The colorful Cape Town is one of the world’s most multi-ethnic cities. The city is located on the Cape Peninsula of South Africa, where the two seas, the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean, meet, and impressive cliffs rise above the blue water. For centuries, Cape of Good Hope was a dangerous place on the route, when European ships rounded the perilous waters of the sea against the riches of Asia. It was as a supply station for the passing ships that the Dutch in 1652 founded the settlement that has since developed into one of the most beautiful cities in the world in a location that can take your breath away completely from one. For decades, Cape Town has been marked by stormy social upheavals. And like the ships on their way to India Cape Town has managed to sail away from the troubled waters of history and has now set the course for a bright future.
It is a city that, despite its challenges, represents a hope, not just for South Africa, but for the whole world. Central Cape Town is called City Bowl. It is an area shaped like an amphitheater, framed by Table Bay and Table Mountain’s distinctive flat peak, which extends over three kilometers. Right in the area lies the Castle of Good Hope. Built by the Dutch East India Company and the focal point of the growing city. Nearby is Company’s Garden, where in his time vegetables were grown to supply the many merchant ships. Around the garden originated some of the city’s most important institutions, including the Parliament Building, and the National Library.
In the park’s southern part is the Museum of South Africa and the Planetarium, where you can experience the wonders of Africa, ranging from prehistoric cave paintings to some of nature’s greatest giants. Quite short from there hangs paintings from several centuries at the National Gallery. With its blend of modern and ancient architecture the South African Jewish Museum is a tribute to a population group, that has helped to create the country. Don’t miss the District Six Museum, a few blocks away. It is a museum and cultural center that tells the story of the 60,000 non-white residents, forcibly displaced from the borough, while the vibrant, multi-ethnic neighborhood was leveled to the ground during one of the worst periods of apartheid. Fortunately, one district was spared from the bulldozers of the apartheid regime, namely Upper Cape. Despite decades of racial segregation the Cape Malay culture lives in the best of the lively, colorful townhouses and sloping cobbled streets of the suburb. The new South Africa after apartheid is often called the Rainbow Nation, and just as the gold at the end of the new rainbow glows diversity, change and creativity up the streets in the center, from the shops and from the buildings themselves.
If you love coffee, then look past Truth and grab a cup or two at the steampunk-inspired café that attracts coffee fans from around the world. Once you have been asked the coffee thirst, then take a stroll on Long Street, where elegant Victorian architecture, fashion and good food go up in a higher unity in one of Cape Town’s busiest streets. If you have been thirsty, so sit on a balcony with an ice cold beer as you watch the street life below. Get another breath of fresh air on the Victoria and Alfred waterfront. In South Africa’s oldest working port you can find lots of sights, including the Two Oceans Aquarium, which shows life below sea level in both the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean. From the harbor you can also reach one of the most notorious prisons in the world, Robben Island.
Take a trip across Table Bay to experience the humid cells and windblown prison farms and hear the personal stories of former inmates. For over 300 years, the island was used to isolate people, without the outside world being aware of it, until 1964, when anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela was placed here, and sat here for 18 years. A visit to the site shows how far South Africa has come on the long road to freedom. Mandela was to stay much more than South Africa’s first black president, he became the father of the nation and has inspired millions of people worldwide.
Mandela once said it was Table Mountain on the mainland the six miles away, that inspired him over the many years on Robben Island. No matter where you are in Cape Town, the Table Mountain is always visible, the city’s highly-loved landmarks that help locals and visitors find their way. The closer you get to Table Mountain’s haze, the stronger you can feel its power.
From the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden you can enjoy the view up the east side of the mountain and explore South Africa’s many biomes and the Boomslang walkway that winds through the garden tops of the garden. From the garden you can walk along one of the hiking trails up the mountain or hop aboard the cable car on a fantastic trip to the top. From here there are views of Signal Hill, Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head and all the way out to Robben Island and further afield. Cape Town is one of the world’s best beach towns, with countless beaches, coves and coastal communities, each has its very own vibe. From Green Point, which houses Cape Town’s futuristic stadium, you can walk along the western coast of the Cape Peninsula to one beautiful beach after another. Near the center the wide boardwalk at Milton Beach is a great place to go for a walk. A little further south in Clifton are some of the country’s most expensive homes along the hillside down to the four beaches, which is divided by granite boulders, which provide shelter on windy days.
