Cape Town – the jewel in South Africa’s crown

I was fortunate enough to grow up in Durban, which has a beautiful coastline and is less than a three hour drive to the awe-inspiring Drakensberg mountains but it’s Cape Town that I keep wanting to return to.

It’s hard to describe the vibe that Cape Town gives off but I urge you to visit it if you’re planning a trip to South Africa. Here are five reasons why:

1. Table Mountain

Arguably the most iconic landmark in South Africa and boasting panoramic views over the city – it’s also the most photographed landmark. There are two ways to get to the top: by cable car or by hiking. We chose to hike up and get the cable car down. It was gruelling but worth it! Table Mountain is a national park and you’ll find around 2,200 species of plants and 1,470 floral species. Look out for dassies, which are rock badgers (although they look more like guinea pigs). Take a picnic with you, eat at the cafe on top of the mountain or work up an appetite by walking down and going to a nearby  restaurant in Kloof Street or Camps Bay.

View from Table Mountain

View from Table Mountain

2. The beaches

Cape Town sits at the most southern point of South Africa and it’s where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet. Unfortunately this means that a lot of the beaches have pretty cold water…  However, if you go during spring or summer, it’s so hot that you’ll actually find it refreshing. One of the most popular beaches is Camps Bay but there are lots of beaches a bit further afield that you definitely should go and seek out – like Fish Hoek and Muizenburg, with its pretty coloured beach huts. Visit Hout Bay during the weekend where you’ll find a great local market and the beach at your doorstep.

A real highlight is Boulders Beach where you will find lots of African penguins – it’s so unique!

The beach at Hout Bay

The beach at Hout Bay

3. The winelands

Just an hour from Cape Town you’ll find the winelands, which are definitely worth visiting – either by hiring a car and driving or doing a tour. Most people choose to visit or stay in Stellenbosch but we chose to stay in Paarl for a couple of nights at a lovely hotel called The Grand Roche, followed by three nights in Franschhoek at The Last Word. We went to quite a few vineyards for lunch and we honestly didn’t find a bad one! Our favourites were The Kitchen at Maison, picture below, and Monneaux. And for non-vineyard restaurants, Ryan’s Kitchen was superb.

If you’re visiting Franschhoek, I really recommend getting the wine tram – it’s so much fun and you get to see a few vineyards and sample their wine, have lunch at a vineyard of your choice and best of all – you’re not driving!

The Kitchen at Maison

The Kitchen at Maison

4. The food and wine

I remember when my husband first visited South Africa, he couldn’t believe how good the food and wine is. And he should know good food and wine as he’s not only Italian, but from Bologna! South Africans love their food – particularly their meat so you’re in for a treat when you visit. And Cape Town, being right by the sea, has fabulous fresh seafood too. Our local wine is top notch so do try some – particularly the Pongracz or Graham Beck for sparkling wine options, Chenin Blanc for a dry white and Pinotage for red. If you’re staying in Franschhoek or just visiting for the day, here are some of the restaurants we really enjoyed.

South African sparkling wine

South African sparkling wine

5. The people

South Africa is truly the rainbow nation. Our people are warm, friendly and have a great sense of humour. If you visit Cape Town, expect a warm welcome, lots of smiles, great service and good conversation.

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Cape Town in South Africa

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