If you’re considering visiting one of the world’s best cities that has an interesting history to explore, think no further than Cape Town, situated at the tip of Africa. Frequently listed as one of the world’s most livable urban areas, South Africa’s Mother City is a beacon of culture perched on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. The city’s beauty is complemented by Table Mountain, which sits majestically in the background. Table Mountain and its adjacent areas were home to the original Capetonians, the KhoeSan people, who inhabited the area before the first Europeans set foot in South Africa.
Even if your visit to South Africa is centered exclusively around Cape Town, you can still find several rewarding safari destinations within a few hours’ drive of the city. Chapman’s Peak Drive is one of the most scenic routes in the world with the road connecting the coastal towns of Hout Bay and Noordhoek. The route is a toll road, but you can get a free day pass to drive partway on the other side. The African penguin is endemic to Southern Africa and especially adapted to life in a warmer climate. You can see these charismatic little birds up close at Boulders Beach, a penguin colony located approximately one hour’s drive south of the city center. There is a small conservation fee, which goes towards ensuring the future of this sadly endangered species.
The city of Cape Town is home to world-class restaurants, beaches, vineyards and hipster farmer’s markets. Cape Town’s culinary scene reflects the diverse heritage of its people. Different restaurants specialize in traditional African food, Cape Malay fusion, Indian cuisine, or Portuguese specialties. The wineries themselves often house some of the region’s best restaurants. The vineyards of the Western Cape yield some of the world’s finest vintages. Stop by for a tasting session, for a tour of the cellars, or a gourmet meal in a farm-to-table restaurant. Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens is an oasis in Cape Town’s city center. Paved walkways allow for endless hours spent strolling between the flowerbeds.
Cape Town has some of South Africa’s most important history and culture. A visit to the Slave Lodge Museum in the city will bring you face-to-face with the slave trade history in South African. You can’t visit Cape Town and not go to Robben Island in Table Bay, which represents the country’s dark days, and is now a World Heritage site. It is also home to one of South Africa’s most notorious apartheid-era crimes, the forced removal of 60,000 Black residents. Robben Island was once a penal colony for political prisoners. Nelson Mandela spent 18 years here during his apartheid-era imprisonment.