Africa's Capital of Tourism
Flights from £551
Known as Africa’s Tourist Capital, Cape Town is a jewel in South Africa’s crown, decorating the southern country with white beaches, and mixing the nations troubled past with the glory years in both food, architectural style and standards of living within the city.
Cape Town is a city of two halves; the haves and the have not's, or the Tourists and the Locals. It is a city that is neither unified nor divided- but merely many independent pieces that have come together to make one whole, beautiful and complex city.
Upon arrival, you are greeted by welcomes of ‘The Mother City’ and depictions of the region and arguably the nation’s best beaches and pieces of architecture.It’s a warm city, even in their winter where daytime temperatures average 19 Degrees Celsius- meaning light clothing should always take up the bulk of your luggage; with a few jumpers and the odd pair of jeans for the nights when things get a little chilly.
But try your best to dress to impress without overdoing it, Cape Town’s many establishments have an unwritten dresscode where seemingly everyone is either in a shirt or Polo, with T-shirt wearers being reduced to undershirts and the uniform of labourers.
Long trousers rather than shorts even on the hottest days seem to be the go-to as well, whilst women are regularly seen in shirts and jeans rather than dresses or skirts for the most part- so keep these in mind if you want to begin to blend in.
And blending in is a blessing rather than a curse. ‘Tourist charges’ as they’re commonly referred to is a practice that will regularly see you haggling with some members of the public on your trip; Taxi drivers especially.
But if you aren’t one for confrontation or haggling, the relatively moderate currency exchange rate of R16 to every £1 means every aspect of your trip should be fairly cheap, with that upfront cost of a thirty-minute taxi ride costing you £10.
There’s a lot to do in the city too with seemingly something to do for everyone’s varying tastes.
If you wanted to remain on the relaxed during your visit, you can pay a visit to one of the many award-winning Wineries and Vine Yard’s that surround Cape Town for a chance to taste the local wines and learn a little bit about what gives South African wines their unique flavour.
Alternatively, you can pay a visit to one of the many Historical sites that are dotted within and around the town; ranging from topics such as the tribal history of the nation and the religious revolution Africa underwent, or more visceral topics such as colonialization and its troubled past with Apartheid and Civil Rights- Cape Town is not shy to show you it all.
Though lest we forget, Cape Town is a sporting city within a nation with a passion for sports; meaning that the things you can do here that that focus solely on sport are amazing. So if you or your date for the trip love Ruby, Cricket or Football (Soccer)- there’s something for you both to enjoy; with tours and workshops available every day, throughout the day.
You can also become more involved with alternative sporting activities if you so wish. Visit almost any of the dozen or so beaches that Cape Town provides and a happy surfing instructor will be keen to teach you how to ride a wave. The beaches are coast guarded too, meaning that most of your trips into the water will be fully supervised.
But lastly, taking a trip into the water is not your only way of becoming more involved with nature; instead, take a moment to visit the world renowned Table Top mountain, or even one of the many sanctuaries in and around Cape Town for you to enjoy.
But Cape Town does have some weaknesses, which is why it is clear that it is a city of two halves.
Because whilst it is a city that can very easily fill a travel brochure, actually visiting does have it’s dangers.
For starters, many of the amazing restaurants that cater to the dining needs of Cape Town’s residents and tourists don’t always detail the ingredient or allergy list- and asking someone who works at the restaurant doesn’t always help too.
This isn’t because they are rude or even evasive- for one reason or another Cape Town seems to have a “systematic customer service issue” if you believe our fixer, Debra- a Cape Town Resident. So, if you are an allergy sufferer, it’s best to rely on the dishes you know, rather than try something new.
However, one thing is more alarming than the lack of customer service in this city- and that is the number of destitute and homeless persons trying to survive in the city.
For a number of Tourists, coming into contact with these residents is unlikely as the local businesses largely congregate in areas where there seems to be an unwritten rule that non-tourists do not go.
However, take a turn off the beaten track, one you are sure to make if you reside in an apartment rather than hotel; and you will be greeted with beggars trying to make it another day.
Now whilst I will not discourage you from helping these folk, I will issue your act of kindness with a warning. Should you choose to help someone, please be mindful of your surroundings as being seen to help one person can quickly form a crowd- all of which will be equally deserving of your help.And whilst the majority of your encounters with these people will be safe and arguably politer than the customer service you may receive, some veteran beggars of the scene can be quite intimidating, hounding and following you until you can prove that you do not have any Rand to spare.
To conclude then, Cape Town offers a little luxury with a dose of sobering reality. With so much to offer for so many people, it is easy to see why so many make it their destination.
So fill your bellies with excellent food and immerse yourself in the vibrant history and fun and unique opportunities Cape Town provides, but be warned; Living in Cape Town is tough and if you don’t want to be reminded of that, it would be best you make an effort not to be reminded.
- Superb food bridging the African, Asian and European influences, cultures and histories in South Africa.
- Activities for everyone doing almost anything.
- Excellent nature reserves that let you feel like you are getting back in touch with 'mother earth.'
- Superb weather that balances between blistering beach weather and 'warm enough to be social.'
- Questionable customer service experiences.
- The wealth gap in Cape Town makes experiencing 'the reaal Cape Town' an uncomfortable experience.
- Be prepared to pay a 'tourist tax' if you aren't ready to haggle.