Our 5 Favourite Tourist Spots in Cape Town
If variety is the spice of life, then our favourites on the to-do-list are the hottest mix of the lot. We have mountains to climb, penguins to save and World Heritage sites to admire. Our best places to be and see include Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch, Boulders Beach, District Six Museum and Cape Point.
There is no way a visit to the Cape is complete without a trip up Table Mountain. Whether by cable car or via a very steep hiking trail (or two), the 1086 meter high spectacle is one of our beloved treasures that we always recommend to visitors.
Cable cars shuttle travellers from the lower cable station to the mountain top and back down and pre-bookings are best to avoid the queues. It’s one of the best views you’ll experience and an orientation to other points of interest such as Robben Island, Lion’s Head, Cape Town harbour and the twelve apostles. We could go on, but best you see it for yourself.
You would want to herald a few hours into your itinerary for a visit to Kirstenbosch. It is such a perfect way to see the indigenous flora of Southern Africa, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the first botanic garden to be included under this banner. It was established in 1913 and with it, a seasonal showcase of plants – from Proteas to buchu, daisies, vygies and cycads – and lawns and trees – and so much more. Birdwatchers will get their feathery fix and there are sculpture displays, picnic spots, guided walks or hiking trails and a meandering walkway known as the Boomslang. We would say the Kirstenbosch Summer Concerts are a definite to-do in summer with a line-up of South Africa’s formidable music talent.
No coffee table book featuring Cape Town would leave out the classic beach scenes of endangered African Penguins gathered in their black and white colonies on Boulder’s Beach in Simons Town. Specially crafted boardwalks usher visitors to viewing areas of the tuxedo-feathered spectacle – numbering 2000 at last count. It is our best spot to swim (if you can find a place on Boulder’s beach).
Cape Point forms part of the Table Mountain National Park and its southwestern promontory served as a navigational landmark for sailors and explorers throughout the centuries. Gusting winds and temperamental oceans inspired the name Cape of Storms by Bartolomeu Dias in 1488. 1n 1859 the first lighthouse was built, an all-important beacon that still stands at 249 metres above sea-level. When all is said and done, this is just a beautiful reserve in which you can walk and mountain bike or ride the Flying Dutchman funicular to a 286 metre crest above sea level.
We recommend a visit to the District Six Museum for its curatorship of the legacy of a place and its people. What happened in District Six is a microscope of South Africa’s Apartheid history. Where once there was a thriving community – settled in the Sixth Municipal District of Cape Town in 1867, now there are tracts of still-vacant land. On 11 February 1966 it was declared a white area under the Group Areas Act of 1950, and by 1982, the life of the community was over. More than 60 000 people were forcibly removed to barren outlying areas aptly known as the Cape Flats, and their houses in District Six were flattened by bulldozers. A visit here sets a somber tone, but it is as much part of the landscape as the skyline of Table Mountain in the background.