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  • Writer's pictureDeborah

Cape Town Highlights

The view from the top of Table Mountain
On top of Table Mountain!

Picture this: an infinite azure horizon, mighty waves crashing against dramatic cliffs, and a glittering city set against the backdrop of towering mountains. Cape Town!

Whether you fancy visiting a museum, mingling with locals in a hip cafe, immersing in nature or sipping a glass of wine in a century-old vineyard, Cape Town has you covered. This cosmopolitan city packs a punch, and you'd probably need a couple of weeks to uncover everything the city has to offer. But if you only have a limited timeline, don't fret! Below are some highlights that will help you plan your upcoming trip to this beautiful corner of the world.

Hiking Table Mountain

Cape Town's most iconic sight, soaring at 1,086m above sea level, is one of the top attractions of the city. With challenging trails aplenty and a splendid 360-degree view over the surrounding nature and urban area, there's no wonder why it's part of the "New" Seven Wonders of Nature list!

Hiking up the Platteklip Gorge Trail
Hiking up the Platteklip Gorge Trail

The cable car offers a scenic and relaxing journey up the mountain where, at the top, one can walk around to the many viewpoints (which are all worth a peek!). While there, why not grab a bite or a drink and enjoy the splendid view before heading back down to reality?

For the more adventurous, there are numerous hiking trails to discover within the National Park. We chose one of the most popular routes called the "Platteklip Gorge" and while it is considered the most straightforward option, it is important to prepare for the hike as it can take up to 2 hours to ascend depending on your fitness. It took us an hour and a half of arduous scrambling to reach the summit, but it was well worth the reward!

Strolling along the V&A Waterfront

The V&A Waterfront looking at Table Mountain
The V&A Waterfront

A glittering shopping & dining destination, the Victoria & Albert Waterfront is not to be missed on your Cape Town itinerary. This is the place to go if you want to indulge in some retail therapy followed by a lovely glass of local wine by the harbour.

For some thoughtful gifts to bring home, or to simply spoil yourself while giving back to the local community, head to the Watershed, a massive hangar-style venue hosting craft makers, local fashion labels and handmade souvenirs.

Another cool shop is the African Trading Port which sells artefacts and furniture from different African countries all under one roof! The building has many levels, with the topmost being a small museum housing collectibles.

Aside from the great shopping scene, there are innumerable restaurant options to refuel at; the best offering fresh seafood or a delicious steak with ocean views.

For those who are looking for entertainment, there is the Two Ocean Aquarium to visit. The V&A Waterfront is also the gateway to Robben Island, which used to be a prison where Nelson Mandela (the first democratically elected president of South Africa) was imprisoned for 18 years.

Road-tripping the Cape Peninsula

Considered Cape Town's "crowning jewel", the Cape Peninsula is a dramatic stretch of coastline dotted by sheer cliffs, unspoilt beaches and dense vegetation. Driving along the cliff-hugging road is the best way to experience this jaw-droppingly beautiful scenery. I can guarantee you this is a drive that you will remember for a long time...

Sunset view from Chapman's Peak Drive
Sunset view from Chapman's Peak Drive

Along the way, there are many stops worth enjoying. Our top recommendations include walking along the beach around Hout Bay, eating fresh seafood in Kalk Bay, watching playful penguins hit the waves at Boulders Beach and driving along Chapman's Peak for sunset (few spots around the world rival this one in my opinion).

Of course, there is plenty more to do in the area, and one could spend a few days just exploring the Peninsula. Table Mountain National Park and the Cape Point Nature Reserve are a nature lover's paradise with many walking trails. For a more casual experience, the zone that stretches between Camp's Bay and Mouille Point offers many great beaches, cool cafes and fancy restaurants.

Sipping wine in Constantia

The Groot Constantia Vineyards
The Groot Constantia Vineyards

Just when you thought Cape Town could not get any just keeps on giving! A mere 20 minutes away from the city, the Constantia Wine Route is home to some of the oldest wine farms in the whole country with some established back in the mid-15th century.

The area is especially known for producing world-class Sauvignon Blanc and Bordeaux blends (mainly Cab Sav & Merlot).

For day-trippers, the most convenient way to reach this area is to catch the "Hop On Hop Off" purple line. This line runs as an extension of the blue bus itinerary and offers visitors an educational and safe way to tour some of the most popular wineries. We enjoyed the Groot Constantia Winery and highly recommend a visit. A word of warning though, time flies when you are having fun so make sure to check the timings and plan your return trip accordingly!

If the latter is not your cup of tea, there are also private tours running from Cape Town to the wineries, or why not stay in Constantia for a couple of nights and take in the gorgeous surroundings without being in a hurry?

These highlights are not an exhaustive list of things to do in Cape Town, far from it! There are many other cultural highlights in the city, such as learning more about South Africa's rich and complicated History at the District 6 museum, strolling around the colourful houses of the Malay quarter in Bo-Kaap or even learning about the local flora and fauna at the gorgeous Kirstenbosch Gardens. With so much to do, there is something for everyone in this bustling city, and it is no wonder why, this year alone, it has already attracted over 7 million visitors!

For more information, I highly recommend you visit the Cape Town Tourism website.

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