See and Do in Cape Town
Cape Town might have less business opportunities than Johannesburg but it has far more going for it in terms of world-class attractions and things to see and do.
Whether they're interested in historic sites and museums, or scenic cruises and gorgeous beaches, Cape Town has plenty to keep its expat residents occupied on weekends.
A good way to start getting orientated is to catch a Hop on, Hop off City Sighteeing bus which cruises around town linking all of its major attractions through a variety of stops. There is also a mini peninsula tour, which takes passengers around the mountain.
The good news for expats who enjoy stretching their legs is that, unusually for a South African city, central Cape Town is safe and suitable for exploring on foot, and maps and self-directed itineraries are available from Cape Town Tourism on Long Street. The key, must-see sites include Robben Island, the prison which held Nelson Mandela; Table Mountain, which can be accessed by walking path or cable car; and the Winelands, which is a short drive or bus tour away.
Even those wanting to explore Cape Town’s periphery won’t be disappointed. Spend a day absorbing the scenery of the Cape Peninsula with a slow meander over the cliff-hugging, hair-raising Chapman’s Peak drive and onto Cape Point, the unofficial meeting place of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Expats should also be sure to stop off at Boulder’s Beach in Simonstown and learn about the African penguins that make the area their habitat.
Recommended sightseeing in Cape Town
Castle of Good Hope
By some margin the oldest building in the country, the pentagonal Castle was built in 1679 to replace the first mud fort built by Jan van Riebeck. The stone walls used to be lapped by waves before a land reclamation project in the 19th century.
Tel: 021 787 1249
From slave market to fleamarket, Greenmarket Square has undergone many transformations. Located in the centre of the city and lined with hotels, chic stores and coffee shops, the square is packed with African craft vendors and is a great place to pick up a traditional souvenir.
Named for its flat top and the tablecloth of cloud that regularly covers its plateau, this mountain is the city's most popular tourist attraction and a worldwide symbol of the city. There are numerous walking routes up the mountain, but the rotating cable car is the most popular way to access the stunning views from the top.
Tel: 021 424 8181
Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
Famous for its astounding collection of plantlife, rolling lawns and sculptures, Kirstenbosch is magnificently set on the slopes of Devil's Peak, a short drive from the city centre. The Summer Sunset Concerts held on Sundays from late November to early April are a great, though busy, time to visit.
Tel: 021 799 8783
Clifton and Camps Bay beaches
The Atlantic seafront has the closest beaches to the city centre and some of its best. Clifton's beaches are known for their privacy and granite boulders; Camps Bay for its pristine stretch of golden sand and high-end cosmopolitan atmosphere.
District Six Museum
Until the 1960s, District Six was a vibrant mixed-race area close to the city centre before its residents were forcibly removed by the apartheid government. Visiting this excellent museum gives visitors a chance to understand the experiences of the area's residents and the repercussions still being felt today.
Tel: 021 466 7200
Victoria & Alfred (V&A) Waterfront
The Waterfront is popular with expats, locals and tourists for its variety and safe surrounds. A bustling harbour, rich with history, it is the city’s busiest shopping and restaurant centre. The Waterfront, as it's simply known to locals, is a vibrant and fun place suitable for both sunny days and winter weather.
Tel: 021 408 7600
The Bo-Kaap is the historical Malay Quarter of the city,known for its brightly coloured houses and proud Muslim heritage. A colourful and resilient reminder of the multi-cultural heritage at the heart of Cape Town’s history, the area hosts a handful of restaurants serving local foods. It also houses the famous Noon Gun on Signal Hill, which has loudly been announcing for more than two centuries.
Two Oceans Aquarium
Based at the V&A Waterfront, the Two Oceans Aquarium houses over 3,000 sea animals from both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Educational and hugely entertaining, it receives thousands of local and international visitors every year and is especially renowned for its predator exhibit.
Tel: 021 418 3823