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Cape Town - Mother City

SOUTH AFRICA

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Why visit Cape Town?

Nestled between a rugged mountain range and the Atlantic Ocean - with the iconic Table Mountain as its backdrop - Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

It’s also one of the most popular tourist destinations in Africa. This cosmopolitan city enjoys a superb natural setting, pristine beaches, sophisticated infrastructure and a mild, Mediterranean climate. From the rich fynbos plant life to the abundant marine ecosystems and pristine white beaches, Cape Town is a nature enthusiast’s playground and adventure-sports mecca. With the addition of every convenience of modern city life blended with a history of transformation, the result is a traveller’s paradise.

The Mother City is a multi-faceted destination that deserves to be explored. Many curated scheduled tours add value to your own explorations to discover this friendly, slow-paced city at your own pace.

Oh, and expect gastronomic delights - Cape Town is peppered with some of the best restaurants in the world that serve award-winning local wines grown in the nearby Cape Winelands. Craft coffee shops and breweries, clubs and street markets add to the vibey street life of this multicultural city.

Many visit the Mother City before or after their bushveld safari.

Everything you need to know about Cape Town

The Cape Town experience is based on restaurants, beaches, mountains, winelands and the incredible natural beauty of the Cape Peninsula. Take a scheduled tour or hire a car and enjoy your own Cape Town safari. You could take a leisurely drive around the Cape Peninsula - including Cape Point's stunning views and wildlife, art and coffee shops in Kalk Bay and the cute penguins at Boulders Beach - before returning along the winding coastal roads via the beaches of Llandudno, Camps Bay and Clifton. And you could spend a day or two wining and dining in the Cape Winelands, followed by a picnic on the wide lawns of Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. And, of course, no Cape Town holiday would be complete without a trip to the top of Table Mountain.

Here is a list of must-visit places of interest in Cape Town, but after a day or so in this cosmopolitan city, you're sure to find a few more favourites of your own.

Table Mountain

This 1,000-metre-high mountain looms over the city of Cape Town with its instantly recognisable flat top. Table Mountain has been recognised as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature and is one of Africa's most photographed natural features. The best way to truly appreciate the splendour of the mountain and city is to take the cable car up on a clear day or hike up one of the many trails. The views are simply supreme as you gaze down on the city and its beaches, the surrounding mountains and the glittering Atlantic Ocean.

Table Mountain

Cape Town's beaches

Cape Town is blessed with white-sand beaches catering for every taste. On the Atlantic seaboard, the four Clifton beaches and Camps Bay are trendy and usually packed with beautiful people during summer. Camps Bay is perfect if you're in the mood for a sunset cocktail and meal - stroll across the road to a row of restaurants and cafes. More private are the sandy coves of Llandudno and Sandy Bay (popular with nudists). Cape Town's warmer Indian Ocean coastline has several small and larger beaches, including Boulders Beach, with its famous colony of photogenic penguins and the surfing mecca of Muizenberg. North of Cape Town lies the long beaches of Blaauberg and Melkbosstrand, with their epic views of Table Mountain over the ocean - popular with kite surfers and other wind-sport enthusiasts. Going east of the Mother City, you could beach hop all the way to the Garden Route and beyond - miles and miles of beaches and water that get progressively warmer as you move east.

Clifton Beach Cape Town

The penguins

Although there are several penguin colonies in or near the Cape Peninsula, the best place to have them amongst you as you relax on the beach is Boulders Beach, near Simonstown. Boulders Beach is a small cove with gently sloping sand and enormous granite boulders. Sheltered and calm, the glassy-clear, turquoise water makes for safe swimming. If you are lucky, a few of the black-and-white-suited African penguins could swim alongside. Wooden walkways run right through this important breeding colony, so you can get really close to the penguins. Remember not to touch them!

Boulders Beach penguins

Cape Point Nature Reserve

At the southern tip of the Cape Peninsula lies the wild and rugged Cape Point Nature Reserve - a rocky finger of land jutting into the Atlantic Ocean with vertical cliffs that plunge over 200m into a churning sea below. This must-visit attraction offers deserted beaches, coastal fynbos, wildlife (including zebra, eland, springbok and ostrich) and amazing views in all directions. The views from the old lighthouse at the very tip of the peninsula are simply exceptional - well worth the walk from the parking lot below (or you could take the funicular).

Cape Point

V&A Waterfront

The V&A Waterfront is more than just a collection of shops and restaurants within a harbour setting. You could certainly shop up a storm at the glamorous boutiques and market stalls and dine out in trendy eateries, but it's when you venture outside that you really understand why Cape Town's Waterfront has become South Africa's most visited tourist attraction. Table Mountain looms over the harbour, a stunning backdrop to African drummers, street performers, boats gliding by and locals and tourists mingling contentedly. Remember that the Waterfront is where to go to catch the ferry to Robben Island.

V&A Waterfront, Cape Town

Robben Island - Nelson Mandela's prison home

Just 12km from the V&A Waterfront dock, Robben Island in Table Bay is where many of South Africa's most respected political leaders - including Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu - spent many years in an infamous prison that is now a National Heritage Site and visitor's centre. Your tour of the prison will be guided by an ex-political prisoner who will share his personal account of the harsh conditions of prison life during the Apartheid regime. Seeing the tiny prison cells will give you cause to appreciate the true spirit and humility of Madiba and others.

Robben Island

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

Kirstenbosch is acclaimed as one of the world's most spectacular botanical gardens. This Garden of Eden offers opportunities for all ages and walks of life to relax, discover and recharge your batteries. From rolling lawns (ideal for picnics) to flower beds, dense banks of fynbos and huge ancient trees, Kirstenbosch is a treasure trove for anybody who loves being outdoors. Winding paths lead you between the beds and plant features, amongst flowing streams and into the mountains beyond, with information boards to provide interesting botanical and historical information. Kirstenbosch hosts concerts of all types during the summer festive season - with most people bringing blankets and picnic hampers and making a day of it.

Kirstenbosch Gardens

Cape Winelands

The Cape Winelands include historic wine and olive estates in the Cape Peninsula and beyond - into the nearby farmlands of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl and Robertson, among others. Click here for more information about the Cape Winelands.

Cape Winelands

Cape Town has a Mediterranean climate, which means hot dry summers and cold, wet winters.

The most popular holiday season in Cape Town is from December to April when tourists flock to the city for the dry, warm summer. If you love the beach and festive atmosphere, this is probably the best time to visit Cape Town. Summer can be a windy time of the year in the Mother City, but the wind tends to settle down from February to March. If you want to skip the festive season crowds but enjoy the great summer weather, then March to May is a good time to visit.

The winter months (June to August) are cold and wet - this is when the city receives most of its rainfall. August to October sees the arrival of spring, bringing warmer weather (with storms and high rainfall still possible). Migrating whales arrive at this time of year, attracting visitors to the Hermanus area, where whales can be easily seen.

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