Cape Town is the southernmost city in Africa and is worth exploring. As the second-largest town in South Africa, this coastal gem displays centuries of history in its architecture, cuisine, and cultural attractions. Prepare for beautiful wildlife, moving displays of political and personal perseverance, and diverse neighbourhoods celebrating cultures worldwide.
When to Go
Anytime you visit South Africa, you’ll find special events and a mild climate. Plan on shopping around for airfare and booking tours and accommodations early for this popular destination. Travelling in September and October is an ideal time to enjoy perfect temperatures around 70 degrees and slightly less-crowded tourist hot spots.
How to Get There and Get Around
Flights to Cape Town are frequent from New York City and Los Angeles. Using your favourite discount airfare site can help you narrow down the best routes and times to buy. If you have any reason to travel to Europe, flights to South Africa departing overseas can be less expensive and worth tacking on to the end of another trip. Once in Cape Town, you’ll find that Ubers are plentiful and generally cheaper than taxis. When you’re in the city center, you can easily walk or bike to visit some of the sites.
Photo: Jaturun phuengphuttharak via 123RF
What to Do and Eat
Cape Town is full of beautiful sights and intriguing neighbourhoods. If you only have limited time, check out these must-do activities off your list before heading home.
Hike Table Mountain
Table Mountain is one of the most iconic South African locations and a must-see for visitors to the country. Its flat-top feature makes for stunning photographs, and the wildlife in the area is diverse and abundant. You can take the aerial tram to the top if you’d rather not hike, so there’s no excuse to miss this site!
Visit Boulders Beach
Travelling with kids or avid swimmers? Head to Boulders Beach, where the calm waters are perfect for taking a dip. One of the best parts of this beach location is the colony of penguins living there. Because of these fun local friends, the beach is often crowded, but visiting in the fall gives you the best chance to have a slightly less-crowded area.
Explore the Company Gardens
Tourists often overlook this location. That means it’s likely less crowded than other parks. You can stroll the lanes, admiring the wildlife and trees, or stop at one of the museums to learn more about the country’s colonial past. These gardens were planted to grow fruits and vegetables for passing ships during colonial days, so there’s plenty of history for the curious tourist.
Tour Robben Island
It’s hard to escape the political past when you visit South Africa, and visiting Robben Island gives you a firsthand look at some of the consequences of apartheid. Many tour guides you’ll encounter are former political prisoners, giving you the chance to ask for personal accounts of their time on the island.
Visit The Old Biscuit Mill
For a one-stop dining location, head to this refurbished 19th-century mill and taste various offerings from the many shops and restaurants in its “village” area. This is an excellent spot for casual dining that doubles as sightseeing.
Grab Some Seafood in Paternoster
For fresh, local seafood and a quaint atmosphere, take the 90-minute drive to nearby Paternoster and explore the area on foot. Paternoster is one of South Africa’s oldest fishing villages. You can find lobster and other seafood the locals catch right in front of your eyes.
Whale Watch in Hermanus
Hermanus is about two hours from Cape Town. During peak whale-mating season (which ends in late October), you can see mothers and calves swimming from your vantage point on the white sandy beaches.
Experience Fine Dining at The Test Kitchen
The Test Kitchen is Cape Town’s most upscale restaurant, serving a 16-course dinner with experimental offerings like homemade gummy bears. This location is the hottest spot in the city, so make sure to have a reservation in place three months in advance.
Stay in the Gardens Suburb
Gardens is an inner-city Cape Town suburb. It’s an excellent place to stay to be close to the action and feel like you’re getting some local flavour. You can easily walk to museums, clubs, shops, and galleries. Plus, the accommodation prices are more reasonable than in some other neighbourhoods.
If you’ve always wanted to visit South Africa, start planning today for the adventure of a lifetime!