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Cape Town Travel Guide and Tips (Western Cape)
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Cape Town Attractions
Cape Town, with its natural beauty, makes it a highlight of any trip to South Africa and one of the most attractive cities in the world. Voted among the Top 10 holiday destinations in the world Cape Town has some of the most beautiful beaches as well as the majestic Table Mountain right in the heart of the city. The restaurants are world class, and so are the wines. The city has one of the most diverse cultures in Africa and has reputation for social tolerance. There is an excellent selection of Cape Town Accommodation available throughout th ecity and surrounding areas. A good way to orientate yourself on your first trip here is to hop on board a Cape Town Hop-on Hop-off sightseeing bus. Our blog page will give you more information on this.
Cape Town Central AreaThe central city area of Cape Town is quite small and many of the places of interest for visitors are closely situated so can be best explored on foot. We recommend you start your city walk from the Castle of Good Hope. Guided tours start at the top of each hour, every hour – be aware that visitors are not permitted to sightsee the castle on their own.
Cape Town BeachesThere is an excellent choice of great beaches around the Cape Town and you should choose your beach depending upon your mood. The best time of year for visiting beaches is during the summer months from December to February. Clifton Beach is the place to be seen if you a wanting to mix with the trendy local. This beach is full of young people showing off their bodies although the sea is not great for swimming as the Atlantic is absolutely freezing. There are four beaches at Clifton separated by huge granite boulders which are relatively sheltered and provide super sunbathing opportunities. The beaches in Muizenburg and Fish Hoek, along the False Bay are best suited for families. The sea temperature is warmer here and lifeguards are on duty for your protection.
There is also plenty of entertainment at the Sea Point Pavilion at one end of Sea Point Promenade. The Sea Point open air swimming pool was recently voted into the Guardian Newspapers Top 10 Swimming Pools in the World. The pools are open all year round even when the water temperature gets down to 12 degrees Celcius.
Camps Bay is another favourite place with both locals and visitors to Cape Town. The beach front here has a number of good restaurants and bars where you can sit and relax and watch the beautiful sunsets. Camps Bay is also set against a backdrop of Table Mountain and the Twelve Apostles.
If you are looking to spot penguins then go to Boulders Beach. This is also a great spot for children and if you are lucky then you may find yourself swimming alongside penguins. There is a small charge to use this beach. False Bay is a great place to spot whales especially during October and November. Along Noordhoek Beach you can enjoy long walks where the fine sand stretches for 8km. You can also explore a shipwreck halfway along. If you are interested in surfing then its always best to talk to the locals but surf can usually be found at Camps Bay and Noordhoek.
Cape Town Southern SuburbsThe area known as Cape Town Southern Suburbs is an afluent area with some magnificent residential homes that lie on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain. Areas such as Newlands, with its famous cricket ground and the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens lie here. Other popular attractions in this area include the Rhodes Memorial which is just above the University of Cape Town and is clearly modelled after Londons Hyde Park Corner.
Sea PointTake a lovely walk along the two mile promenade adjacent to seawater pools and small rocky beaches. Keep an eye out for the fine examples of art-deco flats that can be found along Beach Road.
Table MountainThe Cableway, which was opened in 1929, takes you to the summit of Table Mountain in about 6 minutes. Some 600,000 people make this exhilarating trip every year and the panorama from the top stretches from Table Bay to False Bay and around the mountain to Hout Bay Valley and Kommetjie. On a fine clear day you can see all the way across to Cape Flats to the Hottentots Holland Mountains. Table Mountain is made from sandstone and is 1086 metres above the bay below. The flat summit runs for 3Km from one to the other. The mountain is home to over 1470 species of plants many of which are endemic to the area. At the top of the mountain there is a restaurant and souvenir shop where you can send “Table Mountain” letters and cards bearing the Table Mountain postmark. The short walks that you can take from the cable-station are a must for nature lovers. The scene from the top of Table Mountain at night provides a wonderfully romantic scene of the city night lights below.
Victoria & Albert WaterfrontThe V&A Waterfront is situated between Robben Island and Table Mountain in the heart of Cape Town's working harbour and has become South Africa's most visited tourist attraction. The backdrop of magnificent sea and mountain views provides a wonderful setting and along with exciting shopping and entertainment venues you will find intermingled imaginative office locations, world-class hotels and luxury apartments in the residential marina. The variety of shops include gemstones, curios and fancy fashions to the most bizarre of souvenirs. The area is well stocked with restaurants, taverns, cinemas, theatres and a variety of entertainment including boat trips and charters. We recommend you take one of the historical walks to learn more about this special area.
Robben IslandThis infamous island, just off the coast of Cape Town, was a penal colony for most of its 400 year history and is surrounded by a rough shark-infested sea. Nelson Mandela spent 18 years on Robben Island most of them in a small cell. In 1997 Robben Island was turned into a museum and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Island has become an extremely important symbol in the new South Africa, reflecting the triumph of good over evil, of democracy over apartheid. The museum's guides are former prisoners themselves and listening to their stories makes a visit to Robben Island a humbling and emotional experience. We recommend you book your tour in advance either through a travel agent or directly at the Nelson Mandela Gateway (near the clock tower) on the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. The ferries depart from here and tours last around 4 hours and include the ferry ride to Robben Island, a tour of the prison buildings, and a bus tour of the island itself.
Central Business DistrictThis area of Cape Town is relatively small but ideal for exploring on foot. The popular areas to visit are the trendy Long Street, the St George’s Mall and the Green Market Square. Here you can find a choice of restaurants, shops and local vendors selling different types of African goods.
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Cape Town flights
Find exceptional deals on flights to Cape Town at fly.co.uk
Places to stay in Cape Town | Itineraries in Western Cape