Then you must see Cape Town from the water. On a boat ride you can visit the infamous Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, but it’s also the best way to get close to Cape Town’s marine life. You can expect to see great white shark, whale, and penguin, as well as various sea birds. Should you want a real adrenalin kick, you can don scuba gear and go cage diving with the sharks, though with just the bars of the cage separating you, you might need nerves of steel!
Cape Town has a lively arts scene, with plenty of museums and public and private art galleries to explore. Whatiftheworld, a combined workshop and gallery space, is the centre for young fashion designers, furniture markets, graphic artists, and other designers, and it functions as a showcase for up and coming talent. Also consider visiting the brand new Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA), and the Michaelis Galleries, which hosts a succession of temporary fine art exhibitions throughout the year. There are an increasing number of pieces of street art, including in the townships, and a guided walking tour of these areas demonstrates how different cultures co-exist in South Africa. The juxtaposition can be quite eye-opening.
Cape Town is gaining a strong reputation as a hub for food and wine, and with its proximity to both the sea and the Cape Winelands, that should come as no surprise. For an unforgettable meal consider Mzansi, which gives a five-star twist to township food, mouthwatering tapas at Chefs Warehouse, or a hilarious (and delicious) theatrical dining experience at Startdust. Be sure to try some local wines during your stay: the Ataraxia Chardonnay, Diemersdal Eight Rows Sauvignon Blanc, and the Bouchard Finlayson Galpin Peak Pinot Noir consistently get top marks from wine critics.
If you have sufficient time to take a day trip from Cape Town, you will truly be spoilt for choice. It is just a one-hour drive to the lush, green valleys of the Cape Winelands should you fancy a vineyard tour, or to explore quaint Franschhoek, settled by French Huguenots in the 1680s. You can go back in time with an open-sided tram ride along the branch line from Franschhoek to the wine estates, which is an exceptionally civilised way to spend an afternoon.
Our favourite place to stay is the five-star Cape Grace, a luxurious boutique hotel on the V&A Waterfront. Regularly recognised by travel magazines as one of the best hotels in the world, the rooms and suites are stylish and elegant, and almost all have sea views. The hotel boasts an excellent restaurant, wine cellars, and fine whiskey selection, as well as a spa and fitness centre. Choose Cape Grace as your base for exploring Cape Town.