We spent last week in Cape Town and surroundings. This kind of vacation was new and exciting for us: the first half of a day we attended a language course, got to know couple of locals and students from other countries. In the afternoon, we had enough time to explore this diverse and bright city.
Usually, we spend only two or three days at one place, but this time we were „forced“ to stay one week because of the school. We didn’t regret it a bit; this was very effective and well filled use of time.
In this post, I will tell you about places to visit and things to do in Cape Town if you are planning your trip there.
Victoria and Albert (V&A) Waterfront
On our very first full day in Cape Town we went for a short stroll at the V&A Waterfront. One of the teachers at the school told us that this is the number one tourist destination in South Africa. The busy commercial harbor is set in the middle of the huge entertainment area with various restaurants, bars, craft shops and markets. At couple of sports you can find a „frame“ with a nice view to the famous symbol of the city, Table Mountain.
After the stroll at V&A, we climbed the Lion’s Head Peak hill right before the sunset. The hill is not very high, only 669m, and you start from a car park, which is definitely not on the sea level. It took us about one hour to ascend to the top.
Lion’s Head Peak
The climb was sometimes exhausting – we had to use chains and ladders. However, it was 100% worth the efforts: the sunset is scenic from above! Already during the hike, you will want to stop hundreds of times in order to cast a glance to the breathtaking the Table Mountain and endless ocean. That evening, the Table Mountain was covered in clouds and it looked like they were a constantly moving tablecloth!
Beware: it gets dark very quickly after the sun is down. If you would like to stay longer, our advice would be to take a torch, enough water and make sure you wear closed non-slippery shoes.
If you are in Cape Town, you cannot leave the city without enjoying the color splash in the Bo-Kaap district. Formerly known as Malay Quarter, is a multicultural area, which is famous for its colorful houses and cobblestone streets. Anyone who wears bright monochrome clothes will easily find a fitting house for the best background for a lively photo! There are several mosques, a market and a district museum situated here.
Free walking tours
In my opinion, one of the best ways to get to know a city is to join a free walking tour hold by a local. The guides are highly motivated and keen in history and culture of the city and the country. We joined the 1,5-hour historic tour organized by the Free Tour (https://www.freetour.com/cape-town) and didn’t regret it for a minute.
The Company’s Garden is located in the heart of Cape Town. It is both a beautiful park and a heritage site, as it was created in the 1650s by the region’s first European settlers (Dutch East India Company, from here comes the name of the garden). Originally, the garden was a real garden where fruit and vegetables were grown to supply the ships rounding the Cape.
Nowadays this park is a pleasant place to rest and hide from sometimes very hot sun. The oldest in South Africa (almost 400 years old) cultivated pear tree grows here, supported by a massive structure of sustainers. Besides, a plenty of curious squirrels and ducks live in the garden who are not afraid of people. They will even come into your lap if they suspect you having something tasty for them.
Kirstenbosch, the most famous of the nine National Botanical Gardens in South Africa, proudly proves its title. The garden is huge and magnificent. It’s nested right next to the Table Mountain, at its eastern foot. Green, blooming and surrounded by mountains (from one side only, but it feels like from all sides), this garden is a perfect place for a family day off or relaxing time.
Kirstenbosch was founded in 1913 to preserve the country’s unique flora with the emphasis on the cultivation of indigenous plants.
Since 2004, the Cape Floristic Region, including Kirstenbosch, belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The entrance fee is R35/R65 for students/adults.
According to our local guide, if you want to support the local artisans’ community or shop for souvenirs and local handmade stuff, you’d rather go to the Greenmarket Square and the locals sell here their product from the first hands, so to say.
We didn’t manage to go to the top of the most famous mountain of South Africa during this trip: it was very windy in the first days of our stay and the cable car didn’t work. Before planning your trip, check the weather and the timetable here: http://www.tablemountain.net/ or plan for a long exhausting climb.