A beautiful mix of British, Dutch and Cape Malay influences, Cape Town brings together an array of eclectic inspiration under a backdrop of stunning blue skies and the iconic Table Mountain. Fringed with white sand beaches and the nearby seemingly never-ending valleys of the Winelands, South Africa’s ‘Mother City’, was the first settlement founded by Europeans and now it’s a bright and bustling cosmopolitan centre. There are so many things to do in Cape Town, whether you’re seeking culture, history, food or wine. This diverse South African city really has something for everyone – but here are a few of our favourite ways to spend a day there.
Take a morning walk along the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront
Starting your day with a harbourside stroll and a coffee is always refreshing. Whether you fancy a spot of shopping, planning out your day or simple people watching, this is a picturesque spot with a fresh Atlantic breeze. It is also home to Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, providing an insight into the art that shaped the South Africa of today.
Soak up the sights of bustling Bo-Kaap
Explore the Bo-Kaap district, one of the city’s most vibrant quarters with its unique Cape architecture, home to jazz clubs and artisans. This will take around 30 minutes to walk from the waterfront – probably longer since you won’t be able to help stop and soak up the culture along the way. There are buses to get around central Cape Town, though the classic hop on hop off buses are a great investment for the day as they will stop at all the important landmarks. You’ll know you’re in Bo-Kaap though when you see the rainbow of buildings, providing that famous photography opportunity with the Table Mountain backdrop.
Sample South Africa’s cuisine at Neighbourgoods market
The aforementioned influences are truly showcased in this foodie paradise. So why not stop by for lunch? From biltong to boerewors and bunny chow to bobotie… the list goes on! Not forgetting the Western Cape wine. Since you’re nearby one of the finest vineyards in the world, it would be a shame not to taste the tipple of bring a bottle home to remind you of your trip.
Wander the beautiful Kirstenbosch botanical gardens
A little further out, but worth the trip for budding botanists, Kirstenbosch is truly a gardener’s wonderland. Nestled against the eastern slopes of Cape Town’s Table Mountain, lush rolling green landscapes are punctuated by bursts of colour, as well as indoor and outdoor art exhibitions. A garden entry fee applies though you can book yourself in for a free tour through their website, for which you would need to allow 90 minutes. On our South Africa tour we stay three nights in cosmopolitan Cape Town and explore Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens as part of the itinerary.
Experience poignant Robben Island
If history and politics are your preference over gardens and nature, Robben Island might be the afternoon visit for you. Nelson Mandela spent most of his 27 years incarceration on Robben Island, said to be a unique symbol of “the triumph of the human spirit over adversity, suffering and injustice”. Weather permitting, you can book yourself onto the ferry to experience this fascinating place and it’s multi-layered 500-year-old history. Be sure to allow the afternoon as there are two half hour ferry trips and, if you choose to book a guided visit yourself, the standard tour takes around four hours.
Take a trip up Table Mountain
A visit to Cape Town wouldn’t be complete without rounding it off at Table Mountain. So why not take the revolving cable car to the top? Even from the cable car itself you’ll see so much, so it’s no wonder it has attracted more than 25-million visitors since its opening in 1929. Once at the top, simply sit and soak up the breathtaking 360-degree vistas of Cape Town, Table Bay, Table Mountain National Park and nearby peaks dotted in the distance. A great tip is to buy your cable car ticket in advance, or buy an afternoon ticket, as the cable car is usually quieter after 1pm.
After a wonderful day rounded off with South Africa’s sunset, simply just wander where your feet take you, or relax a little, taking in the views. As your wake up the next morning inspired and refreshed, perhaps revisiting a favourite part or something you weren’t able to fit in from this vibrant and thought-provoking part of the world.