Top 5 Cape Town Attractions for the First-Time Visitor

Cape Town, South Africa Tourism

By Ben Reed, Guest Blogger

South Africa is a nation of stunningly diverse landscapes: pristine deserts, canopied forests, thriving vineyards set against craggy mountains, plus more than 1,700 miles of dramatic coastline. It’s also home to a remarkable array of wildlife, and we do mean wild: elephants, rhinos, leopards, lions and buffalos. And did we mention sharks?

Amidst it all, capturing the spirit of Africa, is the tourists’ favorite city: Cape Town. Explore the best of Cape Town and some of South Africa’s most captivating sights with this list of five must-see attractions for first-time visitors to Cape Town.

Cape Town’s Top 5 Attractions: What to See and Do

1. Table Mountain

You can’t miss this towering plateau that serves as Cape Town’s iconic backdrop; you’ll see it on virtually every postcard of the city. Plan your visit to Table Mountain on a cloudless day to maximize views of the city below. The cable car that takes you to the top provides a rotating, 360-degree view. Once at the summit, you can explore on your own or take a free tour with park guides.

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2. Robben Island

World statesman and former South African President Nelson Mandela spent the bulk of his 27 years in prison on Robben Island; it now ranks as one of Cape Town’s most popular attractions. Purchase your tickets well in advance for this historical tour through South Africa’s Apartheid-era landmark. Former inmates serve as your guides and the ferry ride out to the island provides a panoramic view of the city with Table Mountain in the background.

Watch Ben making the most of 2 1/2 days in Cape Town:

3. Victoria and Alfred Waterfront

The V&A Waterfront, as it is commonly called, contains hundreds of shops, restaurants and entertainment offerings to keep you busy all day long. And with a favorable exchange rate with the U.S. Dollar, it’s easy to both spend and save. There’s a traditional shopping mall, arts & crafts market, aquarium and more. You could eat here for an entire week and still not taste it all. Don’t miss the iconic clock tower near the Robben Island Ferry and be sure to comparison-shop before selecting one of the many harbor tours.

4. Drive along Cape Point

Rent a car and drive around the Cape of Good Hope, one of the most spectacular coastal drives in the world. Start your day early in the town of Muizenberg and continue back towards Cape Town, stopping frequently to spot whales in Camps Bay, penguins along Boulders Beach and baboons on the side of the road. By mid-afternoon, hike to Cape Point for stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and surrounding cliffs.

5. Wine Country

The Cape Winelands are just a short drive from the city and make for a great getaway on a cloudy day when visibility on Table Mountain isn’t at its best. Choose from the many tour operators in town and take a tour to Stellenbosch, Groot Constantia, Paarl and the many other vineyard estates for samples of delicious wines. Save room in your suitcase to bring home the Pinotage, South Africa’s signature grape but pack carefully.

With sand, surf, culture, shopping, history, mountains, wine and more, what’s not to love about Cape Town? One visit and you?ll soon see why Cape Town ranks as one of Africa’s most popular cities.

About the Author

Ben Reed is an Orlando-based Travel Blogger that will try (almost) anything once. His travel blog, AdventuresWithBen, encourages readers to do the same as they learn how to plan, explore and enjoy some of the world’s top destinations. Ben also hosts a weekly podcast about Florida Travel & Tourism called Florida Travel Cocktail – available for download on iTunes and floridatravelcocktail.com. You can also follow AdventuresWithBen on Facebook and Twitter.

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Published: August 17, 2011