Go up Table Mountain
It’s called Table Mountain because viewed from afar its summit appears to be as flat as a table. But if you climb it, you will soon discover this to be an optical illusion. It is rugged and wild, but well worth the effort for its spectacular views of the Cape Peninsula and Atlantic seaboard. The sandstone mountain is 1085 metres high and three kilometres wide.
Not enough energy? Take the ten minute cable-car trip (after a spot of queuing). It is an experience in itself. But check the weather report. At times the mountain can be covered with its famous “tablecloth” cloud and then you are guaranteed to have no view whatsoever. From the end of November through to February the south-easterly wind (called the Cape Doctor because it “cures” the Cape of any potential smog) also holds the potential to spoil your trip.
Visit Robben Island
South Africa’s iconic anti-apartheid struggle hero Nelson Mandela spent most of his 27 years in prison on Robben Island in Table Bay before he became president of the new democratic South Africa.
Today the barren island is an Unesco World Heritage Site and the former prison an apartheid museum. Take the ferry from the Cape Town harbour if you want to experience chilling history.
Party and shop at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront
The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront is South Africa’s most visited single destination. The exciting shopping and entertainment venue is part of a working harbour with scenic views of Table Mountain. It has a blend of maritime history, craft markets, museums, an aquarium, a variety of shops, restaurants, bars and cinemas.
Visit the edge of the peninsula – Cape Point
Cape point is mountainous and scenic. It runs southwards for 30 kilometres from Cape Town and Table Mountain, but it is not the southernmost point in Africa as many people will tell you and more travel guides will insist. That honour goes to Cape Agulhas, almost 200 kilometres to the south-east.
A trip to Cape Point is a must for any Cape Town visitor. The southern end of the Cape Peninsula boasts two points of interest: the Cape of Good Hope and the more southernly and a bit higher situated Cape Point. Both the Capes are situated in the 7800 hectare Good Hope section of the Cape Peninsula National Park, 13 kilometres behind the entrance gate.
The access road leads to a parking area where there is a snack bar and an exclusive restaurant with a fantastic seaview.
In the National Park there are beautiful bays and hiking trails. Bontebok and other antelopes are plentiful, but steer clear of the baboons because they are known to be aggressive. Hide your food and never attempt to feed them. It’s an offence.
Stroll through the photogenic historic Malay Quarter of the Bo-Kaap (High Cape) and the District Six Museum
This part of Cape Town is historically very interesting and visually appealing to visit. Some of the inhabitants are descendants of the people from Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Malaysia, who were captured in the 17th and 18th century and enslaved by the Dutch-East Indian Trading Company.
Called Cape Malays, they had a great influence on the development of language and cultures in the Cape colony.
Many speak a delightful dialect of Afrikaans – a mixture of Dutch, German, Malay and other indigenous languages. The narrow cobblestone streets have brightly coloured houses and mosques.
During the height of apartheid in the late 1960’s and 1970’s the Cape Malay peoples were forcibly removed from the Bo-Kaap – then known as “District Six”. It was part of the white government’s policy of “separate development” of cultures and races. Many of the houses where bulldozed at the time.
This history as well as many photographs of the original District Six and the impact the policy had on families are recorded in the museum.
Do a township tour
Cape Town is surrounded by many townships that was formed during the apartheid years for black people and coloured people to stay around the city. Unique cultures and ways of living developed in these so-called townships.
A township tour offers the opportunity for visitors to gain a richer understanding of South Africa’s many cultures and also helps support small enterprises. It is often an eye opening experience and really good fun.
Go on a winelands tour
The Cape Peninsula is surrounded by many fine wine routes where wine can be tasted with good food. Popular wine regions are Durbanville, Stellenbosch, Helderberg, Paarl, Agter-Paarl and Wellington.
The regions are all within an hour’s drive from the city, but driving is not advisable. The wine is so good, that an organised tour with a sober driver is really the only way to go.
Further from Cape Town popular wine regions include Worcester, the BAR (Bonnievale, Ashton & Robertson) Valley, Swellendam and Montagu.
The areas are not far to drive (often within two hours), but so spectacular that day trips are not advisable. Rather arrange to stay in a guest house and enjoy the regions properly.