Cape Town, affectionately known as the “Mother City,” is South Africa’s most scenic city. Characterized by the emerald waters of two merging oceans, a meandering coastline dotted with golden beaches, vibrant suburbs with strikingly colourful architecture, an unforgettable and tangible history, and the purple flat-topped backdrop of Table Mountain, its charisma is simply undeniable. Here are some things you should not miss when you visit Cape Town on your South Africa tour:
Spectacular Sunsets from Table Mountain
The unique flat-topped Table Mountain dominates postcards and is one of South Africa’s most recognizable icons. Often veiled by clouds, known as a “tablecloth,” the mountain’s unusual appearance gives it an air of mystery. Networks of hiking trails, such as Platteklip Gorge, surge through the mountainside and are a rewarding way to admire Cape Town from above. If you prefer a leisurely ascent, ride the cable car to the top of the mountain for views over the city and Table Bay towards Robben Island. While the cable car runs all day, the best time is late afternoon, when you can watch the golden sun slowly set over the city below you.
Boutiques to Boat Trips at the V&A Waterfront
The Victoria & Alfred waterfront, with its picturesque backdrop of Table Mountain, is undoubtedly one of the most scenic working harbours in the world, and, unsurprisingly, it’s also the most visited tourist attraction in South Africa. Browse the shopping mall for fashion and African souvenirs, visit the Two Oceans Aquarium, hop on a sunset catamaran cruise, or take a ferry to Robben Island.
Wine & Dine Along the Constantia Wine Route
You don’t have to go as far as Stellenbosch and Franshhoek to enjoy some of the best wines South Africa has to offer. The magical wine estates along the Constantia Wine Route have plenty of character, and should not be missed on your South Africa tour. Enjoy wine tastings paired with unbeatable mountain and vineyard views over the Constantia Valley. Devour delicious cheese and charcuterie platters at Constantia Glen, sample wines outdoors in the tree-lined grounds of Eagle’s Nest, and savour sparkling wines at Steenberg Wine Estate.
Swim with Penguins at Boulder’s Beach
With hundreds of tuxedoed African penguins waddling between the sand and the ocean, Boulder’s is certainly not your average beach. Picnic amidst the boulders in the small sheltered coves and swim among the penguins… as long as you don’t get too close – these flightless birds can get a bit nippy! End your trip with a visit to the nearby South African naval base in Simonstown, where you can see the famous statue of Just Nuisance – the only dog to be enlisted in the navy!
Cape Point Nature Reserve
Cape Point is a peaceful nature reserve at the tip of the Cape Peninsula. Filled with miles of rugged coastline, deserted beaches, and crashing waves, you simply cannot miss its dramatic scenery on your South Africa tour. Take the funicular to the lighthouse and enjoy incredible views of the ocean and coastline, or hike the Shipwreck Trail along the coastline and spot the remains of several aged shipwrecks.
Bold & Beautiful Bo-Kaap
Stroll through the colourful Cape Malay quarter, which is filled with cobbled streets, brightly coloured houses, and Georgian terraces at the foot of Signal Hill. Strong, spicy aromas waft through the narrow streets and you simply have to enjoy a traditional Cape Malay meal at one of the eateries or attend a local Cape Malay cooking class while you’re here. The Bo-Kaap Museum offers a fascinating insight into the history of the area’s residents, many of whom were once Malaysian slaves.
Museums and City Sights
The suburb of District 6 was once home to a mixed community of merchants, labourers, and freed slaves, who were forcibly removed during Apartheid. Today, the District 6 Museum offers an eye-opening look into the tumultuous history of South Africa and its people. After a self-guided tour through the city, end with a picnic in the Company’s Gardens – a beautiful public park next to South Africa’s Houses of Parliament. Filled with colourful rose gardens, historic statues, water features, an aviary, and an abundance of wildlife and birdlife, it’s a great place for a lazy afternoon stroll.
Hout Bay & Chapman’s Peak
While Hout Bay is known for its great beach, harbour, and fantastic market, one of its main attractions is its location at the end of Chapman’s Peak Drive – one of the most scenic coastal drives in the world. A slow, Sunday-type drive is one of the best ways to end off a South Africa vacation, with picnic and lookout spots dotted along the roadside. Browse the Bay Harbour Market for African souvenirs and handcrafts, enjoy a boat trip out to Seal Island, and enjoy fresh fish and chips on the rocks in the harbour.
Glitz & Glamour of Camps Bay
With a beautiful palm-lined beach and glitzy cafes and cocktail bars, it’s no surprise Camps Bay is the usual haunt of Cape Town’s rich and famous. Enjoy a few hours on the beach before heading over to Cafe Caprice or The Bungalow, which come alive at sunset.
With so much on offer, make sure to include Cape Town when you plan your South Africa tour!