Cape Town situated at the most southwestern point of the African continent is known as the gateway to Africa. It was from this point that the early settlers colonised firstly the Cape and then the rest of South Africa. From its early beginnings as a Dutch settlement Cape Town has developed into a modern city with highways, hotels, harbours shopping centres, and an airport that compares with anything in the world.
Smaller hotels, game lodges, B& B’s, Paternoster rentals, and backpackers lodges are readily available all over Cape Town and offer excellent accommodation for those not wanting to stay in the upmarket hotels. For those seeking a holiday of thrills, Cape Town is the place to come to. Extreme sports such as shark cage diving, bungee jumping, sky diving, and paragliding are readily available.
Below are a few places to check out when visiting Cape Town:
1 – Table Mountain
This newly appointed “Wonder of Nature” and magnificent backdrop to Cape Town has a wonderful gondola or cable car that will wiz you to the top of the mountain in all of 5 minutes, taking you from 300 meters above sea level to over 1000 meters. It truly is awe-inspiring and the views to die for, BUT, why the rush?
If you are of relative fitness and enjoy walking, there is no better way to see the mountain and the city in slow motion than by shanks pony. You can walk Platteklip Gorge, a series of stone-stepped switchbacks to the top in less than two hours. You can do it on your own, but I suggest taking a local guide or organized tour which adds so much to the experience. Then take the cable car down so you get the best of both? For serious walkers and climbers there are many different trails routes and options but always travel with experienced guides.
For those interested in other pursuits on the mountain why not try mountain biking on the lower slopes or even Tokai which is further South towards Cape Point on the Table Mountain Range. Or how about trail running, Cape Town’s fastest-growing sport. Or how about walking to the top of Lions Head, at full moon – one of Cape Town’s best-kept secrets? If you enjoy walking, Cape Town is paradise found. We have trails everywhere, in the suburbs and all the way down to the Cape of Good Hope.
2 – Cape Town City Tour
Most first-time visitors to Cape Town will enjoy an orientation tour of South Africa’s oldest and most beautiful city. The two main ways of doing this would be on a half-day minivan tour or by taking the hop-on-hop-off bust that follows a number of colour-coded routes like many other cities around the world.
The great thing about Cape Town is that it is small, so in my opinion, the best way to really see it, is to take a walking tour or a cycling tour of the Mother City. In this way, you get to truly unravel some of the complex history of this melting pot of cultures.
Originally set up by the Dutch as a refreshment station to re-supply passing ships, with very little regard for the indigenous people who were living here at the time, you delve into the essence of the making of South Africa. It only takes a couple of hours and it is a relatively flat route, so great for the whole family.
3 – The Cape of Good Hope
Described by Sir Francis Drake in 1580 as “The most stately thing and the fairest Cape we saw in the whole circumference of the earth.” It is the South Western tip of the African Continent and is situated in the Cape Peninsula National Park which is the most visited national park in South Africa. It has huge historical and maritime significance and is breathtakingly beautiful.
A trip to the Cape is one of the most popular day trips for travelers to Cape Town. The traditional way is to take a bus or minivan tour down to the Cape, which is a great day out. There are however some excellent slow yet exciting alternatives. How about a trip in a classic World War 2 sidecar with a chauffeur? Or, if motorcycles don’t appeal to you how about in a Vintage Car? The views are astounding on this tour and you do get an added sense of history when traveling in a classic. It also makes for plenty of unscheduled photo stops and a great way to meet people.
It is amazing to see how a classic will stop people in their tracks, young and old to get a view of these beauties. Or if you want to get out and get some exercise on your trip to the Cape, then how about doing it by bicycle. Get that fresh air straight from the “Cape Doctor”, the prevailing wind that is renowned for clearing chest infections and other respiratory ailments of colder and wetter climates.
4 – The Winelands of Constantia
Within 15 kilometers of the city center, you will find the oldest and some of the most beautiful wine estates in South Africa. There are at least 6 world-class wineries in the Constantia Valley, most dating back to the late 1600s. Most are open to the public where you can take tours, taste and purchase wine, enjoy outstanding cuisine at a number of top-class restaurants and purchase awesome homemade products.
The Constantia Valley is easily accessible by car or on an organized tour, but for slow travelers, you have the option to visit the area on a bicycle. This is a low-impact tour and fitness is not an issue. Just make sure you go easy on the wine tasting or run the risk of falling off your bike!
5 – Paternoster
Barely an hour’s drive from Cape Town on the rugged West Coast, in a tranquil bay embroidered with scattered rocks, is the beautiful fishing village of Paternoster.
Being close to Cape Town, this predominantly Afrikaans-speaking village is a popular weekend getaway destination for affluent Capetonians who prefer the unspoiled West Coast to the tourist friendlier South Coast. In summer the nearby camping site at Tietiesbaai in the Cape Columbine nature reserve is frequented by hardy fishermen and snorkel divers.
If you are looking to stay in Paternoster, be sure to check out Tietiesdraai guesthouse. They offer one of the most popular Paternoster rentals and have 4 self-catering units suited for couples or families.
Please leave your recommendations and comments below for places to check out in Cape Town.