If you have loved what you have seen so far of South Africa, you will love Cape Town. The warm weather, sea breeze, hilly surroundings, palm trees and laid back beach atmosphere reminds me of San Diego. No matter which direction you drive, the coastline is varied and gorgeous. A panoramic photo waits around every corner.
I rented a vehicle for my time in Cape Town. Although I was staying with friends, I wanted the freedom to “go” if need be. I was able to rent the car for less than twenty US dollars per day from “Rent A Cheapie” in Cape Town. The car was a very basic, manual Volkswagon Golf with no bells or whistles but it did the job.
Here is a random assortment of locations, sights and scenery around Cape Town:
With the city built at the base, Table Mountain is probably the most iconic landmark in Cape Town. On a clear day, it can be seen from miles upon miles away. Take a rotating cable car or an intense, nearly vertical, three hour hike to the top for stunning views of the city, coastlines and surrounding area. The mountain top is large with walk paths, providing plenty of places to roam.
Victoria and Alfred Waterfront
Located in city centre along the Atlantic coast, South Africa’s oldest working harbor is also the hub of tourist activity. It was first established in the mid-1800’s and with iconic Table Mountain towering in the backdrop, the shops, restaurants and entertainment bring people from all over the world together.
Castle of Good Hope
The completed building of Castle of Good Hope in 1679, makes it the oldest surviving building in all of South Africa. In 1652, the first Dutch settled in the Cape to establish a location of trade for the Dutch East India Company. When rumor of war between the Dutch and British reached Cape Town, Castle of Good Hope was built as a fort to defend against the British. It is not a “castle” in the classic sense of the word as no king or queen ever occupied the building. According to the official webite for Castle of Good Hope, “It is called a castle, as in the case of other Castles in Europe, in addition to being a defensive structure, it comprised a small community or town on its own.”
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens
Beautiful Botanical Gardens cover the land at the base of Table Mountain. Sadly, this year the Cape has been experiencing the worst drought in recent history leaving the area on tight water restrictions. Even though the garden is not in bloom as a normal year, the green lush foliage was stunning against the clear blue sky and Table Mountain backdrop.
This small wetlands park is set right in the center of Century City. Amongst the growing city, it provides a protected area for bird and plant life. An easy wooden sidewalk weaves around the edges of the peaceful wetlands to view the fowl and foliage.
In Afrikaans, Houtbaai means “Wood Bay.” As you can guess, this area was covered in timber so when the Dutch settled in the Cape area, they used the timber from this bay for building material. Now, it is a beautiful tourist area with a nice marina, restaurants, shops and beach.
Across the water from Hout Bay is Chapman’s Peak. Chapman’s Peak drive is a stunning winding drive hugging the steep mountains along the Atlantic Ocean. It was a major feat of engineering when it was built between 1915 and 1922. It is a popular, challenging destination for runners and bikers with its many curves and hilly roads.
Located at the southern tip of Cape Peninsula, Cape Point boasts its ridged cliffs which plummet into the Atlantic Ocean. High on the cliff stand a lighthouse to warn ships. This area has seen a number of shipwrecks in its day. Set in Table Mountain National Park, this can easily be a full day’s visit on its own as there is much to see within the park.
Cape Agulhas is the southern most tip of the continent of Africa. It is also the point where the Indian Ocean ad Atlantic Ocean meet. It is known to be a dangerous point for ships as well. A lighthouse fashioned after Egyptian-style architecture stands proud to warn ships of the shallow coastline. In the winter, the area is know to have strong winds with waves reaching 100 ft in height. It is speculated that over 150 ships have shipwrecked over the past few hundred years.
With coastlines, mountains, gardens and city, this place has it all!