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Written by Bronwyn Paxton

14 Things To Do in Cape Town

Cape Town, the mother city of South Africa (as she is affectionately known); is one hip and happening mother.

Beautiful white sandy beaches; mountains crossed with hiking trails; spend hours scouring museums and galleries, or shop till you drop at one of the world class shopping malls.  Or simply just stroll through the city and catch the vibe that is uniquely Cape Town.

There is something for everyone, and bound to keep you entertained for days.

Top Adventure Tours for Cape Town:

 20 Day Tour of South Africa South (Comfort)

18 Day Explore South Africa

21 Day Cape Town to Victoria Falls Adventure (Comfort)

32 Day Route to Cape Town (Johannesburg to Cape Town)

24 Day Cape Town To Victoria Falls and Johannesburg

14 Things to do in Cape Town

1)  View from Table Mountain:

view-from-table-mountain

If you prefer the more adventurous way up (hiking) or the no sweat option of taking the cable car, you will be awarded with magnificent vistas of the city, beaches and ocean of Cape Town.

There are more than 350 paths up to the top of Table Mountain.

For more information on the cable car you can also visit the official website.

2)  Cape Point:

baboons-at-cape-point

Every time I visit Cape Point I am awed by the sense of ‘wildness’ and escape you can get in this relatively small protected area.  The most popular attraction is the funicular and the lighthouse, and the views from there are amazing.

But is it is when you park yourself off at one of the picnic spots; or walk to a secluded beach that you really start to appreciate the feeling of what the Cape of Good Hope must have been like in years gone by – wild and untamed.

For more information you can also visit the official website.

Image courtesy of flickr

3)  Wine Tasting:

The most sensible way is to go with an organised wine tour, as the whole sip and spit attitude just seems such a waste of perfectly good wine.  Some of my favourite wine farms (and there are many) are the following:

Fairview – very decent wines at great prices, and they do some of the best cheese around.  Stop for lunch and a cheese platter with a salad, or one of their many yummy freshly made items from the menu washed down with a good wine.

DelAire – Some of the most spectacular scenery of the surrounding mountains.  Been bought by a big international investor, and what was a very humble set-up has been turned into a state of the art wine farm with some amazing artworks and beautiful architecture.

Vergelegen – Beautiful old homestead and gardens that is steeped in history.  The 300 year old camphor trees have been declared a heritage site.

Wine_route_Stellenbosch-Cape_Town

Image courtesy of Shootopia

4)  Food:

Glorious food!  Cape Town is host to some of the best restaurants in South Africa, and they present very good value for money if you travel on international currency.

For a uniquely South African experience, head out to Mzoli’s Place in Gugulethu. The idea is simple, choose your cut of meat, the guys will braai (barbeque) it for you and choose from an assortment of sides to go with it – will recommend pap, the staple diet of Southern Africa. You can grab a beer (quart) next door from the shebeen to wash it all down. Just ask one of the friendly locals if you are a bit overwhelmed.

You can search for restaurants using this website.

5)  Open Top Bus:

A good way to see the sights and surroundings of Cape Town is to take the open top bus tour.  Not the best idea for a cold and rainy day, but the views and photos you can get on a clear sunny day are just unbelievable.

For more information visit the official website.

6)  Long Street:

Awash with pubs, clubs, restaurants and little stores selling all sorts, you certainly will know when you are in Long Street – it has it all.  From institutions like Mr. Pickwicks, Long Street Café, Lola’s, Fiction, The Neighbourhood, Café Royal and many more.

long_street_cafe

7)  Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens:

For plant lovers this is a must.  Strolling around the beautiful gardens with Table Mountain as a backdrop you can stimulate all your senses and learn more about African plants.

The sheer variety of indigenous flora found on Table Mountain is staggering.  Fynbos, an Afrikaans word meaning “delicate bush,” is the name given to the scrubby vegetation that is particular to the Cape and is found in abundance on the mountain slopes.

Fynbos is highly endemic and some species are only found in a specific area covering a few kilometers.
Interesting flora facts:

* Close to 1500 plant species are found on Table Mountain
* There are 500 different types of erica to be found on the mountain
* Iris species number around 100
* The Table Mountain National Park has the richest single floristic area on the planet

If you are visiting in summer, the Sunday evening concerts in Kirstenbosch are very popular, and you can experience some of the best South African bands (and at times international) on offer.

