#TravelTuesday: here is the low down on visiting the Mother City

The Kaapse Klopse parade, or the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival, is an annual parade of colour, music and dance through the streets of Cape Town.
The Kaapse Klopse parade, or the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival, is an annual parade of colour, music and dance through the streets of Cape Town.
Image: Hoberman Collection/ Universal Images Group/Getty Images

Cape Town is one of South Africa’s most celebrated cities, drawing tourists from around the world with its natural beauty, world-class restaurants, a vibrant social scene and delicious wines from the surrounds.

First-time visitors to the Mother City may be overwhelmed with choices of what to do and where to go. While lovely to visit, Cape Town is much more than Table Mountain, Robben Island and the V&A Waterfront.

We’ve compiled a list of some of Cape Town’s most important neighbourhoods and highlights of what to do in each.

When to travel

A good time of year to visit Cape Town is between late January and April. The warmest months are between December and February and Cape Town is bustling with inland visitors travelling to the coast over the December holidays. Cape Town experiences its rainy season during winter months which can make for a cold, wet winter.

Cape Town has a few annual festivals to look forward to. If you’re planning your trip for the beginning of the year, do not miss out on the annual Kaapse Klopse parade, or the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival, when thousands of members of the Cape Coloured community march through Cape Town’s streets dressed in glittery uniforms and hats in a celebration of music and dance. The Cape Town International Jazz Festival is Cape Town’s biggest annual music festival that takes place on either the last weekend of March or the first weekend of April each year.

How to get there

As one of the main cities in South Africa, Cape Town is well connected on the travel grid. Visitors can either travel by car via the N1 from Johannesburg or the N2 from Durban. A cheaper travel option may be to use any of the major national bus companies. If you prefer the slower scenic route, you can catch a train to Cape Town station from any of the main train hubs in South Africa. Cape Town International airport has daily local and international flights and offers car rental services or shuttles from the airport.

Highlights you shouldn’t miss

1. The colourful streets of the Bo-Kaap in Cape Town are iconic. To fully immerse yourself in the flavours of the Cape Malay people, join a Bo-Kaap Cooking Tour. After a walkabout around the streets with insights into the origins and current struggles of the local people, you visit a spice shop before being invited into Zaine Misbach’s home where she shares some of her staple Cape Malay recipes with you while you cook up a storm. You end off the class sharing the food you’ve just prepared so come hungry!

The colourful houses of the Bo-Kaap are iconic.
The colourful houses of the Bo-Kaap are iconic.
Image: Sanet Oberholzer

2. Cape Town’s CBD is unlike that of Jo’burg or Pretoria. Clean and pretty, it is home to numerous markets. Buy artisanal African crafts from Greenmarket Square which is open daily or antiques from the Church Street Antique Market open on Mondays to Saturdays. The City Bowl Market on Hope Street, open every Thursday evening from 16:30 to 20:30, is the place where foodies meet.

In the heart of the Cape Town CBD, Greenmarket Square is bustling with craftsmen and entrepreneurs selling their authentic wares.
In the heart of the Cape Town CBD, Greenmarket Square is bustling with craftsmen and entrepreneurs selling their authentic wares.
Image: Majority World/ Universal Images Group/Getty Images

3. Cape Town’s Atlantic Seabord, comprised of Camp’s Bay, Bantry Bay and Clifton, is where the rich come out to play. A lovely stretch of road in Camp’s Bay at the foot of the Twleve Apostles mountain range is filled with bars and restaurants and gets packed over weekends and holidays. It’s the perfect place to order a pretty cocktail, sit back, relax and enjoy a sundowner while watching the waves crash on the beach across the street.

Families vacate the beach as party-goers start to populate the stretch of bars and restaurants opposite the beach in Camp's Bay at the foot of the Twelve Apostles mountain range.
Families vacate the beach as party-goers start to populate the stretch of bars and restaurants opposite the beach in Camp's Bay at the foot of the Twelve Apostles mountain range.
Image: Sanet Oberholzer

4. Hout Bay is a sea-side neighbourhood at the foot of Chapman’s Peak affectionately known by locals as the Republic of Hout Bay. Twenty kilometers from the CBD, Hout Bay makes for a fun day trip or pit stop on your way to the Cape Peninsula. A visit to Hout Bay is not complete without a visit to the Wharfette Bistro at the Mariner’s Warf for their famous fish and chips. Other Cape Town specialities include snoek and lekkerbekkies.

A view of the Hout Bay harbour that is home to the famous Mariner's Wharf where visitors can look forward to top-quality fish and chips.
A view of the Hout Bay harbour that is home to the famous Mariner's Wharf where visitors can look forward to top-quality fish and chips.
Image: Sanet Oberholzer

5. False Bay is a lovely piece of Cape Town nestled between Hangklip and Cape Point. On your drive down the Cape Peninsula, you will pass the towns of Muizenberg with its iconic colourful changing rooms on the beach, the quaint and lovely Kalk Bay, Fish Hoek and Simonstown. A mere half an hour drive from the Cape Town CBD, it offers visitors slower days sauntering along the beach, swimming and enjoying life on Cape Town’s coast. On your way to Cape Point, be sure to veer off track to see the waddle of penguins on Boulder’s Beach near Simon’s Town.

The colourful changing room houses on the Muizenberg beach.
The colourful changing room houses on the Muizenberg beach.
Image: Sanet Oberholzer

6. For the best views of Table Mountain, a trip to the Bloubergstrand area of Cape Town is certainly not over-rated. While it is a lovely stretch of beach for a stroll and offers some of the best views while dining, the Bloubergstrand is a popular spot for water activities like surfing, stand up paddling and paramotoring.

For some of the best views of Table Mountain, take a drive out to Bloubergstrand.
For some of the best views of Table Mountain, take a drive out to Bloubergstrand.
Image: Sanet Oberholzer
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