• Joe Galli

Cape Town: A First Time Visitor's Guide


South Africans commonly refer to its beloved costal city at the end of the continent in Western Cape Province as “The Mother City.” After a few days in Cape Town, you’ll understand why.

The coastal city is simply beautiful, and rich in culture, food, nightlife and activities galore both in and around the city.

When entering Cape Town you will not miss its landmark feature – Table Mountain. Rising above the city about 1km high, Table Mountain is a vast plateau spanning the breadth of Cape Town behind the city and forming a natural amphitheater. You have the opportunity to take a cable car via Table Mountain Cableway to the top and explore amazing views of the city, its harbour, Robben Island and the Atlantic Ocean to the west and south. Often clouds roll in and cover the entire plateau leaving blue sky above it. This creates an appearance of a natural table cloth over Table Mountain itself.

The mountain structures at the tip of Africa divide the city of Cape Town into several popular communities, one of which is The Waterfront. Here you have several great options for your stay including two gracefully elegant properties on the waterfront itself, the Cape Grace and the Victoria and Alfred hotels. Both offer luxury accommodations with spacious rooms and are walking distance to the Waterfront’s shops and restaurants.

The Cape Grace is known for its nautical feel, a wonderful spa and spacious library where you can read the AM paper while enjoying coffee and it’s whisky bar – Bascule Bar. Stop in to Bascule and sample a bespoke collection of rare, premium whiskies. The Victoria and Alfred Hotel offers spacious rooms directly on the harbour with great views of Table Mountain. Patio dining for breakfast is a must so you can watch locals make their early morning rounds on their way to work. Make sure to explore the unique, high end shopping on the first floor of the V&A hotel, and venture down to the Den Anker restaurant for a Belgium beer and seafood.

There’s much to see and do in Cape Town itself outside of the Waterfront. Visit the District Six museum, a small two-story structure highlighting the notorious struggle decades ago during the reign of Apartheid. You can ride in a side car attached to a vintage World War II motorbike around the entire city, up and down the hills over to Table Mountain and along the coastal road that mimics California’s PCH Highway 1 with its stunning ocean views. Be sure to drive through and stop in Bo-Kapp, the “Colorful Neighborhood of Cape Town.” Here homes are painted bright colors of orange, blue, pink and green and they fit right into the cool coastal town feel. Oh, and don’t miss the Atlas Trading Company, Bo-Kapp’s secret Indian spice shop!

When you think you’ve seen it all in Cape Town proper, make your way down the coastal highway and soak up the warm African sun on Camp’s Bay beach, and while you’re there visit The Bay Hotel for lunch. The Bay Hotel sits at the base of the Twelve Apostles mountain range and offers a 1 minute walk to the Atlantic Ocean.

A little further down the road is the luxury property named for the mountain range that frames its spectacular view of the ocean – The Twelve Apostles. Both the Twelve Apostles and the Bay Hotel offer luxurious accommodations, fantastic dining, amazing sunrises and sunsets, and are positioned in the beach communities outside of Cape Town proper where every experience is a memorable one.

Cape Town overall has so much to offer from amazing sundowns & ups to fabulous eats to warm hearts to windy plateaus with stunning views – these and many more truly make her the Mother City of South Africa, and she’s waiting for your visit!

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