Wild oceans and high mountains, the rich and the poor, the chaos of the city and the tranquility of wildlife.
Cape Town is a perfect blend of opposites, forming a strange harmony. It is not your regular and organized European city, yet, it has nothing to do with the rest of Africa appearance-wise.
That makes it one of the top destinations in Africa. Let’s explore the city of experiences.
Cape Town is the oldest city in South Africa and the legislative capital. It is located in the Western Cape Province and the largest city in the province, accommodating 65% of the population of the province. The city is home to the South African Parliament. As of 2011, its overall population was estimated at approximately 4 million.
WHAT CAPE TOWN IS FAMOUS FOR
It is culturally the most diverse and cosmopolitan city of the country as well as being the most attractive in the country among the tourists. It is particularly famous for its iconic Table Mountain, the scenic ocean side that resembles California, Cape of Good Hope, the South African penguins, the city harbor, and many more.
ATTRACTIONS & SIGHTSEEING
We can categorize the attractions in Cape Town into two: the ones near the city center and the ones located further away.
- Zeitz Mocaa is a recently opened contemporary art museum and the biggest in Africa.
- District 6 museum is extremely informative about the apartheid era and the evacuation of non-white people who once lived in District 6
- Iziko Slave Lodge, Planetarium and Rugby Museum and Cape Medical Museum.
- Bo-kaap is an important part of the city with its colorful houses that have accommodated Cape Malay people for centuries.
- You can take a short ferry to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela spent part of his time in jail.
- For shopping and entertainment, Waterfront Shopping Center is the most popular option for its vibrant atmosphere.
- Sea Point and Green Point are the regions closest to the city on the ocean side. You can spend your time walking along the beach and trying out different restaurants and shops.
- If you want to spend time in nature, Lion’s Head and Table Mountain are easy to access. Many hiking routes will take you to the best lookout points of the city.
If you go further out into the countryside, the attractions will become more integrated with the nature.
- Camps Bay and Clifton have several scenic beaches that are perfect for surfing and sunbathing.
- A tour around the Cape will take you through the most scenic spots in the city. Chapman’s Peak is considered as one of the most scenic rides in the world. Noordhoek is a quint fishing town with a long beach. Cape Point is the southern tip of the Cape Peninsula and is home to the Cape of Good Hope. Finally, Simon’s Town is home to the Southern African penguins.
- If you like surfing, you can visit Muizenberg, which is very popular among surfers.
- There are small towns that are renowned for their high-quality wine production, such as Stellenbosch, Paarl, and Franschhoek.
Public transport is not as developed as it would be in other big cities in the world. Buses and trains frequently operate throughout the day, but their routes are limited to the central Cape Town and the ocean side. There are also white minivans that are very cheap. Public transport is safe during the day, but it becomes dangerous after dark due to petty theft.
Uber is convenient and affordable in major cities like Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Pretoria. Taxify is also useful as the South African version of Uber. Regular cabs are also available.
Although there are buses and trains running in between cities, self-driving is much more flexible. You can use many car rental companies in major cities, some of which have special cheap offers for long road-trips.
It is best to stay in city center near major attractions especially if your days are limited. On the other hand, accommodation is more expensive in city center, on the ocean-side and near university campuses. You can stay in the suburbs for much cheaper, but you will have to take an Uber or drive more in that case.
Hostels start from 200-300 ZAR per night per person. Starred hotel prices will increase significantly to four-digit numbers particularly in central Cape Town.
Airbnb and Couchsurfing are also quite reliable options if you want to have your own space. Couchsurfing expat community is very active in Cape Town, which gives you a chance to stay with locals and experience the local life more closely. Not to mention, couchsurfing is free to use.
FOOD AND DRINK
Braai – the South African barbecue – is very important in Afrikaans culture. By attending a braai, you can take a meat of your choice to be grilled on fire made from wood. You can also mix it with vegetables and special braai breads.
Cape Malay people, initially brought to South Africa from Southeast Asia as slaves, have invented a distinct cuisine of their own. Cape Malay food is noteworthy for its special sweet-sour sauces.
Being surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, Cape Town has a rich selection of sea food. These include but are not limited to Hake & chips, mussel, lobster, crayfish and calamari.
Besides traditional food, you will have the chance to try out fine-dining restaurants of world cuisine. Test Kitchen in Woodstock is considered as one of the best 50 restaurant of the world.
Vegan-friendly life style is becoming more common every day, so many restaurants have vegan-friendly options.
Wine is an important part of South African experience. You can visit the wine farms around the city to taste the special selection of locally produced wines.
You will spend approximately 80-100 ZAR per meal while eating out. There are also many food markets selling street food for 50-60 ZAR and even cheaper. Fine dining restaurants are obviously more expensive, around 150-200 ZAR per meal.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
It is usually safe to walk around the central areas and suburbs during the day, but the same cannot be said for night time. You must be aware of your surroundings at all times and try not to expose your valuables. Pickpocketing and petty theft is common at night and usually targets tourists. Public transport is safe during the day, but it might be dangerous at night, especially if the inside of the vehicle is near-empty. Uber is the most reliable means of transportation. If you are self-driving, you should never leave any valuables in the car in a visible way. If you are street-smart and aware, it is very unlikely for you to run into an issue.
There are no vaccinations needed to travel to South Africa.
The city experiences typical Mediterranean Climate with warm and dry summers in December-March and mild and rainy winters in May-August. The city is also known for its strong winds especially on the Atlantic side.
Rand is the national currency. You can use exchange offices at the airport (they will take more commission) or in the city to convert your money.
In South Africa the power plugs and sockets are of type D, M and N. The standard voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.