Wherever you are in Cape Town the majestic, iconic shape of Table Mountain adds one of the world’s most impressive backdrops to your view. No trip to this South African city is complete without a hike, or a more leisurely cable car ride, to the top, where the breathtaking vistas are known as some of the best in Africa.
The story of Cape Town’s past is written in its architecture. The colonizing Dutch left their mark with their unique “Cape Dutch” style. You’ll recognize this style in those houses with decorative front gables. Subsequent English and Muslim inhabitants made significant contributions too. See their architectural styles as you wander around the colorful houses and periodic minarets of the Bo-Kaap district.
Such a mix of nationalities makes for a rich cultural scene. Food is superb, whether you’re eating from one of the street carts in the Bo-Kaap district or enjoying freshly caught seafood in a fine-dining restaurant on the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront.
Learn about the city’s history at the Jewish Museum, Slave Lodge and the South Africa Maritime Museum. Perhaps the most poignant story is to be found on Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was held before the abolishment of apartheid.
More than anything though, Cape Town is destination for those who love the outdoors. A wild coastline surrounds the city. The expansive Table Mountain National Park covers 75 percent of the peninsula, meaning that encounters with wildlife are common. Get face-to-face with African penguins at Boulders Beach, or keep an eye out for baboons, antelopes or whales as you hike one of the trails on the Cape of Good Hope. You can also see more cultivated natural beauty at the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden.
Though fairly small, Cape Town does not lend itself to exploring on foot. It’s better to rent a car; the roads are generally easy to navigate and free flowing. Public buses run some of the major tourist routes as well.
Cape Town’s climate is generally good, with the low humidity making the summer heat bearable. Winters can be quite wet.