Located at the tip of South Africa, Cape Town, affectionately referred to as the Mother City, is rightly considered as the gateway to Africa. But with a distinct climate, wider ethnic mix and unique culture, the Cape feels like a country of its own.
Flanked by Table Mountain, Devil’s Peak, Lion’s Head and Signal Hill, while simultaneously embraced by the Atlantic Ocean, the City Bowl that is created is the epicenter of South Africa’s port city. Whichever direction you look towards, riveting views abound. This is a city for outdoor lovers. There are countless hiking trails in sight, as well as outstanding beaches, voted among the best in the world. But unlike most other cities, Cape Town is equally hip, as it is scenic.
The closest to Table Mountain you get, the cooler the area, such as the top of Bree Street, brimming with artisan eats and trendy cafés. Further up on Kloof Street, the city’s most sought after bars and boutiques await. Nearby, the historic Malay Quarter of Bo-Kaap delights with its cobble stone streets and bright colorful houses, home to South Africa’s oldest mosque.
With the Cape Town Big 7, the city’s top attractions, there are countless ways to spend a few days here. But to start with, get a 360° view from above Table Mountain by going up the Aerial Cableway. Depending on time, hiking your way up is a more enriching way to revel in the city as it unfolds.
Once you’ve come down, have a bite at the V&A Market on the Wharf just off Nobel Square. Located in Cape Town’s most iconic location, where Table Mountain views are as good as it gets, there are countless ways to keep busy at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront: with retail therapy, and soon enough, also top-notch African art. With the grand reopening of a 1924 old historical silo as the five-star Silo Hotel, the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa is set to open in September on the ground floors of the same building. Steps away next to the Victorian Gothic-style Clock Tower standing since 1882, you can hop on a boat heading to Robben Island, where legendary leader Nelson Mandela was once imprisoned for 18 years.
For a day outside the city, you needn’t go far for more gripping adventures. Just an hour away, wine lovers can count their blessings (and wine glasses) while exploring the picturesque Cape Winelands, where some 200 wine farms populate the wine routes of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl. Alternatively, a trip down to Cape Point is a must, the most southwesterly point in Africa, as well as a stop at Boulders Beach, where swimming with African penguins is sure to make your day. On your way back, drive along Chapman’s Peak, one of the world’s most scenic drives.
A visit to Cape Town isn’t complete without a sundowner at Camps Bay. If nothing else, this alone will make your trip. The Twelve Apostles formation drenched in golden light, the sound of waves crashing – as quintessential Cape Town as Table Mountain looming behind.
Monica Suma is a Romanian-American freelance travel writer and blogger, always on the hunt for art, good food and all things Cuba. Through storytelling and an insatiable pursuit for whimsy, she contributes to a variety of publications such as Lonely Planet, BBC Travel, Business Traveller and more. Follow her adventures live on Instagram and Twitter.