Cape Town South Africa what to do and what to see in Cape Town
South Africa’s and Africa’s mother city. What to do, where to go and what to see
Cape Town, worth a visit if you are in beautiful South Africa. Thanks to its beautiful location by the Atlantic Ocean and at the foot of Table Mountain, Cape Town is a must-see for many tourists. This helpful article is written by one of them.
But where should you be and what should you see in Cape Town? Cape Town is also a great place to start or end your tour of South Africa.
SIGHTS OF CAPE TOWN
Cape Town has a lot of sights in and around the city that are more than worth a visit. Whether you want to visit one of the townships or the famous Table Mountain, there is something for everyone.
The attraction in Cape Town is of course the famous Table Mountain. It is always exciting whether you are lucky enough to admire it with clear blue skies. Most days of the year, Table Mountain is reduced or not visible at all because a tablecloth of clouds hangs over it.
So it often happens that people leave Cape Town disappointed, because they have not been able to see this beautiful natural phenomenon.
If the weather is good, you can enjoy a nice walk on top of Table Mountain. That is very rewarding. The view over Cape Town and the ocean is breathtaking.
Several hiking trails have been set out on the mountain. You also come across ‘dassies’ everywhere.
The easiest way to go up Table Mountain is by cable car. A return ticket costs 240 Rand. Because the cable car is not open in strong winds, it is advisable to ask for the weather forecast in advance. If the weather on the mountain eventually changes, you will have to get back to the cable car as soon as possible before it stops.
The weather in Cape Town
You can find current weather forecasts at the cable car station as well as on the cable car website. Also keep in mind that the weather can change very quickly. Sometimes within half an hour from bright blue sky to dark clouds with strong wind and rain.
Depending on the period that you travel, you should also bring something warm or a windproof jacket.
You can order a ticket on the day itself via the website or via the departure point 5 of the Hop on Hop Off Sightseeing bus at their office at 81 Long Street. This is recommended because it saves waiting. The queue for people without tickets is longer.
Another way is to climb the mountain itself. This is not for everyone because it is a tough climb. It will take you about 2 to 3 hours upwards. You can take the cable car down again for 125 Rand.
How to get to Table mountain
To get to Table Mountain, you can take a taxi. A more fun way is to take the Hop On Hop Off Sightseeing bus. The red line will take you to Table Mountain.
This is an easy way to travel and you also get interesting information about the sights along the way via the audioguide. After Table Mountain you can take the red line further towards the Waterfront.
If you go to Table Mountain with your own transport, keep in mind that it can be very busy and parking can be a challenge. There are only a limited number of parking spaces. Many people park their car somewhere on the side of the road, which can also mean (almost) at the bottom of the mountain.
A lot of smart taxi drivers are waiting here to drive you up.
On Signal Hill you have a nice view of Table Mountain. This is a beautiful viewing spot, especially just before sunset. It can also be quite busy with cars here, where the small parking lot and the road to it can become jammed with cars.
You can in any case go here with the Sightseeing bus, or else with one of the taxis at the bottom of Table Mountain. It’s a beautiful place to watch the sunset in Cape Town so don’t let some parking and transport problems stop you.
The Victoria & Albert Waterfront is located on the water and is the place to eat out. It used to be only the harbor here, but since the 1980s this area has developed into a popular nightlife hotspot.
Here you will also find numerous restaurants and a large shopping mall. There are also many banks here with guarded ATMs. That makes it a relatively safe area to pin.
PAN AFRICAN MARKET
Diagonally opposite the office of the Hop On Hop Off Sightseeing bus on Long Street you can find the Pan African Market. If you started in Johannesburg or your last day in Cape Town, you can score some nice souvenirs here.
You can see how the items are made in the Pan African Market as many of the workshops are also located in the same building.
FREE CAPE-TOWN WALKING TOURS
At the Cape-Town Tourism office you can gather for free city walk tours. If you want to know more about the city and discover the great hotspots, this tour is a must.
City Sightseeing Cape Town and Cape Town Big 7, among others, offer these tours for free.
There are many nice bays near Cape Town, one of which is Camps Bay. Camps Bay is a beautiful beach with a park where you can relax with a view of the sea. On the boulevard you will find a number of restaurants for a bite to eat or a drink.
When you travel with the Hop On Hop Off bus, you can get off at bus stop 8 and walk along the various bays to Camps Bay. This walk will take you a while and it is therefore recommended when you have enough time.
Robben Island is located on the coast of Cape Town. This island is particularly known because Nelson Mandela was imprisoned here for over 18 years from his 27 years in prison. The island served as a prison for political prisoners during the Apartsheid regime from 1959 to 1991.
