In and around Cape Town: the best-of

No visit to South Africa would be complete without exploring Cape Town and its surroundings. It’s an amazing region with something for everyone: big city, lush nature, endless beaches, great food, plenty of wineries, baboons…and even penguins!

The Waterfront

Most of visitors usually start their visit with either the Waterfront, or the Table Mountain. I liked the Waterfront for only 2 reasons: the view of downtown with Table Mountain on the background and the statue of South Africa’s tremendous four Peace Nobelists!

Downtown from the Waterfront, Cape Town
Downtown Cape Town from the Waterfront

 South Africa's four Peace Nobelists, Cape Town
South Africa’s four Peace Nobelists

 

The Table Mountain

Climbing up the Table Mountain (or riding the cable car) is a must-do, but beware of the weather…! It’s very changing up there and the summit is often covered by clouds. When I disembarked the cable car I couldn’t see anything further than a few meters, and I was cold for the first (and last) time during my trip in South Africa. After some time shivering in the cold mist that seemed to last forever, the clouds drifted away and I was able to see the city center but it wasn’t the best view in my opinion.

Downtown from the Table Mountain, Cape Town
Downtown from the Table Mountain

 

Lion’s Head Mountain

Another popular place (less popular than the Table Mountain though) to get some city views is the Lion’s Head Mountain. I particularly liked to see the colorful neighborhood of Bo-Kaap from above (down there it’s unfortunately full of tourists…).

Bo-Kaap from above
Bo-Kaap from above

 

Camps Bay

The trendy (and posh) district of Camps Bay is very nice, thanks to the awesome beach. I stayed there and it was such a nice thing to have a morning stroll on the sunny beach with all the locals and their free-running dogs.

Camps Bay beach, Cape Town
Camps Bay beach

 

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

Maybe my favorite place in Cape Town and clearly the most beautiful garden I have been to so far, with an incredible diversity of plants and flowers. To visit any time, but even better if you are there in springtime when all the flowers are blooming.

 Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Cape Town
Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

 

School visit at Kirstenbosch, Cape Town
School visit at Kirstenbosch

 

Protea flowers, Cape Town
Protea flowers

 

Lunch at Test Kitchen

See here.

 

The drive from Cape Town to Cape Point

On this highly scenic 2-hour drive you have to stop at Muizenberg beach with its colorful huts, and of course at the fascinating Boulders beach with its colony of small penguins. You need to pay to park your car and to enter the site but hey, penguins in Africa! Be careful not to arrive at Cape Point national park too late, as it closes at sunset. Before ultimately reaching Cape Point you will drive among thick protea bushes and lots of quite aggressive baboons (don’t feed them, or they will become even more aggressive…).

The famous beach huts at Muizenberg, Cape Town
The famous beach huts at Muizenberg

 

Boulders beach and its penguins, Cape Town
Boulders beach and its penguins

 

Watch out for the baboons on your way to Cape Point
Watch out for the baboons on your way to Cape Point

 

Chapman’s Peak drive

On your way back to Cape Town, take the so-called Chapman’s Peak drive. Especially beautiful during sunset.

Sunset at Chapman's Peak drive, Cape Town
Sunset at Chapman’s Peak drive

 

Wineries

Most of the region’s vineyards and the Wine Route are located less than 1,5 hours east of Cape Town by car. There you will have to make some choices between dozens of properties. I visited 2 of them and both can be recommended: Rust en Vrede (only reds) for a finer experience and Babylonstoren for a more down-to-earth experience. The huge orchard at Babylonstoren is totally amazing! They use their own fruits and vegetables at the estate’s restaurant, Babel. The wine tasting is free and you can also visit the cellar (not allowed at Rust en Vrede). By the way, Rust en Vrede means “Rest in Peace”.

Rust en Vrede vinelands, Cape Town
Rust en Vrede vineyards

 

Babylonstoren
Babylonstoren

 

Fruit plate at Babel restaurant
Fruit plate, Babel restaurant

 

The orchard at Babylonstoren, a piece of heaven on Earth
The orchard at Babylonstoren, a piece of heaven on Earth

 

Hermanus

Before heading home, make a detour via the small coastal town of Hermanus. The waves there are pretty impressive and you can rather easily spot whales, not sure if you are looking at the Indian Ocean or at the Atlantic…

Hermanus beach
Hermanus beach

 

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