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Cape Town might have fewer 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 expats are interested in historic sites and museums, or scenic cruises and gorgeous beaches, Cape Town has plenty to keep its residents occupied on weekends.
A good way to start getting orientated is to catch one of the hop-on, hop-off sightseeing buses which cruise around town, linking all of its major attractions through a variety of stops.
Recommended attractions in Cape Town
Castle of Good Hope
By some margin the oldest building in the country, the construction of the pentagonal castle began in 1666. It is considered to be one of the world's best-preserved examples of a Dutch East India Company fort and has a rich history as a military fort, with parts of the castle being used as a jail, complete with an interrogation chamber and a dungeon.
Named for its flat top and the 'tablecloth' of cloud that regularly covers its plateau, this mountain is Cape Town'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.
Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
Famous for its astounding collection of plant life, rolling lawns and sculptures, Kirstenbosch is magnificently set on the slopes of Devil's Peak, just a short drive from the city centre. The Summer Sunset Concerts held on Sundays during the city's sunniest months are a great, though busy, time to visit.
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
Up until the 1960s, District Six was a mixed-race area with a lively, diverse culture. In 1966, however, it was reclassified as a 'whites-only' area under the apartheid regime. More than 60,000 residents were forcibly removed from the area, which was then flattened by bulldozers.
This museum memorialises the resilience of the community's culture, even in its loss, and gives visitors a chance to understand the experiences of the area's residents and the repercussions still being felt today.
Victoria & Alfred (V&A) Waterfront
The Waterfront is popular with expats, locals and tourists for its variety and picturesque surrounds. A bustling harbour rich with history, it is one of the city’s busiest shopping and restaurant centres and is a vibrant place suitable for both sunny days and winter weather.
The Bo-Kaap is the historical Malay Quarter of the city, known for its brightly coloured houses. A vibrant and resilient reminder of the multicultural heritage at the heart of Cape Town’s history, the area hosts the Bo-Kaap Museum as well as a handful of restaurants serving local foods. It also houses the famous Noon Gun on Signal Hill, which has loudly been announcing midday for more than two centuries.
Two Oceans Aquarium
Based at the V&A Waterfront, the Two Oceans Aquarium houses a plethora of sea animals from both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Educational and hugely entertaining, it receives half a million visitors every year and is especially renowned for its predator exhibit.
►For a list of exciting annual events, see What's On in Cape Town
Are you an expat living in Cape Town?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Cape Town. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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