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CCape Town's history and culture are inextricably linked with that of South Africa. From the days of the Khoisan to the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck, from the dark days of apartheid to the democratic freedoms enjoyed by some today, Cape Town has been at the forefront of it all.
Cape Town has a fascinating history, and as a result the modern-day culture of those who live here, is both vibrant and eclectic.
A good place to start your exploration into Cape Town's past is with the city's oldest building at the Castle of Good Hope built by the Dutch in the 1600s.
Then head off and explore the Company's Gardens and enjoy lunch at The Company’s Garden Restaurant. Make sure you check out cobbled Government Avenue. This avenue is lined with historic institutions such as De Tuynhuis, the Cape residence of the State President, and the Iziko South African Museum with its exhibits on the first known inhabitants of the Cape, the San and Khoikhoi.
Cape Town's tale of slaves, many of whom originally came from Malaya, is told at the Bo-Kaap Museum, in the boldly painted and terraced Bo-Kaap quarter on the slopes of Signal Hill. The Afrikaans-speaking descendants of these slaves have been absorbed into the Coloured community, yet remain staunch Muslims and their neighbourhoods are dotted with the minarets of mosques. Another fascinating location is the District Six Museum on Buitenkant Street, which traces the forced removal of a vibrant mixed race community.
Robben Island is one of Cape Town's biggest tourist attractions and is a major highlight on any trip to the Mother City. Many of South Africa's most famous freedom fighters were incarcerated here, including Nelson Mandela, who spent 18 years on the island. The island museum is situated about 11km off the coast of Cape Town and was declared a World Heritage Site on December 1 1997.
Travel tips & planning info
Who to contact
Cape Town Tourism Information
How to get here
Cape Town is easily accessible by road from most areas of South Africa and served by an international airport.
Best time to visit
Cape Town is a year-round destination.
Things to do
There is so much to see and do in and around Cape Town. Do some research before you arrive and determine what kind of activities you’re interested in. It’s a good idea to go on a guided tour first to get your bearings.
What to pack
Pack for all the seasons in Cape Town - and remember, you can buy anything locally.
Where to stay
Cape Town has, arguably, the finest accommodation options in Africa. Do some research into activities you might be interested in, and research options depending on location. Cape Town has a good mix of luxury and budget accommodation available.
What to eat
There is a classic culture of fine dining in Cape Town, especially when it comes to seafood. So indulge!