Please don’t make the mistake of using Cape Town as a short stopover as you connect to South Africa’s interior for a safari. As I’ve already covered through several posts here on Trip101, there is a ton to do in Cape Town itself. In fact, those posts only covered the periphery of Cape Town – the wine regions and Cape Peninsula. This post dives deeper into things to do within the Cape Town city limits.
There is so much to do in Cape Town that it deserves at least three nights. More if you plan to explore the surrounding region.
Looming above Cape Town like a great protector is Table Mountain. Wherever you roam within the city, the mountain is always peering over your shoulder, sparking much curiosity as to what the view from the top of one of the New Seven Wonders of the World looks like (Hint – it’s amazing!). The flat-topped mountain has survived six million years of erosion. It hosts the richest, yet smallest floral kingdom on Earth with over 1,470 plant species. The view stretch to Robben Island, the sweeping countryside, and neighboring mountains of Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head.
The easiest way to the top of Table Mountain is via the cable car. The cable car rotates 360 degrees as it climbs, giving everyone a view of both the mountain and the shoreline. A roundtrip ticket costs 225 ZAR (15 USD). The more adventurous can opt for one of the many hiking paths to the top with levels ranging from difficult to the most dangerous, which climbs through an ancient forest.
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront and water sport activities
While many describe the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront as a tourist trap, it definitely possesses some hidden gems that are worth exploring. The center itself is Africa’s largest shopping and entertainment facility, which makes it a shopper’s must visit attraction. With shopping comes restaurants, and the V&A Waterfront is filled with everything from fine dining to fast food, all with spectacular views over the harbor. I recommend Mitchel’s Waterfront Brewery for well-crafted beers and Karibu Restaurant for authentic South African cuisine.
The V&A Waterfront is also a great place to arrange water activities like diving, fishing, or sailing. Some operators offer dinner cruises or glass bottom boat rides for a calmer sea excursion.
The historical side of Cape Town
South Africa has a sad history that does not need repeated. The city and country has several well-done, gentle reminders of the atrocities of Apartheid, letting the world know that never again should human beings be treated in such a manner. Two of the most notable attractions are Robben Island and District Six Museum. Robben Island is where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 17 years. District Six Museum depicts a historical neighborhood of Cape Town that was declared white only. The black residents were removed and their houses bulldozed in an attempt to erase their history. The museum does not allow their history to be forgotten.
To witness the effects that Apartheid has on present day South Africa, book a tour to one of the many townships. Langa Township provides a humbling experience of how South Africa still needs to heal from its past wounds.
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A tip on exploring Cape Town
Cape Town is windy! Often, activities have to be rescheduled due to high winds. If Table Mountain, Robben Island, or any water activity is on your to do list for Cape Town, plan those early in your visit. That way, if weather delays your activity, you can reschedule it for later in your trip. If you miss an activity, don’t fret it! There are plenty of other activities that didn’t make this list but are worth checking out.
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