South Africa has several major cities but Cape Town is the clear leader when it comes to beautiful surroundings, famous sights and superb food and wine. It combines well with a safari in Greater Kruger or tour of the Garden Route but makes an excellent stand-alone destination too. Fly overnight from London and, with almost no time difference, you will be a little jaded but not jet-lagged. Stay at one of the city’s chic boutique hotels such as Kensington Place or splurge at the iconic Belmond Mount Nelson. Alternatively, lovers of the hustle and bustle may opt for the V&A Waterfront and the stately Cape Grace. Wherever you stay there are a few ‘must-dos’.
A trip up Table Mountain cannot be missed and we recommend you get up there on the first clear day you have – the panorama over Signal Hill, The Lion’s Head and stretching all the way out into the winelands is quite spectacular. Most people take the highly efficient cableway but we can also arrange a hiking tour up the mountain for you if you fancy making a day of it and taking some exercise.
The winelands are extremely accessible with the nearest wine-growing area, Constantia, being just 30 minutes away by car. Take a tour of a selection of wine farms (even better if you take a driver for the day) and enjoy a lazy lunch at La Petite Ferme in Franschhoek, soaking up the stunning view across the Franschhoek Valley.
Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 29 years, is easily accessed by regular ferries from the V&A Waterfront and visitors are always left feeling awed by the excellent guided tours, which are given by ex-inmates of the prison here. A sobering but highly enlightening excursion.
There is so much to do in this wonderful city that you could easily spend a week just in and around Cape Town. In the summer, there are often open-air concerts in the beautiful Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens and a cruise along the stunning Chapman’s Peak Drive is also a must, perhaps followed by lunch in pretty Noordhoek overlooking the ocean. Another excellent day trip takes in Cape Point – not the most southerly point in Africa but it certainly feels like it, surrounded by nothing but hundreds of miles of ocean in all directions – then stop off at Boulders Beach to say hello to the famous penguins.
Last but by no means least, one of the greatest pleasures of a stay in Cape Town is the food. Restaurants abound and the competition is fierce meaning a treat for visitors who can enjoy international standards of cuisine at very reasonable prices. The areas around Long Street and Kloof Street is the epicentre of the gourmet scene and within easy walking distance of many of the hotels we recommend.