Cape Town is regularly voted the best city in the world to visit. Once you arrive, you’ll find it extremely hard to leave.
As Cape Town locals, we are shamelessly biased. But as tour operators, we have also travelled extensively and so can make experienced comparisons. And so, wearing both local enthusiast and educated agent hats, we bring your our top 10 reasons to visit Cape Town.
1. Breathtaking Natural Beauty
The plethora of gorgeous natural attractions in Cape Town makes it one of the most sought-after holiday destinations around the globe. The city lies between Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean, creating a dramatic, Instagrammable backdrop that is instantly recognisable. Since it opened as a tourist attraction in 1929, Table Mountain has attracted more than 25 million visitors to its slopes.
In addition to this renowned landmark, Cape Town has lush botanical gardens, dazzling beaches (more on that in a bit) and verdant green Winelands.
Chapman’s Peak Drive, the road that takes you from one side of the peninsula to the other, is regularly voted the most beautiful drive in the world. Cape Town thoroughly deserves its reputation as one of the world’s most resplendent cities.
2. World-class Food & Wine
If you’re a foodie or a wine connoisseur, you’ll be bowled over by the superb options available in Cape Town. Cape Town is a melting pot of cuisines and deserves its reputation as the food & wine capital of South Africa.
From traditional dishes like bobotie (curried meat with fruit) and potjie (meat and vegetables slow-cooked over a fire in an iron pot) to the freshest seafood imaginable, you’ll be hard-pressed to name your favourite dish of your holiday.
If you spend time with locals, expect to while away warm summer evenings over a braai (barbecue), where your hosts will display an impressive ability to cook just about anything to perfection over an open flame.
3. Cape Town Beaches
Cape Town is home to some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet. The city straddles the freezing Atlantic Ocean and the slightly warmer Indian Ocean, so your choice of beach may be determined by how badly you want to swim.
It may not be the Med, but Atlantic seaboard beaches like Llandudno, Clifton and Campos Bay are so stunning that it’s worth a day there with only the occasional toe dipped in the water. False Bay beaches like surfer’s paradise Muizenberg and the tidal pools of St James are best for families.
One of the most unique things to do in Cape Town is visit Boulders Beach where you can see hundreds of resident African penguins nesting along the shoreline.
4. Robben Island
Robben Island, which translates to ‘Seal Island’ in the original Dutch, is a small island off the coast of Cape Town with a big and colourful history. Once a leper colony, it is best known as the prison that harboured former president Nelson Mandela and other key figures in South Africa’s struggle against the oppressive Apartheid regime.
It is a must-see for anyone visiting Cape Town. You can tour the prison grounds, see the stark cell where Mandela was held for 27 years and learn more about South Africa’s tumultuous history.
5. V&A Waterfront
One of the most popular attractions in Cape Town, the Waterfront is a one-stop shop for fun. Gourmet restaurants, fabulous shopping and activities such as sunset boat cruises, art galleries and the Two Oceans Aquarium make this a compulsory stop on your Cape Town trip.
It is a working harbour and has some of the best views of Table Mountain in the city. Top tip: it gets extremely busy over December time, so when you go, make sure to book all your activities and restaurants in advance.
6. Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
Even if you’re not a fan of botanical gardens, Kirstenbosch is one that you don’t want to skip. Widely regarded as the most beautiful garden in Africa, this luscious green paradise is the best picnic spot in Cape Town.
The 528-hectare estate is home to an expansive variety of plants, birds, and animals. Amateur and professional photographers will find themselves in natural heaven and hikers and walkers can access a range of trails to suit all fitness levels.
In the summer, Kirstenbosch hosts a series of outdoor summer concerts and open-air movie nights.
7. Sustainable Tourism
In 2017, Cape Town was struck by a severe drought that threatened the city’s livelihood. In a coordinated mass effort, the city and its residents launched an incredible effort to conserve the region’s water resources.
In the three years that followed, Cape Town decreased its water consumption by 50%, making it a success story of recovery in the face of climate change as well as providing an example of a sustainable model for the world.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization highlighted Cape Town’s water conservation strategies as a new standard for cities around the world to emulate.
8. Cape Point
Cape Point is a magnificent stretch of coastline in the south that is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the city. It’s not the southernmost point of Africa (that would be Cape Agulhas), but it is an attraction in its own right, with sheer cliffs, crashing waves and azure ocean views.
You can spend a day strolling around the lookout points, relaxing with a picnic or cycling around the many offroad trails. You may also spot eland, zebra, antelope, baboons and plenty of birds.
A favourite activity is a ride on the Flying Dutchman funicular that takes you to the old lighthouse where you’ll be awestruck by the spectacular views of False Bay.
9. Outdoor Adventures
Capetonians are blessed with many spots of superb natural beauty on their doorstep and this has inspired in them an abiding love of the outdoors. Hiking, biking, paragliding and watersports of every description are all popular and available throughout the city.
Table Mountain alone has 5 official trails and there are more than 350 hiking trails in Table Mountain National Park which encompasses all the mountains in and around the city.
The Cape Town Cycle Tour is the largest individually timed cycle race in the world and attracts up to 35 000 entrants each year.
The gentle ocean waters of Simon’s Town attract snorkellers, divers and boats of all kinds while packs of surfers can be found at Muizenberg and Dungeons.
10. The Splendid Weather
Cape Town has a relatively mild Mediterranean climate. In the summer, the long sunny days can get hot and dry, giving the city’s beach culture that extra appeal.
Winters are not cold by European standards (although you will hear plenty of grumbling from frost-averse locals), but there are usually around 6 to 8 weeks of consistent rain.
One thing to note about Cape Town is that it is a windy city. The whippy South Easter arrives around October/November and stays until March, whereupon you can enjoy warm, wind-free days until the rains arrive in late May/June.
Come To Cape Town With Portfolio Journeys
It’s not too late to visit Cape Town this summer. Take a look at our itinerary examples or get in touch and let’s chat about a personalised trip that includes the not insubstantial charms of the Mother City.