Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town, on the southeastern coast of South Africa, is a destination of dramatic vistas, turbulent history and a cosmopolitan vibe.  The city seems to sprawl from the base of Table Top Mountain.  It can be seen almost anywhere and is often blanketed in thin cloud layer that cascades down her sides.  Ascending to the top is achieved either by cable car or for the more adventurous, a series of hiking trails.

There are many districts in Cape Town, but one that must not be missed is De Waterkant.  This area is relatively small part of the suburb of Green Point.  It is an area steeped in history which can be seen from the Dutch and British architecture of buildings erected during their respective colonisations.  There are plenty of small hotels in this area making it a great base to explore the rest of the city.  You also don’t have to venture too far for entertainment.  De Waterkant is filled with cute cafes, gormet restaurants and happening bars.  Check out Sky Bar, it is has a rooftop pool and is at The Village Hotel.

The V&A Waterfront is definitely on the tourist trail but definitely not to be missed.  As South Africa’s most visited destination, V&A waterfront has something for everyone.  Boasting an aquarium, marina, shopping centre and hotels you could easily spend a day here.  Strolling along the historic waterfront looking back at table top mountain is an unforgettable experience.  It is here that you’ll find the Nelson Mandela Gateway and boats that leave for Robben Island.

Once used as a prison for political prisoners, Robben Island lies 7 kilometers of the coast.  Nelson Mandela was held captive here for 18 of his 27 years of imprisonment.  The tour of the island gives a gripping insight into prison life and is not to be missed.

Less than an hour’s drive from Cape Town lies the visually spectacular winery region of Stellenbosch.  Here you can sample some of South Africa’s finest wines in a beautifully lush part of the country.  The dramatic mountains are the perfect back drop for a wonderful meal with matching wines.  Check out The Spear Hotel and while you’re there, the Cheetah centre.  Here you can pat a cheetah and contribute to the centre aimed at rescuing cheetahs around encroaching farmlands.

One final activity around Cape Town that is not to be missed is diving with great white sharks in Gannsbai.  Submerging yourself in the freezing waters of the southern ocean whist great whites swim just inches away, gives you a rush that’s hard to beat.  The sharks move with a speed and ferocity that makes you grateful for the steel cage that separates you from them.

Cape Town truly is a captivating place with so much to offer.  From her natural beauty to her fascinating history, it is a city not to be missed on your visit to South Africa.

Written by Joel Mein for The Essential Destination

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