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Cape Town - The Mother City

01 January 2009


Thinking about travelling to South Africa? Being a “Capetonian” for over 30 years, I have some suggestions on some of the best sites to see and things to do whilst there. Here are some of my favourites:

Table Mountain

I have to start with this one. Table Mountain sits above Cape Town like a resting giant, occasionally covered by its “cloth” of clouds, it’s truly a site you cannot and should not miss if ever visiting the Mother City. Opening hours for the cable car to the top differ from season to season, but always call ahead to check whether it’s in fact open as they are weather dependant. Have a coffee or some lunch and perhaps try your hand at walking down? Only for the fit however.

Robben Island

A World Heritage Site today, this was once a prison for over 3 centuries and is famously known the place where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years. This trip departs from the V&A Waterfront and there are a few departure times every day. The entire tour is about 3.5 hours long, including the two half-hour ferrys which departs from the V&A Waterfront.

V&A Waterfront

A shoppers paradise! The Victoria and Alfred Mall is huge with designer clothing, curios, shoes and jewellery. There are also heaps of restaurants to choose from. Try some fish and chips at Quay 4 Tavern, right on the water in the harbour. Then follow with a harbour cruise to view the seals lazing in the sun and experience the vibe of the working harbour. The Aquarium is also worth a visit – shark cage diving anyone?

Green Market Square

Closed on Sundays, this is one of Cape Town’s oldest and most popular markets and a fantastic place to pick up some traditional South African items. Look for striped kikois (sarongs), wooden crafts and African beaded jewellery.

Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve

Take this as a day trip and use the whole day. Make sure you drive along the beautiful Chapman’s Peak drive for the spectacular views and keep an eye out for whales if in season. Take the Funicular up to the top of the Point to see where the oceans meet, have a spot of lunch (but don’t feed the baboons!) and then travel on towards Boulders Beach to meet some friendly penguins and finally make your way to Simons Town to meet “Just Nuisance.”

The Winelands

There are so many to choose from, all about an hours drive from Cape Town city - Stellenbosch, Paarl, Franschhoek and Durbanville. You could spend weeks exploring these beautiful areas and never get to see them all! All are historic towns influenced by the French Hugenots and the Dutch so have some interesting historical sites to see along the way. Spend a night or two in each area to really get the most out of the Winelands. Spier Estate in Stellenbosch is especially worth a visit with its Cheetah Outreach Centre, Local Art Gallery, Eagle Encounter shows, heritage walks and more! One of the outdoor restaurants Moyo, has a very memorable lunch and dinner menu complete with tree-top dining and special African touches.

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