Voted Favourite Foreign City by the UK Telegraph, Cape Town is one of the places you just have to visit before you
die. It's an awesome city. All the vibe you want - great parties, great
shopping and loads of galleries and other cultural attractions
can't detract from the fact that what makes Cape Town special is the
fact that it is set in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Even
Sir Francis Drake, who'd pretty much seen it all, called Cape Point
the 'fairest cape in all the circumference of the world'. It's a
needle-sharp promontory, which - contrary to marketing hype - does not
divide the Indian Ocean from the Atlantic. But Capetonians claim it
does and you can often see a line of foam heading straight out from the
point - possibly all the way to Antarctica - which certainly divides
the False Bay Coastline on the east from the Atlantic Seaboard on the west.
And the Peninsula Mountain Chain forms a high-lying spine all the way from Cape Point to Table Mountain above the city. Most of this high lying ground is part of the Table Mountain National Park, which also includes Boulders Beach and its penguins, and Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens that showcases South Africa's fabulous floral heritage as well as hosting some great concerts among the flowers. Table Mountain
is the soul of Cape Town - its emotional heart and touchstone. Many
Capetonians escape to the slopes of the mountain on weekends and after
work as a regular - well, it's almost a pilgrimage. There are literally
hundreds of walks on the mountain. Cape Town is the epicentre of the Cape Floral Region,
which is a world heritage site. Another great thing about the Peninsula
and its mountains is that Cape Town has virtually two different
climates in one city. When the wind is blowing on one side, the beaches should be warm and sheltered on the other - and even when it's raining on one side, you may get bright sunshine on the other.
It's all a kind of yin yang thing - opposites balancing - the dark
and light side of the mountain and all that esoteric stuff. And
speaking of which - Cape Town is not just a beautiful city with
fantastic beaches, a national park, an awesome mountain and beautiful flowers. No - it's also a great city. It's a place where residents and visitors alike work hard and play even harder.
Cape Town accommodation
is plentiful and there’s something to suit every budget but it is
highly advisable to book ahead, especially over the Christmas season
(December to mid-February) and during the Argus Cycle Tour (usually mid-March). The greatest density of Cape Town hotels, boutique hotels, Bed and Breakfasts, guest houses and self catering apartments and holiday villas are situated in the City Bowl area and immediate South Atlantic Seaboard belt, all within a 10 minute drive from Cape Town City Centre and the V&A Waterfront. Highly desirable suburbs like Tamboerskloof and Oranjezicht spill down
the slopes of Table Mountain towards Gardens, Cape Town City Centre, De Waterkant and
the exclusive Waterfront. From the Waterfront the dazzling Atlantic coastline curves south, fringed by the seaside suburbs of Green Point, Sea Point, Bantry Bay the ultra glamorous suburbs of Clifton and Camps Bay.
you tie on a blindfold and lock yourself in your hotel room, there is
absolutely no way you can get bored in Cape Town. There are so many things to do. If you're into shopping, the V&A Waterfront
is just one of many shopoholic's dream venues but it stands out as it
has so much more - boat trips, the embarkation point for the Robben Island ferry, the Two Oceans Aquarium,
loads of interesting historical buildings and some of the city's best
hotels with possibly the best views in the world. Cape town offers a
whole range of exciting adventure activities, great birding, awesome whale watching, historical buildings, and dozens of museums outlining the city's fascinating history and its many cultures.
An easy day trip from Cape Town, the Winelands
offer great scenery, white-washed gabled farmhouses nestling in bright
green vineyards, lovely little restaurants, great coffee shops and - of
course - wine tasting sales and cellar tours. When the sun goes down you can choose between hundreds of great restaurants
and a huge range of funky pubs, vibey clubs and a wide selection of
movies, theatre and live music. Cape Town is also home to one of the
most outrageous parties in the world. The Mother City Queer Project is a themed costume party in December that is fast becoming one of the most popular gatherings - certainly in South Africa - and possibly the world. And shortly thereafter, the traditional Kaapse Klopse minstrel
dancers take over parts of the city streets in a tradition that
stretches back hundreds of years to the era when slavery was legal in
Cape Town. Don't forget to pack your dancing shoes.
Other areas close to Cape Town you may like to explore include the dramatic West Coast, which offers great birding along the shores of Langebaan Lagoon, Namaqualand, which has even more spectacular spring flowers, and the Overberg, famous for land-based whale watching. It also features lovely flowers in spring. Cape Town is not the best game viewing destination in South Africa, but there is some small game at Cape Point
and there are a few game farms a short distance from the city, but
they're not really up to the standard of the game reserves further
north and east.
Look at Cape Town through the eyes of David Doubilet, one of the world's leading underwater photographers. David Doubilet has shot more than 60 stories for National Geographic magazine.
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*Distances are shown as the crow flies and not necessarily the actual travelling