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The second largest city in South Africa is also one of the world’s most iconic and beautiful. We are talking, of course, about the capital of Western Cape Province, also known as Cape Town. While serving as one of the capitals of the country (the legislative capital where the Houses of Parliament are located) this southernmost city of the African continent is a wonder waiting to be explored. While travellers are urged to remain vigilant in a sometimes insecure environment, there is so much to uncover for any type of visitor.
With that in mind, let us take a look at a few of the top things to do while visiting the city.
In such a large city of diverse places, flexibility is king when it comes to getting around. The buses visit the most popular areas in Cape Town as far as tourists are concerned, and the $18 pass is well worth the price. On the way, you can expect to see the Two Oceans Aquarium; the Clock Tower, St George’s Cathedral; South Africa Museum, District Museum, Castle of Good Hope, President Hotel, Camps Bay Wharf, Camps Bay Beach, Constantia Nek, Eagle’s Nest, and Beau Constantia, along with many other sites worth a visit. In fact, there’s so much to see you could easily spend more than one day seeing the sights.
Dine in Central City
Cape Town boasts some seriously diverse and gastronomically-pleasing cuisines for visitors to try. Some of the best are located in the Central City area. Bizerca Bistro offers café classics with a special South African twist from prominent chef Laurent Deslandes. Chef Luke Dale-Roberts has eclectic dishes on offer at his restaurant, La Colombe, blending Asian tastes with continental sensibilities. Jardine boasts of subtler flavours like West Coast crayfish risotto with tomatoes, or oxtail accompanied by Chalmar beef fillet.
Alternatively, spanning the spectrum of the culinary delights on offer are places like Biesmiellah’s, where you can find genuine Cape Malay food consisting of things like chicken kalya, lamb denningvleis, and Indian samosas. Other indigenous flavours include Xhosan soup which is essentially porridge of crushed maize, Ethiopian injera (a type of flatbread), and marog (African spinach). Places like Nyoni’s Kraall serve some of these dishes, along with braaivleis (BBQ), curries, sheep’s heads and chicken feet. Africa Café and Mama Africa are some other standouts of pan-African cuisine for the adventurous eater. The variety of flavours and cuisines on offer will satisfy even the most adventurous diners.
Brush up on South African history
For those visitors not content to let the long spectre of apartheid fade out of memory, at least two of Cape Town’s museums are must see affairs. The first is the infamous location of democratic leader Nelson Mandela’s maximum security prison, Robben Island. It is here where Mandela spent 18 long years in jail as a political prisoner, fighting the oppressive colonial powers.
District Six Museum stands out as an award-winning community museum for its excellence in chronicling the era of cruel racial discrimination. This included forced evictions and the destruction of homes for those that did not qualify for the government’s ‘whites only’ housing policy in the District Six area.
Party on Long Street
For the animal inside all of us, drink it up at bars like Julep, the Waiting Room, or Neighbourhood, all unpretentious haunts with inviting vibes. You can people-watch on the street or relax over a cocktail with a friend. The vibrant nightlife of Cape Town rivals the most well known cities in the world and is sure to show you a good time.
Swim with the sharks
If you are not squeamish about being around one of the meanest predators of the ocean, try your luck in a shark cage. Diving in these protected spaces while surrounded by sharks will quicken the pulse and remind you to cherish life, if nothing else. This is a unique opportunity to see up to 40 different species of sharks that dwell in the region’s waters.
Ascend Table Mountain by cable car
Table Mountain national park stands tall amongst the city’s many natural wonders. Here, you can save some energy getting to the top by hitching a ride in a cable car with breathtaking views. A new perspective of the city awaits you at the top.
Soak in the glamour of Victoria Road’s luxury
Known as the St-Tropez of Cape Town, expect to see the life of the rich and beautiful on display in the lavish restaurants and luxury yachts sprinkled along Victoria Road. Not far away is some great surf and a tidal pool, whichever suits your style.
It’s hard to go wrong in Cape Town
One would really be hard-pressed to find something that did not at least pique their interest in this diverse town, which really does have it all. Whether you want to experience the beach, culture, history, hiking, or amazing food, know that the options are virtually limitless.