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Cape Town, South Africa

  This diverse city, dubbed “The Mother City” is coated with a dark history of apartheid contrasted with its vibrant modern culture today. Cape Town’s most astonishing feature is probably its physical beauty. On one side, the city is lined with vast blue ocean, famous for its seal and shark population. Across from the ocean the sky is greeted with the iconic skyline featuring Table Mountain, Lion’s Head and Devil’s Peak. The diverse landscape gives way to a plethora of outdoor activities including hiking, surfing, shark diving, sandboarding and more. Cape Town’s streets are crowded with art galleries and world-class restaurants, with beautiful wineries and game reserves on the outskirts of the city. Cape Town truly has something for everyone. 5 Must-Do Sites:
  1. Table Mountain Cable Car- Table Mountain National Park is Cape Town’s number one tourist attraction! The mountain has several hiking trails to the top, or if hiking is not your forte, take a fun cable car ride to the top. The quick ride yields spectacular aerial views from the top. Table Mountain is a must-visit attraction.
  1. Robben Island- This infamous island was once home to one of the world’s most famous prisoners, Nelson Mandela. On the island, you can visit the Robben Island Museum and learn about South Africa’s history while seeing actual prison cells and facilities. In addition to the history lesson, you’ll see some amazing views on the ferry ride over.
  1. Chapman’s Peak Drive- This curvy route between Noordhoek and Hout Bay is one of South Africa’s most famous and scenic drives. Between the towering mountains and sudden cliff drop into immense ocean, the drive around Chapman’s Peak- although scary at times- is truly majestic. Rent a car or hire a driver for the day, this is not a trip you want to miss. There are plenty of stops along the way for hikes, pictures, and activities.
  1. Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve- It’s already clear how hard it is to escape the beauty of South Africa. You could take an entire day to explore this national park, with the rocky headlands, drastic cliff formations, and beautiful ocean. The Cape of Good Hope will leave you with stunning ever-lasting images.
  1. Bo Kaap- This area of Cape Town is known for its multi-cultural roots, rich with history. The streets are lined with brightly colored buildings against cobblestone streets. Take a tour of the area or check out the Bo Kaap Museum.
  5 Great Sites for Kids:
  1. Victoria & Alfred Waterfront- The V&A Waterfront is a central part of Cape Town, always buzzing with tourists and locals alike. The waterfront features a huge shopping mall, tons of restaurants, outdoor activities and a beautiful promenade along the water. There’s always something to do here!
  1. Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens- Kirstenbosch, one of the greatest botanical gardens in the world, lies at the base of Table Mountain. The Gardens feature mostly plants native to the Cape region, a large conservatory with plants from a variety of regions, and several trails throughout the park and all the way up to Table Mountain. Hint- Skeleton Gorge is the name of one of the easier and more popular trails up the mountain and it starts in Kirstenbosch!
  1. Watch the Springboks play! Kids and families alike are guaranteed to have a great time watching South Africa’s national Rugby team. The games are always energetic and fast-paced!
  1. Muizenberg- This beach-side town located a short drive out of the city is known as the birthplace of surfing in South Africa. The water is fairly flat and calm, so it’s a great place for kids to try out surfing for the first time! Even for non-surfers, there’s plenty to do here; walk along the beaches, rent a bike, or check out the weekly Friday night market filled with artists and food vendors.
  1. Hout Bay- Hout Bay is the perfect family friendly day trip! The picturesque town is home to a food market, a craft market, and the World of Birds- housing more than 3000 birds! Grab some fresh seafood and walk along the wharf in this quaint South African town.
  5 Free Attractions:
  1. Lion’s Head hike at sunrise or sunset- Lion’s Head is a mountain situated between Table Mountain and Signal Hill. The hike to the top is possibly the most popular hike in Cape Town and regarded as the “easiest”. However, don’t be fooled, you’ll definitely still work up a sweat! The views from the top are unbeatable, and for some added adventure hike the mountain at sunrise or sunset to see the city light up in a truly unforgettable way.
  1. Company’s Garden- In the heart of the city, you’ll find this little green paradise. The garden is known for the beauty of the vast flora along with its historical significance; established for public use in 1848. Take a walk, have a picnic, or complete a self-guided tour!
  1. Clifton Beaches- A favorite of locals and tourists alike, you’ll find these beaches well populated at almost all times of the year. There are four beaches, named 1st through 4th that are separated by large boulders. The beaches are all nestled below sweeping cliffs and offer great swim and views.
