A South African holiday is a unique experience, the highlights of which include breathtaking safaris, stunning coastal drives and unique cultural encounters. However, to really see the best of South Africa, you have to visit Cape Town. This legislative capital of South Africa is one of the most multicultural cities in the world, and it makes an ideal holiday destination because it has something to suit every taste. There are many reasons it appears so often on lists of the most beautiful cities in the world, and below we discuss eight of them.
1. TABLE MOUNTAIN
Table mountain is the backdrop to the entire city. This monumental flat-topped mountain rises impressively from the sprawling Cape Town suburbs to enhance the already picturesque coastal city. Those adventurous enough to take the cable car to the peak will be rewarded with spectacular vistas across Cape Town and out to the Atlantic.
Anyone who has been to South Africa will wax lyrical about the gastronomy. Best-known is South Africa’s mouth-watering selection of meats, which include exotic game such as kudu and springbok, as well as the famous South African sausage Boerewors. Don’t leave Cape Town without trying a ‘Gatsby’—a deli sandwich popular throughout the Western Cape—or some Koeksisters—sweetened plaited pastries.
3. V&A WATERFRONT
This waterside development is set in a beautiful harbourside location embodying everything that is quintessentially Cape Town. Find excellent shopping experiences, fine dining spots and trendy food markets, as well as a host of leisure activities.
4. ROBBEN ISLAND
Off the coast of Cape Town is the UNESCO-listed Robben island, a name that translates to ‘seal island’. It has a gruesome, but historically significant, past. This was the site of the prison where Nelson Mandela spend 18 years before the fall of apartheid—a fascinating reason to make sure you add Cape Town to your South Africa holiday itinerary.
Yes, you read that right. Penguins! The African penguin lives in waters around South Africa and Namibia and can be seen from Boulders Beach. Here, you can get up-close and personal with a colony of 3,000 of these delightful marine birds, with a the backdrop of azure waters and higgledy-piggledy granite boulders.
6. WHALE WATCHING
From June to November, South Africa is blessed with the arrival of migrating southern right whales, humpback whales, Bryde’s whales and large pods of dolphins. You can view these enormous creatures from the road along the False Bay coast, from the cliff-top walk around Hermanus or, more intimately, on a whale-watching tour. Before you go, ensure that the boat you go on has a permit.
The winelands are a short drive from Cape Town in the region surrounding Stellenbosch, which is picture-perfect. Rolling hills draped with neat rows of grapevines are surrounded by dramatic mountains. Not only is this region naturally stunning, it also produces some of the best wines in the world, from Pinotages to Chenin Blancs. Make sure you take the opportunity to sample smooth reds and crisp whites on a wine tour of the region.
8. GARDEN ROUTE
Although this isn’t actually in Cape Town, the city is a wonderful place to begin one of the best experiences in South Africa—the garden route. From Cape Town, you can explore attractions such as the beaches of Plettenberg Bay, the hiking trails of Tsitsikamma National Park, the iconic Addo Elephant National Park, and the accessible Shamwari Game Reserve and Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.