain biking. It’s no wonder that Cape Town is home to one of the world’s largest bicycle races, the Cape Argus.
South Africa’s oldest course is found at the Royal Cape Golf Club; the most scenic is the Metropolitan at Mouille Point (the mournful notes you’ll hear on foggy mornings is the lighthouse, just around the corner); and there are 11 others within a half hour of the city centre that you can use as reasons why you have to be in Cape Town!
Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was held for years, is a much-visited spot. Depending upon the time of year, you’ll see dolphins, seals, whales and maybe even a great white on the way there.
Very brave souls will go Shark Cage Diving; the rest of us will most probably simply be content to visit the magnificent aquarium with its spectacular kelp garden, where you can dream your day away quite easily.
In winter, there are still plenty of things to do and you may well prefer the fact that there aren’t crowds of people everywhere you go. In fact, the city makes sure it pulls out all the stops to keep things buzzing during the cooler months. Like challenging the excellent V & A Waterfront restaurants to create the most affordable dish that captures the essence of Cape Town’s many gastronomic influences. (Italian, Malay, Chinese, Japanese, Moroccan, French, Portuguese, Congolese, Greek, Brazilian, Thai and Korean – yes, all of them!)
In fact, prepare to ease your belt a notch or two, because the food is superb. There are five S. Pelligrino Top 100 Restaurants and a plethora of other affordable places to eat. Must-haves? Calamari, done the Portuguese way; a traditional Bobotie, finished off with a rich Cape Brandy Pudding; grilled sole - or any other freshly-caught fish; and more besides. Feeling adventurous? Try smoorsnoek, shwarma and koeksisters, though not all at the same time!
There are certainly many crisp, clear winter days. For those that aren’t, bring out your brolly and go on the Museum Meander. Or go to the National Gallery, seeing if you can find any squirrels in the Company’s Gardens (they began life as the Dutch East India Company’s vegetable patch) on the way.
Beach walks can be extremely interesting after a wild storm. It’s not called the Cape of Storms for nothing and you can never be quite sure what will be washed up after a good one!
Art is everywhere. On walls, sculptures, galleries and in artists’ homes, that have been transformed into museums. Opera and theatre are world class; jazz is thriving; the Adderley Street flower sellers bring a burst of colour to every day; and there’s nothing like a traditional Cape Malay or Xhosa meal in a local’s home.
We’ll have to tell you about the many wine routes, nature hikes, caving adventures and national parks another time. Again, this is typical of Cape Town… because during any visit, it won’t be a case of what you're going to do, but what are you going to leave till next time. And believe me, you will want there to be a next time!