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South Africa

Cape Town, a wonderful city surrounded by ocean

Superb when seen from the ocean; incredible when viewed from the summits of the mountains overlooking it, the city of Cape Town seems to have been set like a jewel in its wonderful setting. Mere description can never do it justice: it is quite simply magnificent, and the odds are that you will never get bored of exploring its incredible cultural and historical heritage when you come here on your trip to South Africa.

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Its location

The breathtakingly beautiful city of Cape Town lies a little over 1,400 kilometres from Johannesburg and sits right at the extreme south of the country, at the very tip of the African continent. Sublime, wonderful, superb, magnificent, unique, or legendary even: mere words can never be enough to describe the reality of this place. When you visit and explore it, you will feel like you are enjoying one of the very best experiences you could possibly have on your trip to South Africa. The one thing true Africa aficionados might find to criticise about it is that it is perhaps not African enough. You can easily think you are in Europe, Australia or the United States here, but Africa not so much. Ultimately, however, this atypical aspect is also one of the things that make Cape Town such a charming place.

When it comes to the places from which to get a good vantage point of the city, It's difficult to recommend any one above any other. Each alternative has it's own charm and particular attraction to offer. So don't limit yourself: visit them all. If you want to get up somewhere high and enjoy views out over the whole city with the blue of the ocean on the horizon, all you will have to do is climb to the top of one of the mountains overlooking Cape Town. You have the summits of Table Mountain, Lion's Head and Signal Hill to choose from in this respect. And for a different viewpoint and from a completely different environment, a trip out in a boat will give you the opportunity to get a splendid view of the city with the close-lying hills and mountains as the backdrop, offering an entirely different perspective.

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What to see and explore

It would be a real shame to visit the beautiful city of Cape Town and restrict yourself to simply contemplating and admiring it. Cape Town is without a shadow of a doubt the most richly cultural and historical city in South Africa, and perhaps even on the whole continent. As Cape Town hosts interesting exhibitions all year round, visit the tourist office to find out what's on when you first arrive.

When it comes to history, one thing you absolutely have to do above all else is catch a boat out to Robben Island, which is sadly famous as the place Nelson Mandela was held at for 19 years and is today inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's an incredibly moving and emotional place to tour.

And where the subject of Apartheid is concerned, District Six is another essential place to visit. How could one even consider coming to Cape Town without planning a visit to a township as part of the trip? Don't think of it as voyeurism in any way; get a guide to accompany you and experience the way of life of the people of Langa. Though misery and violence do exist here, you'll also get a sense of the incredible positive energy displayed by the local population, who are doing all they can to improve their situation.

There are so many things to see in Cape Town that it's practically impossible to mention them all. Amongst the essential places to see and visit, however, are City Hall, the Castle of Good Hope, Golden Acre, Koopemans-de Wet House Museum, Thibault Square, the Gold of Africa Museum, the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Green Market Square, the Old Town House, the Metropolitan Methodist Church, St Georges Mall, Adderley Street, the Bo-kaap District, the Slave Lodge Museum, St George's Cathedral, the Company's Garden, the Houses of Parliament, the South African National Gallery, the Delville Wood Memorial Garden, the South African Jewish Museum, the Holocaust Centre, Bertram House, Rust en Vreugd and the Two Oceans Aquarium.

As you can see, there really is something to suit all tastes.

David Debrincat
459 contributions
Updated 29 March 2018
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