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10 Places You Simply Have to Visit in Cape Town
Take in these attractions when you visit Cape Town
Cape Town is an amazing place to visit. Surrounded by ocean and mountains it offers a lot in the way of outdoor activities. Here's a list of my top ten places to visit, when in Cape Town.
1. Table Mountain
It's hard to miss the majestic Table Mountain when you land in Cape Town. It dwarfs everything else by it's sheer beauty and size. Freakishly flat, it's often covered by the wispiest white cloud, known as the 'tablecloth', which turns into a dramatic display of cumulus activity when the South Easter howls in mid-Summer. Either way it's awe-inspiring to behold. Tourists can take a state of the art cable way all the way to the top of Table Mountain where the 360 degree views of Cape Town are quite unlike anything you've ever seen before. Tickets can be purchased at the cable car station, at the foot of the mountain, or online on the Table Mountain tourist website.
2. Camps Bay
As a Camps Bay local I'm unashamedly biased in recommending a visit to this vibey, upmarket strip of coast. Resembling South Beach Miami, with far less traffic (except perhaps in the height of summer), Camps Bay offers a colourful assortment of quality restaurants and bars, each with their own unique flavour and vibe. The beach is easily accessible and very child-friendly, unlike some of Cape Town's other beaches, such as Clifton which scores top points for looks (the beach and the bodies) but is a mission to get to (unless hundreds of steps are your forte).
3. The 2010 World Cup Soccer Stadium and Park
No visit to Cape Town would be complete without a peek into the architectural masterpiece that is the 2010 World Cup Soccer stadium. Guided tours are possible, enquire at the stadium, but the impact the stadium has made to the Moullie Point skyline is immense. Enjoy while sipping a cocktail at one of the many bars along Green Point main road. Surrounding the stadium is Cape Town's newest public park. It's landscaped perfection makes it perfect for joggers and strollers alike. It has a play area for kids, and promotes biodiversity with it's herb and fynbos gardens and indigenous birdlife.
4. Cape Point Reserve
"The Cape of Storms" is how the sea farers first termed Cape Town, and you can see why when you visit this impressive outcrop into the Atlantic, at the southernmost tip of the continent. An easy and extremely picturesque drive from Cape Town center, Cape Point reserve provides the visitor to Cape Town with an impressive display of the forces of nature. There is a path and a cable car to the point itself, where the ocean swirls and crashes at the base in a monstrous display of aquatic power. The reserve is filled with local wildlife, baboons being the most common (do not feed). The little devils tend to rob you of any food you have on display so keep all consumables hidden deep within your backpack.Cape Point reserve is dotted with a variety of walks and hikes for all levels of ability. It's beaches are pretty and secluded, perfect for picnics but swimming is dangerous. The flora is also a small sample of the fynbos that once covered most of South Africa.
5. Cape Town's Beaches
I've travelled a vast amount and I've yet to come across beaches as beautiful as those in Cape Town. Here's a list of the top five that I recommend you visit. If you're inclined to drive up the east or the west coast you will discover plenty more idyllic, isolated patches of sand that stretch for miles in each direction, but we'll focus on Cape Town itself for now.
- Camps Bay beach - easily accessible and family friendly, close to bars and restaurants.
- Clifton (1st to 4th) beach - beautiful bodies, secluded beaches, but hard to get to.
- Llundudno beach - localised, stunningly beautiful but not close to anything.
- Noordhoek beach - soft white sand, stretches for miles, mind-blowingly beautiful scenery, don't take camera's or money with you as isolated in parts.
- Boulders Beach - situated in Simonstown, Boulders has a cute penguin colony and is sheltered from the wind. Little coves and bays make it the perfect hideaway spot. Local restaurants are great too.
6. Chapman's Peak Drive
Chappies, as it's known by the locals, is a twisting, twirling 9km expanse of road, high up on a cliff above Hout Bay and extending round to Noordhoek. The views are tremendous and the best way to view it is to take a picnic and choose a sunny spot somewhere along the road to pull over and enjoy. It's very romantic for sundowners as the sunsets are magnificent.There is a toll to drive on the road, so bear this in mind. The toll changes every season so check out the latest price on the Chapmans Peak website before travelling, or call their info line on 021 7918222.
7. The V&A Waterfront
One of Cape Town's star attractions has to be the V&A Waterfront. An immense shopping centre created on the site of the original and still working Cape Town harbour, it offers well, everything, in the way of shops, it's bars and restaurants are top notch and it supports local industry with ample arts and craft centres. My recommendations on the top restaurants in the Waterfront are:
- Willoughby's - for the freshest seafood and mind-blowing sushi you'll ever taste.
- Sevruga - amazing location, fine dining at it's best, funky vibe.
- Balducci's - Italian chic
- Hilderbrand - authentic Italian, seafood and meat.
- Quay Four - quality pub grub with amazing views of the harbour.
8. Two Oceans Aquarium
If you have kids, this is the place to go. Ample in the way of kids activities, including sleepovers in front of the massive kelp garden display. Don't miss the shark exhibition, and get to meet a Great White up close and personal. There's even shark diving if you're that way inclined. The restaurant is good and there is a lovely flow to the layout that prevents congestion in the way of tourists.
9. Simons Town
Any visit to Cape Town would not be complete without a visit to the old navy base town, Simonstown. The naval museum is worth a visit if you're into boats. Boulders beach as mentioned before is sandy and secluded and the penguin colony is worth checking out. Simonstown has a few lovely restaurants such as Berthas, The Black Marlin and Boulders Beach restaurant. For authentic fish and chips try the Salty Seadog at the marina.
10. The Wine Route
Cape Town is renowned for its wines and there are four possible wine routes, namely Paarl, Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Constantia. These are main areas of wine production in the Cape and they each have their own unique atmosphere.
Constantia is closest to Cape Town with Groot Constantia being the most prolific wine farm on the route. Other wine estates on the route include Steenberg, Klein Constantia, Uitsig and Buitenverwachting.
Paarl valley has numerous world-class vineyards and to explore them all would take a few days. Here's a list of the most popular: Fairview, KWV, Nederberg, Simonsvlei, and Avondale.
Stellenbosch is a university town outside of Cape Town and is known for its quirky nature and it's art galleries. As far as wine goes, visit Vergelegen, Rust en Vrede, Meerlust and Zevenwacht. Here's a complete list of Wine Farms in the Stellenbosch Valley as there are too many to mention them all here.
Franschhoek was originally inhabited by the French Huguenots and many of the wine farms are named after the areas in France from which they came. Wine farms to visit include La Motte, Dieu Donne, La Dauphine, Cabriere and Chamonix. There are also many quality restaurants in Franschhoek, and it's got a reputation as being a gastronomic delight.