Cape Town – A Holiday Paradise
Cape Town and its famous Table Mountain are some of South Africa’s most popular destinations. Keep reading to find out what you can experience here and why you should plan a trip to the Cape Province.
Getting to Cape Town
Cape Town, located at the foot of the Table Mountain, is framed by two oceans – the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean. Direct and one-stop flights connect the city with major European airports. There are currently no direct flights to Cape Town from the United States, but there are several one-stop flights from all the larger international airports.
Cape Town has a very interesting past, dating back to the time of colonialism. You shouldn’t miss out on this place where history and culture meet!
Due to these compelling historical events, the city houses many museums. A visit to the District Six Museum might be shocking, as it offers a glimpse back into the time of Apartheid. Outdoor lovers should visit the Iziko South African Museum, which presents an overview of Cape Town’s natural history and anthropology.
Other spectacular sites include the lovely City Hall and the elegant Artscape Theatre Centre. The performing arts are very popular in South Africa, especially in the province Western Cape (i.e., Stellenbosch). Therefore, the Artscape Theatre is a must-see when you visit Cape Town. You will marvel at the entertaining plays, electrifying musicals, enchanting ballets, and sensational operas.
Additionally, there are remarkably tiny and colourful houses in the Bo-Kaap neighbourhood in the city centre. This brightly painted row of houses was built in the mid-eighteenth century and serves as a colourful subject for photographers. Another attraction is Kaapse Klopse, a famous festival, which takes place in the streets on January 2nd.
Another popular attraction is the Castle of Good Hope, constructed between 1666 and 1679. Nowadays, it is South Africa’s oldest colonial-style building. At the time of construction, it replaced another, older fort made of clay and wood, the Fort de Goede Hoop, built under Jan van Riebeeck. Guided tours through the impressive building take place every day, and a canon shot is fired on weekdays at 10 a.m. Make sure you stop by the Sea Point Promenade. It features South Africa’s oldest lighthouse at Green Point. It was built in 1824 and is now considered a national landmark.
This island, about 12 kilometres from Cape Town, is rather infamous. During apartheid, it was used as a prison, accommodating enemies of the regime. Its most famous prisoner was Nelson Mandela. You can visit the cell where he was held captive for more than 20 years. Boats run daily to the prison island, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.
The Table Mountain gained its name because of its flat plateau and the occasionally overhanging clouds, which creates the impression of a table covered by a cloth.
There are two ways to get to the top; you can either take the cable car or follow the wonderful Skeleton Gorge Trail. It starts at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, and we highly recommend this route.
A restaurant, café, and shop are located at the top. Enjoy this gorgeous moment and take in the breathtaking panorama.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is one of the most beautiful gardens in the world. Giant trees, green meadows, and all kinds of native plants invite you to picnic in their midst. The garden offers beautiful footpaths as well as the 130-metres-long Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway with spectacular views. The garden is open between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. and can be entered for a small fee. They also offer guided tours free of charge.
We also highly recommend the open-air film screenings and concerts, which take place between November and April.
Due to its amazing location right by the ocean, the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront is well-known as one of Cape Town’s greatest attractions. The V&A Waterfront holds a variety of restaurants, design and trade markets, food stands, and a huge shopping mall. The bustling atmosphere makes this a popular destination.
The famous Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, one of the world’s largest museums for African contemporary art in the world, is also located here.
Most notably, fantastic cruises set sail from the waterfront. We recommend a Sunset Cruise on a sailing boat to end the day. But as a warning upfront, the wind can get hefty around here. Prepare accordingly and bring warm clothes.
More Sights in Cape Town
We especially recommend a tour with one of the red busses. They will take you to almost all the main sights. You can also enjoy a stunning view of Cape Town from a helicopter.
Cape Town and its surroundings are a true paradise for wine lovers. Visit Constantia and its luxurious mansions, and embark on the highly popular Constantia Wine Route. It will take you to a number of vineyards like Buitenverwachting, Steenberg, Little Constantia, and many others.
