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Content and photos courtesy of Cape Town Tourism

Basic information

  • Area: 2,445 km² (944 sq mi)
  • Calling Code: +27 (0)21
  • Currency: South African Rand (ZAR)
  • Population (EST): 3,740,026
  • Official language: Afrikaans, Xhosa, English
  • Time Zone: UTC/GMT +2

10 Reasons to Visit Cape Town

1. Cape Town is the southern most city of the African continent and the second largest city in South Africa, and has one of the most extraordinary displays of nature and culture that you'll find on the continent. It's home to the famous Cape of Good Hope where you'll get a thrilling glimpse of where the Atlantic meets the Indian Ocean; as well as the Castle of Good Hope with its extensive William Fehr Collection of art and military memorabilia.

2. Robben Island offers visitors a first hand experience of the imprisoned history of leaders like Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu. The prison not only holds important historic significance, it also necessitates a beautiful, half-day ferry ride across the sparkling waters of South Africa. The island stands as a symbol for freedom from discrimination, and the surrounding waters bathe the island in a captivating beauty.

3. The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront is elegantly situated between Table Mountain and Robben Island. With over 20 million tourists visiting this working harbour each year, there's plenty to do in terms of dining, shopping, and site seeing. There's an extraordinary view of Table Mountain from the harbour, and plenty of museums and historic buildings to hold one's interest. For those who are adventurous, helicopter rides provides a thrilling aerial view of the town.

4. The luscious and rare flora of Cape Town can be viewed at the Kirtenbosch Botanical Gardens; classified as one of the 'Seven Magnificent Botanical Gardens of the World'. It sits at the back side of Table Mountain and its numerous pathways and trails take the visitor through an impressive variety of rare african plants. All the flora is well marked as to provide a botanical education for visitors.

5. The colorful streets of Bo-Kaap are popular amongst visitors to Cape Town, offering a lively glimpse into the culture of the Muslim descendants who created the raucous and enchanting streets. These descendants of South East Asian slaves have brought their cultural heritage to life, offering delectable Muslim cuisine and entertainments.

6. The Wine Lands of Cape Town were the original source of the city's fame. Endlessly stretching along hills and valleys, the vineyards produce some of the most delicious and prized wines in the world. For those who do not favour wine drinking, the landscape alone is enough to make some visitors want to stay for a lifetime. As one ventures through the Wine Lands, there's a chance to glimpse small towns like Franschhoek, Paarl, and Stellenbosch.

7. Whales are the largest animals on the planet, and Cape Town provides a rare and up-close glimpse of these extraordinary mammals in their natural habitat. A visit to Cape Point is where the viewing takes place, and some varieties of whales that you may encounter include the famous Humpback, the Southern right whale, and even killer whales. It requires a little luck for one of these beautiful creatures to emerge, but for those who catch a glimpse, it's something that they shall never forget.

8. Table Mountain is perhaps the greatest landmark of Cape Town and offers visitors an adventure through an incredibly unique and varied ecosystem. For those who want a good afternoon's exercise, a 2 hour hike to the summit of Table Mountain is quite an accomplishment. Alternatively, experience a cable car ride (operational during optimal weather conditions), with rotating floors and huge windows offering a view almost as spectacular as those on the summit, where The Table Mountaint Café offers a trendy menu. The view from the top is the most extraordinary in all of Cape Town, and perhaps one of the best on the continent of Africa.

9. The famous Blue Train offers a luxurious journey between Cape Town and Pretoria and can accommodate 84 passengers. From the train one can marvel at some extraordinary and wild African hillsides and vistas from the comfort of a plush train seat. The Blue Train is famous for being majestic, comfortable, and quite expensive. However, if money is no object then the Blue Train is the way to travel in style.

10. Ratanga Junction is an excellent destination within Cape Town that caters to families and kids of all ages. It's carnival-like atmosphere offers rides for the children as well as vast shopping malls with fine food and fun sites. It's a theme park that is not only popular amongst tourists, but is also a favourite for locals. Ratanga Junction offers a lively party atmosphere and tremendous fun.

Sounds of the City: Cape Town vignette on National Geographic

Cape Town Lifestyle Video

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