Just A Few Of The Reasons to Visit Cape Town
We travelled for 10 weeks from Greece through Dubai and into Cape Town, South Africa. When we planned our trip, we never knew there were so many reasons to visit Cape Town. We just knew we wanted to get our land legs back after a very long and amazing cruise.
It was a great trip and we saw so many of the things on a travel wish list – the religious centre of Jerusalem, temples and tombs in Egypt, lost city of Petra, Taj Mahal at sunset and sunrise, crystal clear waters of Maldives and safaris as we travelled through Africa. We got our first taste test of South Africa on a game drive in Richards Bay. Our second stop in South Africa let us enjoy the beach in Durban.
But when the cruise ship hit Cape Town after 51 days at sea, we were ready to enjoy a longer stay. We thought we would share our reasons to visit Cape Town.
The first thing I will admit is that I liked Cape Town so much more than I expected. You look at the pictures and think it beautiful. But the natural beauty was so much more stunning in person. We were in Cape Town over Christmas but even with the holidays, we still found lots to see and do. It didn’t hurt that it was sunny and warm. We did not mind missing the start of winter in Toronto!
A few reasons to visit Cape Town ….
1) So Many Different Perspectives
Cape Town is on a peninsula. As such, it is easy to get out on the water and view it from the sea.
The main downtown area of Cape Town is quite compact, so it is easy to walk around. But as you move away from the harbour and up towards one of the many hills that surround the town, be prepared to head uphill. Bring your walking shoes.
With hills surrounding the city, it is easy to head high to get a view down on the city.
Hop-on-hop-off buses have been a hit or miss proposition for us in many cities we have visited. The hop-on-hop-off bus in Cape Town was one of the best that we have ever used. The different routes take you far afield to see all the sites of Cape Town. There are 2 small bus tours that give you short specialized tours to the wineries and to a local settlement. And riding on the bus is a great way to see all the wonderful scenery!
From any perspective, you will find Cape Town is fascinating. One of the many reasons to visit Cape Town.
2) Amazing Scenery
If you like water, you will find beaches to swim in, waves to surf or just ways to get out on the water.
If mountains are your siren call, you will find them in all directions. The city of Cape Town itself is surrounded with mountains. The iconic Table Mountain is visible from everywhere in the city. The smaller summits of Lions Head and Signal hill complete the ring around Cape Town.
If you head out into wine country, you will encounter even more mountains. Lush fields thrive under the mountains. You can pass through the mountains on the old road or pass through the Huguenot Tunnel.
Head towards the Cape of Good Hope and travel along the twisty roads that hug the mountain. The surf pounds below you, quite reminiscent of the awesome road trips along the California coast.
You can enjoy the vast Kirstenbosch Gardens, nestled on the back side of Table Mountain. You can learn about the local plants and trees. Or take a picnic and enjoy the view.
Stunning oceans, mountains and gardens are only a few of the reasons to visit Cape Town.
3) World Class Wine
If you didn’t know it, South Africa is a major wine producer. It is one of the top ten wine producers in the world. There are over 100,000 hectares of vineyards in South Africa. And many South African wines are international award winners.
If you are in Cape Town, don’t miss a wine tour in the Stellenbosch area. As you drive the small valley roads, you will pass winery after winery. Stop in to learn more about wine production or just taste test.
The small towns in this area are quaint, artistic and great to wander around. Stay for a few days and you can see even more of this great area of South Africa.
Great wine and small country towns are only a few of the reasons to visit Cape Town.
4) Animal Encounters
If you come to Africa, don’t forget about the chance to see wild animal encounters. We did a game drive on our visit to the Cape Town area. A two hour drive will take you through the mountains and into the arid desert-like plains. On our day trip to the private game reserve, we saw so many animals.
We got lucky on our day trip to a game reserve. Our guide knew where to find the animals. We arrived before the mid-day sun when the animals tend to hide in the shade. A game drive will whet your appetite for a longer safari where you can experience the sunrise and sunset hours when the animals roam freely.
While we certainly expected to find animals on our game drive, we were surprised when we saw our first road sign warning about baboons. When we visited the Cape of Good Hope, the baboons were everywhere. Some people even lost their lunch hamper to hungry monkeys.
Our visit to the Cape of Good Hope included a stop to see the colony of penguins. A trip to Antarctica has been on my travel list for a long time. This view of the African penguins was a teaser for us.
At Hout Bay outside of Cape Town, you can take a boat to see what the locals call Seal Island. If you are more adventurous, you can even snorkel with the seals.
If you are in search of wildlife, you will find this one of the reasons to visit Cape Town.
5) The History of This Nation
Most of what people know about South Africa comes from news stories related to Apartheid and the life long battle of Nelson Mandela. As you travel about South Africa, you will see monuments to Mandela and his life.
You can visit Robben Island where Mandela was incarcerated for 18 of his 27 years.
Tour guides will provide you with stories of that unsettled time in South Africa’s past. You will see the barren fields of District 6. Over 60,000 of inhabitants of District 6 were forcibly removed during the 1970s by the apartheid regime. Driving past the townships, you will see the poverty that millions still live in. The country is recovering slowly.
For the time being, South Africa is stable. The reminders of the past are still visible. But the country is moving forward. The people we met were happy to be welcoming tourists back.
6) A Great Value
We were in Cape Town at the end of a long cruise. The chance to explore Cape Town was a great bonus at the end of our cruise. But we did not expect to like Cape Town as much as we did. Not only was it a beautiful place to visit, we found it surprisingly affordable.
We were in Cape Town over Christmas, so the hotel rates at that time were not a bargain. But if you are visiting outside of the holiday season, there are lots of large and smaller hotels to choose from. Meal prices were generally good if you stayed away from the big tourist spots. We could have a meal for two with appetizers and wine for under $40. And tipping is a reasonable 10%. The hop-on-hop-off bus was about half the cost of the one in Dubai. Local transportation was about $1 per ride.
All of this made our poor Canadian dollar go further! Others may find that Cape Town is even better on their wallet. This would be one of the reasons to visit Cape Town.
There Are Lots of Reasons To Visit Cape Town
If Cape Town and South Africa are not on your travel wish list, you may want to reconsider. There are lots of reasons to visit Cape Town. You will find so much to see and do! It is one of the most visually stunning places to see. You will find oceans, mountains and gardens. You can see animals in the wild, even on a country drive! The South African people will welcome you.
What is the top of your list of reasons to visit Cape Town? What would you put on your list to just miss?
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Reading this article has given me a heavy dose of homesickness, beautiful photos and awesome descriptions of my favorite place on earth! Thanks for sharing!
Audrey, We loved your home town so much more than we expected to. When people ask where we would return to, Cape Town always came first to our minds. I am glad that I have accurately reflected on the spots we visited. Linda
Great to relive our wonderful week in Cape Town just before Christmas (might have seen you hiking Lion’s Head!). So much to do, see, ponder. We stayed in a house in Bo Kaap region; a daily delight itself!
Hi Joan, Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. We have been cruising again and the internet was a challenge! We had such a great time in Cape Town. Loved it so much more thane we expected to. Great to be there for Christmas. Thanks for following. Linda