South Africa’s oldest city, Cape Town, sits on the southwestern coast of the country, on the Cape Peninsula. It is famed for being an extremely diverse city, and a paradise of contrasts, from sandy beaches, popular with surfers from around the world, to a colourful city centre, in the shadow of the iconic Table Mountain, and not to mention the Cape Wineland, filled with verdant vineyards. Nicknamed the ‘Mother City’, Cape Town is the legislative capital of South Africa and is famed for its multiculturalism. The city successfully showcases itself as a destination of expatriates and immigrants from around the world, and its abundant restaurants, cultural sights and neighbourhoods reflect this. In recent years, it has topped lists of the best places to visit in the world and was crowned World Design Capital in 2014. A holiday to Cape Town is an unmissable adventure into a world of contrasts, both in landscapes and atmosphere. Due to its location, in the Southern Hemisphere, the city enjoys warm and dry summers between December and March.
Cape Town first came into existence when it was developed as a supply station for the Dutch East India company in the mid-17th century, and as a result, European settlers began to build a community on the site of the modern-day metropolis. Due to its importance and growth, it soon became the economic and cultural capital of the Cape Colony, the name given to the Dutch and later British colonies on the Cape Peninsula. The region was a central stage for conflicts such as the Boer Wars in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and the later 20th century saw Cape Town become a focal point for the struggles of the anti-apartheid movement. Robben Island, located 10 kilometres off of the coast of the city’s Table Bay, was famously the island-prison where Nelson Mandela, the South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and politician, was imprisoned. Futhermore, Cape Town’s City Hall was the place where, after his release, Mandela made his first speech. Nowadays, the city is considered to have the highest rate of equality in South Africa, a source of pride for Cape Town’s locals.
Cape Town offers visitors a wide array of sights and places of interest, owing to its unique geography and variety of natural attractions. In the city centre itself, known as the City Bowl and the area between Table Bay and the surrounding mountains, you can find the quaint V&A Waterfront, a complex of shops, restaurants, bars, hotels and leisure facilities, situated on the harbour-front. The city centre also boasts a wonderful mix of architecture, although the most characteristic buildings in the city are those demonstrating the Cape Dutch style of architecture, a mixture of Dutch, German, French and Indonesian styles. Perhaps the most characteristic sight in the city is Table Mountain, where visitors can opt to trek up the trails to the peak or ride the revolving cable-cars up to the flat summit for spectacular views. The surrounding Table Mountain National Park, where designated nature reserves protect the unique biodiversity of the area, which boasts over 2000 plant species, encourages further exploration. The city’s Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is another highlight for visitors looking to immerse themselves in nature. Robben Island stands out as an important attraction for visitors on a tour of Cape Town, for its historical significance. Visitors can take a regular boat service from Table Bay to the island where they can visit the cells where former political prisoners such as Nelson Mandela were held. Away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre, filled with shops, restaurants and museums, the dreamy Atlantic Seaboard neighbourhoods are an upmarket residential area along the coast, with a multitude of mansions and houses overlooking the ocean, making it the perfect place for a peaceful stroll. It is here that you can find Clifton Beach, perhaps South Africa’s most famous beach, where holidaymakers and locals alike bask in the sunshine of the summer months. Other notable beaches include Boulders Beach, home to a penguin colony and Muizenberg Beach, a true paradise for surfers, lined with colourful huts.
A trip to Cape Town will immerse you in a city filled with history and culture, situated in a privileged position between the ocean and the vast natural environment of the peninsula. From shark-cage diving to visiting the iconic Cape Point, where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet, the metropolis of Cape Town is an unmissable and fascinating destination.
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