Fantastic tours in South Africa’s mother city

Cape Town is a fascinating place to be: Not only does it sit at the foot of one of the most recognisable mountains in the world, but it is also surrounded by azure blue seas and breathtaking nature. The city is filled with Victorian and early fifties architecture, and in the Bo-Kaap, which was the Malay quarter, rows of vividly coloured cottages sit alongside cobbled streets, evoking a quaint old-world charm. The cuisine is exceptional and a profusion of restaurants is scattered across the entire peninsula.

Cape Town is perfectly geared towards tourism; visitors are able to get around easily, accommodation is plentiful and just about any tourist facility imaginable is available. There is a multitude of attractions and interesting activities for anyone, no matter what they enjoy doing. All of this is set against the backdrop of the spectacular mountains and pristine nature reserves. No wonder Cape Town is one of the premier tourist destinations in the world!

When visiting Cape Town, there are so many things to see and do that it can sometimes become confusing. A good place to start is the cable car up Table Mountain, followed by a city tour. This will give visitors a perspective of the layout of the city and the mountain, while seeing some of the best landmarks the city has to offer. Tours are plentiful and range from scheduled short tours to tailored outings for groups wanting to see particular landmarks at a particular time. Both of these are easy to arrange, although you may pay a little more for a custom-made tour.

Four of the most popular places to visit include:

Table Mountain

The cable car system has been completely overhauled and is in pristine condition. The ride up the mountain is spectacular, and breathtaking scenery unfolds below as it goes further up the mountain to the cable house at the very top. Here, visitors can disembark and walk around the various walkways on the mountain and view most of the peninsula. On top of the mountain there is also a wide range of indigenous fauna and flora, including the African rock hyrax. A mountain top restaurant provides great food, and take away food can be bought to eat on a bench while admiring the view. The trip up and down is ten minutes each way. It is well worth doing!

Houses of Parliament

This is the seat of government for six months of the year. This large, attractive, white building was designed by Sir Herbert Charles Baker. It was built in 1885 and boasts Corinthian porticos and a large dome. It has been witness to a very complicated and exciting political history, including the Boer War and the fall of apartheid. Visitors are welcome to admire the more than four thousand artworks on display inside.

Company Gardens

Next to the Houses of Parliament are the rolling green lawns, oak trees, tranquil walkways and fountains of the Company Gardens. The garden was built in 1652 for the victualing of ships that docked at the Cape. In the gardens you can also find the slave bell, dating back to 1855, the Iziko Museum, the rose garden, and other attractions. There is also the very popular Company Gardens Tearoom, which is open for breakfast and lunch.

Bo-Kaap

Bo-Kaap, formerly known as the Malay Quarter, was built in the 1700s to house the slaves of the Dutch. Traditionally, the residents are Muslim, and here you can find the Nurul Islam Mosque, the first mosque in South Africa, which was built in 1844. This colourful and romantic area is now home to a multi-cultural mix of residents and upmarket shops and restaurants. The Bo-Kaap Museum is the oldest building in the Bo-Kaap, and dates back to the 1760s.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. So, get down to Cape Town and start whittling away at the impressive list of things to see and do.

  • Karen McKee is a born a bred Cape Townian and has shown numerous overseas and local visitors around Cape Town and the Peninsula. She has been up and down Table Mountain more times than she can count – by cable car and by foot. She knows the tourist traps so well that she may as well register as a tour guide.

Author: Muzi Mohale

Hi there, am your host and I blog about the tourism industry in South Africa. You’re also welcome to contribute your expert content on matters affecting the industry. You can reach me on muzi[at]tourismedition.com

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