10 Best Reasons To Visit Cape Town In South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town
The charming city of Cape Town, South Africa, is perched on the coastline of the Western Cape, backed by the iconic Table Mountain and facing Table Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Meanwhile, this lovely city has something to offer everyone in the way of an exciting and enjoyable vacation. Read on to find out the 10 best reasons to visit Cape Town, South Africa.

1. Table Mountain, Cape Town

Table Mountain, Cape Town from across Table Bay
Postcard-perfect Table Mountain
The spectacular, flat-topped Table Mountain hugs the city and stars in many postcard-perfect images. However, visitors don’t just have to gaze at the mountain from its ground level. A regular cable car system whisks visitors up to the top, where they can explore the Table Mountain National Park.

Cable car up Table Mountain
Cable car up Table Mountain [Image by Calvin Mollett on Pixabay
Naturally, the top of the mountain offers spectacular, sweeping views over the city of Cape Town. It is possible to also gaze across Table Bay to Robben Island, Nelson Mandela‘s former prison (see 9 below).

2. V&A Waterfront

The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, Cape Town
V&A Waterfront
Cape Town is a port city and a while back, the city’s harbor was converted into the popular V&A Waterfront. Here, visitors can enjoy sailing trips out into Table Bay, or enjoy a good meal or drink at the many restaurants and bars.

Victoria Wharf Shopping Mall
Victoria Wharf
On top of this, the V&A Waterfront offers a great retail therapy experience in the sprawling shopping mall. It can also offer a great view of marine life in the local Two Oceans aquarium, below.

3. Two Oceans Aquarium, Cape Town

Two Oceans Aquarium, Cape TownIn the heart of the V&A Waterfront, the Two Oceans Aquarium offers several exhibition galleries with large viewing windows. The aquarium showcases the marine life of South Africa’s two oceans, the Atlantic Sea and the Indian Ocean. Of note among the man species are sharks, compass jellyfish, Knysna seahorses, anemonefish, moray eels, Japanese spider crabs and Atlantic horseshoe crabs.

Besides the window-lined walk-through galleries, the aquarium also features the I&J Children’s Play Center, with lots of activities for the kids. Meanwhile, the Predator Exhibit and shark tunnel features ragged-tooth sharks and more.

4. Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens
Kirstenbosch Gardens
The beautiful Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens lie the eastern slopes of Table Mountain. Forming part of the famous Cape Floristic Region, this is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The gardens were first established in 1913 to preserve South Africa’s indigenous flora.

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens
Aloes in Kirstenbosch Gardens
Nowadays, visitors can explore more than 20,000 native plant species in the nature reserve. Meanwhile, the flowers, fynbos, indigenous forests and shrubs are arranged to ensure a colorful display throughout the year.

5. Beaches of Cape Town

Kite surfing in Bloubergstrand, Cape Town
Kitesurfing in Bloubergstrand
Gorgeous beaches line the coast on either side of the city of Cape Town. Visitors can choose from beaches like Milnerton and Bloubergstrand to get that perfect picture-postcard view of Table Mountain across the bay. Meanwhile, windy Blouberg is particularly popular for surfers and kitesurfers.

Camps Bay, Cape Town
Camps Bay
Alternatively, the Atlantic Seaboard offers some of the best stretches of sand in the small towns of Clifton, Camps Bay and Llandudno. Meanwhile, Camps Bay is where the elite and moneyed prefer to holiday on the beach in Cape Town. For gorgeous scenery, the curve of the bay is hugged by the Twelve Apostle mountains.

6. Shopping in Cape Town

Greenmarket Square, Cape Town
Greenmarket Square
For those who need retail therapy, Cape Town offers a varied shopping experience. For a classic shopping mall, head to the Victoria Wharf shopping center mentioned above. However, for those looking for local arts and crafts and genuine souvenirs, Greenmarket Square (pictured above) in the center of the city is the place to be.

Long Street, Cape Town
Long Street, Cape Town
Naturally, the city center offers a range of shops from fashion to food and more. However, of particular interest is Long Street in the city center. The street is renowned as a bohemian hang out and is lined with many bookstores, various ethnic restaurants and bars. One of these is the iconic Mama Africa, pictured above.

7. Visit the Cape Winelands

Cape Winelands
Cape Winelands
Heading out around 40 km (25 mi) out of the city, the Cape Winelands is a series of historic towns and Cape Dutch homesteads. Here, a number of wineries produce and sell excellent South African wines. The vineyards are set among the mountains, giving a beautifully scenic backdrop to the vines.

Stellenbosch, Cape Winelands
Visit a local vineyard to enjoy a delicious meal washed down with the best wines. Meanwhile, the quaint and historic towns of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl, Tulbagh, and Wellington offer great restaurants and shops, set in beautiful Cape Dutch buildings. The Cape Winelands are perfect for a day trip from Cape Town, or to stop over in one of the many quaint bed & breakfasts.

8. Stroll the colorful Bo-Kaap

Bo-kaap, Cape Town
The Bo-Kaap is the original Malay Quarter of Cape Town and lies on the slopes of Signal Hill above the city. This former racially segregated area features homes of many colors and is a historical center of the Cape Malay culture in the city.

View from Bo-Kaap to the city center
Bo-Kaap view to Cape Town
Originally, all the houses were painted white, but the colors of Bo-Kaap are said to be linked to Ramadan and the celebration of Eid. Here you can stroll the colorful streets, stop off at a restaurant for a delicious Cape Malay curry or even stay over in a bed & breakfast.

9. Visit Robben Island

Table Mountain and Robben Island, Cape Town
Table Mountain and Robben Island
For almost 400 years, Robben Island in Table Bay was a brutal prison. In fact, this is where South African President Nelson Mandela spent 18 years of his life in a tiny cell. What probably made the prison even worse was the glorious view of Table Mountain and Cape Town from the island (pictured above).

Robben Island
Robben Island
These days, Robben Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must-see for visitors interested in South Africa’s controversial history. You can start off your tour in the museum at the Nelson Mandela Gateway in the V&A Waterfront. After that, you board a boat that takes around 30 minutes to reach the island. There you can visit Mandela’s former cell and hear the stories of actual former prisoners of the island.

10. Cruise Chapman’s Peak Drive

Chapman's Peak Drive
Chapman’s Peak Drive [Image by Sharon Ang on Pixabay
Chapman’s Peak Drive starts around 25 km (15.5 mi) from Cape Town’s city center. It is known to be one of the most spectacular driving routes in the world. Meanwhile, the road is cut into the sheer rock face of Chapman’s Peak and heads for around 9 km (6 mi) from Noordhoek to Hout Bay.

Sunset on Chapman's Peak Drive
Chapman’s Peak Drive
One of the best times to drive the route is at sunset, where you can park and enjoy the glorious sky. If you are lucky, you can also watch dolphins and Southern Right whales frolicking in the ocean below. Of interest to note, Chapman’s Peak Drive is also the setting for the annual Cape Argus Cycle Race and the Two Oceans Marathon.

Enjoy all these options and many more on a vacation in Cape Town in South Africa this year.

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Anne Sewell

Freelance writer and travel writer who has lived in Malawi, Zimbabwe and South Africa, now living happily on the Costa del Sol in southern Spain.

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