Top Travel Tips for Cape Town of South Africa

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Episode 3
Episode 3

Cape Town is the second-most populous city in South Africa, after Johannesburg, and the provincial capital and primate city of the Western Cape. As the seat of the National Parliament, it is also the legislative capital of the country.

Overview of Cape Town

With it's dramatic natural setting, from the great Table Mountain to it's splendid beaches, it's rich centuries-old history and ethnic and racial diversity, and it's cosmopolitan feel - it is no surprise that Cape Town is the most popular tourist destination in Africa.

History of Cape Town

Initially the city was a way-station and trading post for European ships on their way to East Indies, and, with the arrival of forced labour from the Far East, the area became ethnically diverse, and much of the population of this part of South Africa, the Western Cape, can trace their ancestral roots to countries as far away as Indonesia and Malaysia.

Table Mountain

Table Mountain dominates the city and is the city's most popular attraction. Table Mountain National Park operates and aerial cableway which gets you to the top in about 10 minutes.

Once up, it is easy to spend hours taking in the stunning views out over Cape Town and the surrounding mountains and beaches. And these views are equally spectacular by day or night. Nelson Mandela could see Table Mountain from Robben Island, where he was imprisoned for 18 years. For him, the mountain was a symbol of hope.

Victoria and Albert Waterfront

Now, the second most popular Cape Town attraction is the Nelson Mandela Gateway - a museum and ferry terminal on the Victoria and Albert Waterfront, where visitors can learn about South Africa's apartheid era and board a ferry to Robben Island which has now become a museum and world heritage site. The Victoria and Albert Waterfront is the oldest section of Cape Town, and is now the city's main shopping destination with several malls and other attractions and sculptures, including this grouping of statues of South Africa's Nobel Peace Prize winners.

The City Bowl

The City Bowl is Cape Town's downtown area and has several architectural landmarks, ranging from the pentagon-shaped Castle of Good Hope, the city's original fortified Dutch redoubt, to the colorful Bo-Kaap district which is the historical heart of the City's Cape Malay and Muslim community.

Also, in the center of the City Bowl are the Company Gardens, originally a vegetable garden for Dutch East India Company.

District 6 Museum

Another, darker, chapter in Cape Town's history can be witnessed with a visit to the District 6 Museum - which remembers the 60,000 homes which were razed in the 60's and 70's by the apartheid era government in an attempt to racially segregate this ethnically diverse community.

At night, the Victorian balconies and facades along Long street attract revelers and is the center of Cape Town's vibrant night life. The other stunning natural feature of Cape Town are it's many world class beaches: from the 4 beaches in the super-affluent Clifton suburb, to the aesthetically perfect Camp's Bay Beach, a perfect white sandy crescent watched over by the 12 Apostles - the mountain range that leads North to Table Mountain.

Chapman's Peak Drive

Finally, it is worth renting a car or bicycle simply to experience Chapman's Peak Drive - one of the greatest coastal stretches in the world that affords spectacular views of the mountains and oceans along it's winding 9km route.

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