EXPLORE CAPE TOWN
Cape Town is a city with unrivalled culture and diversity, boasting a heady mix of old and new. Nothing speaks to this more than the iconic Big Six attractions. The Big Six is made up of Cape Point, Groot Constantia, Kirstenbosch, Robben Island Museum, Table Mountain Aerial Cableway and the V&A Waterfront. These six spectacular Cape Town attractions are the city’s backbone. They represent the beautiful natural surrounds, rich history, diverse culture, and incredible cuisine and wine that make Cape Town a top destination for travellers the world over.
The V&A Waterfront is South Africa’s most-visited destination, and it attracts 24 million visitors a year. There are five shopping districts where you’ll find everything from local designs to international brands. There are also many coffee shops, restaurants, and bars, most with spectacular harbour views. Kids will love the Two Oceans Aquarium, the Scratch Patch, and the chance to ride the Cape Wheel, along with many other events and attractions. There’s also the Canal District, with its gorgeous city, harbour and mountain views. Here you’ll find a range of water activities, from standup paddling to kayaking and swimming. There’s also Battery Park, where you can revel in the sunshine on a summer’s day. There are expansive lawns and landscaped indigenous gardens, interwoven with footpaths and benches.
One of the New Seven Wonders of the World, Table Mountain is Cape Town’s centrepiece. There are some amazing hikes to try. For those pressed for time, the Aerial Cableway offers a quick and convenient ascent. Cable cars depart from the cable station every 10 to 15 minutes and the journey up the mountain takes about five minutes. The cars rotate through 360 degrees during the trip, affording you spectacular views.
Robben Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and has come to symbolise the oppression of the Apartheid government. It was here that Nelson Mandelaspent 18 years of his 27 years in prison. However, the island’s history predates the Apartheid regime. Over the centuries, it has acted as a prison, a military base, and a leper colony. Ferries depart for the island daily from the Nelson Mandela Gateway at the V&A Waterfront, and the tours usually last about three-and-a-half hours.
KIRSTENBOSCH NATIONAL BOTANICAL GARDEN
Situated on the slopes of Table Mountain, 13km from the city centre, Kirstenbosch is regarded as one of the great botanical gardens of the world. The 528-hectare estate contains over 7 000 species of plants from southern Africa. Spend the day picnicking on the lawns, strolling through the Protea garden, or discovering interesting plant species in the Botanical Society Conservatory. While you are there, be sure to check out the 130m Centenary Tree Canopy – affectionately known as the Boomslang – that snakes its way through the trees of the Arboretum.
The oldest wine farm in South Africa offers up more than fine wine and delicious food; at Groot Constantia, you can also brush up on your Cape Town history at the museum housed in the old Manor House. Be sure to sample some of the estate’s dessert wine – Grand Constance. It was so famous in the nineteenth century (then known as Constantia Wyn) that it even found its way into the works of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens.
The Cape Point Nature Reserve is all about natural splendour. You will be treated to spectacular views of the Atlantic and False Bay coastlines. Be sure to spend time in the nature reserve where you are likely to encounter baboons, Cape Mountain Zebras, buck, and at least some of the 250 species of bird that call this reserve home. Don’t miss a ride up to the lighthouse on the Flying Dutchman Funicular for spectacular panoramic views.