Restored and maintained as a working harbor, one of the biggest
attractions is the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, which offers a
plethora of things to do and see. It's also a prime location for
high-end hotels with views to die for.
The Table Bay Hotel at the Waterfront
is one of them. Situated at the far end of a pier, its rooms feature a
panorama of the city with iconic Table Mountain as a backdrop.
The resident Camelot Spa offers the perfect antidote to the 20-hour flight from New York City: an African Signature Treatment utilizing the latest uber
antioxidant, rooibus tea, along with African mud, and ending with a
four-handed massage. The treadmills in the gym look out over Table Bay
and Robben Island, providing one of the best places to watch the
At the Waterfront's pier head, check out the Two Oceans Aquarium, displaying the panoply of South Atlantic sea life in a massive open-ocean tank. The nearby Maritime Museum focuses on the city's development and includes an exhibit floating in the Basin -- the SAS Somerset, a Naval Defense Vessel.
The necklace of low-rise malls and stalls, mingled with markets,
cafes and cabarets could keep you strolling the waterfront into the
Of course, you should jump on board a boat to complete the
experience. Full-time charter services can get you anywhere on any type
of ship imaginable, from a little speedboat to a fully-masted schooner.
Take a day-long jaunt along the entire coast, past the
impressive estates of Sea Point to the pristine beaches of Clifton,
Camps Bay and Llandudno; marvel at the dramatic beauty of Cape Point --
the last tip of land this side of Antarctica -- before continuing on to
Boulder Beach for a swim with the penguins.
Taking the ferry to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years of imprisonment, is also a must.
A look into his tiny prison cell, guided by an ex-political
prisoner who explains what life here was like, first-hand, will put a
lump in your throat and have you realizing just how far this country
has come in such a short period of time.
Dine and Wine
When hunger pangs strike, head into the city center, or City Bowl, as it's commonly called.
Cape Town's scenic setting and cosmopolitan vibe has been attracting top chefs from across the world, and Cape cusine,
as it's becoming known, is a heady mix of the Dutch, French, German,
Indian and Malaysian influences that have made this city a multiculti
Try stylish eatery Savoy Cabbage for its sugar-cured springbok (think African venison) and soba noodles. For live jazz and smoked alligator, check out The Cape Colony, voted one of the top 10 hotel restaurants in the world. Along Kloof Street -- the Dining Mile to those in the
know -- the casual Cafe Gainsborough doesn't take reservations, so get
there early for a sidewalk spot to enjoy the view of Table Mountain.
Reboville, a former bank now specializing in local seafood to order,
features over 12,000 bottles of wine in the original vaults downstairs.
Speaking of wine, a trip unto itself (or a lost weekend,
depending on your thirst) is to spend a day or two driving the
beautiful Winelands, just a short drive out of the city.
It's home to many of the country's star vintners such as Vergelegen
, De Toren
and Klein Constantia
(the latter famous for the Vin de Constance that caused Jane Austen to wax rhapsodic).
Or check out oenophile John Platter's definitive guide to South African vineyards and buying tips.
Alternatively, make your way to neighboring Stellenbosch and use the hop-on, hop-off Vinehopper Bus to tour five of the estates without worrying about getting behind the wheel.
Whatever you do, be sure to "discover" a bottle of savory
Pinotage, which South Africa claims as its own. It was created here in
the early 20th century by blending pinot noir with hermitage.
To sweat out all that alcohol, Cape Town has plenty for the outdoor
enthusiast, too. After all, this city is surrounded by an enormous
Hikes through the forests and mountain trails are easily
accessible, waymarked and even offer baggage portering. An expedition
up to the top of Table Mountain is a must-do. (Go early, before "the
tablecloth" -- the white clouds that envelop the mesa-like top each
afternoon -- obscures the view.)
On a clear day, you can see both sides of the Cape as it juts
into the ocean, and the views of the 12 peaks of the 12 Apostles are
inspiring -- if only they didn't block the view of Cape Point at its
If that's not how you like to sweat it out, Cape Town's famed
nightlife is headquartered in de Waterkant. A derelict part of town
five years ago, it's now the hottest neighborhood in town with some of
the best preserved colonial architecture. Try the Cafe Manhattan or the
big dance floors of Opium.
The famous explorer Sir Francis Drake called Cape Town "the fairest
cape in all the circumference of the earth." Almost 500 years later,
you'd be hard-pressed to prove him wrong.