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What to see and do in Cape Town – notable landmarks and attractions

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For many years Cape Town has been seen as a sleepy city, where it takes months to get anything done and most of the time is spent feet-up on the beach. But with a multitude of events, activities and spectacular attractions, this reputation is fast being put to rest.

Andrew Thompson

My Destination local expert on

Cape Town

Table Mountain

 

It would be impossible to visit Cape Town and not marvel at the natural wonder that is Table Mountain. This monumental landmark stands high above the bustling city, and to overlook a trip to the top would be to miss out on some of the most dramatic views and breathtaking sights. The Table Mountain Cableway whisks visitors in state of the art rotating cable cars in just a few minutes, taking away much of the pain associated with a strenuous hike to the top.

 

Cape Point

 

Keeping with spectacular natural landmarks, Cape Point is one of the most popular things to see and do outside of the city. This impressive peninsula sits high above the turbulent Atlantic Ocean, and for many years struck fear into the hearts of intrepid sailors rounding the Cape of Storms. Today, it’s a world-famous landmark with incredible views, amazing walks, a handful of wildlife, and a fascinating maritime history that in many ways defines this unique corner of the African continent.

 

V&A Waterfront

 

The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront is often the starting point for most visitors to the city. It represents a central safe haven of tourist-friendly stores, restaurants and cultural attractions, with a number of conveniently located hotels and accommodation options attached. This working harbour may attract a significant number of tourists, but that’s not to mean it should be overlooked – bustling walkways, street performers and a number of exclusive restaurants, all set in a working harbor environment, make this an important place to visit during a stay in Cape Town.

 

Robben Island

 

Visible from many parts of the Atlantic Seaboard, as well as Table Mountain, is the unmistakable sight of Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was held as a political prisoner for the majority of his sentence. This historically significant landmark serves as a pilgrimage for tourists and locals alike, and forms an important part of any visit to South Africa, offering a deeper understanding into the country’s troubled political past, and triumphant turnaround since the dark years of Apartheid.

 

Kirstenbosch Gardens

 

Often regarded as Africa’s most beautiful garden, Kirstenbosch offers visitors one of the most tranquil and splendid settings in which to explore the Cape’s natural floral kingdom. Stocked primarily with indigenous plants and situated on the slopes of Table Mountain, the sprawling green lawns, vibrant colors and sheer silence of Kirstenbosch places this as a firm favorite for many visitors to the city.

 

Groot Constantia

 

Groot Constantia is one of the most conveniently located and historically significant wine estates in the country. It is located just a short drive from Cape Town city center, and yet still lays claim to some of the country’s most celebrated wines. With dramatic oak-lined roads, beautifully preserved Cape Dutch buildings, and a modern cellar, it’s an essential visit for time-pressed tourists unable to spend time in the outlying wine farms.