The VOYA guide to the dazzling coastal city of Cape Town, South Africa
A city of sweeping coastlines, dramatic mountain backdrops and an amazingly multicultural population, Cape Town is known as one of the most beautiful cities in Africa for good reason. You can combine city sights with vineyard visits, urban scenes with breathtaking scenery, all in one impressive beachside city.
Cape Town is split by 1,087-high Table Mountain, with the city centre and shopping haven Century City to the north. The historic-turned-hip Woodstock and Observatory areas (think art galleries, great restaurants and a hipster vibe) are to the east, and energy-filled beachside Sea Point is to the west of the mountain.
No visit to Cape Town would be complete without driving the tree-lined winding avenues of Constantia (southeast of Table Mountain), and a trip to see the area’s beautiful vineyards, where wonderful wine perfectly complements the astounding scenery.
In the city, you can live like the locals and soak up the vibrant bar and restaurant scene of the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront harbour area, go open-air salsa dancing on the boardwalk of Sea Point or catch an open-air concert at Stellenbosch Botanical Garden.
Make the time for a haunting trip to Robben Island, where the late Nelson Mandela spent 13 years of his imprisonment in a tiny cell which you can visit today. Many of the guides are former prisoners so can share with you details about brutal daily life on the island.
Back on the mainland, part of the fun of Cape Town lies in its extreme geography; if you’re driving, make sure to take the jaw-dropping road from Noordhoek to Greenpoint (the M6), it meanders along the coast next to dramatic cliffs and the blue ocean.
Then there are the beaches, with white sands and cold but clear waters. Head to Boulders Beach and you’ll even encounter a penguin colony, while Oudekraal is ideal for a braaibarbecue with friends. Visit Table Mountain National Park for a hike and look out for porcupines and mongoose, goat-like tahr and eland antelope, it is a truly unique experience to see such a dazzling array of wildlife right on the city’s doorstep.
Cape Town is also a metropolis that is rich in culture. Head to the colourful Bo Kaap neighbourhood to see the rainbow-painted houses of the city’s Cape Malay population, which is 90 per cent Muslim. Then there is the Castle of Good Hope, the oldest surviving stone building in South Africa, and in stark contrast the amazing Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, the largest museum of its kind in the world and a wonderful new addition to the city.
If you are looking for a destination that combines nature and culture, history and wildlife, you can’t get much better than Cape Town.
The Southern Hemisphere location means Cape Town’s summer runs from November to March, and winter from June to August.
Cape Town is within the top 50 cities in the world in terms of annual sunshine hours, and temperatures regularly reach as high as 40C in summer, then drop as low as 5C in winter.
The three most common languages you’ll hear in Cape Town are Afrikaans, English and Xhosa. Around 40 per cent of residents speak Afrikaans (the most popular), many speak English but not perfectly, and Xhosa is principally spoken by indigenous people.
VOYA FAVOURITE PLACES TO VISIT INCLUDE
To see the best of Cape Town’s energetic culture, check out the Bay Harbour Market in Hout Bay. Hundreds of stalls with mouth-watering food, live musicians and open-plan bench seating areas make this the ideal area to get a slice of real Capetonian life.
VOYA FAVOURITE PLACES TO STAY INCLUDE
The Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel was constructed in 1899 and is an elegant spot where you will feel like you’ve stepped back in time, while Azamare Luxury Guest House in Camps Bay is a beautiful place to enjoy the beach vibe.
VOYA FAVOURITE DISHES TO TRY
For modern South African cuisine in a stunning setting, you shouldn’t miss Greenhouse, set in a secluded, hidden spot in the Constantia wine suburb.
A local delicacy to try is Bunny Chow, a hollowed out loaf of bread filled with curry. Try a refined version at the Hass Collective.