Cape Town City Guide
About Cape Town
Cape Town is the oldest city in South Africa and is reputed to be one the most beautiful cities in the world. This city is located in the south-western part of South Africa on the northern part of the Cape Peninsula and is separated from the rest of the continent by a range of mountains, of which Table Mountain is perhaps the most famous.
This unique setting of Cape Town has bestowed it with much natural beauty and the city hosts several natural landmarks like Table Mountain, Lion’s Head, Signal Head and Chapman’s Peak, which offer gorgeous vistas of the City Bowl. Other prominent natural sights in Cape Town include the stunning beaches of the Cape Peninsula, Cape Point- a spot on the Cape Peninsula where cold and warm currents meet and Robben Island, which is located in the midst of Table Bay and is known for its gorgeous scenery.
Cape Town which like many other South African cities endured a difficult and turbulent period during the tumultuous Apartheid years is today a lively, cosmopolitan city that is renowned as popular vacation destination. Cape Town offers holidaymakers many historically significant landmarks, fabulous restaurants and an easy conduit to South Africa’s famed Garden Route and it thus figures prominently on many a vacationer’s holiday map.
Where to stay in Cape Town
City Center Hotels
If you choose to stay at a city center hotel in Cape Town, you will have to forgo the stunning mountain or sea views that attract scores of vacationers to this beautiful city. However the benefit of staying at a city center hotel in Cape Town is that you have easy access to the city’s nightlife and dining options though you have to put up with other inconveniences like congested traffic and parking problems; especially if you choose to rent a car on your Cape Town vacation.
City Bowl Hotels
The hotels and guest houses located in City Bowl area offer easy access to Cape Town’s many popular sights, restaurants and beaches. These hotels also offer stunning views of the city as many of them are located on the sides of the mountains that surround the city.
The Victoria and Alfred waterfront is a highly coveted area in Cape Town and is accordingly equipped with a wide array of hotels that tend to charge top dollar for their sea-facing rooms.
Atlantic Seaboard Hotels
Like the Waterfront, the hotels located along Cape Town’s Atlantic Seaboard in neighborhoods like Camps Bay and Clifton are highly coveted and thus tend to be outrageously priced.
Green Point, Mouille Point and Sea Point Hotels
These neighborhoods are located within close proximity to the Cape Town waterfront and offer various accommodation options that afford relatively easy access to the beach. Most of the hotels located in these neighborhoods also have sea views but have better prices than the Waterfront hotels.
De Waterkant Hotels
If you have a penchant for old world ambience then the quaint hotels located in Cape Town’s oldest residential neighborhood , De Waterkant should be an ideal fit for you. This neighborhood that offers 18th century architecture and cobbled streets has a distinct European air about it and also offers several fantastic shopping options.
Wine and Rugby Country hotels
Cape Town also offers various accommodation options in its diverse neighborhoods like Constantia which is a wine producing area near the city and Newlands, a neighborhood which is home to the world’s largest rugby museum. Visitors with these specific interests often choose hotels located in these neighborhoods for their Cape Town vacations.
Places to see in Cape Town
Table Mountain is Cape Town’s most prominent attraction. This flat topped mountain, which overlooks the city, seems to stand guard over it. The top of the Table Mountain is often covered in white clouds giving it the appearance of a table sporting a table cloth. The summit of Table Mountain can be accessed via a cable car service though many visitors choose to hike up the various pathways that give access to the mountain’s summit.
Kirstenboch Botanical Gardens
The gorgeous Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens of Cape Town are not to be missed on any visit to Cape Town. The gardens that are set against the eastern slopes of the Table Mountain are world renowned for their beauty and displays of indigenous South African flora. If you love plants and flowers, you can easily spend an entire day in this lush verdant oasis, which also has four restaurants within its boundaries. The Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is a UNESCO declared world heritage site and can be reached via a Golden arrow bus from the city center on weekdays or via one of the many city tours offered in Capet Town including the hop on and hop off bus tours
Castle of Good Hope
The castle of Good Hope is the oldest building in South Africa. This castle is filled with artifacts and a military museum and offers a good insight into the importance of the Cape of Good Hope in the early social and economic development of Cape Town.
St George’s Cathedral
This Victorian Gothic style Anglican Cathedral was founded in 1901 and is an important attraction in Cape Town, for it is here that the enthronement of South Africa’s first black archbishop- Desmond Tutu took place. The cathedral in fact has much historical importance as it also played a vital role in the struggle against Apartheid and was known for years as the ‘people’s church’ for it was within the church that the protestors often congregated.
