Cape Town, listed as one of the 50 best places to visit in 2017 by Travel + Leisure, is the most popular international tourist destination in South Africa and consistently ranks highly on most global lists of must-see cities. Among locals and visitors alike, a common, affectionate nickname for Cape Town – the oldest town in South Africa – is the “Mother City”. Cape Town’s architectural heritage includes the highest density of Cape Dutch buildings in the world. Cape Dutch style combines architectural designs from the Netherlands, France, Germany and Indonesia.
Every year, visitors are lured by its agreeable climate, full-fledged foodie scene, well-developed infrastructure, and range of natural wonders, most notably Table Mountain, an imposing flat-topped mountain that forms part of the beautiful Table Mountain National Park. Visitors can expect pleasant weather year-round, however the most popular time to visit Cape Town is during its summer months, between November and April. February is often the warmest month, with temperatures heating up to 40 degrees. As a hot December holiday destinations, travelers to Cape Town should be sure to book hotels and restaurants far in advance if they are visiting between the Christmas and New Year’s Eve period.
The Cape Winelands are home to the largest wine area region in South Africa, comprised of six beautiful regions including Constantia, Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. The Constantia Valley is the closest wine route to the city and is host to both the country’s oldest established wine farms as well as some of the newest on the scene.
Cape Town boasts an endless variety of trendy and innovative restaurants serving delicious fare. Although Jo’burg is quickly catching up to it in this regard, the city continues to earn its well-deserved reputation as the foodie’s paradise of South Africa. The city also has an extremely active and diverse art scene, which manifests itself in some excellent contemporary art galleries.
Cape Town has many unique neighborhoods to discover. Downtown Cape Town has a lot to offer; Long Street is especially popular for its vibrant nightlife and fashionable shops like Merchants on Long. Nearby is Kloof Street, a vibey area where locals go to eat, drink and hang out. No visit to Cape Town is complete without a visit to the Victoria & Albert Waterfront, the historic working harbour where one can enjoy stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and Table Mountain while taking advantage of its seemingly endless array of eateries and shopping spots. The super trendy Woodstock, home to the foodie Neighborhoods market and the acclaimed Test Kitchen restaurant, has recently been renovated – transforming from a derelict zone to an urban “hipster heaven.” New properties are popping up at a swift pace. De Waterkant is a picturesque and stylish area located in the suburb of Greenpoint, which is particularly popular with successful young professionals and the LGBT community, and boasts an assortment of cafes and high-end boutiques. The infamous Robben Island, where former President Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years, is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and can be visited by ferry from the V&A Waterfront. Former prisoners provide tours of the cells and in addition, the Robben Island Museum is an extremely informative and powerful experience. Cape Town boasts many first class beaches with distinctive offerings. The beach suburb of Muizenberg is known as one of the main surfing spots in Cape Town. Clifton beaches 1, 2, 3 and 4 are beautiful white sand beaches separated by falls of granite boulders, making sunbathing and swimming there especially desirable.
It should be noted that although Johannesburg has a (somewhat exaggerated) reputation of being particularly affected by criminality, Cape Town has unfortunately seen a rise in its crime-rate, notably robbery and muggings, over the past years which has both highlighted the extreme social disparities found within the city, and also motivated the police force to take on ambitious new strategies to combat this issue.
Cape Town the City of Hope
The city’s motto is “spes bona”, which is Latin for “good hope.” The Cape of Good Hope is at the southern tip of the Cape Peninsula, and while it is not technically the southern-most point of Africa, it drew its name from the fact that the Portuguese sailors who circumnavigated it on their way to India were filled with hope when they thought they could finally sail East.