There is something for all tastes in and around South Africa’s most international city, from world-class shopping to mountain climbing.
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
Cape Town's working harbour is South Africa's most-visited tourist destination, with a whole array of shopping and entertainment options available including markets, restaurants and a ferris wheel. During the day, popular activities include cave golf, cruises around the harbour, a beer making experience and, of course, shopping at more than 450 outlets. In the evenings, more than 80 eateries offer a huge range of food, from fresh sushi to exotic African fare, while music fills the air and various street performers entertain the public (waterfront.co.za).
Elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard are known collectively as “the big five” and they roam the national parks of South Africa. A stay in Cape Town offers you a once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet the African icons. Less than two hours from the city, the Aquila Game Reserve is the perfect place for a 1-day safari, where endangered animals roam freely around 7,500 hectares of untouched veldt.
If you have more time to explore, Kruger National Park (www.sanparks.org/parks/kruger/) offers the most complete safari experience in South Africa. It is located in the north of the country, almost 2,000km away from Cape Town, so you will need to plan carefully if you want an immersive safari experience.
Lion's Head & Table Mountain
Cape Town’s urban areas are wedged in between spectacular hills, the most famous being Table Mountain. Named after its large, flat, table-like plateau, the mountain can be ascended by cable car or, if you are in good shape and used to climbing mountains, you can climb it on foot. Be warned though… it’s no gentle stroll!
If Table Mountain has its “table cloth” (when the summit is covered in cloud), you could check out Lion’s Head, which is a smaller peak below the main plateau. Lion’s Head is much easier to climb than the main plateau of Table Mountain, and offers some of the best views of the city, out to Robben Island.
Getting to the start of the Garden Route takes around half a day by road from Cape Town, but what awaits you when you arrive is more than worth the travel. Stretching from Mossel Bay in the Western Cape to the Storms River, the Garden Route takes you along the Indian Ocean coast, through some of the most beautiful landscapes in Africa. Emerald lagoons, sheer cliffs and verdant forests dot the route, along with opportunities for diving, hiking, surfing, bungee jumping and much more.
Robben Island has been many things over the years, including a leper colony and animal quarantine station. It is most famous, however, for hosting the prison where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years behind bars. Nowadays it is a UNESCO Heritage Site and a fascinating museum (www.robben-island.org.za).
In 1966, District Six was was declared a white area under the Group Areas Act and approximately 60,000 black residents were forcibly evicted. The museum bears testament to their mistreatment (www.districtsix.co.za).
The Iziko National Gallery holds permanent and temporary exhibitions showcasing South African art spanning the centuries and some work from international artists.
The Iziko South African Museum houses more than one and a half million specimens of scientific importance… including many stuffed animals
The Iziko Planetarium takes you on a tour of the universe… without having to leave your seat.
The Iziko Slave Lodge was built by the Dutch East India Company to house up to 9,000 slaves and is one of the oldest buildings in Cape Town. The slogan is now “From human wrongs to human rights”.
You can find out more about the national museums at www.iziko.org.za.
Image credit: Cape Town Tourism