Signal Hill & Lions Head
There are two more well-known mountains above the city: Signal Hill and Lion’s Head. Signal Hill reaches a height of 350 metres and is famous for its viewpoint overlooking Cape Town. It’s definitely worth driving up by car in the evening to marvel at the world’s most beautiful sunset and the shining city lights.
You can only reach the top of Lion Head, 669 metres above sea level, on foot. It takes around two hours to get there, and the hike turns into a real climbing adventure towards the end. Underneath Lion’s Head lie South Africa’s two most famous beaches: Camps Bay and Clifton Beach. They are prefect for sunbathing, swimming, and surfing.
The Cape Peninsula
If you plan an extended stay in the city, you will also want to explore the charming Cape Peninsula. Set aside two or three days in order to discover its surrounding area. The best place to start is the legendary Chapman’s Peak Drive, a beautiful panoramic street where a number of spectacular viewpoints await you. Drive along the coastline and visit numerous picturesque beaches like Llandudno and calm villages like Muizenberg until you reach the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point.
The Cape of Good Hope was named a natural reserve in 1939 – the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, covering 8,000 hectares of land. Its highlight is the 238-metres-high lighthouse at Cape Point. The amazing view is unforgettable.
South Africa’s southernmost point lies 150 kilometres further east from the Cape of Good Hope, near Cape Agulhas. You can visit a pretty lighthouse here as well.
Day Trips in the Vicinity of Cape Town
The Cape Peninsula’s main attraction and a very popular destination is the penguin colony at Boulders Beach. You can visit the Cape African Penguins in their natural habitat for a small entrance fee.
Take lots of cute pictures and use this opportunity to swim with the penguins. Another option is to take part in a kayak tour around Boulders Beach and watch the adorable penguins from the water.
One of the world’s best spots for whale watching lies around 115 kilometres south of Cape Town: Hermanus. The winter and spring months of the southern hemisphere are the main seasons for whale watching. Of course, you can spot them from the shore, too. There is an 11-kilometres-long trail called Hermanus Cliff Path, which leads to a number of lookouts. Boat tours are extremely popular to get close to the gigantic sea mammals. The Hermanus Whale Festival, taking place every September, is a real highlight. The best time to visit here and see a lot of whales is from June through December.
In addition, Hermanus, a former fishing village, is now a quaint, historic town. Take a walk through the old port and visit the Old Harbour Museum, which contains historical fishing artefacts. And don’t miss out on the opportunity to explore the art galleries, boutiques, and arts and craft shops before enjoying some fresh fish in one of the many beach restaurants.
Simon van der Stel founded Stellenbosch in 1679, and it is therefore the second-oldest town in the country. The picturesque location is home to numerous museums, theatres, and oak-lined streets. The city’s most important landmark is Stellenbosch University, opened in 1863.
History enthusiasts will fall in love with the Stellenbosch Museum. It comprises a tour of four old houses, each dating back to a different period of the city’s history. Most impressive are the Cape-Dutch-Victorian houses. Bletterman House and the small, pretty shops like Oom Samie se Winkel are also worth a visit.
Stellenbosch is a centre for culture and history. We recommend visiting during the Woordfees. This is a festival that includes more than 500 musicals and plays at spectacular venues like Endler Hall and Oude Libertas Amphitheatre.
The charming city is also famous for its high-quality wines and boasts a variety of restaurants. If you are a wine lover, you absolutely can’t miss out on the vineyards Kleine Zalze and Delheim.
South Africa has so much to offer, and the amazing Cape Peninsula, including Cape Town, is particularly impressive. Everyone will get their money’s worth here: history lovers, wine connoisseurs, outdoors enthusiasts and nature freaks. Go on a sunset cruise at the V&A Waterfront, drive around the 114 bends of Chapman’s Peak Drive, explore your surroundings, and get lost in the beauty of mountains and endless possibility.