  1. Signal Hill Picnic- Picnicking atop Signal Hill is a Cape Town favorite. There are a few easy trails established along the hill. Pro tip: Head up there about an hour before sunset with some wine and cheese to secure your spot and watch a spectacular sight.
  1. Kalk Bay- This fishing village is a fun afternoon getaway! Explore the town’s shops and funky restaurants. Check out the Brass Bell Restaurant- not known for its food but for its unique setting! Half of the restaurant opens right up into the ocean, with a section separated off for swimming!
  5 Great Restaurants:
  1. Old Biscuit Mill- Both locals and tourists worship this Saturday morning outdoor market. This is an absolute must-do! The streets are crowded with some of the best local, fresh food in the city. Come hungry because there will be no lack of choices here. Enjoy a great crowd and live music as you eat!
  1. Mzoli’s- Mzoli’s butchery is located the Guguletho Township and is truly a local township experience. Hundreds of people flood Mzoli’s every Sunday morning accompanied by loud music and lots of dancing. Bring your own utensils, sides, and drinks and then choose from a variety of local meats that are cooked on the spot. It’s truly an experience you have to witness for yourself. We recommend getting there early and going with a large group.
  1. Kloof Street House- Located at the base of the bustling Kloof Street, this restaurant is known for its eclectic décor and atmosphere. The delicious food and drinks can be enjoyed on the cozy patio or in the candle lit lounge depending on your mood!
  1. Carne on Kloof- Carne is another great find located in the heart of great eating on Kloof Street. It is regarded as one of the best steakhouses in the city! With the stellar service and even better food, treating yourself to a night out at Carne on Kloof is a must!
  1. The Dogs Bollocks- This unique experience is one you don’t want to miss. The small and casual restaurant serves beer, wine, and oversized mouth-watering burgers! The popular restaurant is known for its amazing food and funky atmosphere.
  5 Great Nightlife Spots:
  1. The Bay Harbour Night Market- Looking for a different way to spend your Friday night? Check out this lively night market located in Hout Bay, always busy with locals. Here you’ll find live music, great food and drinks, and local artists and vendors!
  1. First Thursdays- If you’re in Cape Town during the first Thursday of the month, you’re in for a treat! The city’s many art galleries open their doors late into the night. You can wander in and out of the galleries and bars, enjoy wine samples, food vendors and more!
  1. Tjing Tjing Rooftop Bar- This trendy rooftop bar is a weekend hotspot for locals. Tjing Tjing is famous for its specialty cocktails and amazing tapas.
  1. Café Caprice- Café Caprice is a staple restaurant and bar in the popular Camps Bay area. During the day, the lounge opens up along the boardwalk offering stunning views of the Camps Bay beaches. However, Sunday nights are when you’ll find a line out the door!
  1. Asoka- This Asian-fusion lounge and restaurant is great for all ages. The food is delicious and craft cocktails are even better. See live jazz at Asoka on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday nights. Be sure to make a reservation.
  5 Romantic Getaways:
  1. Stellenbosch/ Constantia Vineyards- Easily the most romantic getaway while in Cape Town is to spend a night or two in wine country. The closest vineyards are either in Stellenbosch or Constantia. Hire a driver to take you from vineyard to vineyard with equally as stunning views as tastes. Many do pairings with chocolate or cheese, in case incredible wine wasn’t enough!
  1. Big 5 Safari- Just a few hour drive outside of the city, tourists are presented with a few game reserve options. Prices will vary depending on the length of your safari and lodging accommodations. Whatever you choose, seeing these majestic creatures in their natural habitat is a must-see attraction.
  1. Movie night in Kirstenbosch- These beautiful botanical gardens are not only great for kids, but also make for a great romantic evening out. Bring a blanket and some wine and enjoy the weekly outdoor movie showing with your loved one!
  1. The Garden Route- High on the list for most visitors is the famous road trip down the southeastern coast of South Africa. The route is diverse with ocean, mountains, vineyards, and even a national park. Take at least five days to experience the trip in full; there will be no lack of activities to partake in! From riding and bathing elephants, to bungee jumping off the highest bungee bridge in the world, to enjoying a Big 5 Safari, the route is perfect for any romantic getaway.
  1. High Tea at the Mount Nelson- Spend the afternoon like royalty at the Mount Nelson Hotel. You and your partner can choose from Morning or Afternoon Tea, each with a plentiful selection of delicate finger sandwiches, pastries, and other warm treats. Explore the well-kept grounds of the elegant hotel after your treats. Indulge in a couples massage or facial at the renowned spa in the hotel grounds!