For more information visit the official website.

8)  Penguins:

The African Jackass penguin colony have made Boulders Beach near Simons Town their home.  It is a very popular tourist attraction, and on a nice day the little boulder fringed beach can be just the escape you are looking for.

For more information visit the official website.

9) Surf Lessons:

Muizenberg is the perfect learning ground for wannabe surfers.  The shark spotter high on the mountain overlooking the beach and surf will make you feel a bit more comfortable donning a wetsuit and giving it your best shot at not gulping huge amounts of salt water and looking like a complete novice.

And if you feel ready for some big action, the annual Red Bull Big Wave Africa contest is held at Dungeons (close to Hout Bay).

Big-wave-surfing-in-Cape

Image courtesy of The Guardian

10) Night Out:

The Fez was the playground for the likes of Mick Jagger, Leonardo DiCaprio and Paris Hilton during the weekend of the World Cup semi-final hosted in Cape Town.

Cafe Caprice in Camps Bay is great for sundowners on a Sunday afternoon and evening, and they also do really nice breakfasts where you can sit and watch the ocean whilst basking in the sun.

Neighbourhood Bar on Long Street has a cool vibe and yummy food with very big portions.

Zula Soundbar also in Long Street is a great live music venue.

Asoka Bar is a trendy Kloof Street option and can go from nice and relaxed to busy and buzzing.

11) Walks and Picnics:

The Sea Point promenade is 11 kilometres in length and snakes along the Atlantic shoreline, hugging the Mouille Point and Sea Point ocean front regions of Cape Town. This is a beautiful place to go on long walks, giving you visual wonders when the sun rises or sets. Picnics are fantastic to be held here, as well as at Signal Hill which is an extremely popular sunset viewing site that overlooks the city. The vistas are absolutely phenomenal, and the setting is simply splendid.

An easy way to have a good day of peace and rest is at the Company’s Gardens in the city centre, where you can buy small bags of food with which to feed the resident squirrels.

feeding-squirrels

Image courtesy of Extrospection

Surrounded in beautiful statues, crafted ponds and lush greenery, you can spend an entire day here simply laying on a picnic blanket and enjoying the sun’s rays through the treetops. This 8.5 hectare park contains a Japanese garden, gorgeous roses, an aviary, and South Africa’s oldest cultivated pear tree.

12) Hiking:

There are many hiking routes in Cape Town. One of the well-travelled routes is Lion’s Head, which is a fantastic trek that offers awe-inspiring views along the shoreline below, as well as over the peninsula and city itself. The climb to the summit can be rather challenging, especially for those who find heights daunting. One of the greatest hiking experiences here can be taken during full moon evenings, when the weather is clear and the skies are sparkling. Otherwise, try a hike up Table Mountain and explore the parks and forests of the city.

Table Mountain – India Venster Hike

Lion’s Head – The Quick Escape

Two Day Orange Kloof Hike

13) Beaches:

One of the favourite pastimes of Cape Town locals is to relax on the various stunning beaches of the area. Spend time resting on the white, sandy beaches of Clifton, Camps Bay or the series of boulder-strewn Llandudno beaches. Further along are Hout Bay, Noordhoek beach and the small Smitswinkelbaai which is down a steep mountain slope. On the other side of the peninsula, you will find the warmer waters of Muizenberg, Fish Hoek and Boulder’s beaches. Spend some time paddling in the waves of Milnerton beach or explore the rock pools dotted along the Sea Point promenade.

14) Visiting Markets:

There are a variety of markets scattered around Cape Town, all offering beautiful goods or produce. The Bay Harbour market of Hout Bay is set in an old, but very clean, fish factory and contains more than one hundred stalls from which you can purchase anything from handmade weavings to Tunisian chickpea rotis. The Old Biscuit Mill market, held in Woodstock, is a very trendy market that sells a massive range of fresh produce and homemade goods. It has a unique, vintage appeal to it and due to its popularity it is always buzzing, giving the place a lively and charming atmosphere.

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