However, the island has a long history as an island to which people were banished. It used to be a leper colony. Criminals were also held here. The last criminal prisoners were released in 1996.
Nowadays you can visit the island. From the Nelson Mandela Gateway at the Clock Tower, several boats depart daily to Robben Island. Depending on whether you have the fast or slow boat, the cruise takes 30 to 60 minutes one way.
Unfortunately you do not have a choice in advance in which boat you will take. Make sure to be there at least 30 minutes before departure. You need this time to get through the security checks.
The group is split up on Robben Island. One part starts with an excursion across the island. One part starts with the tour through the cells. The excursion across the island is by bus. You will be driven around the island for an hour and you will receive an explanation about the different places and also about contemporary life on Robben Island.
During the tour you can get off the bus once and in good weather you have a beautiful view over Cape Town and Table Mountain. The prison tour is led by an ex-convict. This ex-convict will take you through the former cell blocks and explain to you what kind of inmates were here and how the prison went.
He will also take you to the cell block where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned and you will also see this cell. You will notice that the tour through the prison is quite rushed due to the large numbers of tourists.
Each tour guide is given a timetable to which they must strictly adhere. You almost wonder whether they are not attracting too many tourists. Nevertheless, the tour is impressive and it is worthwhile to visit Robben Island.
An average visit takes 3 to 4 hours, including the crossing. A ticket including the mentioned tours costs 320 Rand for adults. In view of the increased popularity, it is advisable to book your ticket online in advance via http://www.robben-island.org.za/ or webtickets.co.za. In high season, tickets are sometimes sold out 3 weeks in advance.
Tip: It is possible to combine Robben Island and Table Mountain. Then make sure you have the first boat or (if you are in high season and this boat also sails) at 3 p.m. You will have to be at Table Mountain before 10.00 and use a taxi or the Hop On Hop Off bus. A long walk is then not possible of course.
KIRSTENBOSCH BOTANICAL GARDENS
On a relatively small area, you can already get acquainted with much of the country’s beautiful nature on your first day in Cape Town in the beautifully landscaped Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.
The Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens was the first botanical garden in the world to ensure that the valuable flora would be protected and preserved. Behind the scenes, hard work is still being done to protect plants in danger of extinction.
A task that may have become even more important now than when the park was created in 1913.
The winding walking paths accompany you immediately upon entering the various lawns to relax or have a picnic, rippling water streams or sculpture gardens. Walking through the park you will see a lot of beautiful birds that sometimes only occur in South Africa.
So keep your camera at hand!
If you want to visit the park well, you can easily spend a few hours there. However long you have the time, we can recommend the Canopy walkway.
This walking route is at a great height where you walk between the treetops and see many different birds getting nectar from the flowers. In the summer months (November to April) there are concerts in the park, so check the website to see if there is something fun to do when you are in Cape Town.
You can book tickets at http://webtickets.co.za.
You can easily get to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens on the Hop On Hop Off bus by taking stop 20 on the blue route. Or with your own transport if you have a rental car.
Entrance to the park costs 60 Rand per person for adults, 30 Rand for students and 15 Rand for children up to 17 years old. If you would like a map, you can purchase it for an extra 5 Rand. A map is useful if you plan to stay for a long time but not necessary.
For nice souvenirs you have to go to Greenmarket Square! Here you will find everything from small to large.
If you want to see even more, you can immerse yourself in the following sights. Green Point Stadium, this is where World Cup matches took place. Two Oceans Aquarium, the most beautiful fish and corals from the sea can be admired safely behind the glass.
Castle of Good Hope, built by order of the VOC. District Six Museum is worth a visit for those who want to learn more about apartheid in Cape Town.
If you want to see real life you have to book a tour through a Township. Really don’t do this on your own as it can be dangerous!
HOP ON HOP OFF SIGHTSEEING BUS
The easiest way to explore Cape Town and see all the highlights is to take the Hop On Hop Off Sightseeing bus. For 190 Rand (on site, you get a 20 Rand discount online) you can use this bus all day long. If you want two days, you pay 290 rand (online again 20 rand discount).
There are three lines. The red line is the most popular line. This line takes you in 90 minutes (without getting off) from V&A Waterfront via Table Mountain to Camps Bay and back to V&A Waterfront. This is the most popular and also the easiest way to get to Table Mountain.
The yellow line runs through Downtown and the tour lasts 30 minutes. You will see Castle De Goede Hoop and the Grand Parade along the way. Furthermore, this bus stops at a number of museums. The blue line is a line that is only recommended if you have the time and do not want to do much in Cape Town itself.
