The capital city of South Africa is a melting pot of cultures, landscapes and people. The metropolitan city of Cape Town has the best of both the worlds; the jarring breathtaking Table Mountains surrounding the ‘City Bowl’ as well as the chic urban approach that has designated the city with the title of the World Design Capital in 2014. The magnificent beaches, cliffs that fall away into the cool Atlantic waters and the seamless flow of the natural and modern, manifested in the spotting of zebras on the mountain slopes from a highway or watching whales from the dock of a restaurant make Cape Town an amazingly wonderful city.
WHAT TO SEE
Well connected by air to international destinations, as well by road to the domestic cities, Cape Town is the oldest urban region of South Africa. The Dutch, French, Malay slaves, English and refugees and locals from Africa have over the years made Cape Town their home, bringing together different styles, designs, cuisines and cultures into its folds. The multicultural city is home to the Jews, Hindus, Christians, Muslims and Africans along with being the administrative capital of the country.
Cape Town is perhaps one of the most naturally beautifully metropolitan cities and through the Table Mountains form a large part of the city’s landscape there are many other delightful features. The Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head on either side form the stunning backdrop surrounding the central area of Cape Town also called the City Bowl. The Cape Peninsula to the south is the mountainous trail that juts into the Atlantic Ocean ending at the famous Cape Point. The Cape Flats on the east that joins the peninsula to the mainland is where most of the suburbs of the city lie.
Things to do
The Table Mountains are of course the primary attraction of the city, more so for the magnificent floral beauty that covers its slopes. The Cape Floral Kingdom is one of the most iconic images of the city with Cape Town touted as having one of the highest levels of biodiversity for its sized area in the world. With more 2000 plant species flowering on the slopes of Table Mountain, large numbers of species remain endemic to the city alone. Hiking through the Table Mountain National Park is a popular way of exploring the landscape.
A part of the Table Mountain National Park, Simon’s Town is on the way to the Cape Point down south. The town is famous for its penguin colonies that happily mingle with the onlookers and visitors and if lucky one can also find a penguin swim by in the shallow waters.
Cape of Good Hope or the Cape Point is a fantastic scenic location with a great scope of bird watching, long walks and serene beaches.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden located in the southern suburbs is one of the prettiest botanical gardens in the world.
Cape Town is a city of magnificent beaches and water facing activities. The Waterfront is popular especially during summers and the piers are crowded with shoppers and tourists. Similarly, the Promenade along the Atlantic Coast is the city’s go-to place lined with sculptures, swimming pools and lighthouses. Some of the most popular beaches of Cape Town include Clifton, Llandudno, Boulders and more.
South Africa is also a nation with apartheid past and the District Six Museum is a telling reminder of some of the forcible evictions of blacks and a reminder of how life was before discrimination set in. Similarly, Slave Lodge is another poignant reminder of the nation’s dark past.
Though Cape Town is fraught with natural landscapes that are breathtaking and splendid, the city is no lesser known for its urban and modern atmosphere. Long Street lined with shops, stores and a happening nightlife, Bo-Kaap with its postcard picture homes and streets, Muizenberg with it moonlight walks, the ideal for a picnic Urban Park, the Company Gardens planted by the Dutch East India Company, the Castle of Good Hope are some of the urban attractions of the city.
The vineyards around the city are one of the finest and sightseeing of the city is incomplete without visiting the wonderfully picturesque wineries and vineyards. The Groot Constantia is an excellent Dutch architecture manor house with a large tasting room, the Cloete Cellar and organized tours. Franschhoek and Stellenbosch are some of the other major wine and dining destinations located on the outskirts of the city.
Some of the other attractions include the Robben Island once a prisoner island, the Heidelberg Nature Reserve facing the beautiful Heidelberg Mountains, the Silvermine Nature Reserve for its hiking, Chapman’s Peak Drive and more.
Cape Town has been awarded as the best city in the world to visit by various prestigious publications and there is a small wonder in that!