A Trip to Cape Town
I was fortunate enough to visit the beautiful city of Cape Town, South Africa at the end of a 10-day safari trip in Zambia, Chobe National Park, the Botswana Okavango Delta, and a sightseeing tour of Johannesburg. From the culture to the food to the gorgeous landscape of Tabletop Mountain overshadowing the city, this trip to Cape Town was packed with beautiful sights and unique experiences. My husband and I spent three full days and two nights in the city and we did manage to do a lot of sightseeing during our Cape Town travel.
There are so many things to visit and see during Cape Town tours so it is always great to plan ahead. We used Abercrombie & Kent to organize the private tours for us. However, Cape Town is such a cosmopolitan place and we felt really safe, that renting a car and visiting everything on your own could have been very easy and way more affordable.
Here are a few highlights of our trip to Cape Town for anyone who might be interested in visiting this wonderful city (and trust me, after this post, you just might!).
Accommodation: The Cape Royale Hotel
During our Cape Town travel, we stayed in a unique and beautifully furnished AirBnB suite at the Cape Royale Hotel in Cape Town. Part of the hotel is residential and owners rent their apartments on AirBnB so you can get a great deal for an amazing apartment! Not only was the place surprisingly affordable, but it also had balconies all around with fantastic views of Tabletop Mountain and the ocean. Although it’s not really considered one of the Cape Town attractions, the mid-century model decor of the building is very elegant. The hotel has a rooftop bar and pool, wellness center, and spa attached, offering a variety of luxurious services, as well as several coffee places and restaurants to choose from on the ground floor! It should really be a part of one of the Cape town tours. Whether you are in the mood for a morning cup of coffee or cocktails and tapas by the pool in the late afternoon, the Cape Royale had everything we could have possibly needed while on our trip to Cape Town.
Victoria Wharf Waterfront
After checking into our suite, my husband and I took a walk to the V&A Waterfront. Victoria Wharf is such a beautiful area which gives European vibes and is a must see on one of your Cape Town tours. Overlooking the ocean and Tabletop Mountain, the Victoria Waterfront is an absolute paradise. Admiring the clear sky, crystal blue waters, the misty mountain, and boats exiting and entering the harbor was an amazing way to kick off our Cape Town travel. In addition to Cape Town attractions, the city offers numerous restaurants offering delicious seafood cuisine and street musicians liven up the daily markets. The Victoria Waterfront attracts millions of visitors each year, and you should plan to see it if you take a trip to Cape Town. It’s named after Queen Victoria of England and her second son, Alfred, who visited the harbor in 1860 with the Royal Navy. There is a statue commemorating his involvement with the Navy Yard’s development in the harbor as well.
Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden
The second day of our trip started with a drive to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, one of the popular Cape Town attractions. We took a golf cart and a tour guide and managed to explore most of the gardens in an hour. There are two types of vegetation in Kirstenbosch, Fynbos– a type of flower- and forest. The types of Fynbos are Protea, spiny green plants that flower in summer and fall, Ericas, which spout purplish blooms and small leaves, and Restios, which are also known as Cape Reeds. The Protea is South Africa’s national flower.
The forest is mountainous, and trees can be up to 30 meters in height! In addition to all the natural beauty around, Kirstenbosch also features metal sculptures and art in the garden, including a permanent exhibition of traditional Mambo sculptures and a bust of Nelson Mandela. Some recreations of the works and others like them can be found available for purchase in the Visitors’ Center.
Drive to Cape Point/Cape of Good Hope
After the Cape Town Botanical Garden, our Cape Town travel took us down the scenic road to Cape Point, also called the Cape of Good Hope. Originally called “Cape of Storms” by Portuguese conquistador Bartolomeu Dias when he arrived in 1488, the Cape Peninsula region was renamed “Cape of Good Hope” by Portuguese King John II due to his enthusiasm in opening up a trade route through the area. The drive there was a stunning tour of South Africa’s natural beauty, spanning views of the tranquil Llandudno Beach and the rocky mountains like the Chapman’s Peak. You should plan to incorporate this into your Cape Town tours.
