Western Cape, South Africa
Overlooked by the iconic Table Mountain, Cape Town is a world-class destination for visitors who are looking for the finest in entertainment, dining and scenery. You’ll find superb shopping and entertainment complexes, beaches to rival those on the Algarve, a wide variety of trendy restaurants and nightclubs.
Even more important are the city’s history and culture, encapsulated in distinctive neighbourhoods such as the Bo-Kaap. In this city you’ll find an exciting mix of cultures – African, European, Asian – that have combined to create one of the world’s most vibrant and cosmopolitan cities.
Lovers of wine won’t want to miss a drive inland to the winelands. There’s the popular Stellenbosch Wine Route while the Constantia Wine Route includes several legendary estates with wonderful Cape Dutch architecture.
The beaches are beautiful and you’ve got a wide variety to choose from each offering a huge variety of outdoor recreational activities and beach culture. Cape Town beaches have white sand and great surf, but remember that beaches on the west side of the Cape are cold. If you want a safe family environment where you can watch your children paddle in the warm waves, try the False Bay beaches of St. James or Fish Hoek or go to Clifton’s Fourth Beach.
Things To Do
- Go to Cape Point Nature Reserve
- Go for a walk on Noordhoek Beach
- The scuba and snorkeling are excellent
- Go for a helicopter flip along this awe-inspiring coastline
- Drive along Chapman’s Peak
- Take a cable car to the top of Table Mountain
- The Two Oceans Aquarium will give you a close-up view of the undersea world
- Go and see the Jackass Penguins on Boulders Beach in Simonstown
- Go to Seal Island, hunting ground of great white sharks
- Block your ears and head to Signal Hill to see the Noon Gun fired
- Grand West Casino and Entertainment
- World Ratanga Junction entertainment centre
- The Cathedral Church of St. George the Martyr with its magnificent stained-glass windows
- Josephine Mill – Cape Town’s only surviving (and operational) water mill
- The Rhodes Memorial built to Cecil John Rhodes, prime minister of the Cape Colony in the late 19th century
- Marvel at sub-Saharan Africa’s golden artefacts at the Gold of Africa Museum
- See over 4 500 species of indigenous flowers at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
Shopping Cape Town offers shoppers a wonderful variety of shopping from malls with top boutique and brand-name shops to colourful and vibrant markets.
The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront is the ultimate tourist shopping experience where you’ll find everything from the biggest indoor craft market in Southern Africa to high-end fashion boutiques.
Head to Greenmarket Square in the heart of the city for a variety of stalls selling African curios, clothing, and other goods. The Pan African Market showcases arts, crafts, jewellery, and artifacts from virtually every country in Africa at competitive prices.
The Red Shed Craft Market is a vibrant indoor craft market with a diverse assortment of innovative designs and traditional handicrafts. Cavendish Square is a large, upmarket shopping complex and Canal Walk offers great shopping if you don’t mind walking as it claims to be the largest shopping centre in Southern Africa. There’s a vast choice of shops and an impressive science centre that will entertain (and educate) kids both young and old.
You’ll also find markets at Kirstenbosch and Hout Bay for great crafts and original curios. If you’re looking for antiques head off to Kalk Bay and Simonstown for great buys at reasonable prices. If you’re after designer labels, Cape Town can match the offering of just about any large city in the world. But it’s the unique, creative items produced locally that stand out.
Where else in the world would you find a replica Harley-Davidson, expertly constructed from wire? The bead work is interesting and portable and you can buy anything from a flower to a lion. Other signature Cape Town items include South African wines, diamonds and ceramics.
Cape Town and its surrounding areas offers fabulous dining along with some of the best wines in the world. The city, the culinary centre of the country, offers an extensive line-up of restaurants unrivalled anywhere else in the country.
Whether you choose to dine in a 5-star hotel in town, an intimate restaurant right on the beach, or off the beaten track, you can be assured of great food and friendly hospitality.
At the foot of Table Mountain, there’s the venerable Mount Nelson – a pink icon known affectionately as The Nellie — a magnet for both fine evening dining and afternoon tea.
Located on the shore of Table Bay, Cape Town was originally established by the Dutch East India Company as a supply station for Dutch ships. Jan van Riebeeck’s arrival on 6 April 1652 established the first permanent European settlement in South Africa.
To get an insight into the Cape’s past there are several historical sites that are must-sees. The Castle of Good Hope, the country’s oldest surviving building, is an imposing pentagon-shaped castle that dates back to 1666 and was the area’s original Dutch fort. The Houses of Parliament, which date to 1884, reflect the influence Britain had on the city.
The District Six Museum is a reminder of the vibrant lives destroyed during apartheid and the Bo-Kaap Museum gives visitors an insight in the lives of 19th century Muslim slaves.
A trip to Cape Town would be incomplete without a visit to Robben Island (now a World Heritage Site) and the most famous jail cell of them all 46664 – where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned.
For art lovers, museums of note include the South African National Gallery, which hosts exhibitions on a range of subjects, The South Africa Museum is a natural-history and anthropology museum that exhibits a wide range of topics, including some excellent examples of prehistoric rock art, as well as traditional cultures of Africa and life in the oceans.