Cape Town, Western Cape
Did you know?
There are 9 000 fynbos species found in the Cape and 2 000 types on Table Mountain alone – more plant species than in the entire United Kingdom.
As well as being the oldest city in South Africa, Cape Town is the country's legislative capital and is best known for Table Mountain, a New7Wonder of Nature.
The mountain beckons visitors to take a ride to the top in a modern cable car, a perfect opportunity to get astounding views of the city and the oceans. The mountain forms part of the Table Mountain National Park, which in turn forms part of the Cape Floral Region, one of South Africa’s eight World Heritage sites. Cape Town is also home to the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, a 36ha garden featuring about 7 000 indigenous plants.
Cape Town boasts many historical buildings, including South Africa’s oldest, the Castle of Good Hope, which is open to the public as a museum featuring 18th-century décor. It is also home to the Castle Military Museum.
The Cape is world famous for its superb wines, which have given rise to a tourism sector all of its own. Wine estate tours are a must, and include tastings, wine sales and excellent restaurants in the wine-growing regions of Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek. Cape Dutch architecture, made famous by high gables and thatched roofs, is best enjoyed in these Cape Winelands, where working farms built in the 1600 and 1700s still stand today.
The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront at Cape Town harbour is a popular destination that houses the Two Oceans Aquarium, hotels, a mega shopping complex, restaurants, cinemas and coffee shops.
A short boat ride from the harbour lies Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners were held during apartheid. Ferries ship boatloads of tourists to this World Heritage Site to visit the former prison and museum.
The beaches around Cape Town are beautiful, many with mountainous backdrops. Clifton and Camps Bay are the most trendy and popular among bathers, while Llandudno and Muizenberg are frequented by surfers.
The city itself is best enjoyed on foot to make the most of historical buildings and cultural icons such as the Renaissance-style City Hall, Houses of Parliament, St George’s Cathedral, Bo-Kaap Museum, Gold of Africa Museum, South African Jewish Museum, the Slave Lodge in Adderley Street and the many art galleries.
Or discover the highlights of Cape Town in two hours by taking a scenic open-top bus tour, which takes in the V&A Waterfront, Table Mountain and a coastal jaunt back to the city via Camps Bay.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Cape Town Tourism
+27 (0)21 487 6800
How to get here
Fly in to Cape Town International Airport or take a cruise and arrive in the city harbour. A drive to Cape Town from Johannesburg would follow the national road, the N1, south.
Around the area
Less than an hour's drive away are the famous Cape Winelands, where most of South Africa's award-winning wines are created.
Tours to do
The Cape Town Holocaust Centre, a tribute to the six million Jews who died during the holocaust; Cape Town Diamond Museum to learn about the industry and discover how diamonds are formed, mined and processed; Heart of Cape Town Museum, which honours South African surgeon Dr Christiaan Barnard and the team that performed the world’s first heart transplant.
Cape Town has a good public transport network comprising buses, trains and taxis. For the ultimate freedom to explore, hire your own car from one of many rental companies.
Length of stay
A week, minimum, to explore Cape Town and its surrounds.
What to pack
Sunscreen and hat are always recommended. In summer (November to February), don't forget a swimming costume; in winter (May to August) remember to pack a raincoat or umbrella.
Where to stay
You’ll find accommodation to suit any budget, from some of the country's most luxurious hotels to B&Bs, holiday apartments, guest lodges, large hotels and backpackers.
What to eat
Eat traditional food at an African restaurant during a township tour of Khayelitsha, or try a range of seafood dishes at restaurants lining the V&A Waterfront. Gourmet cuisine may be found at any of the top-notch restaurants in Franschhoek, or for a flavoursome curry, try a Cape Malay-style eatery.
Music fans will want to take note of the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, which takes places in April each year.
Wines from the Cape Winelands – also sold at outlets within the city.