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Cape Town, South Africa

Great Destination:

Value for Money:

Total Stars:

Personality Types that Like it Best

Did You Know … ?

  • Dr. Christiaan Barnard performed the world’s first heart transplant In Cape Town (1967).
  • Wine production in Constantia Valley dates back to 1659.
  • Cape Point is home to nearly 20% of Africa’s flora.
  • The entire Table Mountain National Park is within the Cape Town city limits.
  • Cape Agulhas is Africa’s southernmost point, not the Cape of Good Hope as many believe.

A Table setting

A few of the world’s cities are noted for their spectacular harbor settings — Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco and Sydney are examples. Cape Town, South Africa’s legislative capital, is in the same class. It sits in a remarkable place, between the dramatic Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean, for the most prosaic of reasons: Its Dutch founders needed a stopping-off point for Asia-bound traders.

The city is on Cape Peninsula, which is distinguished by its mountains, beaches and diverse flora and fauna. The peninsula ends at the Cape of Good Hope. Cape Town faces the Atlantic, but a short ride across the peninsula leads to the warmer waters of False Bay.

Visitors rate the city very highly in part because of its geography. It also has attractions that lure history buffs, lovers of the arts, foodies, soccer fans as well as outdoor enthusiasts.

The coastal waters and inland landscape lend themselves to activities like game fishing, surfing, climbing (to the top of the 3,563-foot Table Mountain) and cycling, competitively or not. Or, visitors may relax on a beach, tour the area wineries and devote quality time to the Kirstenbosch gardens.

Cape Town hosts jazz, comedy, design and arts-related events and festivals. In addition, tourists of all personality types enjoy the penguins, whales and other wildlife.

Finally, the city is of interest as the country’s first European settlement (1652), but today’s students of history also look to the recent past. They tour Robben Island where antiapartheid activists were imprisoned and they visit the city’s townships — the areas were nonwhites lived during apartheid. There is still much de facto segregation, but the townships have become centers of culture in their own right. Tourists often visit on guided tours.

Year-round temperatures in Cape Town are generally mild, but most visitors come in the long summer (November to March) for the Mediterranean climate. Crime rates are high in South Africa. Cape Town’s vulnerable places include the townships, ATM machines and even hikers’ routes on Table Mountain. It is wisest to travel with others while remaining alert to surroundings. The city has not escaped the nation’s AIDS epidemic either.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Go surfing off Kommetjie, Scarborough or Misty Cliffs, or tackle the 25-foot waves at Dungeons, off Hout Bay.
  • Overnight in a B&B in Khayelitsha or another of Cape Town’s townships. Check out jazz clubs in Gugulethu.
  • Join the thousands who compete in the scenic 109-km Cape Argus Cycle Tour around Cape Town.
  • Get close to the area’s great white sharks by diving with them in a shark cage. Or dive in the tank at Two Oceans Aquarium.
  • Climb Table Mountain, or try kloofing (canyoning) on the Steenbras River Gorge Hiking Trail.
  • Get behind the wheel of a racing car at Killarney Racetrack, which offers stock car and drag racing, among other choices. Or, get your adrenaline rush by going off road with a 4X4 vehicle.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Visit and wonder at the African penguin colony at Boulders Beach. Also, between June and November, take a longer drive to see whales at Hermanus on the Cape Whale Coast.
  • Take an escorted tour into one of the city’s townships, meaning the areas occupied by black Africans and considered to be slums in the time of apartheid. Today, they appeal to tourists for their arts and crafts, food and entertainment.
  • Eat braai (a kind of barbeque).
  • Make the pilgrimage to Robben Island and its museum to see where Nelson Mandela was held prisoner for many years. See his cell and take a guided tour of the prison.
  • If you love wine, visit one or more of the Constantia Vineyards, and sample the wares.
  • Plan a trip to coincide with the Cape Town International Jazz Festival in March or April, or the Infecting the City arts festival in February.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Laugh it up. Come to town for the Vodacom Funny Festival in early winter (meaning parts of June and July).
  • Spend time in the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, and allow enough time for a hike or a picnic.
  • Take a cable car to the top of Table Mountain for great views of the city and areas around it.
  • Go shopping on the V&A Waterfront; have lunch there, too.
  • Explore the city’s museums, based on your interests. One is the Castle of Good Hope, a fort dating from 1679 and South Africa’s oldest surviving building.
  • Enjoy Chapman’s Peak Drive which winds its way between Noordhoek and Hout Bay. It is considered one of the world’s most stunning marine drives.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult Cape Town Tourism at www.capetown.travel