The ‘Mother City’, Cape Town is South Africa’s favourite urban centre – and it’s very easy to understand why. The temperate, Mediterranean-style local weather is pleasant in the extreme and with old Georgian structures, good restaurants, leafy squares and lots of cultural style, the whole city is a feat for the senses.
At the heart of Cape Town and an ever-present backdrop is Table Mountain, the flat-topped symbol of the city that is as wonderful in the rain as in the sunshine. Embark here with a six minute cable-car journey up the mountain and you’ll rather quickly get your bearings.
The city is flanked on both sides by shorelines with the balmy waters of the Indian Ocean and the crystal clear Atlantic lapping the long shores that have made Capetonians a urban centre of beach-lovers. To the south-west and a half day excursion away is the Cape of Good Hope; below is Robben Island, former prison home to Nelson Mandela and one other must-see site.
The South Africa Museum, St George’s Cathedral and the Houses of Parliament are major places in the old town, in addition to the prominent Green Market and landmark hotel the Mount Nelson. After dark the action moves to the Victoria and Albert Waterfront, where eating places, cafes and boutiques line a harbour busy with yachts and fishing vessels.
Immediately following a number of days in the metropolis, head north-east over the mountains to the wineries and Dutch-style homesteads of the South African wine growing region. At is heart, just 18 miles from The Mother City, is Stellenbosch also noted for its university and ample colonial-era architecture.
Plenty of estates here and in neighbouring Franschoek are open to travellers for excursions and tastings. An ever-increasing number have superb restaurants and hotel accommodation, too, and a couple of days checking out the Cape Winelands has become a must for visitors to Cape Town and the Western Cape.
Cape Town is the most popular destination in South Africa for foreign travellers. Any trip to South Africa must include the Western Cape.. Free reprint available from: The Mother City and the regional Cape Winelands.