Your trip to Cape Town could not be complete without visiting the Cape of Good Hope, which is actually the most south-western point of the African Continent! There’s much history to be found here and it should definitely be a stop on your Cape Town tours. The peninsula is home to two lighthouses, including the Old Cape Point Lighthouse, built in 1857. The lighthouse was originally constructed above sea level, but because of frequently cloudy and misty weather conditions, ships often struggled to find their bearings. After a terrifying shipwreck in 1911, the lighthouse was moved to a position below the cloud line, where it could be seen clearly by ships and visitors to this day. You can save several minutes of an uphill walk to the Old Lighthouse by taking the Cape Point Funicular railway, the Flying Dutchman.
Two Oceans Restaurant
After working up an appetite while ambling around the Old Lighthouse, visiting other Cape Town attractions and taking numerous pictures of both the Indian and the Atlantic oceans, we stopped for a lunch in the midst of our Cape Town travel at the Two Oceans Restaurant next to the Cape Point Funicular entrance. The restaurant is set up partially outside, overlooking the water on a wide wooden deck. We were warned about the baboons which could be dangerous by attacking people to steal their food. However, we were lucky to only encounter a few birds taking the bread from the table! The ocean breeze felt amazing and provided the perfect atmosphere to take in a leisurely lunch. Two Oceans’ menu offers a number of seafood options for you to take in the local fare, as well as other staples with a creative flair. Everything was delicious! Even though you won’t find in listed on the Cape Town tours, it was the perfect way to cap off the afternoon in Cape Point.
The South African Penguins
A trip to Cape Town would not be complete without checking out the adorable South African Penguins. Cute as they may be, I was surprised when I saw them interacting because their calls sound like a donkey braying! It was amazing to get to see them not only for their quirkiness, but because they are also an endangered species. We stayed on the wooden boardwalk and watched those adorable warm-blooded creatures scurrying about below. Scientists estimate there are only 21,000 breeding pairs left in the world. Up until the last century or so, the penguins’ eggs were considered a delicacy in South Africa. This and other factors like overfishing, lowering their food supply, oil spills, and various other environmental disasters have contributed to their endangerment. This was one of the best Cape Town attractions, and having the opportunity to see them in person was the experience of a lifetime.
Bo-Kaap Residential Area
On the third day of my Cape Town travel, we took a stroll around Bo-Kaap, one of Cape Town’s residential areas. It’s one of the oldest areas in the historical center, as well as a center of Malay culture. The homes are brightly colored and each is unique- pink, orange, yellow, green. Walking down the street, you’ll get one of the most vibrant views in all of Cape Town.
Stellenbosch and Cape Town Vineyards
The same day we traveled to Stellenbosch, a city outside of Cape Town and not really considered part of the Cape Town tours. Stellenbosch is a university town overflowing with students, and their lively energy radiates throughout the area. Stellenbosch offered a historic and architectural perspective of the region of the time when the Dutch first settled in. The land is mountainous and the climate is Mediterranean, which is perfect for growing grapes, the majority of which contribute to Stellenbosch’s tremendous annual wine production. Over 1,000,000,000 liters of wine per year are produced in this region, and we were lucky enough to taste some at the Anura Winery topped off with a cheese tasting. Although it’s not technically in Cape Town, we still consider it one of our favorite Cape Town attractions.
Anura has a wide range of wines available for tasting and purchase, including a number of fruity, flavorful red wines. We were able to witness the process of winemaking at this historic, privately owned winery. The culture of Cape Town is evident in the Anura offerings, and the wine is tropical, sweet, and rich. Anura vineyard supplies the South African airlines and also offers several bubbly, white, and delicious rosé wines.
Franschhoek Country House
Although not considered one of the Cape Town attractions, we stopped at the quaint Huguenot village of Franschhoek (“French Corner”), about an hour’s drive from Cape Town. The Franschhoek area was originally known as Oliphant’s Hoek (“Elephant’s Corner”) after elephants took to calving in the sheltered valley with its plentiful supply of food and water. Our final lunch in South Africa was at the fantastic Franschhoek Country House. The fine venue has been restored inside a historic manor and former perfumery, and has a lavish, antique feel. The gardens outside perfectly framed the estate, which is nestled in the valley below a mountain range. Once inside, we ate at the Monneaux Restaurant, which offered a broad sampling of the local wines as well as small plates of traditional food. The outdoor dining space is beautiful, and trying three or four of the Franschhoek House recipes at a time makes it feel like a familiar lunch with a friend.
Overall, our Cape Town travel was an unforgettable experience. Each element was unique and unexpected, from the neon paint of Bo-Kaap’s architecture to the tangy flavor of the local cuisine and wine. I can’t wait to go back someday!