It is a costly pleasure to buy a house in Clifton, but the views of the Atlantic, Lion’s Head and Twelve Apostles cost thankfully nothing. At neighboring Camps Bay, the atmosphere of Saint-Tropez continues. Only five minutes drive from central Cape Town you will find the finest white sand, a tranquil tide and free choice between over 20 restaurants and cafes. 10 kilometers down the coast it becomes even more quiet on Llandudno Beach. Jump in a wetsuit and out into the waves, or take a climb on the huge boulders. Life is simple here, there are no street lights, no restaurants and not a single shop. When the belly starts to growl, sneak around on the other side of the ornament to the fishing village of Hout Bay.
Cool off with a hand-brewed beer, see what the market has to offer, and hang out with the locals down by the crab and tuna boats. After exploring the western coastline of the peninsula, there is plenty to look at in the eastern part. Welcome to False Bay, where the water is warmer, and the endless array of beaches and beautiful harbors continue. In the naval port of Simon’s Town is the historic St. George’s Street. Experience the maritime atmosphere, greet a highly-loved lake dog, while exploring the small alleys and Victorian-style buildings along the way. Finally, don’t leave Simon’s Town without a visit to Boulders Beach, there is one of the only places in the world where you can get really close to the endangered glasses penguins. In the past, False Bay was filled with small fishermen and agricultural towns like Fish Hoek. Walk along the coast from here to Kalk Bay, where authors, musicians and artists have replaced past whalers and lime burners. Fortunately, the fishing boats still sail out to sea, so the local restaurants always have plenty of fresh seafood.
When you have to force yourself, so go to the neighboring town of St James, known for its colorful Victorian bath cabins and beautiful old houses, which testifies to the heyday of the early days of the diamond and gold industry. In the next town, Muizenberg, the mood is quite different. The place is known as one of the most relaxed in South Africa. The warm, shallow water makes the beach particularly family friendly. And if you have a dream to surf, this is where it needs to be tested! After all, Muizies are the birthplace of surfing in South Africa.
There may be stuffing on the beach in Muizies in the summer, but there are plenty of cool places to cool down in the streets of the artist city. From here and the next 19 kilometers it is pure sand all the way to the historic town of Gordon’s Bay. Right nearby in Kogel Bay the only sound is the pebbles and clam shells that roll in with the tide. But Cape Town has more than beaches to offer, here is also some of the best land for growing wine in the world.
The first vines of the Cape Peninsula were planted in Company’s Gardens in 1655, so the passing sailors could avoid scurvy. But the beginning of the country’s wine industry took place only a 20-minute drive away in the suburb of Constantia. In the late 1600s, hundreds of vines were planted here along with rows of oak trees to protect them from the harsh wind. From here the vines were scattered, much further away than Cape Town, to an area now known as The Winelands. Here you will find 18 different wine routes around historic villages and towns. The expansive vineyards in beautiful surroundings will knock you off your feet. In a wide range of vineyards there are estates in the Kaphol Dutch style, as well as restaurants and tasting rooms, where you can taste the innermost being of the fertile earth. After a walk past Paarl’s renowned wineries, including Laborie and Anger, then explore the streets and architecture of this 300 year old city.
High above Paarl is the Taal Monument, which is a tribute to the language of Afrikaans, which was banned in the wake of the bitter Boer War that ended in 1902. The Stellenbosch Wine Route is South Africa’s oldest, where you can visit more than 150 tasting rooms of 200 wineries. Take on the two-hour wine safari at the Bordeaux-inspired Waterford Estate, where you can taste some of the most exciting new red wines in the area. Only 30 minutes drive from Stellenbosch, and only 50 minutes from Cape Town, is perhaps the most beautiful wine route of them all, Franschhoek-wine route. On the run from religious persecution in 17th century Europe, 200 French Huguenots came to this valley and created a paradise. Today, Franschhoek is considered to be South Africa’s food and wine mecca.
At Boschendal, one of the country’s very first wineries, is the French inspiration and passion everywhere. The French can also be seen in the city itself, at the galleries, museums and the memorial, where a female figure liberates herself from the cloak of oppression and look forward to a bright future. Before heading back to Cape Town, take a trip along Franschhoek Pass, one of the most beautiful drives in the Cape Peninsula. High up in the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve there are views of the valley and slopes filled with protea flowers, a flower that originated in the Cape Peninsula and is now grown worldwide.
According to the locals, the protea flower stands for change, courage and hope. Cape Town is the same mule, so it is not surprising that the city possesses the same qualities. But Cape Town is more than just a single flower, the city is a whole garden. Straight from the city was founded as a supply station for passing seafarers, to the bitter harvest of the apartheid era. It is a garden where hands of all colors have sown the seeds of hope and picked the fruits of freedom. Then come and taste Cape Town’s many colors, hopes and freedom.