A place at the Table
Cape Town’s star attraction, Table Mountain, is ironically also its most temperamental. While most visitors to Cape Town long to scale the famous peak, many don’t actually make it, thanks to the mountain’s famous tablecloth – a phenomenon that sees thick clouds roll in over its summit and scupper the plans of visitors. So I’m indeed thankful for the glorious weather today.
By 8:15am, there’s already a long line of people waiting for the cable cars that will carry 65 sightseers at a time to the top. But the line moves quickly, so we’re on a gondola in around 15 minutes. The journey to the top is fast – around three minutes – and the views on the way up, aided by the gondola’s rotating floor, are spectacular.
Once at the top of the New7 Wonder of Nature, there are panoramas in every direction, and with walkways and viewing points across a huge area (unlike atop a building), there’s more than enough room for everyone – including an impressed Aussie Scenic Tours group, who are waxing lyrical about the experience on the way back down.
The cute rock badgers (or ‘dassies’, in South Africa) steal some of the limelight – or at least a few of my photos – and there’s a café and shop here. There are also free walking tours every hour. But this place is obviously all about the views. So see it … if you can.
Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA)
Opened in September 2017, this major modern art museum – reputedly the first in Africa – is located in a former 1920s wheat/maize silo, which is now a National Heritage Site.
Inside its giant ‘Atrium Bowl’ lobby, guests are welcomed by the hanging ‘Lightning Bird’ sculpture by SA artist Nicholas Hlobo. The piece is a harbinger of things to come, with cool and sometimes confronting pieces chronicling the oft-turbulent history of South Africa and indeed the greater African continent.
I’m also a little in love with our learned guide, Precious, who with her clear passion and knowledge fully embodies the work she presents. If you want to understand where modern African art and artists are at, visit this place.
This is where travellers come to shop, wine, dine, and just be tourists in a pretty seaside setting. Imagine an older, more colonial-looking Darling Harbour, with ships and not luxury boats, and all in the shadow of nearby mountains.
Here you can visit the aquarium, ride the Cape Town Wheel, or just marvel at the magnificent street performers, like the awesome African choir on show tonight. As Cape Town’s most visited attraction, a lot of the city’s best hotels, like One&Only Cape Town, The Silo Hotel and Cape Grace are conveniently located here too.
A little gritty, but a lot of cool, this part of Cape Town is full of great shopping – especially on Long St and at Green Market Square. If you leave here empty-handed, you’ll regret it. Trust me. There are also plenty of cool bars and clubs, and a lot of history around too.
At what is now the Antique Arcade, the anti-apartheid, Purple Rain protest took place, while not far away, Nelson Mandela gave his first speech as a free man at Cape Town City Hall.
You mightn’t have heard of Bo-Kaap, but you’ll have no doubt seen images of this small part of Cape Town, with its colourful houses making their way on to countless postcards and social posts.
There’s not a lot to do in this hilly part of the city, save the small Bo-Kaap Museum and some casual strolling, but it’s worth the visit just for the colour, the photographs and its past (add blurb about origins of colour).
Not particularly pretty, but especially important, this former inner city residential area was one of many places where Black Africans were forcibly removed from their homes and moved into townships during Apartheid.
It's still largely uninhabited, but is worth a look if only for its historical significance. To properly appreciate District Six, and other townships, it’s best to join a tour, like WOW Travel & Tours.
Cape Town’s coastline is home to some of the most exclusive addresses in South Africa. But you needn’t reside here to access its beautiful beaches.
For amazing sands and scenery head to Camps Bay and Hout Bay. But swimming is only for the brave, even in summer.
If you’re willing to travel a little outside of Cape Town, or at least to its outer edges, awesome adventures await.
One of the best ways to experience them is by sidecar with Cape Sidecar Adventures … or take a trip to the nearby ‘French Corner’ known as Franschhoek, where visitors can sample the country’s best wining and dining among rolling vineyards.
Hotels and restaurants
From unique getaways like Tintswalo Atlantic to luxury downtown waterfront properties such as One&Only Cape Town or the part hotel/part art gallery, The Silo Hotel, Cape Town is brimming with top accommodation spots.
Its restaurants rule too. I try the hidden but hectic, easy-going but elegant Shortmarket Club, and Asoka on hip Kloof Street, with its delish sharing plates and drinks. What’s best, it’s all super value, especially coming from pricey Australia.
Support Cape Town
Rather than let the water shortage in Cape Town deter you from this visiting this remarkable city, let it incentivize you. Tourists actually use a negligible amount of water (add blurb about origins of colour) when in the city. So bring your bucks and you’ll be doing Cape Town a service.
What are your favourite Cape Town experiences?