District Six Museum
The District Six museum is yet another relic from the Apartheid era in South Africa. The District Six neighborhood of Cape Town was once a vibrant enclave but in the late 1960’s the government of South Africa declared it as a ‘Whites Only’ area under the Group Areas Act. Over 60,000 residents of District Six were then evacuated and sent to live in the outer suburb of the Cape Flats. Their homes and belongings were then flattened by bull dozers. This brutal act destroyed communities and families. Today the District Six museum chronicles the horrific events and offers various displays of photographs, street signs and other memorabilia, all of which provide a valuable insight into the bestiality of the Apartheid regime.
Victoria and Alfred Waterfront
Cape Town’s harbor area is one of its popular attractions. This waterfront area is home to shopping malls, cinemas, restaurants, bars and pubs as well as markets and live music venues. The city’s many boat trips and harbor cruises originate in this area. The neighborhood also hosts the Two Oceans Aquarium, which has the distinction of being the largest aquarium in Africa.
Robben Island is located seven miles away from Cape Town in the midst of Table Bay and is a rocky outcrop that for years was used as a facility for exile and imprisonment during the Apartheid era. Robben Island was synonymous with brutality and its most famous resident prisoner was Nelson Mandela.
Today the island is an important tourist attraction in Cape Town and tours of the rocky island and its maximum security prison are offered by former prisoners. It is estimated that the Robben Island prison housed three thousand prisoners during the height of the Apartheid regime from 1962-1991.
Best time to visit Cape Town
Cape Town is located on the Cape Peninsula and enjoys a Mediterranean climate characterized by dry summers and wet winters. Average summer temperatures usually register 76F (26C) while average winter temperatures usually record readings of around 64F( 17C). These pleasant temperatures render Cape Town as a year round destination.
Fare Buzz often announces attractive flight deals for Cape Town and if you are in the market for cheap air tickets for Cape Town, you should perhaps connect with Fare Buzz via the social media tools like Face Book and Twitter to receive advance information about these cheap air flights to Cape Town.
Getting around in Cape Town
Cape Town international airport is situated 13 miles east of Cape Town. This airport is the second busiest airport in South Africa and receives a whole host of domestic and international carriers that make getting to Cape Town a breeze. The Cape Town airport is served by various modes of public transport like minibuses, courtesy hotel shuttles, communal taxis called ‘Rikkis’ and taxis.
However public transport in Cape Town is rather poor and unsafe, hence most visitors on a vacation in Cape Town opt to rent a car for the duration of their stay in Cape Town. Car rentals can be booked at the various agency outlets that are located outside Cape Town airport however you can probably get cheaper rates if you reserve your car rental for Cape Town before you arrive in the city.
Fare Buzz can be of assistance in this respect as well as we offer several affordable car rentals for Cape Town which can be booked via the same platforms that you use to make your hotel, flight and vacation package bookings with us.
Where to shop in Cape Town
Cape Town offers a good selection of shopping options. Most visitors to Cape Town like to shop for native African arts and crafts and the city is equipped with various shopping haunts like Greenmarket Square( a bit of a tourist trap ), the Pan-African Market and the Waterfront area which offer ample opportunities to pick up native jewelry, masks, carvings, tableware, textiles, ceramics and more. Other popular shopping locales in Cape Town include areas like Long Street(antique shops and galleries) and the De Waterkant area.
Where to eat in Cape Town
Cape Town is known as the foodie capital of Africa and offers a wide array of restaurants that serve up both international and native African eats. Additionally many restaurants in Cape Town also offer stunning vistas of the sea and mountains along with their many spectacular preparations.
Some of the best and highly regarded restaurants in Cape Town according to recent surveys include eateries like La Colombe(Constantia Valley), Aubergine( Barnet Street Gardens), The Food Barn( Noordhoek), Bibi’s Kitchen( Wynberg), Mzoli’s (Gugulethu)and Wakame(on Beach Road in Mouille Point.
Nightlife in Cape Town
Cape Town is equipped with numerous bars and clubs that constitute its vibrant nightlife scene that caters to a variety of tastes. Bars in Cape Town usually stay open late and clubs start going from 11pm onwards. Some of the city’s liveliest nightlife haunts are found along the V&A Waterfront, the Atlantic Seaboard areas of Clifton and Camps Bay, the City Center and the Somerset and Greenpoint areas.
Popular nightlife hangouts in Cape Town include joints like Opium, Chili n Lime , the Budda Bar,the Buena Vista Social Club, The Fez, Rhodes House, Jet Lounge , The Ivory Room and The Hemisphere ( all dance clubs) and bars like Planet Champagne and Cocktail Bar, the Waiting Room, Primi, the Martini amongst others.