Cape Town

Cape Town, South Africa's second-largest city, ranks among the most beautiful in the world. With its larger-than-life mountain overlooking the City Bowl, harbour, white beaches and Robben Island beyond, this is a tourists' playground. Two World Heritage Sites, the sprawling Winelands, nature reserves, botanic gardens and a buzzing waterfront are just the start of the adventure.

With a population of 3.7-million, Cape Town is South Africa’s second most populous city, a quintessential melting pot of creativity, cuisine and colour – including pink.

Its strategic geographic position at the tip of Africa has seen foreign visitors stopping off at the Cape since the 1400s, each contributing unique cultural influences that make up the fabric of modern-day Cape Town.

A mix of Malay, Dutch, French, Portuguese and African flavour is reflected in Cape Town’s stylish restaurant menus, where locally produced wines complement popular seafood and curry dishes.

Discover wines at source in the famous Cape Winelands by taking a day tour on one of six wine routes, and explore the historically rich adjacent towns of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl.

If you’d prefer to tap into hops rather than grapes, a number of locally brewed craft beers are sold at pubs in and around the city.

An abundance of flora may be appreciated within the city environs, from the magnificence of the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden to a World Heritage Site featuring more than 9 000 fynbos ('fine bush') species in the Table Mountain National Park.

As the meeting point of many cultures, Cape Town is dotted with mosques, kramats, churches, synagogues and temples, while its architecture reveals examples of art deco, Cape Dutch and Malay engineering.

Cape Town’s beaches are a huge drawcard during the hot summer (November to February) months, while winter surf conditions are more favourable for all surf-related disciplines – including extreme wave riding at Dungeons, off Hout Bay.

The city’s leisure-loving lifestyle and mountainous backdrop have given rise to myriad leisure pursuits: hiking, mountain biking, paragliding, abseiling, helicopter flips and skydiving.

Cape Town is also one of the world’s top 20 gay destinations, and boasts myriad gay-friendly clubs, pubs, restaurants and theatres.

A top attractions itinerary for the Mother City ought to include a trip up the aerial cableway to the top of Table Mountain, a New7Wonder of Nature; a boat trip to Robben Island, where world-renowned humanitarian Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 18 years; a tour of the Winelands in Durbanville or Stellenbosch; a sightseeing trip along Chapman’s Peak Drive; a relaxing afternoon at the V&A Waterfront; and a drive to Simon’s Town, where a breeding colony of African penguins lives on Boulders Beach.

Travel tips & Planning info

How to get here

Cape Town is a popular long-haul destination and there are daily flights into Cape Town International Airport from numerous overseas destinations. The Mother City is well-serviced by domestic fights. You can also drive to Cape Town on good roads from South Africa's other cities.

Best time to visit

The very best time to visit Cape Town is during the summer, when the weather's great and there are activities and events galore. Winter is less crowded with visitors, and there is still plenty to do.

Around the area

Visit Robben Island, shop up a storm at the V&A Waterfront, have cocktails in Camps Bay, party in Long Street, go horse riding in Noordhoek, head off on a wine-tasting safari ...

Tours to do

Definitely organise a township tour.

Get around

Self-drive is a good option – and hiring a vehicle will give you the freedom to move around at will. However, additional transport options (buses, trains, taxis, minibuses) are available.

What will it cost

Costs vary depending on the services you require – there is an enormous range of choices and cost options.

Length of stay

A few days at the very least – there is so much to see and do.

What to pack

Cape Town is hot and dry (and sometimes very windy) in summer (November to February). In winter, the rainy season, make sure you take rain-resistant gear, and warm jerseys or jackets for the evenings.

Where to stay

Being one of the world's prime leisure destinations, Cape Town has a wide range of accommodation available.

What to eat

Cape Town and its surrounds are home to some of the best restaurants in the country.

Best buys

South Africa's very own pinotage wine.

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