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Destination insight: Cape Town

If you're lucky enough to spend some time in the breathtakingly beautiful Cape Town for business or pleasure, make sure you leave yourself time to experience some of the sights and sounds of the city and surrounding areas.

Set at the northern tip of the stunning Cape Peninsula, Cape Town has a mix of Victorian, Georgian and Art-Deco buildings, the V&A Waterfront and a host of African townships that stretch east of the city. Home to the famous Table Mountain, visitors are also treated to striking oceanic views, white sandy beaches and sleepy fishing villages. Inland, historic valleys are lined with neat vineyards set below a backbone of craggy mountains that run all the way to Cape Point. 

10 things to see and do in Cape Town

 

1. Check out the Castle of Good Hope

Built between 1666 and 1679 by the Dutch East India Company, the Castle of Good Hope is the oldest surviving colonial building in South Africa.

2. Head to Table Mountain

A trip to the top is a must but be aware of the tablecloth of cloud that can often cover the top of the mountain and can come in from the sea extremely quickly. Take the cable car to the top of the mountain for spectacular views of the city or if you're feeling energetic,  climb Lion's Head.

3. Explore Bo-Kaap

West of the city centre is Bo-Kaap, the Malay Quarter. Once home to many Muslims and freed slaves, the area is awash with colourful cottages - once slave quarters, stables and military barracks - and narrow cobbled streets. Head to Bo-Kaap Museum for the full history of the area...  

4. Explore the V&A Waterfront

The V&A Waterfront is the place to go for shopping and food - with over 450 retail outlets and 80 eateries to choose from. There's also lots to do while you're there from historical walking tours and monthly events to a trip to Two Oceans Aquarium - where you can see the legendary Great White Shark. 

5. Robben Island

Originally a penal colony for errant slaves it became one of the most notorious prisons in the world, housing Nelson Mandela for nearly 20 years in Section B. The island now functions as a museum with tours departing four times daily from the Nelson Mandela Gateway at the V&A Waterfront. However it is recommended you pre-book, as tours can get booked up weeks in advance.

6. Take a train to Simon’s Town

From 1806 to 1957, Simon's Town was a Royal Navy base until it was handed over to the South African Navy. It's also where you will find the giant granite rocks of Boulders Beach - home to several thousand African penguins. Visitors can see the penguins from a number of different boardwalks and with the boulders acting as a shield to strong currents, the southern end of the beach is ideal for children and families.

7. Go to Café Caprice in Camps Bay

This trendy hangout is known for attracting Hollywood A-listers - including Leonardo DiCaprio, Charlize Theron and Zac Effron - and is also ideally situated for sundowners, good food and a great vibe. Head to Café Caprice between Thursday and Sunday for deep, chilled house DJ sets.

8. If you are feeling daring – head to Gansbaai...

Where you can go shark diving (don’t worry you will be in a cage). Gansbaai might be known as the shark capital of the world, but it's also the place to go to for lots of outdoor activities like whale watching, fishing, 4x4 driving, ecotours and lots more!

9. Take a day trip to the Winelands

There are many companies that offer wine-tasting day trips to two or three different vineyards in the Franschoek, Stellenbosch and Constantia wine regions. It’s then the difficult choice of what to buy to take home!

10. Take a day tour to the Cape Point

It's here that the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet. Most day tours include Camps Bay, Hout Bay - where you can see a huge colony of seals - Simon's Town, Boulders Beach and then onto the Cape of Good Hope and down to Cape Point - where you may be lucky enough to see whales frolicking in the turquoise waters.

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