This line goes to Hout Bay via the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and Imizamo Yethu Township. Return along the coast to Waterfront via Camps Bay.
Even if you have a rental car, you can consider joining this tour. You can then easily park your car in the parking garage opposite where the sight seeing tour bus starts. Costs for a full day of parking are about 50 rand.
FOOD AND DRINK IN CAPE TOWN
There are countless restaurants in Cape Town. The most popular places to eat are Kloofstreet, Long Street and the Waterfront. Some suggestions:
Mama Africa; 178 Long St. South African, slightly more expensive, but you will also get typical South African food and while enjoying a show (please reserve in advance).
Gold; 15 Bennett Street. Also South African and the same idea as Mama Africa. Also book in advance here.
Once; 73 Kloof St. Italian restaurant.
Davincies; Right next to Once. 70 Kloof St. Also an Italian restaurant.
Nur; Victoria Wharf Center. A sushi takeaway. Inexpensive and one of the best sushi restaurants.
Belunga; The Foundry, Prestwich St. Also a sushi restaurant. Here, however, you can enjoy your sushi at the table. Chic and therefore a bit more expensive.
Madam Taitou; 77 Long St. A small restaurant with an African atmosphere. Eating there is quite an experience in itself. You eat all kinds of dishes with your hands inside the “jungle”.
Great Restaurants in Cape Town
Beefcakes; Quay, 40 Somerset Rd. This is a restaurant mainly for the women. It’s simple food (burger and chips), but the show is great. Draqueens performing and men with six packs serving your drinks, nice right?
Den Anker; Pierhead, V&A Waterfront. This is a Belgian restaurant. Here you will find vol-au-vent with fries or stew. Quality is good. If you want to be absolutely sure of a place, booking is recommended. On the walls you can see photos and signatures of famous Belgians who have already visited this restaurant, such as Jean Luc Dehaene and other politicians.
Quay Four; V&A Waterfront. A restaurant on the water. There is a luxury restaurant on the first floor. A more casual place can be found on the ground floor. Here you can eat all kinds of fish and burgers. The desserts are also recommended. They also serve local beers here.
Vovo Telo; V&A Waterfront. Originally a bakery and known for its delicious baked goods and bread. You can have a good breakfast and lunch here. You can also have dinner there. Pizza, pasta, salad, burgers and meat dishes can be found on the menu. However, they will close at 8.30pm.
Keep in mind that the tip is 10%, but if you are with a larger group, there is a surcharge as a service charge. A single restaurant expects this even if you are already with two people.
SAFETY CAPE TOWN
As in many other cities in South Africa, safety is a major concern in Cape Town. Not all areas in Cape Town are safe and as a tourist you certainly do not want to be when it is dark. When booking your accommodation, also consider the safety of the area.
If you are staying in Down Town Cape Town, it is strongly recommended that you only move yourself in a car or in a taxi or Uber Black as soon as it gets dark. This is quite normal and accommodations and restaurants often arrange transportation for you when you ask for it.
What other safety tips should you keep in mind?
Do not take large amounts of money with you when walking down the street.
Put your camera away again when you have taken a photo and do not wear expensive jewelry.
Ask at your accommodation, in the restaurant or at the Tourist Office what you can do and especially what to avoid. They are all happy to help you for a safe stay
No doings in Cape Town
Best do not go out on the street alone in the dark.
Do not accept help from strangers with PIN. Only pin in places where security is at the door.
In the evening it is best to park in well-lit parking spaces that are secured.
Do not bring important papers such as passports with you and have a copy somewhere.
Just like in most places, you can call 112 to activate the emergency service
On Longstreet you have different types of pubs / clubs. In recent years, this street has also grown into a real backpacker place and it is always pleasantly busy. Most are free and some may require you to pay 50 rand (€ 4). In addition to Longstreet, you also have Club31 which is on the 31st floor of a bank building ABSA, super nice view highly recommended. In addition, there are also plenty of students who throw parties!
ACCOMMODATION CAPE TOWN
It can be a puzzle to find nice accommodation in Cape Town. Which accommodation is most suitable depends on whether you are going to travel with your own transport or not and what your budget is.
You will also have to consider safety and how you can easily visit the sights from the place where you stay overnight.
The Tafelzicht district is relatively safe and has a number of different accommodation options. Elements Lodge is one of the options. This neat lodge has private rooms for couples and dorms for backpackers.
Some more options can be found in Bloubergstrand. In this area you are a bit further away from the center of the city, but you do have a beautiful view of Table Mountain and you can easily travel to the various places in and outside the city from here with your own transport.
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