Photo Credit: Stefanie Payne & Cape Town Tourism Dept.
Chic and exciting, historic and endearing...Cape Town can be seen in just three days, (but should be enjoyed for many days longer).
DC’s "Snowpocolypse 2011" had us stranded in a taxi for nine hours (with the meter running) instead of flying over the Atlantic Ocean, leaving our long awaited trip to South Africa two days short, allowing only three days in Cape Town. And of course, I immediately fell in love the "Tavern of the Seas" and wanted to stay for weeks...or years. Getting down to business, I carefully drew a plan to ensure that I would see as much as the city as possible in a short amount of time. A success!
Inhabited by Dutch settlers, the Afrikaans, Zimbabwean migrants from darker days of oppression, and nomadic expats, Cape Town is nothing short of a a cultural feast of exploration.
Points of Interest
Table Top Mountain
To Americans, this is just a hill, to Cape Tonians, it is a sacred mountain. This rock formation overlooking the bay is made of granite and is lined with mountain biking trails. Take a gondola to the top or hike up on foot to observe sweeping views of the Cape. The #1 tourist stop in Cape Town, a must for photographers.
Hop On, Hop Off Tour Buses Hop on at specified stops around Cape Town. Hop off at any destination you choose. There are two different routes (red and blue) that run frequently so you are never waiting long, all the while providing an efficient mode of transit along Cape Town’s favorite areas.
How to Book: Ask your hotel concierge, or map the route online, go to the stop and pay the driver directly.
Tip: Listen to the audio lecture — it’s fascinating!
Lined with bars and restaurants and reminiscent of New Orleans’ Bourbon Street, LS has a multitude of spots where you can belly up to watch the country’s most beloved sport: fútbol. We loved the "Royale Eatery," serving what had to be the best cheeseburgers in all of Cape Town.
Cautionary Note: Although there are a lot of locals peppering the streets and a heavy police presence, keep your wallet in your front pocket and your purse in front of you — or don’t carry one at all.
Just a 60 minute Ferry ride from the waterfront, across the shark infested seas, is the Robben Island Prison, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This prison was once home to Nelson Mandela (affectionately referred to by locals as "Madiba") and other political leaders who were enslaved there for decades. Tour the prison on foot or by bus with guides – some of whom were also once imprisoned here. Read the poetic words Mandela wrote in letters to his wife, and learn why — as Mandela states in a documentary at the Cape Town Jewish Museum — "South Africa was better off before the Apartheid."
High Tea at the Table Bay Hotel
One of the top-rated places in the world to enjoy a High Tea.
Cape Town Waterfront
Ride the Ferris wheel, shop for souvenirs, enjoy a Savannah Dry Hard Cider, and munch on frites while the gulls soar overhead and the seals sing from the waters below.
A Day in Camps Bay
They call it the "no wind zone." But there we were, sitting on a low wooden log fence facing the beach, holding our clothes onto our bodies while listening to palm trees furiously dance and rustle from the powerful winds from the sea. Shrapnel of sand and city debris hit the sides of our faces. Umbrellas from European-esque sidewalk bars flew over tables into the streets as chic Cape Tonians made their way to bars along the strip.
The main street is sort of a Malibu-meets-Big-Sur-meets-Africa, Ferrari’s climbing the streets lined by white sandy beaches. This area is highly prized by the jet-set elite, and frequented by South African celebrities as well as foreign celebs such as Leo, David Beckham and George Clooney.
Unforgettable Day Trips
Stellenbosch Wine Country
About two hours by car from Cape Town, the drive up windy garden routes is almost as beautiful as the estate wineries pouring the native Pinotage. This is Africa’s premier wine making region.
The Cape of Good Hope
Just a two hour drive from Cape Town, enter baboon country and head to the southernmost spot on the African continent where the Indian and Atlantic Ocean converge. Stop near the entrance of the park to view ostrich at a neighboring farm. The fastest bird on earths’ legs turn red when ready to run, and their hide is the second most valuable in the world (behind crocodile, ahead of kangaroo).
Additional Notes About Cape Town
Not a malarial country, no vaccines needed! UNLESS you visit Kruger National Park in the east, then you will need a double dose.
Buy a multi-attachment adapter. It seems that immigrants brought their outlets to the region, too.
Water is very clean throughout Cape Town, and tap water is reported to be not only okay, but "pretty good."