  5 Must Try Foods:
  1. Samoosa- Although these did not originate in South Africa, samoosas are very popular in this region. These small fried pastries look like dumplings! They are served warm, filled with a savory filling including diced meat, potatoes, peas, onions, lentils and spices.
  1. Boerewors- Boerewors is a popular type of South African sausage! Always cooked with delicious flavor, this is a local favorite to cook in a “braai,” the Afrikaans word for barbeque.
  1. Biltong- Biltong is a type of dried, cured meat, similar to beef jerky. The spiced, dried meat, typically cut into small thin strips, is made from a variety of game meats from beef to ostrich.
  1. The Love Sandwich from The Kitchen- The Kitchen is known for its “fabulous salads and legendary love sandwiches.” Always packed with fresh ingredients, enjoy this famous sandwich at the shop located in Woodstock or at the Old Biscuit Mill on Saturday mornings. This sandwich is not one to miss!
  1. Pap- Pap is a staple component of traditional South African dishes. Although the smooth maize type porridge doesn’t have much flavor itself, it’s a must-try to immerse yourself in the traditional culture and meals.
  Climate: Located in a subtropical region in the southern hemisphere, South Africa’s seasons are opposite of those of the U.S. Most of the seasons are characterized by warm, sunny days and cool nights. Temperature drops during autumn and winter months but is much more mild than winters here. There are pros and cons to traveling in each of the four seasons; summer is great for beaches and hiking, winter is best for game watching and whale watching. Cape Town is truly enjoyable at all times of the year. Transportation: Although public transit is available in Cape Town, the system is not extremely efficient or user-friendly. There main three forms of public transit are buses, minibus taxis and the metro-rail. If you’d rather not take public transportation there are plenty of taxis and Ubers available. Uber tends to be cheaper than regular taxis, but sometimes it’s more convenient to just grab a cab. If you hail a taxi or call one, make sure you know about how far you are going so you don’t get ripped off! Setting a fare with your cab driver before you begin the trip is always a good idea. Another great and fairly inexpensive option is to rent a car as driving is definitely the easiest and most straightforward way to get to your destination. Safety Precautions: Cape Town is no stranger to crime; like most big cities crime exists and safety precautions must be taken, especially for tourists who often stand out more than locals. Always keep your valuables close to you; there’s no need to have expensive phones or cameras out as you’re walking down the street or on a train. Avoid walking alone in an unfamiliar part of the city, especially at night! Follow these tips and always be alert! Souvenirs: Cape Town is plentiful with traditional souvenirs to bring home for your loved ones or for your own memories! There are large outdoor markets every day of the week where many of these souvenirs can be purchased- Hint: Check out Green Market Square! There are all types of carved and handmade bowls, baskets, kitchen supplies, frames and more. Ostrich eggshells are often used as souvenirs, either painted themselves or cracked and used to decorate lamps, picture frames, coasters, etc. Keep in mind, bargaining is not only acceptable but expected at most markets! Don’t forget to bring some South African flavors to your kitchen by packing up biltong and Peri-Peri hot sauce, or whatever else you can check in your bag home! Trip Highlights: With the abundant sheer beauty in Cape Town and its neighboring landscape, it’s hard to choose just a few highlights. However, a trip to Cape Town is not complete without hiking or exploring the iconic, Table Mountain and Lion’s Head, and then the beaches that lay underneath. A drive along Chapman’s Peak all the way to the Cape of Good Hope will leave you breathless. Be sure to taste the amazing wine from Stellenbosch and if you have the time, the Garden Route will be the road trip of your lifetime! Paperwork: Be sure that your passport is valid for at least 30 days after your date of departure from South Africa and has at least two fully blank unused, visa pages. No tourist visa is required for visits that are 90 days or less. For more information, see the South African government website. Vaccination/ Medication Needed: Most doctors recommend that travelers get vaccinations for Hepatitis A and Typhoid before visiting South Africa. There are other vaccinations that may be recommended depending on which part of the country you are traveling. Most importantly, be sure to consult with your doctor once you have made your travel plans. Air Travel Information: Cape Town is serviced by one major international airport: Cape Town International Airport (CPT). The airport has public transportation and plenty of taxis available to bring you into the city. Nearly all major airlines fly into all five airports such as: JetBlue, United, Delta, and American Airlines.

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