The Mother City is probably the most popular starting point for any visit to South Africa and so it should be! Regularly voted as one of the world's most beautiful cities Cape Town has it all – a fascinating mix of up-to-the-minute vibrancy, memorable history and culture along with spectacular natural beauty.
Brimming with diversity and history, the City Bowl is the heart of city and nestles between Table Mountain, Devil's Peak and Lion's Head. It's here that you'll find the Central Business District with its numerous shops and bars along with some residential suburbs, including Bo-Kaap, the picturesque area at Signal Hill known for its colourful houses and cobbled streets. To the west lies the Atlantic Seaboard which stretches from the V&A Waterfront to Llandudno with some of the hottest beaches in between, including trendy Camps Bay. Further south on the Cape Peninsula you'll find the leafy, affluent suburbs of Constantia and Newlands.
If you haven't hired a car, the city centre itself is compact enough to explore on foot or alternatively open-top bus tours are available, allowing you to hop on and off at various stops, allowing you to choose which attractions you want to explore.
The city's most famous attraction, Table Mountain, is also one of the world's most recognisable landmarks and no visit to Cape Town would be complete without a trip up the 360º rotating cable car to the top. Be warned that cloud cover can affect visibility and may even cause the cable car to be closed. During peak times, queues can be long, so be sure to make an early start! The V&A Waterfront is also a great place to spend time. Once a working port, it has been redeveloped into an exciting shopping and leisure hub with a comprehensive array of retail outlets from international brands to exclusive local boutiques, entertainment venues, world-class hotels and restaurants galore. It's also the main departure point for Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela, amongst others, was imprisoned for 18 years. Tours of the jail buildings are conducted by former political prisoners who tell stories of their experiences and lives since their release. Tours do fill up quickly, so we do recommend booking before you leave home to avoid missing out.
Other notable city sights include City Hall, built in 1905 it is one of the last Victorian-style sandstone structures and it was from the balcony of City Hall that Nelson Mandela addressed the world, following his release from prison. For a respite from city life, head for Company Gardens a public park, which contains a rose garden, Japanese garden, fish pond, aviary and tea garden. Alternatively, Kirstenbosch National Botanic Garden is a heavenly national treasure set on the gentle slopes of Table Mountain and home to around 7,000 plant species. The city also has numerous fascinating museums including District Six Museum, Bo-Kaap Museum, Iziko Slave Lodge, The Springbok Experience and Cape Town Diamond Museum.
The Cape Peninsula is a superb day trip from Cape Town with stunning scenic drives over mountains and along the coast. Be sure to stop at Boulders Beach to visit the penguin colony as well as the naval town of Simon's Town, drop by the Constantia wine growing region and climb to the top of the cliff above the Cape of Good Hope at the southern-most tip to admire the Atlantic vistas.
Aside from the wonderful array of shops at the V&A Waterfront, other key shopping areas include Long Street and nearby Church Street in the Central Business District. There are also lots of different markets such as the City Bowl Market and Hout Bay's weekend market, while popular malls included Canal Walk, Cavendish Square and Lifestle on Kloof.
The city certainly comes alive at night offering a cosmopolitan atmosphere and mix of world-rated restaurants, vibrant music venues, impressive clubs, cutting-edge theatres, bars and township shebeens that promise a party that goes on and on! The cuisine on offer is as diverse as the people who make up this great city. There are numerous restaurants to try in the V&A Waterfront as well as Heritage Square, Greenmarket Square and St George's Mall.
However you spend your time in this wonderful city, you'll discover there are few places on earth as enchanting as Cape Town.
GMT +2 hours
South African Rand
Cape Town is approximately 12 hours flight (non-stop) from the UK.
Cape Town enjoys long, warm and dry summers from around October to April. From late April to August its cooler and rain can be expected, particularly around June and July, but there are still many perfect sunny days to be enjoyed.
South Africa has relaxed its requirements for travelling with children under the age of 18. Visa exempt children (including UK Nationals visiting for tourism purposes) entering South Africa accompanied by an adult are required to present only a valid passport on arrival, regardless of whether the child is travelling with both parents, one parent, or an adult who is not a biological parent.
There are other requirements for children travelling unaccompanied. For more information, contact the South African High Commission www.southafricahouseuk.com or the South African Department of Home Affairs www.dha.gov.za.
The Mother City, Cape Town, has one of the best locations to see the sun set from the Sea. This is a ‘Must Do’ experience taking in the fabulous Table Mountain and city views as the sun dips into the sea at sunset while enjoying a glass of local sparkling wine.
This half day excursion visits riveting District Six Museum (closed Sunday) and tours Langa Township, the Cape’s oldest apartheid housing scheme, which takes in a local market and arts & crafts centre. A wonderful hands- on experience of life in a township.
Highlights of this half day tour include Camps Bay, City Hall, Company Gardens, Slave Lodge, the Houses of Parliament, St George’s Cathedral and the quaint Bo-Kaap homes of the Malay Quarter. Option to take the cable car to top of Table Mountain (extra expense & weather permitting).
Travel by ferry to Robben Island and on arrival enjoy a tour of this world-famous prison, now a World Heritage Site. Many of South Africa’s most prominent freedom fighters spent time here, including, the late Nelson Mandela, who was imprisoned here for 18 years.
An afternoon tour to explore Stellenbosch. During a leisurely drive you’ll discover the beauty of this world-renowned region, before a cellar tour to learn about the wine making process, and of course, enjoy a taste!
A great value 12 minute NAC Helicopter flight. Set off from the V&A Waterfront for a bird’s eye view of the Cape Town Stadium, Lion’s Head, Clifton and Camps Bay beaches and spectacular view of the Twelve Apostles. Excludes transfers.
Begin this full day tour with a cruise of Millionaires’ Paradise then visit the Cape of Good Hope section of Table Mountain National Park. Return via historic Simon’s Town, the Boulder’s Beach penguins and Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.
Learn from the animal carers what it takes to look after these incredible creatures on a daily basis. What you’ll do will vary according to the schedule but could include helping to prepare meals, assisting the carers on feeding rounds, enrichment activities and cleaning. You’ll also join staff and volunteers for a home-cooked lunch overlooking the Drakenstein Mountains. Transfers to/from sanctuary not included. Lunch as stated included (except weekends)
On this full day tour drive 2½ hours by road to Inverdoorn Private Game Reserve, via the wine region and Klein Karoo. On arrival transfer to a 4x4 safari vehicle to search for lion, elephant, buffalo, giraffe, rhino and more.