CAPE TOWN ATTRACTION GUIDE

THE CITY

The thriving hub of Cape Town is situated in a natural amphitheatre shaped area, consisting of Table Bay, and surrounded by mountains - Signal Hill, Lion's Head, Table Mountain and Devil's Peak.

The city is truly one of contrast. The ancient natural world meets a thriving modern capital city with nightlife, shopping and stadia all sat at the base of the formidable Table Mountain and its beautifully serene national park.

Please find a tiny sample of what the city can offer, below.

Victoria & Alfred Waterfront

Construction of the harbour was begun in 1860 by Queen Victoria’s son Alfred, hence the name. South Africa’s oldest working harbour is the most popular shopping destination in South Africa with over 450 retail outlets, a marina and a selection of more than 80 eateries, from simpler South African food to fine dining. The location is quite stunning with pretty period architecture set against the beautiful oceans views, in one direction and the rugged backdrop of Table Mountain in the other.

Staying at the V&A Waterfront is popular for very good reason. Accommodation ranges from budget friendly small hotels through to true 5 star luxury, there really is something for everyone.

Two Oceans Aquarium

One of the many attractions at the V&A Waterfront, the Two Oceans Aquarium is a must see. Benefitting greatly from Cape Town’s unique placement between the Indian and Atlantic Ocean, the aquarium’s seven viewing galleries are rich with life.

From African penguins, the impressive Loggerhead turtle, and the Giant spider crab, to the endemic Knysna seahorse, the beautiful Tube anemones, and the Western clownfish (Nemo for those in the know!), you cannot help but be amazed by the incredible array of life living beneath the surface.

For those with a daring streak, and who hold a valid open water qualification, you can even dive with large predators such as ragged-tooth sharks and yellowtail. This is an experience that cannot be replicated in the wild.

Robben Island

When visiting Cape Town you have the perfect opportunity to visit an important part of modern history, Robben Island. Whilst most recently famous for former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela’s 18 year residency as a political prisoner, the island’s history dates back to the 17th century. The name originates from the Dutch word for ‘seal’, in reference to the population the early settlers first encountered. Over the hundreds of years that followed, the island has been used as a prison, hospital, mental institution, leper colony and a military base. It was designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 1999.

Located 5.5 miles north-west of the city, ferries make the crossing from the V&A Waterfront throughout the day. Tours of the island take approximately 3.5 hours, taking in sights such as the prison (including Nelson Mandela’s cell), the lime quarry where prisoners performed hard labour, the Leper’s graveyard, and the muslim shrine the Kramat of Tuan Guru.

Cape Fur Seal Colonies On Seal And Duiker Islands

There are great opportunities to see large populations of Cape Fur Seals slightly south of the capital. Both Seal Island and Duiker Island boast population figures in the thousands with various options for cruises being present in the nearby towns.

Duiker Island, positioned off the coast of Hout Bay, can be reached from Mariner’s Wharf where multiple tour operators regularly launch cruises to experience the extensive fur seals and bird life.

False Bay, 3.5 mile off the coast of Simon’s Town, lies Seal Island. This 5 acre land mass is home to 64,000 fur seals and sees a large number of various birds. It has long been a favourite of tourists and photographers alike, with such a rare opportunity to witness a colony of this size in the wild.

The high concentration of seals brings with predators. At certain times of the year it is possible to witness one of the most formidable hunters on the planet, the great white shark, in its element. Seal Island has become known for the potential to see a great white attack, even breaching the water in an attempt to catch a seal near the surface.

For those of you with a love of adrenaline, we can also help you dive with great white sharks whilst in South Africa!

Table Mountain

No visit to Cape Town would be complete with a trip to experience table mountain. Arguably one of Africa’s most famous landmarks, it's rugged stance provides an imposing yet beautiful backdrop to the wider Cape Town area.

There are many ways to experience the area. If you are short on time, perhaps the best method is to enjoy the cable car. In a matter of minutes, the journey takes passengers from the lower cable station on Tafelberg Road to the plateau at the top of the mountain, with staggering vistas along the way. When you reach the plateau, the views overlook Cape Town, Table Bay and Robben Island to the north, and the Atlantic seaboard to the west and south. The top cable station offers viewpoints, curio shops, a restaurant and walking trails of various lengths.

For the visitors with an active streak, Table Mountain provides opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, caving and rock climbing. We can also help those of you who are tempted by the prospect of abseiling down one of the Table Mountain cliffs!

The Table Mountain National Park covers a huge area stretching from Signal Hill in the north, to Cape Point in the south, whilst also including the world’s smallest yet most diverse floral kingdom, The Cape Floristic Region. The biodiversity of the park is unrivalled, with over 9,000 species of plants being endemic to the mountain range. There are many animals to be found within the park too, with caracals, rock hyraxes or chacma baboons all calling the area home.

Cape Point (End Of Cape Peninsula)

Located in the southern part of Table Mountain National Park, Cape Point is a must-see for any nature lover. The harsh rocks and sheer cliffs standard 200m tall and cascade into the ocean below. Contrastingly, the surrounding areas are made up of beautiful swathes of green, as the natural vegetation contributes to the astonishing biodiversity that this national park is world renowned for.

Whilst the natural world of Cape Point is inspiring, there is more to the area than that alone. There is strong sense of maritime history, with Cape Point being of navigational use during daylight hours, but a dangerous menace at night! A lighthouse first stood at the peak in 1859, and it still stands at the highest section. Today it is used to monitor all other lighthouses along the coast of South Africa.

If you do not fancy the idea of the long walk uphill from the car park to the old lighthouse, you can opt for the Flying Dutchman (most do!). This funicular transports you to the summit within 3 minutes, taking you through the dense fynbos, rewarding you with panoramic views.

Also at the summit, visitors can enjoy the fabulous seafood that has become a trademark of the Two Oceans restaurant, as well as browsing the Lighthouse 5 store.

Chapman’s Peak Drive (Noordhoek To Hout Bay)

The Chapman’s Peak Drive simply has to be one of the most spectacular marine drives anywhere in the world. Over 5.5 miles, the road sweeps through 114 curves as it hugs the rugged coastline between Hout Bay and Noordhoek. The contrast of the endless ocean and the mountains beside it, is astounding, with near perfect 180 degree views.

Whilst this is a motorist's dream, please do not think this is exclusive. This route is perfect for sightseers, hikers, picnickers and photographers alike!

Signal Hill And The Noon Gun

Signal Hill is a prominent landmark in the north-west of Cape Town. It forms the “lion’s body” for the nearby Lion’s Head mountain top. It is from here that the historic noon gun is fired. Providing quite a shock to first time visitors, a cannon sends out a distinctive boom as they fire 3lbs of gunpowder at midday, six days a week.

The cannons (of which there are two) were brought to Cape Town during the British Invasion of 1795, and have sat on Signal Hill since 1902 - making them the oldest tradition in the city. Despite its age, the noon gun has moved with the times. Today it has its own Twitter account, although it has to be said, the content is a little samey!

Signal Hill is also of ecological and cultural importance. It contains the only surviving sample of Peninsula Shale Renosterveld vegetation. This vegetation was completely endemic to the the Cape Town City Bowl, and since urban growth has expanded, this small area is the final example. There are also numerous tombs, or Kramats, on the hill for Muslim missionaries, such as sheikh Mohamed Hassen Ghaibie (Shah al-Qadri), a follower of Sheikh Yusuf.

It is certainly worth a visit, the hill provides those who wish to hike with spectacular views across Table Bay harbour, the central city and the Atlantic Ocean. There are also many spots for visitors to take advantage of a fabulous place for a picnic.