Well done! You've made your way to the southern tip of Africa, to the 'pretty city' where you're spoilt for choice with sandy beaches to stroll, wine estates to while away an afternoon in and interesting places where you can learn more about our cultural melting pot.
If I was here for a whistle-stop visit, these are some of the things I'd do: I'd take a drive along Chapman's Peak Drive , the spectacular mountainside drive that hugs the Atlantic Coastline and makes its way to the southernmost point on the Cape Peninsula, Cape Point. I'd wander the streets of the Bo Kaap, camera in hand, soaking up the pretty surrounds of this traditional Malay community (and I'd be sure to stop in at famed general store Atlas Trading for some spices to take home). I'd definitely head for a wine estate and factor in a lunch - and if you don't have time to get to the Stellenbosch Winelands, the Constantia Valley will do just fine, and I'd be sure to go to a beach - whether to Bloubergstrand with its postcard views of Table Mountain, to any of the gorgeous Atlantic Seaboard spots or perhaps for a stroll along the 11km long Noordhoek beach.
Oh, and don't forget the mountain. Many Capetonians, who have lived under its shadow for years have never got it together to go up there (we're not called laid back for nothing) but the view from up there is simply spectacular. Of course, if you've got a little longer, there's no end to the exciting, interesting and beautiful sights and places to enjoy and experience - and if travelling en famille, there are loads of family-friendly places for enquiring minds and busy bodies.
Things to bear in mind
- Public transport in Cape Town is improving year on year and if you're inner city bound, you'll do just fine hopping on any of the MyCiTi buses that wind in and around the city. The red open top CitySightseeing Bus Tours' (www.citysightseeing.co.za) tour buses depart from the Two Oceans Aquarium every 20 minutes (from 9.10am) and follow a number of routes which cover some 20 major sights and operate on a hop on and off system – ensuring you experience a good spread of city sights. Tickets start at 120 rand for a day pass, they’re wheelchair friendly and have audio packages in a variety of languages.
- For visits to sights further away, your hotel concierge or b&b manager will easily be able to arrange a ticket on an organised bus trip as will any of the tourist offices. Staying in the inner city? You’ll appreciate the visual cues at every turn if you stay on foot – especially if wandering Long and Kloof Streets in the central business district.
- A Go Cape Town Card (www.gocapetowncard.co.za) gives you access to various sights and tourist services in and around the city at a discounted rate.
- Most museums charge a small fee for entrance and are mostly open from Monday to Saturday (a few on Sundays).
- The cableway is open 365 days a year (weather and wind permitting) but if it's your birthday, you can ride to the top of Table Mountain for free. Summer sunset specials offer family discounts from 6pm.
- Some of the best things in life are free and that includes whiling away an afternoon or early evening on the beach. Cape Town's Atlantic Seaboard beaches (such as Clifton and Camps Bay Beach) are popular sundowner and picnic spots in the summer months but laws have been tightened up about drinking in public so it is best to pack non-alcoholic beverages in your basket.
How I’ve picked my things to do:
With two children in our family, I’ve tried to ensure that there is a good selection of places that will meet all the family’s expectations – from keeping little minds occupied to ensuring there are refreshment facilities close by. That said, I also relish doing ‘grown up’ things while on holiday so be sure there’s plenty on that side of things as well and something for adventure lovers too. For first timers to the Mother City, all the must dos are there while return visitors will enjoy the out-of-the-box spots they’ll get to see for themselves. And, while I love soaking up culture, I know it’s not all that everyone wants to do on holiday, so I’ve chosen places (like The Company's Garden, home to the South African National Galley, The Museum and the Planetarium) where you can kill a few birds with one stone.