Travel Tips and Adventures in South Africa: Spectacular Cape Town

Known for Table Mountain and its spectacular coastline, Cape Town South Africa is a worthwhile destination on its own and a great way to start or end a safari trip. There is tons of history to explore, fantastic dining at all levels and price points, and gorgeous scenery from every angle. Plus some excellent boutique hotels in fabulous locations, like the impeccably styled Marly in Camps Bay (where we stayed).

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View from Campus Bay

Cape Town South Africa Highlights

Table Mountain, the Twelve Apostles, and Lion’s Head peaks surround the city, and you can easily hike or take a cable car up for some of the best viewpoints. In the city itself, visiting the Robbens island (where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned) and the Castle of Good Hope or the Fortress are sobering but important sights. Walking around the parks downtown you can see more Mandela-era sights, and close to the heart of the city lie the colorful houses, shops, and mosques of Bo Kaap, the city’s historic Cape Malay neighborhood.

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Bo Kaap
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ATVs in the Wine Lands

Kirstenbosch gardens are another lovely spot to explore, or hire a guide and head to wine country — not only are there wine tastings, there are opportunities to ride horses or drive ATVs through the trails (check out Wine Valley Adventures), plus lots of adorable little cafes.


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Mandalas gold bird of paradise
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At Cape of Good Hope
Atlantic meets Indian Ocean

And don’t skip the Cape of Good Hope to see the southwestern-most point of Africa and where the two oceans converge, and add in a stop at Boulders Beach to see the African penguins.

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Boulders Beach penguins

The drive along Chapman’s Peak is one of the most beautiful in the world as well, so getting there really is half the fun. Make sure you stop at a few lookouts and photo-op spots along the way!

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Where the Atlantic and Indian oceans converge at the Cape of Good Hope.
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Cape of Good Hope

Cape Town Logistics

You can fly directly into Cape Town from many international airports, and book-end your stay with a safari on either end if you’d like (it’s a long trip for those of us in the northern hemisphere, so make it worthwhile). Booking a hotel in Camps Bay, Clifton Beach, or near the V&A waterfront will situate you nicely for exploring the city.

Like any larger city, pay attention to your surroundings and you’ll be fine. Uber works well (as opposed to using cabs, which may not have working meters or other issues) and hiring a tour guide for a half or full day to see Bo Kaap, the fortress, and all the Mandela related sights is a great idea. You’ll also want a tour guide and driver to go to the Cape of Good Hope and to explore the Wine Lands.

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On top of Table Mountain

What to Pack for Cape Town

The weather is similar to the Bay Area, with microclimates created by the mountains that surround the city. Layers are a good call and don’t forget the sunscreen (but that should go without saying). Locals tend to dress pretty casually — lots of athletic looks and plenty of black, with bolder colors for evening and in their summer (October/November through March-ish in the southern hemisphere). It’s also quite hilly, so sneakers or comfortable walking shoes are a must even if you don’t plan to hike up one of the local peaks.

There is some fabulous shopping, both for African art and souvenirs (check out the Watershed by the V&A mall for locally made products of all kinds) and for global designer labels — the exchange rate may be in your favor if you are spending dollars, pounds, or euros.

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Pan African cuisine at Gold

What to Eat

Cape Town has an intense food scene with cuisines from all over the world represented. Carnivores can enjoy literally every on the braai (the bbq or grill), try various kinds of meat that really aren’t available anywhere else (think kudu and springbok) and don’t miss the chance to explore Cape Malay cuisine as well (a combination of Malay and Javanese influence with South African ingredients).

There is also a surprising amount of vegetarian and vegan spots for a country with mainly meat-centric national dishes. If you want to taste a bit of everything, try a pan-African spot like Karibu (a local chain) or Gold, which is definitely dinner and a show.

Are you considering a trip to Cape Town, or have you already been? What was your favorite part? Let us know in the comments or our Growing Younger Facebook Group!

– Jacqueline Zenn

Photos: Jacqueline Zenn for Fountain Of 30

You may also like to read more of Jacqueline’s travel guides like Travel Tips and Adventures in South Africa: The Safari Edition and Travel Into The Wild: The Best Ways To Explore Patagonia.

Are you following Fountain Of 30 on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest? We’ve got lots going on, so join in on the fun! Subscribe to our newsletter here.  You don’t want to miss a post and promise not to bug you to death. Join our Facebook Group called Growing Younger where women discuss everything good and bad about being over 50. Additionally Lauren hosts a bi-weekly podcast called Beauty is a Bitch! and an Instagram Live series called “Growing Younger Gabfest with Lauren.”

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