Cape Town - the city under the Table MountainHelen O'Shea ▼ |
Cape Town was voted Favourite Foreign City by the UK Telegraph in 2004, and many people used to say "Cape Town is one of the places you just have to visit before you die." The city has all you want: great parties, great shopping and loads of galleries and other cultural attractions. Cape Town accommodation is plentiful and the greatest density of Bed and Breakfasts, guest houses, self catering apartments and villas is in the City Bowl area, within a 10 minute drive from the city Centre.
It would be smart to book ahead, especially over the Christmas season and during the Argus Cycle Tour (usually mid-March).
Unless you lock yourself in your hotel room, there is absolutely no way you can get bored in Cape Town. There are so many things to do. If you're into shopping, the V&A Waterfront is just one of many shopaholics' dream venues but it stands out as it has so much more - boat trips, the embarkation point for the Robben Island ferry, the Two Oceans Aquarium, loads of interesting historical buildings and some of the city's best hotels with possibly the best views in the world.
Cape town offers a whole range of exciting adventure activities, great birding, awesome whale watching, historical buildings, and dozens of museums outlining the city's fascinating history and its many cultures.
Green Market Square was Cape Town's market square from 1710. In this atmospheric little and vivid square, with a number of Art Deco buildings as a backdrop, a small flea market is held every day of the week except Sunday. The Josephine Mill is Cape Town's only surviving and operational watermill from 1818. The three-storey national monument with a towering chimney and large waterwheel is used as a gallery and meeting space.
The Peninsula Mountain Chain forms a high-lying spine all the way from Cape Point to Table Mountain above the city. Most of this high lying ground is part of the Table Mountain National Park, which also includes Boulders Beach and its penguins, and Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens that showcases South Africa's fabulous floral heritage as well as hosting some great concerts among the flowers. A great thing about the Peninsula and its mountains is that Cape Town has virtually two different climates in one city.
When the wind is blowing on one side, the beaches should be warm and sheltered on the other. When it's raining on one side, you may get bright sunshine on the other.
An easy day trip from Cape Town, the Winelands offer great scenery, white-washed gabled farmhouses nestling in green vineyards, lovely little restaurants, great coffee shops and wine cellar tours. In the evening you can choose between hundreds of great restaurants and a huge range of pubs, clubs and a wide selection of movies, theatre and live music. You may like to explore the dramatic West Coast with great birding along the shores of Langebaan Lagoon, Namaqualand with spectacular spring flowers, and the Overberg, famous for land-based whale watching. ■