The Weekly Getaway: why Cape Town is a must on anyone's travel bucket list
It seems as if all my travels this past year have been pointing me in the direction of South Africa. Every so often, I'd fine products in different countries that were from South Africa, or run into someone who had just returned from there. Landing in Cape Town International airport on a crystal clear day, I could see why it was such a popular destination.
Surrounded by endless amounts of natural beauty and wildlife, the Western Cape has everything from rolling countrysides to rugged landscapes, all outlined by a deep blue sea. It also has a rich and tragic history with centuries of colonialism by European countries, and fifty years of apartheid. Yet somehow, South Africa has risen from its past, offering a country full of culture, life, and hospitality.
Scenes from the city: colorful buildings, a drum circle, and the national flower protea on display.
South Africans are a friendly bunch, and you immediately felt welcome walking around with greetings of “Howzit?” The first night we had dinner at a place called The Village Idiot. With it's locally infused cuisine and trendy decor, it was a good introduction to our two week stay.
To get a bit of the history of Cape Town and South Africa, you must go to the unforgettable Robben Island. This is the prison that help Nelson Mandela captive. The tours are given by former inmates - our guide had been imprisoned for four years for smoking in a public place - and give a sense of the struggles of apartheid. At the end of the tour, our guide highlighted that forgiveness is the path to reconciliation. It really hit home that forgiveness is what helped this beautiful country move on.
And what a beautiful country it is. But to really appreciate it, you must get in a car and drive! Start off with Cape Peninsula. Though you could probably do it in within a few hours, I suggest spending a leisurely day stopping at the many beaches and vantage points along the way.
Exploring South African Wine Country.
Excursions to Stellenbosch Wine Country, Hermanus for whale watching, and an African safari are also worth checking out. Driving through the countryside, you'll see many wild animals, and wildflowers including proteas, South Africa's national flower. From the fanciest hotel to the rustic countryside, you'll be greeted by this velvet like blossom throughout your journey.
There is rarely a destination that combines natural beauty and urban trendiness so well with great food and hospitality. For singles, families, couples, and kids, there is plenty to do for everyone. Cape Town has earned its place as a "bucket-list" worthy destination!
- Table Mountain - ride the cable car up to the top of the highest point in Cape Town which gives you commanding views of the "Mother City."
- BoKapp - a neighborhood of town that has cultural and historical significance. Its colored buildings are quintessentially Cape Town.
- Boulders beach - a must stop on a drive through Cape Peninsula. You could easily spend hours there watching the penguins dive in and out of the water.
- Cape Point - at the tip of the cape peninsula, a scenic place to visit the lighthouse and take some photos.
- Robben Island - take the ferry to the island which houses the prison that held Nelson Mandela captive for 18 of his 27 years of imprisonment. Hint: tickets sell fast, so book yours at least a day before online.
- V&A Waterfront - though a tourist trap, it’s a vibrant part of the city that has many restaurants, souvenir shops, and street performers.
- The One and Only - known for their five-star service, this resort in central Cape Town has amazing views of Table Mountain.
- Table Bay Hotel - a historic hotel near the V&A waterfront. Try their delicious high tea which rivals any British one.
- Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa - a bit outside of the city central, but a great place for a resort experience, near Camps Bay, on the way to the Cape Peninsula.
- Derwent House Boutique Hotel - local touches make this centrally located hotel make you feel like you’re really experiencing South African hospitality.
- Spier Wine Farm - if you venture to Stellenbosch, this is the place to stay. Beautiful grounds and a historical vineyard greet you after an hour drive from Cape Town.
- Chef’s Warehouse - a tapas restaurant with a menu that changes daily, insuring your experience is one of a kind.
- The Village Idiot - a typically casual South African spot for food and drink. Give the braai collob, or South African barbeque, a try.
- Savoy Cabbage - for local favorites and a fine dining experience that doesn’t break the bank.
- Baia - a wide array of seafood when visiting the Victoria and Albert Waterfront.
- Helena’s Restaurant - located in downtown Stellenbosch, this restaurant overflows with ambience and creative dishes.
- Nando’s Gardens - though you may have been to the fastfood chain in other countries, try it in the country it originated from, and with some special South African only dishes as well!
- Small bites