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Exploring Cape Town

With its spectacular oceanside setting overlooked by Table Mountain, Cape Town is a world city in its own right and has one of the earliest and most interesting settlement and development histories of any country. It’s Africa’s most popular city for tourists, and its numerous districts hold a variety of ethnic enclaves, business, upscale residential and commercial quarters.

Surrounded by dozens of beaches with waters ranging from mildly warm to Atlantic cold, the city and its cultural sights, heritage buildings, museums and entertainment areas keep visitors busy all day and most of the night. The most popular areas for visitors include the Victoria and Albert Waterfront with its upscale hotels such as Cape Grace and the Westin Grand Cape Town. Other good bases are found in Camps Bay, City Bowl, Sea Point and Constantia. The new Citybus rapid transport system connects the airport with the central districts and is still expanding, and metered taxis are reliable and safe.

Sights nearby

Cape Town and its immediate surroundings are packed with sights, landmarks, museums, beaches and cultural destinations. Its plethora of Dutch Cape homes are architectural treasures and its major colonial buildings are a reminder of times past.

Table Mountain
This South African icon has to be the most famous in the entire continent. Set in its own national park, it can be climbed the hard way or approached via a cable car and gives breathtaking views over the city, the Cape of Good Hope and the wild Atlantic waters.

Victoria and Albert Waterfront
The Cape’s history as a crucial break point for trading ships heading to and from Asia still lingers here, with the quarter built on the site of the original port. Ferries run from here to famous Robben Island and local fur seal colonies and the Two Oceans Aquarium shows unique, indigenous marine species.

Just over an hour’s drive outside the city is Stellenbosch, founded by Dutch settlers moving out from the Cape and prominent as a British military base during the Boer War. The town was the original hub of the South African wine industry, and the vineyards still produce world-class vintages.

Eating and drinking and shopping nearby

Cape Town is world-famous for its ‘rainbow cuisine’, incorporating dishes from all over the world as well as traditional African and Dutch recipes. The V&A Waterfront is culinary central, with a broad range of upscale eateries; for the trendiest food, drinks and nightlife, head for Camps Bay. For multi-ethnic choices, Long Street is the place, and the hip quarters of De Waterkant and Green Point add fun vibes to great food. For sushi, Italian and bistro dining, Observatory’s Lower Main Road is off the tourist trail and, for stunning seafood dishes, Hout Bay is worth the trip, and the highly-regarded South African wines are found everywhere. The Sunday Green Point market is good for authentic souvenirs, as is Green Market Square and, for the real, expensive deal with provenance attached, Church Street has several interesting shops.

Public transport

Cape Town offers two bus systems, the Golden Arrow network and the newer MyCityBus Rapid Transport System. The former is cheaper, but only runs during the day, uses older buses and is far slower, whilst the MyCityBus covers most destinations of interest to tourists in comfort as well as providing an airport link. Trains are plagued by thieves and should not be used at all after dark. Metered taxis are local authority-controlled, considered safe for visitors and can be hired at a fixed price for longer journeys.

Cape Town travel guides

Cape Town Travel Guides

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