What Is It About Cape Town That Has Travelers Returning Again And Again?
While you may visit a new country and leave having enjoyed yourself and feeling you got to the bottom of what the location was all about, you’ll leave Cape Town knowing that there is so much more to see and do in the city. There is truly no place like it on Earth – it will captivate you body and soul.
Cape Town is the ultimate travel destination, topping traveler’s bucket lists year after year. The reason for this is simple: there is something for quite literally everyone in what is known as South Africa’s ‘Mother City’. Within the span of just a few days, you can hike to the top of Table Mountain (where the views will stop you in your tracks), relax on the sandy shores of countless beaches, sip wine surrounded by lush, rolling green hills and walk through a historical city centre that never sleeps. Let’s take a look at what makes the ultimate Cape Town holiday.
A trip to Cape Town usually starts in the city centre, with Table Mountain’s iconic shape shadowing your every move. As I walk through the city’s streets, I’m captivated by the contrast between the hustle and bustle of the business districts, with locals grabbing a coffee on their way to work and taxi’s winding through the jam packed streets, and the quiet serenity of the mountains and gardens close by.
The city has some incredible museums that are worth a visit – the Iziko National Gallery showcases modern African art while the Holocaust Museum next door is a captivating installation that describes the history of the Holocaust and its ties to the South African Jewish community.
The Natural History Museum has interactive installations like the popular whale sound tunnel that will please adults and kids alike. Once you need a break from the sightseeing, I recommend spending some time in the Company’s Garden, a beautiful green oasis right in the middle of the city.
Relax at the water’s front
The bustling Waterfront shouldn’t be missed either, for shopping enthusiasts and food lovers alike. If you’re travelling with kids, make sure to check out the Two Oceans Aquarium or if you’re in the mood for something slower, take a boat trip around the harbor for a romantic sunset.
The Watershed craft market feature clothes, toys, hand-crafted furniture, art and jewelry from local sellers while the next-door Market on the Wharf has food for everyone’s taste – from Mexican and vegan delights to fresh juices, smoothies, Indian curries and enormous wheels of cheese from local farms.
Take in nature
I don’t think any description can do the wonder of hiking up Table Mountain justice. Even after my third and fourth trip to the top, the sheer beauty and magnitude of the views continue to take my breath away.
There are fields of flowers every colour of the rainbow and rolling mountain hills as far as the eye can see. Remember to turn around every now and then on the ascent to catch the sight of the sun glinting off the ocean.
Of course, Table Mountain isn’t the only hike that Cape Town offers. Lions Head is a favorite of the locals and offers a spectacular view of the Table and city from the top. Travel a bit further south for the beautiful hiking trails of Silvermine, which can be topped off with a dip in the cool, deep blue waters of Silvermine dam. This is also a great place for a whole day of relaxation, with picnic spots and braai grills you can put to good use.
While you’re on the southern end of the Cape Peninsula, you should stay a few days in my favorite Cape Town suburb of Kalk Bay. The coastal road is dotted with old Dutch houses painted in pale pastel colours, and there are countless coffee shops, restaurants and cute little craft shops.
Nearby is Simon’s Town, home to the South African Navy and what can arguably be described as the best beach in the country. Boulder’s Beach is a tiny sheltered strip of sand that is home to a colony of African penguins. It’s the only place in the world where you can literally sunbathe right next to families of penguins, who are so used to visitors that they’ll even pose happily for photographs (although no touching of course – this is their home and we’re just living in it).
Further along the southern coast road is the infamous Cape Point, which offers truly jaw-dropping sights off it’s rugged stone cliffs and a restaurant that overlooks a vast expanse of the sparkling Atlantic Ocean.
Hit the road
With everything the city has to offer, it can be easy to forget that Cape Town itself is nestled in the greater Western Cape province, which has an abundance of day trips that are incomparable.
I can’t wax lyrical enough about the West Coast, which offers quiet, quaint little coastal towns just a few hours drive from the city. A popular spot for tourists and locals alike, Langebaan, has a lagoon that is heaven for water sports enthusiasts and fishermen, and the more laidback can enjoy the azure waters while soaking in some sun.
If you’re dying for some wildlife spotting (as you should be), making the trip to the infamous Kruger National Park isn’t a must. Closer to Cape Town, you can see the Big 5 at nature reserves like Buffelsfontein on the West Coast or Aquila Safari reserve in the Karoo.
Both of these incredible parks make for a great addition to a Cape Town road trip, and the experience of seeing these majestic animals in their natural habitat cannot be described with enough passion. A trip to the country isn’t truly complete without a safari after all.
With all that and more, it’s not hard to see why Cape Town is a must-do for anyone and everyone. It’s a city that takes your breath away and leaves you wanting more.
About Brittany Hawkins
Brittany’s passion for food and wine began in her hometown, Napa Valley, California, where she grew up immersed in the wine industry. After receiving a degree from DePauw University, she began her career in Silicon Valley in the advertising and marketing industries. Brittany moved to Cape Town 3 years ago where she launched Explore Sideways and has since been able to marry her interests in food, wine, travel and tech to create transformative experiences around the world.